The BBC is set to present a fantastic array of festive content on both television and radio this Christmas. The lineup includes musical celebrations, traditional carols, live worship, and moments for spiritual contemplation.
In the upcoming series of My Life at Christmas, journalist and broadcaster Adrian Chiles will engage with dancer Oti Mabuse, BBC news veteran and World Affairs Editor John Simpson, and stage and screen personalities Martin and Shirlie Kemp. This three-part series aims to explore how their holiday memories reflect their lives, careers, family, and faith.
Christmas religion programming on BBC One kicks off with Midnight Mass, a live broadcast from Portsmouth Cathedral. On Christmas morning, there will be a joyous service of hope, peace, and goodwill, live from Manchester Cathedral. The Archbishop of Canterbury will deliver his New Year Message from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, and Songs of Praise will bring a diverse selection of programming from around the country this festive season.
BBC Two’s Carols from King’s will transport viewers to the candlelit, fan-vaulted Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, for the beloved annual celebration of the Christmas story through music, readings, and prayers.
On Radio 2, Christmas morning will commence with a special message from Rev. Kate Bottley, who will also present a thoughtfully curated mix of listeners’ favourite festive songs. In the evening, listeners can enjoy an uplifting celebration of gospel music from across the UK and Ireland, hosted by Beverley Knight.
Radio 3 will broadcast a range of services during the festive period, including a special series of Compline leading up to Christmas and a carol service from the chapel of Royal Holloway.
Radio 4 will feature special editions of Sunday Worship focused on the theme of justice and an Archive on 4 reflection on 100 years of religious broadcasting on the BBC. On Christmas Day, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, will lead a morning worship service, exploring the question, ‘What makes a happy Christmas?’
Additionally, there will be special programming across BBC Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and local radio.
Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics, BBC Television says: “This Christmas we have a wide variety of programming to get viewers in the festive spirit. I hope that our selection of carols, live worship, faith-inspired music, in-depth interviews and spiritual contemplation will bring viewers together at Christmas as we look forward to the year ahead.”
Tim Pemberton, Head of Religion and Ethics, BBC Radio says: “As we approach the 100th anniversary of the first religious broadcast on BBC radio, I’m delighted to bring listeners the very best of what the BBC’s religious programming has to offer this Christmas – from carols to gospel music, opportunities for worship and reflection, and moments to come together and celebrate the festive season.”
TV and BBC iPlayer
Songs of Praise
Songs of Praise is reflecting the excitement and joy of the festive season with a rich selection of programming from across the country.
Sunday 3 December
We begin our celebrations on the first Sunday of Advent with Aled Jones hosting final of the BBC Young Chorister of the Year, as six of the best junior and senior choristers perform a favourite Christmas choice.
In a very special programme to celebrate the beautiful music enjoyed at this time of year, Pam Rhodes is joined by fellow hymn expert Andrew Gant as they discuss some of the nation’s most loved carols. Our own Songs of Praise presenters also reveal their favourite carols and what Christmas means to them.
In County Durham, the Rev. Kate Bottley visits a dementia-friendly community where local school children and residents of a care home come together to mark the birth of Jesus as they rehearse their nativity play.
My Life at Christmas with Adrian Chiles
In this second series of My Life at Christmas for advent 2023, journalist and broadcaster Adrian Chiles meets three well-known faces to find out how their festive memories reflect their lives, careers, family and faith.
Ep 1 – Oti Mabuse – Sunday 3 December
Dancer Oti Mabuse recalls her journey from a South African township to becoming a two-time Strictly Come Dancing champion, and how a new arrival this year is going to change her Christmases forever.
Ep 2 – John Simpson – Sunday 10 December
Veteran BBC news reporter and World Affairs Editor John Simpson discusses his family, faith and a career filled with Christmases spent in far flung places across the world – from dangerous war zones and political revolutions to devastating tropical storms.
Ep 3 – Martin & Shirlie Kempm- Sunday 17 December
And Martin and Shirlie Kemp open their garden grotto to Adrian to share their Christmas memories, from the heady days of 80s pop stardom and TV & film success to becoming a family and coping with the loss of loved ones and recovering from ill health.
