If you're looking for traditional Christmas celebrations in Mumbai, the city has a vibrant Catholic community, with numerous churches where you can attend a Midnight Mass. However, due to noise restrictions, most masses are over before midnight!
These Mumbai churches (in order from south to north) are all renowned for their services on Christmas Eve. Typically, thousands of people attend each one, so you'll need to arrive early to find space.
Also known as Wodehouse Church, the opulent Holy Name Cathedral was built to replace the older one in nearby Bhuleshwar, and is decorated with an array of artwork. It opened its doors for worship in 1905.
A full ceremonial Christmas Mass is held for around 3,000 people and it's broadcast live all over the state. The Cathedral Choir starts singing carols at 9.30 p.m., and the mass gets underway at 10 p.m and finishes around 11.30 p.m.
- Address: 19 Nathalal Parekh Marg, Colaba.
- Phone: (22) 2202 0121.
Saint John's Church, Colaba
Commonly known as Afghan Church, this church was built by the British in memory of the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the First Afghan War from 1835-43. Hence, the reason why it's referred to as the Afghan Church. It's a Grade I heritage building and a substantial amount of money has been allocated to restore its stained glass windows.
The church really comes alive on Christmas Eve with a performance by the renowned Wild Voices Choir, starting from 10.30 p.m., followed by Holy Communion. The church's tall structure is notably conducive to choral music and has the most amazing acoustics in Mumbai.
- Address: Navy Nagar, Colaba.
- Phone: (22) 2202 0420.
This towering white church, renowned for its award-winning stained glass work, was the first Anglican one in Mumbai. It opened its doors on Christmas Day, 1718, for the benefit of the Britishers. The church celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2018 and recently had a full architectural restoration.
On Christmas Eve, Carol singing starts at 9.30 p.m., followed by Mass at 10.30 p.m.
- Address: Veer Nariman Road (near Horniman Circle Gardens and Flora Fountain), Fort.
- Phone: (22) 2202 4482.
Built in Gothic style along the design of Canterbury Cathedral in England, Gloria Church dates back to 1572. However, it was shifted to its current location in 1910. Construction was finished in 1913. The four towers are among the tallest church towers in Mumbai and the windows here also have beautiful stained glass.
The Mass here is a midnight one, and carol singing starts at 11.30 p.m.
- Address: Sant Savata Marg, Byculla.
- Phone: (22) 2372 6630.
Saint Michael's is one of the oldest Catholic churches in India. Although its present building was constructed in 1973, the church was formed by the Portuguese way back in the 16th century.
The Christmas Mass is hugely popular and gets underway with carol singing at 11.30 p.m. If you can't make it to the mass but still want to get into the festive spirit, definitely try to visit on preceding Wednesdays when the Novena takes place. You'll find the church attractively decorated and a market occupying the pavement out the front.
- Address: Corner of Lady Jamshedji Road Road and Mahim Causeway (opposite Mahim Bus Depot), Mahim.
- Phone: (22) 2445 4483.
Mount Mary's holds the most popular Christmas Mass in Bandra -- it starts with 45 minutes of carol singing at 10 p.m. in the basilica compound.
As the name suggests, the church sits atop a small hill overlooking the ocean, close to Bandra Bandstand. Its current building is around 100 years old, although its statue of the mother Mary dates back to the 16th century.
- Address: Mount Mary Road, Near Bandstand, Bandra West.
- Phone: (22) 2642 3152.
Saint Peter's, a Jesuit Catholic church, holds another very popular Christmas Mass. It's a charming church, built in Romanesque style, with ornate interiors. The service commences at 10.00 p.m. with carols.
- Address: Hill Road, Bandra West.
- Phone: (22) 2642 3098, 2645 9474.
Quaint Saint Andrew's Church has a distinctive Portuguese-style facade, incorporating two bell towers. It's a quieter option for those who can't get seats at Saint Mary's or Saint Peter's, or for those who prefer it that way. Built near the sea shore in 1575, it was the first church in Bandra until 1620.
The Christmas Mass starts with carols at 10 p.m. here.
- Address: 115 Hill Road (near Holy Family Hospital), Bandra West.
- Phone: (22) 2642 7840, 2642 3680.
For those in the outer suburbs of Mumbai at Christmas, another of Mumbai's old churches, The Lady of Immaculate Conception, holds an extremely popular Christmas mass on its grounds. The attendance has grown to 12,000 people in recent years! It starts at 10 p.m, after carols at 9.30 p.m.
- Address: IC Colony (off Laxman Mhatre Rd), Borivali West.
- Phone: (22) 2893 1360, 2892 1846.