Westminster Abbey on Christmas Eve

Choristers of Westminster Abbey stand as a 25 foot Christmas Tree is illuminated
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

For many people who do not regularly attend church, Christmas Eve is the night that brings them out to think about the true meaning of the Christmas season.

I've been to the Westminster Abbey Christmas Eve service and thought it might be helpful to let you know what to expect. As with all services at Westminster Abbey you will get to see the stunning interior and hear the angelic choir.

Everyone is Welcome
Firstly, you do not need to be Christian to attend the church service.

They are very clear that everyone is welcome.

Baby, It's Cold Inside
Remember, this is not just a tourist attraction but a working church so please remove your hat as soon as you get inside. You will be reminded! But it is cold inside so you may well want to keep your coat and/or scarf on.

When you enter, you will be guided toward rows of chairs so it's best to enter with your friends so you can sit together.

Free Booklet
On every chair there is a booklet about the service. This is free and it serves as a handy guide to let you know what is going on and when. It tells you when to sit, when to stand, when to sing, etc.

Yes, there is singing involved and everyone joins in for the hymns which tend to be songs we all know such as 'O Come All Ye Faithful', 'Silent Night' and 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing'. All the lyrics are in the booklet.

No Photography
Switch your phone off and do not take photos.

I'll mention it again, this is a working church and not a tourist attraction.

A Long Service
I was surprised how long the service was but the 15-page booklet should have been a clue as to how long it would last for. The service starts at 11:30pm so arrive from 11pm and do not enter late; you will be let in but I think it's rude to arrive late and distract others.

The service lasts around 90 minutes so be aware you will be inside until at least 1am. Do not think "I'll come for a bit and then leave" as this is disruptive and again, I feel it's bad manners.

Children are welcome but consider the late timing, how cold it can be inside as well as outside at this time of year, and how long the service lasts. I wouldn't recommend bringing young children but I saw plenty of older children who knew how to behave in church and were still awake at the end.

At the end of the service, the organ plays and it's time to file out. At the exits there are clergy waiting to shake your hand and wish you a Merry Christmas and also to collect donations (money) which are divided between the Abbey and their nominated charity.

Find out more about Christmas in London.