Christmas cathedral attendance figures break records - again


Attendance at Christmas services in England’s cathedrals has broken records for the second year running, statistics published by the Church of England have shown

A total of 135,000 people came to Church of England cathedrals to worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 2017 – an increase of three per cent on the previous year, and the highest total since records began.

Attendance at Chester Cathedral for the season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany rose by 35% from between 2014 – 2017 from 4600 people to 6200 people. The Dean of Chester, the Very Revd Tim Stratford says: “Christmas time is full of wonder and joy. The colours and shapes of thousands of lights that shine through the darkness on trees and in windows say this beautifully. In the church, one light shines out bigger and brighter than all the others. It is this great light with which all our other lights twinkle in sympathy. The great light that shines out is our celebration of the birth of Jesus. We know him as the one in whose life God touched the world as he never had done before nor since. His birth is a glimpse of heaven in our midst.

"At Chester Cathedral this Christmas we will be celebrating the wonder and the joy of Jesus’ birth and catching a glimpse of heaven. The church is a beautiful space filled with the prayers of people across a millennium. We will fill it with our own prayers, inspiring music, sculpture and art in worship and events that are open to the whole city and county.”

See what's on at Chester Cathedral this advent.

Attendances at Sunday worship in cathedrals throughout the year also continued to hold steady over a five-year period, while average weekday attendances continued their pattern of increase, with just over 18,000 attending in 2017, compared with 7,000 in 2000 when this data was first recorded. Over 10 years, the total number attending all regular services in cathedrals has increased by 10 per cent.

While year-on-year changes to Advent and Christmas attendance can be affected by the number of Sundays in Advent and the day on which Christmas falls, numbers attending cathedrals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have increased by 13 per cent over the past 10 years, evidencing sustained growth.

Meanwhile, more than 10 million people visited cathedrals (including Westminster Abbey) in 2017, with fewer paying for entry than in previous years.

Cathedrals also reported having around 1,000 more volunteers in 2017 compared with the previous year.

Cathedrals are increasingly used for an array of events, services and community engagement initiatives. In October, Chester Cathedral was the venue for the launch of Journey into Light, an exhibition of prisoner artwork which is currently touring 40 parishes around the diocese. An estimated 1000 people visited the exhibition hosted in the Chapter House of the Cathedral. 

Nationally, Cathedrals continued to be centres of civic life, with 1.3 million people reported at 5,300 civic services and events. In 2017, 289,000 people attended 290 graduation ceremonies.

Page last updated: 27th Nov 2018 3:39 PM