Music lovers determined to get a seat for the King’s College Choir’s Christmas service spent the night in a queue outside the gates.
People began to line up outside the college around noon on December 23, although the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols didn’t begin until 3 pm the next day.
“It’s my sixth time camping out here and it’s worth it every time,” 49-year-old Reggie Thomson of King’s Hedges, Cambridge told the Cambridge News as he waited.
“I’ve brought my sleeping bag with a hot water bottle wrapped up inside it, plenty of extra layers and a blow-up mattress.
“I spent 10 months living in a tent in northern Japan, where it was sometimes -10C. I should be OK here.”
Robert Bache, 57, of Maldon, Essex, said this year marked the thirteenth time he slept outside in order to ensure he would have a seat for the service.
“The one thing that brings me back each time is the music and the sheer thrill of being there,” he told the Cambridge News.
“It’s the perfect start to Christmas.
“I’ve tried to encourage my friends to join me this year, but none of them was that keen!”
Those in the queue were admitted to the grounds at 7:30 am but could not enter the chapel until 2 pm
By 11 a.m. there were about 500 people waiting to claim one of 600 public seats. Porters monitor the crowd and once there are as many people in the queue as there are available seats, people are advised that it is unlikely that they will be able to attend the service.
The Telegraph reported that terminally ill music prodigy Alex Stobbs sang with the choir, although his lung capacity has fallen to 38 per cent. The 20-year-old chorister suffers from cystic fibrosis.
The King’s College website states that: “The Festival was introduced in 1918 to bring a more imaginative approach to worship. It was first broadcast in 1928 and is now broadcast to millions of people around the world.
The service includes carols and readings from the Bible. The opening carol is always 'Once in Royal David's City', and there is always a new, specially commissioned carol.”
The 90-minute service was broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 and repeats can be heard throughout the world. The college website provides information on when it can be heard in various locations.