My Life at Christmas with Adrian Chiles is a Big Circus Media production (3×60) for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producers are Gareth Collet, Matt Baker and Elliot Falk and the Series Producer is Jim Turner.
Songs of Praise
Sunday 24 December
On Christmas Eve, with a congregation of over 2000 people at the magnificent Sheffield City Hall, Aled Jones leads the carol singing with performances from Katherine Jenkins, Michael Ball, Strictly Come Dancing’s lead vocalist Tommy Blaize and the newly crowned Young Choristers of the Year.
Midnight Mass from Portsmouth Cathedral
Sunday 24 December
The traditional celebration of the First Eucharist of Christmas and Blessing of the Crib, will be broadcast live from the ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ situated in the historic heart of the city of Portsmouth. The Dean of Portsmouth, the Very Revd Dr Anthony Cane, will introduce and lead the service with Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Frost preaching. Music will include the well-loved carols O Little Town of Bethlehem, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. The Organist and Master of the Choristers, Dr David Price will lead the Cathedral Choir accompanied by musicians of His Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service.
Midnight Mass from Portsmouth Cathedral is a BBC Studios Production (1×75’) for BBC One and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producer is Catherine Stirk.
Christmas Morning Service from Manchester Cathedral
Monday 25 December
A joyful service of hope, peace and goodwill, live from Manchester Cathedral on Christmas morning led by the Dean, the Very Revd Rogers Govender. The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Prof David Walker, will preach. The wonder of the Nativity; the Journey of Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds will be captured in a liturgy of music and readings. Manchester Cathedral Choir, directed by the Organist & Master of the Choristers, Christopher Stokes, will lead the congregation in some of the nation’s favourite carols, including O Come, All Ye Faithful, Unto Us Is Born a Son and While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night.
Christmas Morning Service from Manchester Cathedral is a BBC Studios production (1×60’) for BBC One and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producers are Catherine Stirk and Dawn Payne.
On Christmas Night
Monday 25 December
As Christmas Day draws to a close, a well-known celebrity narrates the story of the first Christmas from Luke’s Gospel, when angels appeared to shepherds to proclaim the news of Jesus’s birth. The reading is followed by a familiar carol, performed by a solo singer or choir.
On Christmas Night is a BBC Studios production (1×4’) for BBC One and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producer is Catherine Stirk.
Songs of Praise
Sunday 31 December
Completing our festive offering is a New Year’s Eve special hosted by the UK’s most successful mezzo-soprano, Katherine Jenkins. Katherine is joined by an array of celebrated guests including Aled Jones, the Gospel Choir of the Year winner and opera singer Carly Paoli to sing out 2023.
Songs of Praise is a CTVC production for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producers are Andrew O’Connell and Matthew Napier.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message
Friday 1 January
For his 2024 New Year Message, the Archbishop of Canterbury, explores what it means to serve your community and your country. This year, Archbishop Welby is focusing on those people who personify the notion of “service”, and sometimes even self-sacrifice: the British Armed Forces. He’ll be at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, which has nearly 6000 service personnel, plus hundreds of civilian staff. It’s home to the RAF’s Air Mobility Force, and is also where desperately needed humanitarian aid is loaded onto planes and flown to parts of the world experiencing devastating war and conflict as well as natural disaster.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message is a BBC Studios (1×5’) for BBC One and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producer is Catherine Stirk.
Carols from King’s
The candlelit, fan-vaulted Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge is the stunning setting for this much anticipated annual celebration of the Christmas story, told through music, readings and prayers with an invited congregation of college members and guests.
Led by the Dean, the Revd Dr Stephen Cherry, the service begins in the time-honoured way as a solo chorister sings the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City. The world renowned choir, directed by Daniel Hyde, sings carols old and new, including Silent Night (arr. John Rutter), In the Bleak Midwinter (Harold Darke), In the Stillness (Sally Beamish) and Child in a Manager (arr. John Rutter). The choir leads the congregation in popular carols, including O Come All Ye Faithful, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. The story of the Nativity is read by members of King’s College in the words of the King James Bible and in poems by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, Marion Strobel, Thomas Hardy and Walter de la Mare.
