Ripon Cathedral at the heart of Christmas

November 26, 2021
November 26, 2021 Michelle

This year Ripon Cathedral is back at the heart of Christmas with a full programme of services and free events, several of which could not take place last year because of COVID restrictions. The traditional Boxing Day Pilgrimage to Fountains Abbey and the Watchnight Service on New Year’s Eve, which were cancelled last year, are back again.

Among the highlights are three Festivals of Lessons and Carols, one featuring the Yorkshire shepherdess, Amanda Owen, and a Festal Eucharist on Christmas Day.

For children there will be a Christmas Trail, called A Noisy Night in Bethlehem, running every day during December plus a special dressing-up event on Christmas Eve, when children can Journey to Bethlehem.

COVID restrictions last year meant that many Advent and Christmas services had to be ticketed, with much reduced numbers. This year there will be no ticketing and for the larger services numbers will be increased substantially but those who wish to socially distance will find certain parts of the cathedral set aside with TV screens, relaying what is taking place in the nave.

For those who cannot attend, certain services will be streamed on Ripon Cathedral’s YouTube channel; these include The Festal Eucharist (Holy Communion) on Christmas morning at 10.30am and a Festival of Lessons and Carols on December 23.

The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson DL said: “Every year, the Church prepares for Christmas with a season which puts hope firmly at the centre of life as we know it. This theme of hope is strengthened further at Christmas itself when we celebrate that Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem reveals the down-to-earth nature of God’s indestructible love. With this love God both sustains the universe and remains with us in our every-day living.

“This theme of hope is celebrated and shared in the cathedral’s wonderful services during Advent and Christmas. These are our gifts to God and to you. Please, do join us.”

The programme includes the following, to which all are welcome.

December 1 to January 4 Children’s Christmas Trail, A Noisy Night in Bethlehem

Bethlehem is all abuzz! Follow the story around the cathedral to discover why this quiet little town suddenly became so noisy on that special December night.

December 19 BBC Radio York Carol Service – Festival of Lessons and Carols 5.30pm

 Festival of Lessons and Carols with readings from Radio York presenters, the Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen and the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Mrs Johanna Ropner. To be broadcast on Radio York on Christmas Day.

December 21 La Nativité du Seigneur 7.30pm

The sounds of magnificent pipe organ fill the sacred space as we hear all nine movements of Olivier Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur in this act of worship. This piece is divided into nine ‘meditations’ inspired by the birth of Jesus and performed by Interim Director of Music, Peter Wright.

 December 23 Festival of Lessons and Carols 5.30pm

Come and enjoy the choir singing some wonderful and familiar Christmas music and hear again the Christian story of salvation. This is always a popular service so do arrive early to avoid disappointment. The service will be broadcast on Christmas Day by Premier Christian Radio. You can hear a Festival of Lessons and Carols on Ripon Cathedral’s YouTube channel at 5.30pm.

Christmas Eve

Journey to Bethlehem 11am

A fun family service with children invited to dress up as characters from the nativity (or their favourite superheroes. They will be invited to take part as the story unfolds through readings by older children in the cathedral congregation.

Festival of Lessons and Carols 5.30pm

Come and enjoy the choir singing some wonderful and familiar Christmas music and hear again the Christian story of salvation. This is always a popular servicer so do arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Midnight Mass 11pm

The first Eucharist of Christmas takes place in the quietness of this holy night as we celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

Christmas Day

Holy Communion 9.30am

A traditional service of said Holy Communion with one sung Christmas carol.

Festal Eucharist 10.30am

Spectacular music and readings with incense and ceremony to mark the birth of Jesus. This service will be live streamed.

Boxing Day Eucharist and Pilgrimage to Fountains Abbey

On a cold day in 1132, 13 monks walked from Ripon to a completely deserted valley by the River Skell to start their own community – Fountains Abbey! Follow the monks in their footsteps in this annual traditional pilgrimage. It will begin at Ripon Cathedral with a Eucharist at 9.30am, leaving the cathedral at 10am and ending with a service of carols and prayers in the abbey cellarium at 11am.

 December 31 Watchnight Service 11.15pm

See the old year out and the new year in with this short service in the cathedral followed by a candle-lit procession to join the celebrations and a firework display in the Market Square.

More details at




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