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Christmas attendance in the UK appears to have gone up

Christmas attendance in the UK appears to have gone up

The Church Times reports that attendance at Christmas Services seemed to bump up compared to last year in Great Britain.

At Wakefield Cathedral, the Dean, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, said that more people than ever had been at its Christmas services. “For us it started back in Advent, and we have been busy throughout….

….At St Albans Cathedral, the ex­pected 1000 for a crib service on Christ­mas Eve attracted 3000; and, an hour after it finished, 700 turned up for evensong.

St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow, also reported an unex­pectedly high turnout for midnight mass, and extra chairs had to be brought out.

Speaking after the service, the Provost, the Very Revd Kelvin Holds­worth, said: “It was wonderful to see the church packed to the gunwales for the most holy night of the year. The singing was so strong and so powerful that it felt that we were going to raise the roof.

“In a time of economic uncertain­ty, when so many places of the world seem troubled, it is clear that people want to share in the hope that the Church proclaims at Christmas.”

At York Minster, all services were packed, Canon Jonathan Draper said. Well over 3500 attended the Christ­mas Eve carol service.

At St Paul’s Cathedral in London, where the Occupy camp is still in place, numbers were also up. The Canon Pastor, the Rt Revd Michael Colclough, said: “We did wonder if the situation outside would affect numbers this year, but it hasn’t.

We were packed, and our numbers were up on last year, when we suffered a little with the colder weather.”

Since we don’t have a way of instantly reporting comparative attendance figures, we are curious: did you have more people than you expected or fewer people? Do you think good/bad weather played into it? How did Saturday evening bumping up against Sunday morning affect things if at all?

Let us know your experience and your take on what you saw and heard.


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Clint Davis

At the big Catholic parish I work for, the 4pm Vigil Mass was packed out, standing room only, filled the narthex and spilled out onto the porch, probably 500 people or more. Total zoo. Midnight Mass? Comfortably full, about 350-400, but not swinging from the chandeliers and hanging out the door like they were at 4. That’s really been the trend over the past 10 Christmases I’ve been there. At the 9pm at the Episcopal parish down the street (for which I’m ever grateful) it was full too but not crazy. Back at St. Joe’s, Christmas Day was 3/4 full. There you have it.


When I was rushing to set out luminarias before the 430pm service, it seemed that there were a lot of families I knew, and some I didn’t. When I returned for the 9pm service (I’m in the choir) the service was pretty packed. The front chairs weren’t filled, but the others were. We’re In transition, too, but are lucky to have a strong interim who is currently our sole candidate. We’ve worked this year on growth and outreach, and I can confidently say that Christmas Eve was one of our best ever in terms of presenting the joy and wonder of the season.

We’re welcoming people from another smaller mission parish in a few months in a merger; we’ve been through this before so we’ll see a bit of a “bump” in attendance soon.

There’s a photo from the Christmas Eve service on our website that gives an idea of attendance; will find out about attendance at the early service and the Sunday service (we had one, most of the choir was excused) today.

Ginny Gibbs (added by ~ed.) — Please sign your whole name next time – thanks.


Attended the late service Christmas Eve. Decent attendance…but nothing like the folding-chairs-in-the-back services I remember 20 years ago (which, IIRC, started an hour later than the late service does today).

I just HOPE the early service had more young families, as well as 80+ year-olds! O_o

JC Fisher

Ann Fontaine

We had great attendance. No late service as no one likes to drive after dark or bring children out late. Spanish service at noon on Saturday had many families we had not seen before. English service at 5 p.m. – packed our sanctuary. Christmas Day had more than ever – usually just the choir and priest – I think because it was Sunday we had about 40+ also many we had not seen before. One never know in resort community- will locals have gone off to see relatives elsewhere or will everyone be descending on the beach for Christmas – we had very sunny weather which is unusual too. Who will have to work because motels need cleaning and cows need milking (Tillamook Cheese country).


At our late Christmas Eve service, attendance was down, and I don’t know the attendance at the two earlier services on the Eve. Since we have an interim half-time priest, we had no service on Christmas Day, which in previous years had few attending.

I love the late service on Christmas Eve with lessons and carols preceding the Eucharist, but fewer each year seem to opt for the it. I can remember a full house in previous years, before we had earlier services on the Eve.

The early afternoon service was at a local retirement home, which I think is a lovely idea, since several members of our church live there, some of whom would have a difficult time coming to a church service.

June Butler

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