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Christmas carol services across Kent in 2016


Even Scrooge’s heart would melt when the children’s carol Little Donkey is sung by one of Demelza’s youngest children, at the hospice’s annual carol service.

West Malling Community Choir will join the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral to raise the roof at Canterbury Cathedral, in aid of Demelza. Demelza families, staff, supporters and volunteers will be joining VIPs at the service, which will be held on Monday, December 19, at 7.30pm.

A Demelza carol concert at Canterbury Cathedral
A Demelza carol concert at Canterbury Cathedral

The hospice is also holding a carol concert for supporters in north Kent at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich, at 5pm on Sunday, December 18, led by chaplain, Rev Patricia Mann, with solos from MOBO awardwinner Lurine Cato.

Tickets for both are £12 and £6 for children. To book, visit the events section at demelza.org.uk, email lianne.lloyd@demelza.org.uk or call 01795 845191.

Tonbridge Philharmonic

Family carols by candlelight will be held in the grand setting of Tonbridge School Chapel by Tonbridge Philharmonic on Saturday, December 17.

The service, conducted by music director Matthew Willis, will be from 4pm with a mixture of traditional and new festive music. The award-winning Tonbridge Girls Grammar School Motet choir will perform, along with the Tonbridge Philharmonic Society choir.

Organised in conjunction with Tonbridge Round Table, the charity will provide mulled wine and mince pies afterwards for a small donation, with proceeds going to the Scotts Project Trust, and the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Ambulance Trust. Tickets are now sold out.

Matthew Willis from Tonbridge Philharmonic Society
Matthew Willis from Tonbridge Philharmonic Society

Tonbridge Philharmonic music director, Matthew Willis, shares his thoughts on Christmas:

What is your favourite Christmas carol?

In the Bleak Midwinter by Holst or Coventry Carol.

Is your choice different as an adult to when you were a child?

No, I’ve loved them ever since singing the solo line as a treble.

Which carol gets everyone singing the most, in your experience?

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing or Ding! Dong! Merrily On High always get the loudest, most enthusiastic singing, in my experience.

Do the carol concerts have a different atmosphere to other concerts?

Always, and the Tonbridge Philharmonic family carols at Tonbridge School Chapel, organised for charity in association with the Round Table, attracts many young families, which creates a very special atmosphere – and apparently my glittering baton helps bring some extra sparkle!

Tell us a little bit about your Christmas Day.

The day always starts with walking my dog, followed by a wonderful meal with a glass or three of something fine. Sherry is my current favourite tipple.


There will be two carol services at Canterbury Cathedral, the first on Friday, December 23 at 7.30pm, first come, first seated basis from 6.15pm, and the second on Christmas Eve at 3pm, also first come, first seated basis, from 1.45pm. For more details, visit canterbury-cathedral.org/events

Take the Choir of Canterbury Cathedral’s carols home with you. The group released a CD, Christmas Night, in October, which is on sale in the cathedral shop.

Carols in Maidstone's All Saints' Church
Carols in Maidstone's All Saints' Church

Kent County groups

On Sunday, December 18, Kent Youth Wind Orchestra, conducted by David Cresswell, will play festive music and carols at Nye Hall, the Duke of York’s Royal Military School, Dover, at 2pm.

On Tuesday, December 20, Kent Youth Singers and Kent Youth Choir will perform at St Mary’s Church, Ashford at 7pm. And on Saturday, December 31 Kent County Youth Orchestra, conducted by Mike Seal, will stage a Winter Concert at Mote Park Leisure Centre in Maidstone at 3pm, which will include Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony.

For more details, and to buy tickets to any of the concerts, visit kent-music.com or call 01622 691212.

The hugely popular Nine Lessons and Christmas Carols by Candlelight at All Saints’ Church, Maidstone, is traditionally held on the Saturday before Christmas each year, which this year falls on Saturday, December 17. Featuring the church choir with Astley Brass, the congregation get to hold a candle each in the service, which starts at 4.30pm. 


A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols will be held on Wednesday, December 21, at 7.30pm and again on Thursday, December 22, at the same time. There will also be a crib service on Christmas Eve at 3.30pm, the first Evensong of Christmas at 4.15pm and the Eucharist of Christmas night at 11.30pm. For all services and details go to rochestercathedral.org

Carols at Rochester Cathedral
Carols at Rochester Cathedral


Friends of St Dunstan’s Church will hold a Christmas concert featuring Cranbrook Choral Society on Saturday, December 17 at 6.30pm. There will be refreshments before and at the interval. Free admission although donations are welcome.

West Malling

St Mary’s Church in West Malling will be the venue for a carol concert in aid of the Heart of Kent Hospice in Aylesford on Wednesday, December 14. Peter Brice and his Christmas Choir will be providing the music, with doors open at 6.30pm and music from 7pm. Just make a donation to the hospice to pop along. Drinks and canapes will be available.


A magical musical afternoon will bring Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman to life.
Maidstone Wind Symphony’s Christmas family concert features the National Concert Band champions playing Howard Blake’s music from The Snowman, with a screening of the animated film. They will be joined by BBC Young Chorister of the Year Edward Hyde for the Walking in the Air solo.

Orchestra members will be offering free children’s craft activities and instrument have-a-go sessions from 2.45pm, with the concert at 3.30pm on Sunday, December 18, at All Saints Church in Mill Street, Maidstone. Admission is free for under 12s, tickets £10. Visit maidstonewindsymphony.org

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