Advent and Christmas at Bradford Cathedral
“The shepherds went back,
singing praises to God
for all they had heard and seen;
it had been just as the angel had told them.”
Luke 2.20 (GNB)
We welcome you to Bradford Cathedral this Advent and Christmas to celebrate the festive season with us. We have a range of carol services for you to enjoy, as well as other Christmas services and events. The Cathedral will also be beautifully decorated for the festive season and we will be open for visitors as normal for you to enjoy the building and grounds.
A Message from the Dean
Welcome to Bradford Cathedral. I’m the Very Revd Andy Bowerman – the Dean of the Cathedral – and I want to extend you a warm welcome to our Advent and Christmas services and events during the coming weeks.
As ever, you’ll be able to Follow Our Star on top of the tower and find your way to this hidden treasure at the heart of the city.
Throughout the Advent season there’ll be all sorts of exciting opportunities for you to come and not just engage in worship but explore the Cathedral: join in some of our many events; there’ll be carol services, there’ll be mince pies and mulled wine; all sorts of ways that we want to generously welcome you into your Cathedral at the heart of this city.
Follow the Star
Last December, thousands of churches extended ‘The Great Invitation’ from the Church of England to Follow the Star to their local church in person once again. Helped, of course, by a return to a more normal Christmas, 2022’s Follow the Star saw significant growth in engagement across a wide range of indicators.
This year’s theme – Follow the Star: Join the Song – highlights how singing can help draw us closer to God and each other through the journey from Advent to Epiphany.
Lighting up the Cathedral
During Advent and Christmas we light up our ‘Star in the Tower’ and we have the return of the light curtain on the state gate, courtesy of Bradford BID
You can visit our cribs in the State Gate undercroft and our Holy Spirit Chapel, when they are installed later in November.
Here is the Bradford Cathedral Consort singing a piece which the Church of England have commissioned for Follow the Star: Join the Song – a setting of ‘The First Nowell’ by Bob Chilcott.
Main Advent and Christmas Events and Services
Saturday 9th December | 7pm
Black Dyke Band and Cathedral Choir Concert
Join us this December as Black Dyke Band and the Bradford Cathedral Choir perform together at an incredible Christmas concert.
This event is now sold out.
Sunday 10th December | 3pm
Royal Opera House: Songs for Ukraine Chorus
Bradford Cathedral and The Royal Opera House present ‘Songs for Ukraine Chorus’ performing Christmas Songs as the beginning of the Royal Opera House’s contribution to Bradford City of Culture 2025.
Wednesday 13th December | 1pm
Our weekly organ recital series showcases top-class performers playing beautiful music from across the centuries in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Entry is free and there is an optional buffet lunch at 12:30pm before the recital for £4. There is also a Retiring Collection towards the costs of the recitals,
Sunday 17th December | 6pm
Nine Lessons and Carols
Join us for a traditional Christmas service of Biblical readings, choir and congregational carols by candlelight.
Wednesday 20th December | 1pm
A Christmas organ meditation featuring Philip Moore’s Nativitas played by Anthony Gray.
Saturday 23rd December | 1pm
Annual Lunchtime Carol Recital
The cathedral choir presents its annual recital. Music, poetry, witty Christmas stories and the best-loved Christmas carols come together in this yearly sing-a-long celebration. Numbers are limited so please book early.
Entry is free but we invite those who can to pay what you feel towards the event after the concert.
Saturday 23rd December | 7pm
An International Christmas
An informal Christmas service featuring music and readings from Ukrainian, Nigerian, Congolese, Indian and Sudanese, communities based in- and around- Bradford.
The service will conclude with light refreshments including nibbles from some of these cultural traditions.
Sunday 24th December | 3pm
Messy Cathedral Crib Service
Messy Crib returns for another interactive service involving storytelling, craft, music and prayers.
Follow the star and meet some of the people who were there at the first messy Christmas in the messy stable and found Jesus in his messy crib. You are encouraged to come dressed as one of your favourite nativity characters.
Sunday 24th December | 11pm
The Midnight Eucharist is one of the highlights of the year.
The music is by the Cathedral choir with a number of congregational carols.
Led by the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds.
