The best carol concerts in Manchester: Fa la la la la, la la la la

Emma Nuttall

From classic family services to a bit of alternative cabaret, our favourite carol concerts in Manchester.

“The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear,” as Buddy the Elf wisely tells us all. From grand affairs in majestic venues to charity fundraisers and ‘alternative carolling,’ Manchester has quite the selection of musical yuletide events taking place round the city. Here are our top six.

Mother’s Ruin: Christmas Cracker at Contact

Not strictly a carol concert, this, but… we thought it worth mentioning the Mother’s Ruin: Christmas Cracker for something a bit different.  Expect scandalous Christmas cabaret featuring drag artists, comedians and hosted by Timberlina. This is a raucous set of performers from Santa’s ‘naughty-list’ – and a lot of fun. Contact, 11 December, 8.30pm, tickets £12 / £8 Conc.

Manchester Festive Happening at the Albert Hall

Manchester Camerata’s festive concerts are always popular, but the stops are firmly out for a special show in the elegant Albert Hall. With musicians positioned in every corner of this old Wesleyan Chapel, this should be an immersive and memorable performance. The set list includes Gabrieli’s Sonatas and Canzonas alongside specially selected carols; highlights include ‘Winter’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Handel’s ‘Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.’ Classic chrimbo treats such as mulled wine, mulled cider and mince pies will be on offer at the bar. The Albert Hall, 13 December, 3pm, ticket prices vary

Carols by Candlelight at The Bridgewater Hall

Carols by Candlelight is a dead cert for sprinkling a bit of holiday magic into the winter. Classics like Mozart ‘Alleluia’ from Exsultate Jubilate from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra will fill every corner of The Bridgewater Hall, accompanied by traditional favourites such as ‘Good King Wenceslas’, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’. Performers will be dressed in 18th century costumes and lit by the light of hundreds of candles, providing a warming nostalgic edge. The Bridgewater Hall, 17 December, 7:30pm, ticket prices vary

The Hallé’s Christmas Sing-along at The Bridgewater Hall

Join Hallé stars Stephen Bell and Anna-Jane Casey for this ultimate family friendly Christmas Sing-along spectacular. The programme includes all the best-known festive favourites: ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, ‘A Christmas Carnival’, ‘When a Child is Born’, ‘White Christmas’, ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ and many more. The Bridgewater Hall, 19 December, 7.30pm, tickets from £17

Manchester Pride Music Recital at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Manchester has the only Pride event in the world that regularly programmes classical music into its calendar. This Christmas concert is dedicated to LGBT composers and performers, and features internationally renowned artists and young, local talent to perform classics such as Schubert and Britten, alongside more cabaret turns by Cole Porter and Noel Coward in this intimate venue. International Anthony Burgess Foundation, 19 December, 7:30 pm, tickets £5

Salford Royal Choir at John Rylands

Where better to enjoy a medley or two from the Salford Royal Choir than the beautiful and atmospheric surroundings of the John Rylands Library. Stroll around the Christmas markets nearby, mug of mulled wine in hand, and stop in here for some mid-afternoon carols. John Rylands Library, 20 December, 2pm–3pm, free

Culture Guides

Cinema

Cinemas might be closed but independent venues and distributors need any help they can get. We look at some films you can stream and places to donate.

Phoebe Davies: Points of Rupture at Site Gallery in Sheffield

Exhibitions

Art and women’s wrestling, Ancient Akkadian gravesites and invented artefacts – check out this month’s pick of exhibitions from across the north.

The elves and the shoemaker. Two green puppets with a male and female actor either side of them.

Families

Need some inspiration for fun and creative family days out? Look no further than our top picks for families across Manchester and the north.

Carcanet exhibition: Carcanet poets Michael Schmidt and Michael Symmons Roberts.

Literature

News of books just out and books worth revisiting, even if you can’t get to the events yourself. Plus a fabulous new exhibition about independent publisher Carcanet, on for the next six months…

Music

Discover the best live music coming up in Manchester and the north this spring and, dare we say it, summer!

Theatre in Manchester

Theatre

Bringing opera, dance, fierce experimental performance and new writing, there’s much to enjoy in our guide to the best theatre in Manchester and the North.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester.

Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

It’s time to find the best restaurants for the weeks ahead. Here’s our guide to the best Food and Drink in Manchester and the North

tours and activities

Tours and Activities

Expect thrills, informative discussion, politically charged tours and wobbly towns in this month’s guide of Tours and Activities.

Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.

Here’s our guide to supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.

Please note – many of the venues on our site will be closed and events either postponed or cancelled. Please check the venue website for details.