Carol’s From Kings is a BBC Studios production (1×75’) for BBC Two and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi, Head of Religion and Ethics TV. The Executive Producer is Catherine Stirk.
Radio and BBC Sounds
Sunday 10 December
Good Morning Sunday
The Reverend Kate Bottley and Jason Mohammad are joined by Sir Cliff Richard who is celebrating 65 years in the music business, plus they present the Good Morning Sunday Chorister of the Year Special.
In a one hour special, Sir Cliff reflects on his career, how he was influenced by Elvis, which pieces of music have inspired him and chats about his new album, Cliff With Strings, which is a selection of re-imagined versions of his classic tracks.
Also presenting the Good Morning Sunday Young Chorister of the Year Special, Revd. Kate was with the talented hopefuls every step of the way as they sang for the coveted title and trophy. She speaks to the Junior and Senior Young Chorister of the Year and plays their winning entries as well as highlights from the main event. There’s a chance to hear their beautiful rendition of Christmas song, ‘Do you hear what I hear?’ It’s a festive feast not to be missed and is dripping with Christmas sparkle.
You can hear highlights from the Young Chorister of the Year semi-finals and final in full on BBC Sounds from 1.30pm on Sunday 3rd December 2023; Songs of Praise will broadcast the final on the same day (also available on iPlayer).
Presenters: Reverend Kate Bottley and Jason Mohammad
Producer: Katharine Longworth for BBC Audio North.
Monday 25 December
Good Morning Christmas
Live on Christmas Day, the Reverend Kate Bottley celebrates with carols, festive greetings and a special message. The programme will feature a specially curated mix of listeners’ favourite seasonal songs and sing-a-long carols.
Presenter: Revd. Kate Bottley
Producer: Mark Plant
A BBC Audio production.
Beverley’s Great British Gospel Christmas
Beverley Knight, West End star and Britain’s soulful sweetheart, hosts an upbeat celebration of gospel music from the UK and Ireland, festive songs and traditional carols to round off your Christmas evening.
Beverley Knight says: “I’m looking forward to getting into the spirit of Christmas, so to be hosting my Great British Gospel Christmas this evening on Radio 2, with incredible music from both heritage and upcoming gospel artists, is a joy!”
Presenter: Beverley Knight
Producer: Chris Mitchell & Bernard Achampong
A We Are Unedited production.
Sunday 3 December
A Service for Advent with Carols
A Service for Advent with Carols, from the Chapel of St John’s College, Cambridge, recorded on Sunday 26 November.
The pattern of the service, in its four sections, reflects the season’s growing anticipation, both of the first coming of Christ and of that Day when the prayer Thy Kingdom come is finally and fully answered. The music reflects those themes, and includes a new work written especially for the service by Joanna Marsh, to a text newly written by priest and poet, Malcolm Guite.
Introit: There is no rose (Gerald Hendrie)
Processional Hymn: Come thou redeemer of the earth (Puer nobis nascitur, descant Christopher Gray)
Carol: Deus, Deus meus (Roxanna Panufnik)
I The Message of Advent
Sentence and Collect
Antiphons: O Sapientia and O Adonaï
First Lesson: Mark 13 vv.32-36
Motet: Vigilate (Byrd)
Second Lesson: Isaiah 11 vv.1-5
Carol: A tender shoot (Kerensa Briggs)
II The Word of God
Sentence and Collect
Antiphons: O Radix Jesse and O Clavis David
Third Lesson: Hebrews 4 vv.12-16
Carol: This is the truth (Trad., arr. Vaughan Williams and Christopher Robinson)
Fourth Lesson: Luke 4 vv. 14-21
Hymn: O come, O come Emmanuel (Veni Emmanuel, descant David Hill)
III The Prophetic Call
Sentence and Collect
Antiphons: O Oriens and O Rex Gentium
Fifth Lesson: Malachi 3 vv. 1-7
Motet: Fuit homo missus a Deo (Praetorius)
Sixth Lesson: Matthew 3 vv. 1-11
Hymn: On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry (Winchester New, descant Christopher Robinson)
IV The God-Bearer
Sentence and Collect
Antiphon: O Emmanuel
Anthem: Bogoroditse Dyevo (Rachmaninoff)
Seventh Lesson: Luke 1 vv. 26-38
Magnificat: The Truro Service (Russell Pascoe)
Eighth Lesson: The Annunciation (Edwin Muir)
Anthem: The Hidden Light (Joanna Marsh) – New commission
The Christmas Collect
Carol: Noel – Verbum caro factum est (Tamsin Jones)
Hymn: Of the Father’s heart begotten (Divinum mysterium, arr. Willcocks)
The College Prayer and The Blessing
Organ Voluntary: In dir ist Freude, BWV 615 (Bach)
Christopher Gray (Director of Music)
Alexander Robson (Herbert Howells Organ Scholar)
The Revd Canon Dr Mark Oakley (Dean)
The Revd Andrew Hammond (Chaplain)
Monday 4 December
In a series spread across four weeks (beginning Monday 27 November), Compline returns on the four Mondays before Christmas. The office of night prayer takes the form of a sequence of words and music which provides a moment of stillness and reflection at the end of the day.
