Attending evensong at Westminster Abbey (2023)

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Posted bySarah(St. Louis, MO USA)on

Is it recommended to buy tickets in advance (to save money, secure tickets before they sell out, etc.) or will there tickets be available on the day of the event?

Posted byLaura

Rick Steves' Europe

16890 posts

The evensong itself is not a ticketed visit. You can just show up to attend the service but then can't wander around the church before and after. To see more of the church, Rick's book does not particularly suggest buying tickets online.

Posted byLo


3787 posts

We did not get tickets to the Abbey in advance, but we were there in October (2009). We just bought them at the entrance. A free audio tour comes with the entrance fee.

(Video) Pope Benedict XVI - Evensong in Westminster Abbey - Full Video

After touring around on our own, we went outside to get in line for the Evensong service.

We went early enough to see the Abbey without rushing and late enough so that we didn't have to wait very long to go back in for Evensong.

Explore for information on visiting. There's even a calendar. It's important to find out the Abbey's open hours and schedule of services and events for the day you would like to go. The schedule is not exactly the same every day.

Posted byKent

US Pacific Northwest

10344 posts

As Laura explains above, Evensong is a religious service that doesn't require a ticket, you just get in line and file into the church and sit in the pews, like any religious service.

Some people who have attended Evensong incorrectly think they can look around the Abbey after the Evensong, but that's not permitted and they are promptly directed to the exits by the ushers, who are looking for this.

As I thought Laura made clear, seeing or touring the Abbey is entirely separate from attending Evensong, and you have to pay if you want to be a tourist seeing the Abbey.

Posted byGeor

Seattle, Wa, USA

449 posts

Hi Sarah:

I attended an Evensong at Westminster Abbey last August. As other folks have posted this is a religious service which does not cost money. Just show up maybe an hour early. Here is my take. It is a religious activity with standing, sitting, short sermon, I felt out of place because I am not a member of any organized religion. The guy next to me was serious about all this - he was praying in earnest. It was nice to be able to see the interior of the Abbey at no cost though the exposure was limited. However, I had to "endure" a service that consisted of more than song. I would have felt more comfortable if I just paid the regular entrance fee and explored this wonderful building with no spiritual strings attached.

(Video) BBC Choral Evensong: RSCM Westminster Abbey 1987 (Martin How)

As part of my vacation I traveled to Winchester to attend tank driving school. Part of the day was spent wandering around the majestic Winchester Cathedral. Yes, I had to pay admission, but they allowed folks to bring cameras inside which I believe is not allowed at Westminster Abbey.

Posted byAnita

Long Beach, California, USA

3360 posts

Evensong is a church service, not a ticketed event. You simply line up outside a bit before the start time. They let you in and you must follow a roped-off path down one side of the church. There is no time to look around or see anything as they expect that you are there for the service, not sightseeing.
That said, it is a lovely service, not long, and quiet, unlike the area outside which is crawling with tourists!

Posted bySarahOP

St. Louis, MO USA

1976 posts

Thank you all for clarifying and answering questions I didn't even know to ask.

Posted bykyra

92 posts

Sarah, if you have any interest in choral music and/or sacred (church) music, then I cannot recommend Evensong highly enough. While I enjoy Westminster Abbey during the day, attending a service allows the visitor to experience the building for the purpose for which it was built. And the music is very, very good. I've been lucky enough to have been seated in the quire (choir stalls) for more than one Evensong, which makes the music even better, for me.

If you'd be truly uncomfortable during the service, fair enough, but the Abbey knows that many people attending services are visitors and I, personally, have always felt welcome. You should be prepared to stay for the duration (less than 45 minutes IIRC); I think it would be bad manners to get up and leave during the service. Note that you will not be permitted to see the rest of the Abbey before or after the service, as others have mentioned.

(Video) Evensong at Westminster Abbey - London

I also suggest checking the Abbey's website before you go, to make sure they will be open to the public on the day(s) you might want to visit. Closer to, they will publish information about what music will be performed, and what special guests, if any, will be attending a particular service. You can also ask at the information desk, or ask any verger, and they will be happy to give you more information.

