All over the UK, cathedral choirs are preparing to deliver exquisite concerts of Christmas music. One of the most constant and best-loved traditions is The Nine Lessons and Carols service at King’s College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve. Started in 1918, and first broadcast in 1928, it always opens with Once in Royal David’s City and, since Stephen Cleobury became musical director in 1982, features a new carol, this year a setting of Christina Rossetti’s poem Christmas Eve composed by Tansy Davies, whose music is described as ‘impossible to pigeonhole’.

Usually, anyone joining the queue before 9am will gain admission, but it is not guaranteed. The queue is admitted at 1.30pm and the service, which is broadcast live on Radio 4 and again on Christmas Day at 2pm on Radio 3, starts at 3pm. For information, telephone 01223 331100 or visit www.kingscam.ac.uk.

The nine lessons and carols structure, begun in 1880 by E. W. Benson, later the Archbishop of Canterbury, when he was Bishop of Truro, has been adopted by several cathedrals. Many services are free, but some are ticketed and become oversubscribed, so check the website first.

Birmingham December 23 and 24, 5.30pm (0121 262 1840; www.birminghamcathedral.com)
Bristol December 23 at 7pm and December 24, 3.30pm (0117 926 4879; www.bristol-cathedral.co.uk)
Canterbury December 23 at 7.30pm and December 24, 3pm (01227 762862; www.canterbury-cathedral.org)
Carlisle December 18 and 24, 3pm (01228 548151; www.carlislecathedral.org.uk)
Chester December 17, 23 at 6pm and 24 at 3pm (01244 500959; www.chestercathedral.com)
Chichester December 20 and 21 at 6pm, and 22 at 3pm (01243 782595; www.chichestercathedral.org.uk)
Coventry December 10, 3pm and 7.30pm, and 24, 3pm (024 7652 1200; www.coventrycathedral.org.uk)
Durham December 24, 3pm (0191 386 4266; www.durhamcathedral.co.uk)
Ely December 18 and 24, 6pm (01353 660349; www.elycathedral.org)
Exeter December 24, 6pm (01392 255573; www.exeter-cathedral.org.uk)
Hereford December 22 and 23, 7pm (01432 374200; www.herefordcathedral.org)
Lichfield December 18, 6.30pm (01543 306100; www.lichfield-cathedral.org)
Lincoln December 14, 7.30pm and 24, 6pm (01522 561600; www.lincolncathedral.com)
Liverpool December 24, 3pm (0151 7027217; www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk)
St Paul’s December 23, 4pm (020-7246 8350; www.stpauls.co.uk)
Manchester December 22, 7.30pm (0161 8332220; www.manchestercathedral.org)
Newcastle December 9 and 24 (0191 2321939; www.stnicholascathedral.co.uk)
Norwich December 17 at 7.30pm and 24, 3.30pm (01603 218300; www.cathedral.org.uk)
Christ Church Oxford December 23, 7.15pm and 24, 3pm (01865 276155; www.chchchoir.org)
Peterborough December 24, 4pm (01733 355310; www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk)
Ripon December 23 and 24, 5.30pm (01765 603462; www.riponcathedral.org.uk)
St Albans December 21, 7pm and 24, 5.30pm (01727 860780; www.stalbanscathedral.org)
Salisbury December 21 and 22, 7pm (01722 555120; www.salisburycathedral.org.uk)
Sheffield December 24, 7pm (0114 2797412; www.sheffieldcathedral.org)
Truro December 17, 7.30pm (01872 276782; www.trurocathedral.org.uk)
Wakefield December 22, 7pm and 24, 12 noon (01924 373923; www.wakefieldcathedral.org.uk)
Wells December 23, 6pm (01749 674483; www.wellscathedral.org.uk)
Winchester December 19, 20 and 22, all 6.30pm cathedral carol service (01962 857275; www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk)
York December 10, 7.30pm (0844 9390011; www.yorkminster.org)