On Monday 4 December, Compline will come from Corpus Christi Church, Leeds, including works by Sheppard, Tallis, and Byrd, sung by the senior girls and choral scholars of Leeds Cathedral choir.
Introit: In pace (Sheppard)
Hymn: Te lucis ante terminum (Tallis)
Psalms 6,7 (Plainsong)
Reading: Mark 1 vv.1-8
Responsory: In manus tuas (Tallis)
Canticle: Nunc dimittis a5 (Byrd)
Marian Antiphon: Alma redemptoris (Plainsong)
Thomas Leech (conductor)
Monday 11 December
From St Thomas’ Church Kirkholt, Rochdale, including works by Brian Foy and Matthew Larkin, sung by the Diocese of Manchester Choral Scholars.
Introit: Advent Prose (Plainsong)
Hymn: Before the ending of the day (Plainsong)
Psalm 28 (Plainsong)
Reading: Isaiah 40 vv.3-5
Responsory: Into thy hands, O Lord (Plainsong)
Anthem: Veni, Veni Emmanuel (Trad, arr. Brian Foy)
Canticle: Nunc dimittis (Plainsong)
Anthem: Adam lay y bounden (Matthew Larkin)
Andrew Earis (conductor)
Sunday 17 December
EBU Christmas Around Europe
BBC Radio 3’s annual day of live and recorded Christmas concerts gathered together by the European Broadcasting Union.
Presented in intervals throughout the day, this year’s offering includes concerts from Amsterdam (featuring the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge), Stockholm, Helsinki, Reykjavik (featuring experimental ensemble Nordic Affect), Copenhagen, Hanover, and Paris (the complete Nutcracker ballet).
9am-1pm EBU Christmas Around Europe: Part 1
2pm-3pm EBU Christmas Around Europe: Part 2
4pm-11.30pm EBU Christmas Around Europe: Part 3
Monday 18 December
From the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Englefield Green, including works by Ben Parry, Stainer and Rupert Gough, sung by the choir of Royal Holloway, University of London.
Introit: O nata lux (Ben Parry)
Blessing of Light: Phos hilaron (Stainer)
Hymn: Round me falls the night (Arnstadt)
Psalm 143 (Plainsong)
Reading: Mark 13 vv.32-37
Responsory: Into thy hands, O Lord (Plainsong)
Canticle: Nunc dimittis (Rupert Gough)
Anthem: A hymn to Christ (Imogen Holst)
Rupert Gough (conductor)
Wednesday 20 December
Choral Evensong live from Norwich Cathedral
4pm-5pm (repeated Sunday 24 December, 3pm-4pm)
Choral Evensong for the Wednesday before Christmas, live from Norwich Cathedral. The service includes a new work composed for the broadcast by Kerensa Briggs, and is a setting of one of the O Antiphons, used in the seven days leading up to Christmas
Introit: O Clavis David (Kerensa Briggs) (world premiere)
Responses: Michael Nicholas
Office hymn: O come, O come Emmanuel (Veni Emmanuel, arr. Ashley Grote)
Psalms 4, 9 (Martin, Elvey)
First Lesson: Isaiah 51 vv.1-8
Canticles: Collegium Magalenae Oxoniense (Leighton)
Second Lesson: 2 Thessalonians 1 vv.1-12
Anthem: Angelus ad Virginem (Matthew Martin)
Hymn: Lo! he comes with clouds descending (Helmsley)
Voluntary: Symphonie-Passion (Le monde dans l’attente du sauveur) (Dupré)
Ashley Grote (Master of Music)
David Dunnett (Organist)
Wednesday 27 December
Choral Evensong from the Chapel of Lancing College
4pm-5pm (repeated Sunday 31 December, 3pm-4pm)
Choral Evensong for the Wednesday after Christmas, from the Chapel of Lancing College on the Feast of John, Apostle and Evangelist, recorded on Tuesday 28 November. The music includes seasonal hymns and carols.
