Where to hear angelic voices sing.

For many people, Christmas only truly begins with the sublime broadcast on December 24 of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Cambridge. This year is the 60th anniversary of the first BBC television showing of Carols from King’s, which will be marked by a 60-minute documentary before the broadcast of the service; the BBC will also show a restored recording from 1954, when the conductor and choirmaster was Boris Ord.

The service, which was originally suggested by G. H. S. Walpole, later Bishop of Edinburgh, and first performed in Truro in 1880, has been used at King’s since 1918 and was first broadcast on radio in 1928. It has been adapted for use all over the world and millions tune into the BBC on Christmas Eve, including, on one occasion, climbers on Everest.

A DVD is available of the 2013 service (£9.50) and the choir has recorded a new CD of 25 favourite carols (£8). For more information, visit www.kings.cam.ac.uk

The Christmas Eve service, which is broadcast live on Radio 4 at 3pm, is free to attend; doors open at 1.30pm, the gates open at 7.30am and, generally, those in the queue by 9am will get in.

There are chances to hear cathedral choirs all over Britain performing the highest standards of heavenly Christmas music (see below). Many of the services listed are in the Nine Lessons format; they’re free to attend unless it’s indicated that you need a ticket.

Bristol December 23, 6pm, and 24, 3.30pm (0117–926 4879; www.bristol-cathedral.co.uk)

Canterbury December 23, 7.30pm (doors open 6pm), and 24, 3pm (ticketed). For tickets, apply in writing with self-addressed envelope to Carol Service, Cathedral House, The Precincts, Canterbury CT1 2EH. Bookings are limited to four tickets (01227 762862; www.canterbury-cathedral.org)

Carlisle December 21, 3pm, and 24, 6.30pm (01228 548151; www.carlislecathedral.org.uk)

Chester December 20, 7.30pm (ticketed, 01244 324756; www.chestercathedral.com)

Chichester December 22, 3pm (www.chichestercathedral.org.uk; 01243 782595)

Coventry December 13, 7.30pm (ticketed), and 21, 6.30pm (www.coventrycathedral.org.uk; 024– 7652 1210)

Durham December 13, 7.30pm (ticketed, www.galadurham.co.uk; 03000 266600), 22, 7pm, and 24, 3pm (www.durhamcathedral.co.uk; 0191–386 4266)

Edinburgh December 22 and 24, 7.30pm (0131–225 6293; www.cathedral.net)

Ely December 22, 7.30pm (ticketed), 23 and 24, 6pm (01353 660349; www.elycathedral.org)

Exeter December 24, 6pm (01392 255573; www.exeter-cathedral.org.uk)

Gloucester December 23 and 24, 6pm (www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk; 01452 528095)

Hereford December 22 and 23, 7pm (ticketed, 01432 374200; www.herefordcathedral.org)

Lichfield December 20, 7.30pm (ticketed, www.lichfield-cathedral.org; 01543 306100)

Lincoln December 17, 7.30pm (ticketed) and 24, 4pm (01522 561600; www.lincolncathedral.com)

Liverpool December 20, 3pm, and 24, 3pm (www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk; 0151–702 7217)

Manchester December 22, 7.30pm (www.manchestercathedral.org; 0161–833 2220)

Newcastle December 20, 6.30pm (ticketed), and 24, 6pm (0191–232 1939; www.stnicholascathedral.co.uk)

Norwich December 12, 7.30pm (ticketed, 01603 218300; www.norwichcathedral.org.uk)

Peterborough December 19, 7.30pm (ticketed), and 24, 4pm (01733 355315; www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk)

Ripon December 23 and 24, 5.30pm (www.riponcathedral.org.uk; 01765 603462)

St Davids December 22, 7pm (01437 720202; www.stdavidscathedral.org.uk)

St Paul’s December 23 and 24, 4pm, services will be relayed onto a big screen in Paternoster Square (020–7246 8350; www.stpauls.co.uk)

Salisbury December 21, 5pm, 22, 7pm, and 24, 4pm (01722 555120; www.salisburycathedral.org.uk)

Sheffield December 22, 8pm (ticketed), and 24, 7pm (0114–275 3434; www.sheffieldcathedral.org)

Truro December 13, 7.30pm (ticketed, www.hallforcornwall.co.uk; 01872 262466), 23 and 24, 7pm (01872 276782; www.trurocathedral. org.uk)

Wakefield December 21, 3.30pm (www.wakefieldcathedral.org.uk; 01924 373923)

Wells December 20 and 21, 7pm (ticketed), and 23, 6pm (01749 672773; www.wellscathedral.org.uk)

Winchester December 12, 7pm (ticketed), 19 (ticketed), 20 and 22, 6.30pm (01962 857275; www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk)

York Minster December 22, 7pm, and 24, 4pm (01904 557200; www.yorkminster.org)