Posted bySarahOP

St. Louis, MO USA

1976 posts

Kyra, thank you for the additional information. A number of weeks ago I searched for evensong on YouTube and listened to some of the music and it blew me away. I'm Jewish but find church music, especially that which has roots in the Middle Ages, very spiritual. I'm excited not only to listen to this music live, but to do it in such a beautiful setting as the Abbey. I made a note to check Westminster Abbey's website closer to the week that we'll be in London.

Posted bykyra

92 posts

Sarah, you are quite welcome. If you enjoy sacred/church music, you will love Evensong at Westminster Abbey. I've not been at St. Paul's, yet, but also hear good things about their service. If I can find my notes, on another travel forum (TripAdvisor) I have gotten some recommendations for other churches with good music programs. (I want to say Southwark Cathedral, but will have to check.) But I do recommend the Abbey. Make sure you pick a day when the choir will be singing, and if you have a preference for the boys' choir versus the adult men and boys, or a visiting choir, keep that in mind. The information should be on the website or you can contact them to ask. The effect of the music, in that space, is, for me, unearthly, ethereal, and otherwise awe-inspiring. (Slang has rendered the English word "awesome" less useful for some descriptions!)

I suggest you do a verger tour the day you plan to attend Evensong, or a day prior to your selected service. I enjoy having a live guide, plus being able to ask questions and see the tomb of Edward the Confessor. At some point in the tour, the verger may ask if anyone is interested in coming back to attend Evensong. I can't say definitely that this had anything to do with it, and undoubtedly it depends on how busy they are, but on more than once occasion, a nice verger has put us into very good seats for Evensong. Overall I find the Abbey staff, and especially the vergers, eager to be helpful and to share the history of the Abbey with visitors. On one memorable occasion, the verger, upon hearing we were planning to return for Evensong and seeing the heavy bags (books) we were carrying, offered to hold our bags for us so we wouldn't have to carry them around the rest of the day. On our most recent trip, last fall, a verger went out of his way to make sure my aunt saw items of interest in the museum in the undercroft, and to describe to me a special service they were holding. I've had very good experiences there, and hope you will enjoy your visit as well.

Posted byRob

Dunwoody, Georgia

338 posts

I think everyone else has answered your questions. However, I went to the evensong during a trip to London in 2013 and will add a few observations.

1). I think its worth going to the evensong service even if you aren't religious. It's always interesting to see historic structures used for their intended purposes. In this case the music and service will be quite good. You might also consider attending a Sunday service.

2). There is not a service every night, so check to make sure they'll have a service when you plan to attend.

3). In addition to not being able to see the rest of the abbey, I don't think you will have access to the restrooms inside during the service. There is a conference center across the street that was open in the evening when we were there that is an option.

4). Go ahead and take the tour and see the facility. We went first thing in the morning and it worked well. They had a cash line and a credit card line. The cash line moves a bit quicker.

Have fun!

(Video) Choral Evensong Recorded live on Tuesday 3rd May 2022

Posted bySarahOP

St. Louis, MO USA

1976 posts

Rob, thank you for your comments. Your mention of available restrooms was especially good to know! I paid cash to get in and for an audio tour 3 years ago and I seem to remember that the cash line was shorter.

Posted bycubancoffee

Los Angeles

14 posts

My wife and I were seated in the actual choir for the very low-key evensong service and found the experience to be moving and magical. We are not particularly religious, definitely not Anglican, but could still appreciate the spiritual nature of the service. Highly recommend.

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(Video) Evensong | Westminster Abbey

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1. Evensong at Westminster Abbey - London 2018
2. BBC TV “Westminster Abbey” 2: Westminster Abbey 2012 (James O’Donnell)
(Archive of Recorded Church Music)
3. This Is The Day - Westminster Abbey Choir and the Choristers of the Chapel Royal
4. 2014 Evensong at Westminster Abbey featuring Barbados
(Barbados Video)
5. O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) at Westminster Abbey
6. BBC Choral Evensong from the Collegiate Church of St Peter in Westminster 1982 Simon Preston
(DecAlto 1)
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