Columbia Road’s legendary carol services have been cancelled

London really does shed its unfriendly reputation and come alive with Christmas cheer in December – and we at Time Out should know, with our extensive guide to all the fabulous festivities happening across the city

But now there is one fewer festive thing to do in the capital this Christmastime, as the famous Columbia Road Christmas carols have just been cancelled for the rest of the year. 

The growing popularity of Columbia Road’s carols has led to some serious safety concerns. The event, which takes place each Wednesday night throughout December every year, saw vast crowds attend the event last week after it went viral on TikTok. 

Typically, the carols attract a few hundred people for a wholesome singalong. They’re led by St Peter’s Bethnal Green, and the church piano is wheeled out onto the street to soundtrack all the singing. 

Columbia Road’s carols have steadily grown in popularity over the last couple of years, and the BBC covered it in 2022 when they made their post-pandemic return. 

But in recent weeks things have gotten out of hand. Last Wednesday (December 6), more than 7,000 people descended on the street, and Tower Hamlets Council and the police were forced to advise for the cancellation of future services. Just look at those crowds. 

‘The crowds of over 7,000 present last week were of such volume on the road that there was a danger to public safety,’ said vicar Heather Atkinson, according to the Standard, ‘We are grateful to God and to those working at the event that there were no serious injuries.’

The shops on Columbia Road will keep up their late-night shopping tradition on Wednesdays. But if you’re hoping to catch some carols, you’ll need to look elsewhere for this year. Have a read of our list of the very best carol concerts in the city here

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