Classic FM at Christmas: radio highlights in 2023

1 December 2023, 08:00 | Updated: 22 December 2023, 11:15

Classic FM’s radio highlights for Christmas 2023, from carol concerts to the nativity
Classic FM’s radio highlights for Christmas 2023, from carol concerts to the nativity. Picture: Classic FM
Classic FM

By Classic FM

All the radio highlights from Classic FM this festive season, from carols at Buckingham Palace and the return of Pet Classics, to Aled Jones’ ‘The Snowman’ and other star storytellers.

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Every December, Classic FM transforms into the home of Christmas music, with warming festive carols and plenty of family favourite classical music across the season.

This year, join our presenters and a selection of special guests, as they bring you behind the closed doors of exclusive carol concerts, at Buckingham Palace and London’s oldest surviving church, and bring heartwarming Christmas tales to life.

There’s brilliant music along the way to keep the festivities going into the New Year, as John Suchet explores one of Vienna’s greatest musical dynasties, and we celebrate the greatest film music ever written with a blockbuster New Year’s Day at the Movies.

Listen on Global Player, the official Classic FM app, for live radio, catch up, playlists and more >

  1. Christmas by Candlelight with Zeb Soanes

    8pm–10pm, Friday 22 December

    Zeb Soanes welcomes you into the historic St Martin-in-the-Fields church in the heart of London for a traditional carol concert. St Martin’s Voices and conductor Andrew Earis present a programme of festive favourites, from ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ to ‘O Holy Night’, alongside readings of works by favourite wordsmiths John Betjeman and Beatrix Potter, in a live recording for Classic FM.

  2. Carols from St Paul’s Cathedral with Moira Stuart

    6pm–7pm, Saturday 23 December

    From within London’s world-famous St Paul’s Cathedral comes a carol concert in aid of The Prince’s Trust, hosted by Moira Stuart. The St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and London Youth Choirs perform seasonal favourites, with a performance from pianist Jamie Cullum and festive readings from Sir Tony Robinson, Richard E Grant, and Dame Joanna Lumley.

    Listen to the Classic FM Christmas playlist on Global Player, the official Classic FM app >

    St Paul’s Cathedral in the snow
    St Paul’s Cathedral in the snow. Picture: Getty
  3. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Requests with Anne-Marie Minhall

    1pm–5pm Christmas Eve, Sunday 24 December

    10am–1pm Christmas Day, Monday 25 December

    It wouldn’t be a Classic FM Christmas without some festive requests with Anne-Marie Minhall! On Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, Anne-Marie will be taking your requests to provide the perfect soundtrack to your day. Let her know what you’re doing, and your favourite festive classical music, by texting 61812, or via Amazon Alexa by saying, “Alexa, send a comment to Classic FM.”

    Send your music request to Classic FM >

  4. Aled Jones narrates ‘The Snowman’

    5pm–5.30pm, Sunday 24 December

    A favourite moment in the Classic FM Christmas calendar for many, Aled Jones narrates the timeless story of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, accompanied by Howard Blake’s wonderful music including ‘Walking in the Air’. A magical Christmas Eve story for excited little ones ahead of Christmas morning.

    'Walking In The Air' by Aled Jones and star treble Malakai M Bayoh

  5. Classic FM’s Carols by Candlelight with Viking

    5.30pm–6.45pm, Sunday 24 December

    Join Aled for an exclusive carol concert recorded live by Classic FM, in the serene setting of London’s oldest surviving church, St Bartholomew-the-Great. Rupert Gough conducts the Choir of Great St Bartholomew in special arrangements of favourite carols, with star performances by Konya and Braimah Kanneh-Mason, and Aled Jones. Joining them will be Classic FM presenters Ritula Shah and Anne-Marie Minhall, for some poetry readings.

    Watch Classic FM’s Carols by Candlelight with Viking – full concert!

  6. The Christmas Story with Stephen Fry

    6.45pm–7pm, Sunday 24 December

    Actor, broadcaster, and national treasure Stephen Fry joins Classic FM for a Christmas special in 2023. He narrates a new retelling of the nativity story, accompanied by a sweeping film soundtrack from composer Thomas Hewitt Jones.

    Stephen Fry narrates the nativity story on Classic FM, this festive season.
    Stephen Fry narrates the nativity story on Classic FM, this festive season. Picture: Getty
  7. Our Choirs at Christmas with Catherine Bott

    7pm–9pm, Sunday 24 December

    Catherine Bott explores the history behind the world-famous British choral tradition, and the timeless role choirs play in Christmas celebrations across the UK. Catherine tells the Christmas story through choral music, selecting some of the best-loved carols from outstanding choirs spanning the length and breadth of the nation.

