Twenty minutes refuge from the Christmas shopping is all that’s needed for people to absorb the spirit of the season at one of the new bite-size ‘Carols for Shoppers’ services in Broadmead’s New Room on Saturday 16 December.
Shoppers can choose to drop by at 1pm, 2pm or 3pm and sing along with a programme of traditional carols in the calm and beautiful 18th century surroundings of the New Room, also known locally as John Wesley’s Chapel.
Volunteer warden, Gary Best, who will be leading all three services, said: “We decided that Bristolians deserve to enjoy the same opportunity in their own city as shoppers in Bath, who can be seen queueing round the block to take part in the annual shoppers’ carol services at Bath Abbey.
“We know people can’t usually afford to take much time out of their busy December weekends, but for those who are present-hunting in Bristol city centre the New Room couldn’t be in a more convenient location, and we’ll offer a welcome chance for them to refuel spiritually. Our whole aim is to help people recharge their batteries and feel really positive about the upcoming celebrations.
“We’ll be singing popular traditional carols that everyone is bound to know, including some of the well-loved compositions by John Wesley’s brother Charles such as ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.,’ with the words on programmes printed for the day.”
The New Room’s artisan café will be open before and afterwards, offering light lunches and a festive-themed afternoon tea with home-made bakes such as cranberry and cinnamon scones and little sticky toffee puddings, as well as their secret-recipe spiced hot chocolate.
Other seasonal events at the New Room include a concert by the Bristol Hippodrome Choir, singing carols and other festive tunes on Thursday 7 December. A well-established community group, the choir is led by Victoria Bourne and has previously sung with Russell Watson and X-Factor winner Sam Bailey.
On Thursday 14 December the second in the New Room’s regular series ‘Folk At The New Room’ will take place, featuring the popular folk duo Laura Smyth and Ted Kemp, plus special guests the Bristol Folk Singers, presenting an evening of seasonal folk music and traditional carols.
The New Room’s traditional lunch-time ‘Carols and Communion’ and early evening ‘Carols by Candlelight’ will both take place on Friday 15 December, at 1pm and 6pm respectively. These perennially popular services will both feature Philip Carter, the New Room’s director of music on the chapel’s 18th century Snetzler organ, and be followed by mince pies and hot drinks.
A fun all-age service on Saturday 23 December brings the New Room’s pre-Christmas programme to an end, with a pop-up nativity at 2pm which children and the young at heart are welcome to attend wearing nativity costume (or not, as they wish). Designed to appeal to children and adults alike, the service which will last around 30 minutes, with a re-telling of the Christmas story, and is shaped by the people who attend, so it’s different every year.
Full details of the New Room’s Christmas events programme are available online at www.newroombristol.org.uk , including ticket costs for the folk evening and the Bristol Hippodrome Choir concert. Other events are free of charge.