from St Anne's

Services for Christmas and Advent 2023

Belfast Cathedral - Services for Christmas and Advent 2023

Services at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast for Advent and Christmas 2023.

This year, 2023, Belfast Cathedral will be hosting special services for Advent and Christmas on each of the four Sunday afternoons or evenings in December leading up to Christmas Day on Monday 25th December. In addition to our regular 11.00am Sunday morning Choral Eucharist, we warmly invite as many people as possible to join us for some, or all of these special Sunday services.

Advent Sunday for 2023 is Sunday 3rd December.

Advent marks the start of our cathedral preparations to receive the Messiah and Saviour into our world and time, the baby of Bethlehem born for our peace.

At 8.00pm on Sunday Evening 3rd December, please join us for our Processional Advent Carol Service ““E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come” .  This will be an atmospheric Candle-Lit service of Readings, Prayers, Choir Anthems, and Congregational Carols marking the start of the Season of Advent. Throughout the service the cathedral choir will gradually make their way in procession from the darkness of the West End, to the light of the cathedral Quire and sanctuary. This will be the first Advent Processional Service under the direction of our new Master of Music, Jack Wilson, with the choir of Belfast Cathedral, and with Stephen Hamill as accompanying organist. Do join us for this evening time celebration in our Advent preparations for Christmas.


Sunday afternoon 10th December,

The cathedral will be the venue for a special afternoon and service entitled “Light up the Night – An Occasion for Remembering”. 

In partnership with the well known charity “Cruse” and “Funeral Partners” (formerly Browns of Belfast), the cathedral will be open from 1.00pm to 6.00pm as a space for quiet reflection and remembering for the families of those whose funerals were curtailed during Covid. Across the time of the Covid pandemic many families were denied the usual gatherings and services which bring comfort, community support and healing through a sharing of grief.

For this Sunday afternoon 10th December Belfast Cathedral will be transformed with eight “Trees for Remembering” placed in the aisles of the Cathedral. On the branches of the softly lit “Trees for Remembering”, all who visit across the afternoon will be invited to hang their own memorial to the name of someone special  that they are remembering.

Then at 3.30pm a special community Occasion for Remembering “Light up the Night” will take place. In a service of hymns and carols, readings and poetry, music and silence, we will gather to remember well those who will be missed most at Christmas time. Cruse will also offer counselling support to any who seek it.


Sunday afternoon 17th December.

At 3.30pm the Choir of Belfast Cathedral, under the direction of Jack Wilson will lead “Carols in the City”. Eight days before Christmas, with the cathedral crib in place, and under the glow of the cathedral’s great tree, this afternoon service will set the scene for all our preparations. With Christmas music, sung by the cathedral choir, familiar readings and rousing congregational carols we will get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus into our world. We hope that many from across the city and beyond will choose to join us as we re-instate a much loved tradition with Belfast Cathedral’s afternoon carol service, held on Sunday in the week before Christmas.


Sunday 24th December, Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve, our choral Christmas preparations will reach their climax.

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, the Dean of Belfast will conclude his 2023 Black Santa Sitout for local Charities.

Then at 8.00pm  on Sunday 24th December, we look forward to a packed cathedral for the ever popular Christmas Eve Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The service will feature festive music which has been prepared by the Master of Music and the Cathedral Choir for this year’s service. The choir will sing Anthems and Carols for Christmas, we will hear again the familiar Nine Lessons of Christmas Eve, and join in congregational carols which will set the scene for Christmas. All are invited, and all are welcome.

On Christmas Eve at 11.00pm we expect the cathedral being packed once again, as we gather in the candle light for The First Communion of Christmas.

Bishop David McClay, the Bishop of Down and Dromore will be the preacher, with the Dean as celebrant. With soaring music and prayerful silence the cathedral choir and gathered congregation will greet the birth of the baby of Bethlehem into a world in sore need of God’s peace and the Christ’s hope. Do join us for one of the highlights of the liturgical year.


Christmas morning, Monday 25th December 

At 11.00am all are invited to share in our cathedral’s Festival Eucharist for Christmas Morning, led by the choir of the cathedral, with Bishop Trevor Williams as celebrant and our Deacon Intern, the Revd Cameron Mack as our Christmas morning preacher. Whether visitor to Belfast for the season of Christmas, someone who has returned to the province to be with family or friends, or a regular member of the Cathedral family, all are invited to place the worship of the Christ Child, born in our midst, to be at the very centre of our Christmas Day.


New Year’s Eve - Sunday 31st December, 2023

Marking the ending of the old year, the cathedral’s Sunday morning worship will continue with a Cathedral Eucharist at 11.00am led by the Dean.