Monday 25th December | 10:30am
Christmas Day Sung Eucharist
Cathedral worship using Common Worship, with the Rt Revd Toby Howarth, Bishop of Bradford.
Other Advent and Christmas Events and Services
Monday 11th December | 2pm
Join us in the de Lacy Centre for carols, stories, poems, food and fellowship at Christmas.
Thursday 14th December | 6pm
Bradford District & Craven Health & Care Partnership – Christmas Carol Service
Join us for ‘Sing as One’, an opportunity for us to get together as colleagues ahead of Christmas in the beautiful Bradford Cathedral.
This service is open to all those working across the Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership.
Once again you can join the service featuring the Cathedral Choir and a youth brass band. All are welcome but pre-booking is required.
Doors will open at 5:30pm, and refreshments will be served following the service, around 7:30pm.
Monday 18th December | 6pm
The City Carol Service
Join us for the Annual City Carol Service with the Lord Mayor, Lord Lieutenant, and other Civic dignitaries.
This service is led by the organ and choir of Bradford Cathedral and the City of Bradford Brass Band.
The event is free to book and you are invited to give a donation as you leave.
Other Things To See
Tuesday 12th December
Choir singing at BRI
More details to follow
Wednesday 13th December
Singing at the University of Bradford
More details to follow
Saturday 23rd December
Singing at the Corn Dolly
More details to follow
Events and Services
You can see a full overview of all our events and services on our ‘What’s On’ page, or see above for our highlights.
Digital Schools Resources
You can discover resources for schools over in our education section.
Association of English Cathedrals
The AEC’s festive theme is all about Cathedral doors – and we featured on Tuesday 5th December.
Church of England daily reflections
Over the period of Advent you’ll be able to view daily reflections from the Church of England. Click here to find out more.
Look out soon for a piece sung by our Grace Notes choir.
Worship is the heartbeat of Cathedral life and is offered daily through online Morning and Evening Prayer and the seven services each week. The main weekly service is on Sunday at 10:30 am which is also live-streamed. You can download an Order of service in advance or use the Proclaim app instead of an Order of Service.
Help Save the Environment: Send an eCard!
You can now send a Bradford Cathedral digital eCard to your friends and family – and save on the printing!
Christmas Holiday Opening Times
Please see below for our opening times over the Christmas holiday period:
Saturday 23rd December – open as usual
Sunday 24th December – open for services and Messy Crib
Monday 25th December – open for services
Tuesday 26th December – Saturday 30th December – closed
Sunday 31st December – open for services
Monday 1st January – closed
Tuesday 2nd January – open as usual
The Very Revd Andy Bowerman, Dean of Bradford, will be leading Morning and Evening Prayer between Christmas and New Year at the usual times of 9am and 5:30pm. For more information please see our prayer page.
Monday – Saturday 10am – 4pm
Please see our what’s on calendar for any changes or see our Christmas holiday opening times below.
What to See?
Bradford Cathedral has been a site of Christian worship since the 7th century. Explore over 1000 years of history in the heart of Bradford. We also have a wealth of Morris & Co. stained glass, 18th Century monuments and a range of contemporary and historic textiles.
Over 7,000 brands will donate to Bradford Cathedral at no extra cost to you – so you can raise donations when you buy gifts, decorations, your festive food shopping or anything else!
Please sign up and help us raise more by visiting the easyfundraising website.
Look out for our #FestivePhotoADay on our Instagram page, every day through Advent
Church of England Advent Calendar
Join the Church of England from the 1st December to open a daily family activity on our Advent calendar as part of our Advent and Christmas campaign – Follow the Star: The Great Invitation.
Bradford Cathedral Organ Advent Calendar 2023
Look out for a new organ piece every day up to and including Christmas Day.
VCS Advent Calendar 2023
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:15)
The Visual Commentary on Scripture’s Advent Calendar for 2023 eplores the theme of light.
From December 1st – 24th they will share a daily link to a light-related artwork and its associated commentary. An audio option will be available, allowing you to enjoy listening to the commentary while exploring the high-resolution image.
Bradvent Calendar videos
Over the last couple of years we’ve recorded some very special ‘Bradvent Calendar’ which include carols, activity videos and much more – and you can watch them all back on YouTube, or by selecting them from the list below!