Bradford on Avon Carollers


2021: we’re delighted to say we will be having one sing this year, outdoors at the Dog & Fox pub on Sunday 19th December at 3pm. Come and join us (but be sensible where you walk in order to avoid turning the pub garden into mud).


Sadly, as we all must have expected, there were no carols in the pubs in 2020. However we did have a splendid online carols sing on December 13th using Zoom to bring everyone together and keep a sense of community and continuity amongst the singers and musicians. Not the same as the pubs, we know, but building on our stock of recordings and videos of past sings the hundred or more of us who came had a pretty good time and we’ve kept continuity. But look, you can see for yourself. Here’s a video of the complete event.


And now, through a time machine, here is the Bradford on Avon Carols as they were in 2019, the year we collected £483.78 for the Zone Club …


2010 was the first year of singing unusual and local carols in the pubs of Bradford on Avon and over the past nine years these wonderful events have become loved by many. This year 2019, our tenth year, we are continuing the sings as before as well as the singing group which started in 2017

in 2019: Free singing group for our carols

Learn the Carols with the Singing Group

First session on Sunday 27th October 2019 from 2.00pm at

The Swan Hotel

(in the Coach House)

Church Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LW

and every Sunday thereafter until the 1st December inclusive.

This is a continuation of the very successful singing group started in 2017 by Anne Gregson and Masha Kaestner to learn the carols together with their harmonies ready to sing in the pubs in December.  If you came last year then come along and refresh your memories of the songs. If you’ve never been before come along anyway. All the sessions are free and all parts will be taught ‘by ear’ so you don’t need to be able to read music.

Saturday 7th December – special session with the Carols Band!

Not to be missed, this session will have the Carols Band playing and accompanying the singing. All are welcome whether you’ve been to the earlier sessions or not. You’ll be taught the carols and get a real flavour of the carol sings ready to sing in the pubs. The session starts at 2.00pm.

For further information see the Learning page on this website.


In 2019: Then come and sing them with us!

Sunday 8th December 2019 from 4.00pm at

The Swan Hotel

1 Church Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LN

Sunday 15th December 2019 from 4.00pm at

The Dog & Fox

Ashley Road, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1RT

Sunday 22nd December 2019 From 4.00pm at

The Boat House

Bradford on Avon Marina, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1UD


A singing ‘tradition’ …

Every year since 2010 we have had some wonderful sessions in what is becoming a continuing tradition of singing local ‘village’ Christmas carols in pubs in Bradford on Avon. So as our new ‘tradition’ becomes more firmly established this website will tell you all about what happens, where and why. You can hear some of the carols and see video. You can read learned discourse upon the history of the carol or just let the music wash over you. Come on in, the water’s lovely!

The Carolling Tradition

You might think that the standard Christmas Carols you have sung since childhood are all the carols there are. So you might be surprised to know that there is a long and rich heritage of people singing Christmas carols from their own particular part of the country which are now largely unknown. Even the Christmas carols you do know were sung to many different tunes – some people estimate that there are at least four hundred different tunes to While Shepherds Watched for example. In fact, carolling was not even restricted to Christmas but singing carols was a popular part of religious festivities throughout the year. Maybe that’s why in everyday language we will not just talk about carols but specifically about Christmas carols. Many of these carols originated in the 18th or early 19th century at a time when most churches had a wooden gallery at the back where choirs, accompanied by bands of mixed instruments, led the singing.

Christmas carols in particular also became linked with traditions such as Wassailing, which involved visiting farms and houses and singing in return for refreshment. These visits also contained folk elements that some would recognise as having pagan origins.

In some parts of Britain, these traditions have been kept alive. The mass singing in some of the pubs in North Sheffield and North Derbyshire, which takes place in the second half of November and all December, and which are often referred to as ‘The Sheffield Carols’, has been described as one of the most remarkable instances of popular traditional singing in the British Isles.

Carols in Bradford on Avon

In Bradford on Avon, a town rich with history and tradition, we are continuing with our effort to get singing of unusual and traditional Christmas carols back into the pubs of Bradford on Avon. Some of our local singing leaders and folk musicians, many of whom are veterans of the Sheffield tradition have once again got their heads together to arrange three singing events for this year, plus a free singing group to learn the carols in more depth. The last of the singing group learning sessions is open to all comers and will have the Carollers Band providing music:

  • Saturday 7th December 2019, 2pm at the Swan Hotel (Coach House) for the learning session with the Carollers Band
  • Sunday  8th December 2019, 4pm at The Swan Hotel for a pub sing
  • Sunday 15th  December 2019, 4pm at The Dog & Fox for a pub sing
  • Sunday 22nd December 2019, 4pm at The Boathouse for a pub sing

The Singing Group to learn the carols in more depth starts on Sunday 27th October 2019 at the Swan Hotel (Coach House) .

We have collections at the pub sings partly to cover costs (the printing of the word books we give out is the biggest part of this) but mostly for charity. In 2018 we collected for the foodbank at Bradford on Avon Hub and we gave them the quite phenomenal amount of £572.78. Our charity for 2019 is the Zone Club at the Wiltshire Music Centre, an amazing monthly club for young adults aged 16+ with learning disabilities.

In the rest of this site you will find recordings of the some of the carols as we sing them, some video and words so you will get a good idea of what we are all about. But most importantly, come along and join in. We can promise you, you won’t ever forget it!

For another view of all of this, here is an article about the carols written by our own Anne Gregson and published by English Dance and Song, the magazine of the English Folk Dance & Song Society, in their Winter 2017 issue: Folk in Our Pub.