Columbia Road Carol Services Have Been Cancelled This Christmas

Columbia Road: a picturesque street just a stone’s throw from Bethnal Green which also happens to be home to a famous flower market. A beautiful spot to host a traditional carol service. Maybe too beautiful, in fact — over 7,000 people headed down to the first event of the month, leading to safety fears for the upcoming events which have now been cancelled.

Usually running every Wednesday in December during the buildup to Christmas, the Columbia Road carol service has been forced to end early after crowds arrived in their thousands, causing the event to go viral on TikTok.

Following the sheer number of people that turned up to the free event, Tower Hamlets council and police advised that future services this year should be cancelled. It comes after the event had been growing each year, particularly after the pandemic when its return was described as a “really special” occasion by Reverand Adam, the Archdeacon of Charing Cross who leads the singing.

Speaking in a statement reported in the Evening Standard, vicar Heather Atkinson said: “The crowds of over 7,000 present last week were of such volume on the road that there was a danger to public safety. We are grateful to God and to those working at the event that there were no serious injuries.

“Columbia Road carols has been a great partnership between the shopkeepers on the road, the local community and the parish church. As the church we cherish these relationships. This decision is in support of our community which had became dangerously overrun.”

This year, it is thought that around 10 times the usual number of people turned up to the carols, which led to fears for public safety. Often, the event would expect a few hundred people turning out to singalong to the event by St Peter’s Bethnal Green Church, who wheel their piano out onto the street for the occasion!

Shops on Columbia Road will continue to remain open late each Wednesday, serving patrons until 9pm in the lead-up to Christmas. The carol service, however, is no more (at least for this year).

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