Introit: Torches (Joubert)
Office hymn: Word supreme, before creation (Grafton)
Psalm 97 (Middleton)
First Lesson: Isaiah 6 vv.1-8
Canticles: Darke in F
Second Lesson: 1 John 5 vv.1-12
Anthem: Angelus ad Virginem (Carter)
Prayer Anthem: No small wonder (Edwards)
Hymn: Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Mendelssohn)
Te Deum: Stanford in B flat
Voluntary: Pièce Héroique (Franck)
Alexander Mason (Director of Music)
Philip White-Jones (Organist)
Wednesday 3 January
Carol Service from the Chapel of Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham
4pm-5pm (repeated Sun 7 January 3pm-4pm)
An Epiphany Carol Service from the Chapel of Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, recorded on Wednesday 13 December.
A sequence of words and music to mark the visit of the Magi to the new-born Jesus.
Introit: Morning star (Arvo Pärt)
Carol: O magnum mysterium (Dan Locklair)
First Lesson: John 1 vv.1-14
Hymn: Of the Father’s heart begotten (Divinum mysterium)
Carol: Susanni (Bryan Kelly)
Second Lesson: Isaiah 7 vv.10-15
Carol: What child is this (Rupert Gough)
Third Lesson: Matthew 1 vv.18-23
Carol: Love came down at Christmas (Eleanor Daley)
Fourth Lesson: Micah 5 vv.2-5
Hymn: Brightest and best (Epiphany)
Carol: Seeing the star (Ben Ponniah)
Fifth Lesson: Matthew 2 vv.1-2, 8-11
Carol: We three kings (Philip Stopford)
Sixth Lesson: Isaiah 60 vv.1-3, 19-20
Carol: My dancing day (George Arthur)
Seventh Lesson: Matthew 5 vv.14-16
Carol: I am the light of the world (David Bednall)
Hymn: As with gladness men of old (Dix)
Voluntary: Star Fantasy on Alleluia: Vidimus Stellam (Kristina Arakelyan)
Rupert Gough (Director of Music)
Luke Cherry, Andrej Ivanović (Organ Scholars)
Sunday 17 December
Continuing the advent theme of justice, the Sunday before Christmas will look at ‘a place to live’ with a service from Acocks Green Church of God of Prophecy, Birmingham, with a focus on the work they do with the local homeless community. The music will come from the AMC Gospel Choir, directed by Audrey Mattis. Produced by Miriam Williamson
Sunday 24 December
A festive edition of the Sunday programme.
From Methodist College Belfast. The fourth in Sunday Worship’s Advent series on justice – ‘The Compassion of the Christ Child’.
Lead by the Revd Emily Hyland. Preacher: The Revd Dr Janet Unsworth. The award-winning chapel choir is led by Director of Music, Ruth McCartney.
Music: All the stars looked down (John Rutter), A Ukrainian Carol (arr. Leontovych), The Blessed son of God (Vaughan Williams), Lux Aurumque (Eric Whitacre), The Lamb (John Tavener), The Holly and the Ivy (Trad arr Mark Brown), The Sussex Carol (Trad arr Mark Brown), Produced by Bert Tosh.