    Read more: Older bass singers in boys choir sound more ‘brilliant’ when girls are listening

  8. An Italian Christmas with Carly Paoli

    9pm–10pm, Sunday 24 December

    Classical singer Carly Paoli brings an Italian take on Christmas to Classic FM, sharing the traditions, food, and music that makes the festive season such a special time of year in Italy. She chooses the Italian seasonal music that means the most to her, from nativity scenes to the opera stage, and describes what an Italian Christmas is like for her own family.

  9. The Nation’s Favourite Carol with Alexander Armstrong

    1pm–3pm, Monday 25 December

    After weeks of voting, it’s time to reveal the Nation’s Favourite Carol in 2023 – and what better day to do it than on Christmas Day itself? Join Alexander Armstrong on Classic FM as he counts down the Top 30 carols voted into this year’s chart, for the perfect festive accompaniment as you tuck into Christmas dinner...

    Listen to the countdown on Global Player >

    Classic FM reveals the Nation’s Favourite Carol for 2023.
    Classic FM reveals the Nation’s Favourite Carol for 2023. Picture: Classic FM
  10. Christmas from Buckingham Palace with Alan Titchmarsh

    3pm–5pm, Monday 25 December

    Following His Majesty The King’s Christmas Message at 3pm, Alan Titchmarsh presents a very special programme of carols and festive music recorded live at Buckingham Palace. Join Alan as he takes you behind closed doors to a carol service held in the Palace’s grand ballroom, held to thank members of the Royal Household for their work.

    Listen to the Classic FM Christmas playlist on Global Player, the official Classic FM app >

  11. The King’s Foundation Carol Concert with Zeb Soanes

    5pm–6pm, Monday 25 December

    Zeb Soanes presents a traditional carol service from St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, with performances of carols and festive classics from ensembles including The National Piping Centre, the Choir of St Paul’s Knightsbridge, and brass quintet Seraphim.

  12. Christmas with the Bocellis

    8pm–10pm, Monday 25 December

    Andrea Bocelli speaks to Charlotte Hawkins in a rare interview, joined by his children, Matteo and Virginia. The superstar tenor and his family share a glimpse into Christmas time in the Bocelli household, as they select some of their favourite festive music from John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Happy Xmas (War is Over) to Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

    Read more: When a young Andrea Bocelli sang ‘Con te partirò’ in 1995 and the world heard his voice for the first time

    WATCH: Christmas with the Bocellis | exclusive interview with Charlotte Hawkins

  13. The Very Young Person’s Guide to Ballet Music with Tim Lihoreau

    1pm–4pm, Tuesday 26 December

    Pull on your pointe shoes and make sure you’re all warmed up! Tim Lihoreau presents a special programme for families, perfect for introducing little ones in your life to the wonderful world of ballet. Following the release of the book, The Very Young Person’s Guide to Ballet Music earlier this year, Tim showcases spectacular pieces from the ballet stage, from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and The Nutcracker to Stravinsky’s The Firebird and Khachaturian’s Spartacus.

    Read more: Classic FM announces new book ‘The Very Young Person’s Guide to Ballet Music’

    Classic FM announces new book ‘The Very Young Person’s Guide to Ballet Music’
    Classic FM announces new book ‘The Very Young Person’s Guide to Ballet Music’. Picture: Classic FM/DK
  14. The Story of Strauss with John Suchet

    7pm–10pm, Wednesday 27 to Friday 29 December

    Renowned broadcaster and long-time Classic FM presenter, John Suchet returns to present a new three-part series, exploring one of classical music’s mightiest dynasties: the Strauss family. From the Radetzky March to By the Beautiful Blue Danube, the family gave us some of the greatest music of the 1800s and popularised the Viennese Waltz. But it wasn’t a smooth road to success, as John discovers...

    The Beautiful Blue Danube | From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2021 | Great Performances on PBS

  15. Pet Classics with Katie Breathwick

    7pm–10pm New Year’s Eve, Sunday 31 December

    As the New Year draws in, Katie Breathwick presents a special edition of Classic FM’s Pet Classics to help calm pets up and down the country as firework celebrations commence. If your furry, feathered (or even scaly) friends are frightened by the bright lights and loud bangs of firework displays, join Katie to help bring some calm to your night.

    Rescue dog relaxes to beautiful serenade by classical guitarist

  16. New Year’s Day at the Movies

    10am–4pm, Monday 1 January

    We launch headfirst into 2024 with a blockbuster day celebrating the greatest film music ever written, from Indiana Jones and Chariots of Fire to Gladiator and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Aled Jones kickstarts the day’s festivities at 10am, followed by John Brunning and Margherita Taylor, for the perfect soundtrack to your day whether it’s spent on the sofa, on the road, or out and about.

    Listen to Classic FM’s At the Movies live playlist on Global Player >

View Classic FM’s full festive schedule, and find out more about each show, on the Schedule page at