Royal Albert Hall to welcome 
socially-distanced audiences 
this Christmas season

149 years of festive tradition kept alive with programme featuring carol concerts, The Nutcracker, Handel’s Messiah, the Royal Choral Society, Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas and My Christmas Orchestral Adventure

Reduced-capacity shows will allow audiences to celebrate together again safely, while protecting jobs, and supporting the arts sector, local economy and consumer confidence

Eighteen Christmas concerts under Covid-19 secure guidelines, directly employing more than 1,000 musicians, technical specialists, freelance crew, caterers and other staff 

The Royal Albert Hall will open its doors this December with a programme of festive favourites, welcoming a live audience to a much-needed celebration of Christmas in 2020. The season will feature essentials from the Hall’s Christmas tradition, including the Royal Choral Society and Handel’s Messiah – both staples since 1871 – alongside Christmas carols, The Nutcracker, Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas and the family show, My Christmas Orchestral Adventure. Presented under Covid-19 secure guidelines, the concerts will create a safe and comfortable environment for audiences to celebrate together again – with measures including socially-distanced seating, e-tickets, deep-cleaning, staggered entry times to reduce queues, temperature checks, a face covering policy, and sanitising stations throughout the venue. Craig Hassall, CEO of the Royal Albert Hall, said:“Six months on from enforced closure, and six months away from our 150th anniversary on 29 March 2021, we are excited beyond words to open our doors to the public for what will be a joyful, stirring and historic occasion.“It remains the case that socially-distanced performances are financially unviable in the long term. Although this model is not sustainable with such reduced capacities, we are opening because I firmly believe this is what the country needs. It is an investment into our future – to protect the jobs of our highly skilled staff, to stimulate the local economy and the wider arts ecosystem, and to fulfil significant audience demand.“Christmas has always been a time of great celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall, where people have come together since 1871 – from Vera Lynn at the end of the Blitz, to HM The Queen’s first public Christmas address. It is essential for us to carry on this spirit in what has been a year of disruption.” Although it is impossible for the Hall to return to viable operations and profitability with social distancing in place, the season will be a step forward in supporting the wider industry, stimulating the local economy and offering live cultural experiences to the nation. Any income from the season will help the Hall retain its workforce and give work to suppliers and freelancers. The Hall sold 121,229 tickets across last year’s Christmas season. This year there will be 36,000 tickets available in total. The line-up includes two shows that have featured in the venue’s line-up since 1871. The Royal Choral Society will bring 150 vocalists to the Hall, while Handel’s Messiah will be performed this year by soloists Francesca Chiejina, Katie Bray, Trystan Llŷr Griffiths, and Dingle Yandell, with the Philharmonia Chorus and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Eduardo Strausser.  The Hall’s famous carol concerts also return, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Choral Society and National Youth Choirs of Great Britain conducted by Richard Cooke.  Jazz legend Guy Barker will also appear for the fifth year of his Big Band Christmas, with a swinging, soulful celebration of big band music, and some very special guests. Previous stars at the concert, fast becoming an annual institution, include Paloma Faith, Soweto Kinch and Kurt Elling. Birmingham Royal Ballet will present its spectacular Christmas classic, The Nutcracker, adapted for these extraordinary times, which features staging created for the Hall. And My Christmas Orchestral Adventure returns with a familiar show for families, giving many children their first experience of a live orchestra. The events will mark the Hall’s first concerts with an audience in nine months, on the eve of its 150th anniversary. In only its second closure since the Blitz, the Hall has forgone £18m in income, refunded over £6.5m of ticket sales, exhausted its reserves and cancelled all but the most critical building projects. The Grade I listed venue has recently launched a £20m fundraising campaign to help it survive the Covid-19 crisis.  Tickets for Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall are on sale at 10AM on Friday 2 October, priced from £15. Tickets for The Nutcracker will be available at a later date.