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will be broadcast again this year from King’s College Cambridge (live on Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, with a repeat on Radio 3 on Christmas Day). Produced by Ben Collingwood.
The celebration of the first mass of Christmas will come live from Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, with the preacher The Most Rev Malcom McMahon OP, Archbishop and the choir of the Cathedral and Metropolitan Cathedral Brass Ensemble. Music will include favourite carols like Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Produced by Miriam Williamson.
Monday 25 December
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, leads a service of Morning Worship for Christmas Day asking ‘What makes a happy Christmas?’
Music includes: Ding dong, merrily on high (arr Mack Willberg), O Come all ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles), Away in a Manger (Lucy Walker), Now may we singen (Cecilia McDowall), There is no rose (Robert Sharpe), The Lamb (Becky McGlade), O Little Town of Bethlehem (Forest Green), All this time this song is best (Walton), Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Merndelssohn)
Readings from Luke 2, John 1, and Isaiah 52. Produced by Philip Billson.
Tuesday 26 December
Angela Berners-Wilson was the first female priest ordained in 1994. 2024 marks 30 years since she became a priest. In her retirement, Angela has taken on a new role as a spiritual tour guide Angela has taken on a new role as a spiritual tour guide and this Christmas she will be away in Obendorf, Austria, the village where Silent Night was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818. Angela will explore the spirit and spirituality of Christmas with Christmas music, reflection and a prayer.
Sunday 31 December
Throughout 2023 people from all over the world have been drawn to Norwich Cathedral to share and learn more about a woman who lived in the city 650 years ago.
Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love, the first known book written by a woman in English, has become a spiritual classic known and loved by millions and a guide to many in the way of faith, hope and love.
Julian of Norwich has become England’s most widely known female visionary. In May 1373, when she was thirty years old and suffering what was believed to be a terminal illness, she experienced a series of sixteen visions or ‘shewings’ which revealed aspects of the love of God. Following her recovery, she spent the rest of her life pondering their meaning and implications and recording her insights in writing. She became an anchoress, living in the cell attached to the small church of St Julian off King Street in Norwich, and from that cell and that time her influence has radiated to the present day and across the world.
Master of Music: Ashley Grote; Producer: Ben Collingwood.
Saturday 6 January
Archive on 4: 100 Years of Religious Broadcasting
Marking the 100th Anniversary of the first religious broadcast on the BBC.
On 6 January 1924, people formed queues outside St Martin-in-the-Fields in anticipation of witnessing the first ever broadcast of a church service. To mark this anniversary, the priest and journalist Giles Fraser tells the story of Britain’s uneasy relationship with religion through 100 years of religious broadcasting.
Producer: Amanda Hancox
Radio 4 Longwave
In the week up to Christmas, Daily Service will feature recordings from a festive Christmas Carol Concert recorded with an audience in Media City, Salford, featuring the Daily Service Singers, the BBC Young Chorister, Metropolitan Brass Ensemble and gospel artist Angel Morgan. Presenters will include the Bishop of Manchester David Walker, Canon Ann Easter and Canon Dr Rachel Mann.
BBC Northern Ireland
BBC Radio Ulster & BBC Radio Foyle
BBC Radio Ulster / Foyle will be welcoming in the festive season with a host of special programmes over Christmas and the New Year.
Festive music will be the centrepiece of Classical Connections on Sunday 3 December at 7pm presented by John Toal which will feature classical renditions of Christmas carols alongside other joyful music. The Bandstand Christmas Special at 6.30pm on Sunday 17 December (repeated on Boxing Day) will also feature a mix of secular and traditional carols.
On Christmas Eve, Audrey Carville and guests gather round the table for a seasonal Sunday Sequence to reflect on the meaning, spirit and significance of Christmas, present and past. Later in the morning join Fr Brian D’Arcy on Sunday With Brian D’Arcy as he hosts a special Christmas Eve programme sharing his Christmas thoughts and music choices. That evening Sounds Sacred at 5pm will be followed by a special Classical Connections including live recordings from the ‘Magic of Christmas’ concert with the Ulster Orchestra, recorded at the Waterfront Hall featuring the Belfast Philharmonic and soloists. The programme will some traditional carols including O Holy Night, alongside the secular festive fare
On Christmas Day a specially extended Morning Service from 9-10am reflects and gives thanks for Christmas with carols and hymns from the Chapel Choir of Methody College, Belfast.
