Christmas on Classic FM: full schedule of festive programmes

10 December 2020, 07:42 | Updated: 4 January 2021, 08:40

Join our festive celebrations this Christmas on Classic FM!
Join our festive celebrations this Christmas on Classic FM! Picture: Getty

Classic FM is the home of Christmas music, and we’ll be featuring the most festive programmes to bring us all together this year. Here’s our comprehensive guide to what’s on throughout December...

All through December, we have a selection of special shows on Classic FM to keep you entertained over the festive period.

On Christmas Day, Nicholas Owen will whisk us away to the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, for a wonderful carol concert, in which HRH The Earl of Wessex will deliver a reading. The concert will also include a special arrangement of ‘There is No Rose of Such Virtue’ for the event, by Peter White.

And John Brunning reveals The Nation's Favourite Carol earlier in the day, before broadcasting legend Sir Trevor McDonald presents his Christmas Message and special selection of carols in the evening.

Before that, Moira Stuart will be keeping us company on Christmas Eve with her Christmas Cracker: three hours of traditional carols, festive favourites and seasonal tunes. And Aled Jones will treat us to his annual narration of The Snowman, complete with Howard Blake’s wonderful music.

Below is the full Christmas schedule so that you can plan your festive listening...

Read more: How to listen to the Classic FM Christmas playlist >

21 December: The Lord’s Taverners Carol Concert with the Stars

From 8pm, John Suchet presents a very special carol concert, in aid of the Lord’s Taverners, recorded in the beautiful Marylebone Church in London.

The programme features carols from the Holst Singers conducted by Nicholas Cleobury, performances from baritone Roderick Williams and pianist Anna Tillbrook – and poignant readings from Stephen Fry, David Gower and Ebony Rainford-Brent.

22 December: The Prince’s Foundation Carol Concert

John Suchet presents an exclusive live carol concert recorded recently in the beautiful St Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge, in aid of The Prince’s Foundation.

The programme includes an introduction by HRH The Prince of Wales followed by readings from special guests Emilia Fox and Sarah Beeny, alongside traditional Christmas favourites performed by the Choir of St Paul’s, Knightsbridge. Listen from 8pm.

23 December: A Carol Concert from Cancer Charity Maggie’s

Listeners are reserved some front row seats at a star-studded evening of festive music and readings on Classic FM, in aid of the cancer support charity Maggie’s. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall takes part in the special event, reading John Betjeman’s poem ‘Christmas’. Join John from 8pm to listen.

Read more: Sing Christmas carols with Fiona Bruce, Stanley Tucci, Sue Perkins and other stars – from your own home! >

24 December: Christmas Eve Requests with Anne-Marie Minhall and John Brunning

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a special festive instalment of Classic FM requests!

This Christmas Eve from 12pm to 4.30pm, Anne-Marie Minhall and John Brunning join forces to play all of our favourite Yuletide music for the perfect listening to accompany last-minute present-wrapping and mince pie-baking.

Phone in with your request on 03457 49 1812 or send it via the website here.

24 December: Aled Jones Narrates The Snowman

Aled Jones treats us to his annual narration of the much-loved story The Snowman from 4.30pm, adding a festive touch to the afternoon that the whole family can share.

The 30-minute programme is complete with Howard Blake’s timeless music.

24 December: Moira Stuart’s Christmas Cracker

As we head into the evening on Christmas Eve, Moira Stuart takes over Classic FM with three hours of traditional carols, festive favourites and seasonal tunes.

The music featured includes ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ by Henry John Gauntlett, ‘O Holy Night’ by Adolphe Adam, Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and a special arrangement of Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas – the perfect soundtrack for a wintry evening before the big day.

24 December: The Christmas Classic FM Concert with John Suchet

While you stay cosy by the crackling fire with a warming drink, John Suchet takes you on a tour of the British Isles through a selection of best-loved carol performances from 8pm.

He begins in the South West of England, with the Choir of Exeter Cathedral’s recording of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, before the Worcester Cathedral Choir sing ‘The First Nowell’. The choirs of Manchester, Durham and St Mary’s, Edinburgh also feature, and Bryn Terfel takes to the stage, joined by the Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera.

24 December: Smooth Carols with Karthi Gnanasegaram

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse... except maybe a few parents doing some last-minute wrapping while the children sleep!

Spend the final hours of Christmas Eve in the company of Karthi – she has three hours of beautifully relaxing carol performances to ease you into Christmas Day.

25 December: Classic FM's More Christmas Breakfast with Tim Lihoreau

Wake up on Christmas day in the charming company of Tim Lihoreau and the most joyous Yuletide music!

As well as playing lots of well-known festive music, Tim invites you to get in touch and let him know how you’re spending Christmas morning. Send him a message on the day here.

25 December: Christmas Day Requests with Anne-Marie Minhall

Every Christmas we let you choose the music on Classic FM! Anne-Marie Minhall will be keeping you company on Christmas morning from 9am, as you prepare the dinner, unwrap presents or simply sit back and relax.

And as always, Anne-Marie is particularly keen to hear from anyone for whom this Christmas will be extra-special. Get in touch here.

25 December: The Nation’s Favourite Carol with John Brunning

From 1pm to 3pm, John Brunning counts down the nation’s top 30 best-loved Christmas carols, voted for by Classic FM listeners.

Last year, it was O Holy Night that took the crown as the Nation’s Favourite Carol for the fourth time. Will it remain there for the fifth year in a row?

25 December: Her Majesty The Queen’s Christmas Message

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II delivers her annual Christmas message at 3pm.

25 December: A Royal Christmas with Nicholas Owen

Every year, the annual Buckingham Palace Carol Concert takes place inside the grand Ballroom – but this year’s event will be smaller, and held in the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Classic FM has been given exclusive access to bring this event to your homes, with Nicholas Owen hosting this very special programme.

The concert will feature a selection of favourite carols performed by the Chapel Royal Choir, and an exclusive introduction and reading from HRH The Earl of Wessex. The programme also includes a special arrangement by Peter White of ‘There is No Rose of Such Virtue’, which was written especially for this concert. Listen after the Her Majesty The Queen’s Christmas Message.

25 December: Sir Trevor McDonald’s Christmas Message

Broadcasting icon Sir Trevor McDonald has two hours of his favourite seasonal music this Christmas Day, which is also liberally sprinkled with memories of his festive times past; from growing up in the Caribbean, to his long association with the United States.

He hopes his Christmas message and selection of music will help to lift spirits and inspire feelings of hope as we look ahead to a bright new year. Listen from 5pm to 7pm.

25 December: The Story of Carols with Anne-Marie Minhall

As Christmas Day begins to quieten down, Anne-Marie has a seasonal, musical journey awaiting listeners; sharing the fascinating stories behind our most famous carols.

Anne-Marie also reveals which carol is the best selling of all time, and also tells the tale of another that was written in the middle of summer, in an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool”. Join Anne-Marie at 7pm to hear it.

Listen to all your favourite Christmas music, on the go – whenever and wherever – with the Classic FM Christmas playlist on Global Player, the official Classic FM app.