Deck the halls and get set for our festive singalong

It may still seem a little early to dust off the baubles, stock up on wrapping paper and dig out the nativity scene.

But lovers of Christmas cheer and a rousing evening of festive tunes will need to start planning ahead.

On Monday, tickets for the ever-popular annual EDP Festival of Carols go on sale and the night looks set to kick-start the holiday season in style.

The concert, which has been a sell-out for a number of years, takes place on Wednesday, December 8, and will once again raise funds for the EDP We Care Appeal.

Sitting in Norwich's stunning 15th-century St Andrews Hall, the audience will be entertained by the Broadland Youth Choir and the Festival Choir, under the stewardship of musical director Carole Tims.

They will also be joined by Cawston Brass Band and organist Alan Morris.

Hosting the evening for the first time will be Canon Roger Royle, who will be stepping into the shoes of Canon Ivan Bailey following his retirement from the concert last year.

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The broadcaster is best known for presenting Songs of Praise and the early Christmas morning show on BBC Radio Two and for his regular appearances on Terry Wogan's breakfast show.

He was recruited for the Festival of Carols after hosting the Salvation Army's Big Sing concert in Norwich in June.

Canon Royle said he was delighted to be returning to the city for the EDP event. The former senior chaplain of Eton College said: 'Norwich is such a super city, with all those many churches. I think it's fantastic that some have been turned into concert halls and exhibition spaces.

'It's a city of great character and I would think at Christmas it would be even more beautiful.'

For the first time in a number of years, the event will also be recorded by BBC Radio Norfolk and broadcast as part of a special hour-long show on Christmas Day.

Canon Royle said: 'This is going to be a really relaxing, gorgeous, fun evening and we will be trying to capture the mood of Christmas.'

So far, the programme for the evening remains a tightly guarded secret. After weeks of rehearsals, last year's event included beautiful renditions of The Holly and the Ivy, Silent Night, Once in Royal David's City and The Snowman.

But with so many to choose from, every member of the audience will no doubt be listening out for their favourite. And that will include the evening's host.

'I don't know yet, but I hope my very favourite will be in there,' said Canon Royle. 'It's In the Bleak Mid Winter to a tune by Harold Darke. I will keep my fingers crossed for that.

'Its words are beautiful and it captures the spirit of Christmas – the thoughtfulness and the care.'

As well as carols and popular Christmas songs, the evening will also feature readings from a number of local figures. Sheriff of Norwich Derek James will be performing his civic duties while Peter Wilson, Norwich Theatre Royal's chief executive, and EDP editor Peter Waters both return.

Mr Waters said: 'For many people, myself included, the EDP Festival of Carols marks the start of Christmas. It's a wonderful event, full of good cheer, and of course also raises a considerable sum for the We Care Appeal. Hurry though – it's always a sell-out.'

Last year's event brought in another �2,000 for the We Care Appeal just as it hit its �1m target. The charity continues to work tirelessly to support Norfolk's many unpaid and often unseen carers

Tickets for the EDP Festival of Carols are �8.75 and will be available by calling 01603 772175, visiting the EDP's Norwich front office at Prospect House, Rouen Road, or online at

Doors open at 6.45pm with the concert beginning at 7.30pm. Audience members are advised to get there early to grab a seat.