On New Year’s Eve Morning Service from 10am will be a service of reflection and worship for the year to come, followed by a special Thought For The Year, bringing together some of the most appropriate contributions for the season from Thought For The Week.
Throughout the week – from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day – Thought For The Day on BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle will feature a series of reflections from contributors on a seasonal or topical theme.
BBC One Scotland
Sunday, December 24, 11.45pm-12.30am
Reflections at the Quay Christmas 2023
Monday, December 25, 9am-10am
Over a hundred students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are partnering with BBC Scotland and performing the music for Christmas Celebration – presented by Sally Magnusson – being broadcast just before midnight on Christmas Eve, and Reflections at the Quay on Christmas Morning, which will feature two choirs and a brass ensemble from RCS.
The music for both programmes was recorded at Sherbrooke Mosspark Parish Church in Pollokshields, Glasgow, where the congregational carols were accompanied by ten RCS brass players. There will also be Christmas songs from the Senior Chamber Choir, and from the 55 strong Junior Conservatoire Choir accompanied by a strings and wind orchestra.
Also appearing in both programmes will be Scottish folk singer Emily Smith, an RCS graduate, with Jamie McClennan and Aaron Jones.
The carols for Reflections at the Quay Christmas 2023 are sung by Bearsden Choir.
Christmas Eve readings are by pupils from nearby Hutchesons’ Grammar School, and include new poems written by Glasgow writer Mary Neal.
Reflections at the Quay on Christmas Morning is presented by Rev Ali Pandian, chaplain at Rachel House Children’s Hospice, Rev Aaron Moffat Jackman, St Peter’s, Musselburgh, Fiona Stewart, arts writer and performer, and Dr Suzanne Bunniss, social science researcher and founder of Scottish Charity FireCloud.
BBC Radio Scotland
Sunday 24 December
Carol-singing and readings from the University of Glasgow’s Carol Service in the Memorial Chapel. There are reflections by the University Chaplain, The Rev Dr Carolyn Kelly and the Chapel Choir directed by Kathryn Cooper.
Christmas With Cathy Macdonald and Tony Kearney
Join Cathy MacDonald and Tony Kearney for an hour of festive reflections on the theme of home at Christmas. Featuring personal stories of what home means for different people at Christmas and homely traditions from around the world as well as the memories of Christmas past in the MacDonald and Kearney households.
New Every Sunday
On the morning of Christmas Eve, New Every Sunday will bring reflections and Christmas music including some favourite carols.
BBC Radio Wales
BBC Radio Wales will take up a mini-residency at Llandaff Cathedral this Christmas to get listeners in the festive mood. A celebration service will start the festivities off at 7.30am on December 24, and a beautifully peaceful live midnight mass starting at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve will last until the early hours of Christmas Day. On Christmas Day, they’ll have a glorious hour of carols and readings to celebrate the morning itself.
Meanwhile, All Things Considered will have a series of Christmas Cards on December 24 from around the Llandaff diocese, giving a glimpse into several very different Christmases. Music will be provided by the Llandaff Cathedral choirs, while the services are led by the Bishop of Llandaff, Mary Stallad.
In the run up to Christmas, in the newly commissioned Alaw Mair, BBC Radio Cymru listeners will hear a new version of the modern carol Alaw Mair (Mary’s Melody), performed as a duet by Radio Cymru presenter Ffion Emyr and her mother. The new recording will be interwoven with Christmas monologues authored and read by mothers from different backgrounds.
On Christmas Day, Radio Cymru’s religious service, Yr Oedfa, will be extended and we will also broadcast a special carol concert featuring The BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Local BBC Radio will continue to connect with its local audience over the festive period with a special service to mark Christmas Day.
All 39 stations will broadcast a specially commissioned programme called Make a Difference – Keeping the Faith at Christmas, a show that looks at kindness, giving, events, music and faith that really Make a Difference to people.