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Christmas at Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral has always been at the heart of the Christmas celebrations in the City. It has more than 20 carol services and events leading up to Christmas Day, two Carol services, the Crib, numerous Christmas trees in and around the Cathedral (the largest measuring 30ft), 11,000 lights, parties at The Lodge and involves months and months of preparations.

Precentor Rev Max Kramer gives a quick overview of what takes place throughout Advent.

“Canterbury is an amazing place to celebrate Christmas. The musicians are busy practising, we have two choirs rehearsing, we are putting the final touches to the Christmas services; the virgers are setting up the different carol services; the works staff decorate the trees and crib; the Lodge staff are preparing all their Christmas events; the PR folks are busy capturing it all; the event management, security, flowers and generally cleaning and tidying between various activities — and there are so many others who contribute in their own particular way. It’s the time of year when so many of us are all focused on this one project and each doing our part to produce an incredible result.

“The greatest challenge is just the sheer volume, we have virtually one carol service per day from 1 December onwards.

In most churches you can ease off pretty much straight away after Christmas, but of course in Canterbury we have our biggest Saint’s Day of the year on 29 December with the Martyrdom of Thomas Becket. Then we have a great weekend of celebrations for the Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ (6–7 January).”

As people pass through the Precincts many take time to look at the Crib which families have enjoyed for the last 18 years. It falls to the Cathedral Works Department and the Holy Stitchers, a team of volunteer seamstresses, to bring it all together.

Martin Bennett, Cathedral Carpenter, oversees the crib’s construction, “Each year we try to do it slightly differently which proves to be quite a challenge. We might swap some of the costumes around or put the figures in different positions, but it’s quite difficult remembering what we did the year before, and then the year before that.”

“One of the most popular elements of the Crib are the mice, spider and robin. It really helps to engage people. It’s nice when you see families spending time together trying to spot the mice and people gathered round for the Crib service.”

To find out more about any of the events or Christmas services at Canterbury Cathedral visit