Best British Christmas Songs

Having moved to the UK a mere three months before Christmas the first time I lived here, it was not long before the perfect storm. Just as homesickness started to peak, the holiday season started. I generally love Christmas so I thought this would help me get out of my rut. While UK Christmas just isn’t Canadian Christmas, one area they are not lacking in is Christmas songs. So much so that I now don’t even know what North Americans listen to at Christmas anymore (NSYNC, I guess?).

While I still love the Anne Murray Christmas albums to no end, I am a happy convert to the songs that are played on the radio here. And I’ve not lived here long enough to be sick of them yet. My father in law says the same songs have been played since he was my age and is wondering when Santa is going to bring the country something new to listen to. I’m not sure when that’ll happen but until it does here’s my favourite UK Christmas songs. So grab your eggnog chai latte (my personal fav Christmas drink) or any type of alcohol (pretty standard British Christmas drink) and find your new favourite Christmas song.

Shakin’ Stevens
Merry Christmas Everyone
The music video is set in a Swedish Christmas village so is slightly deceptive. If Britain got that much snow, the country would cease to function. We’re still debating whether or not Stevens shakes enough to have that be part of his moniker but the song does deliver finger snapping good fun.

Merry Christmas Everybody
It’s not Christmas til you hear Slade front man Noddy Holder deliver his signature yowl of “It’s Christmas!” The drummer also goes a bit rogue in one of the versions, possibly because he likes Christmas so damn much. This is the song you’ll likely be singing drunk with your mates and everyone else at the pub on Christmas Eve.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
If Iggy Stardust did Christmas, it might look like this. Plus you can’t beat a band that has two drummers. However this song is still likely to be stuck in your head when January 2 rolls and the prospect of returning to work has you wishing it could be Christmas everyday. The kids in the video are also adorable and everybody in the UK has a cousin or acquaintance that played in the children’s choir.

East 17
Stay Another Day
This is not actually a Christmas song in the purest sense, since Christmas isn’t mentioned in the lyrics, but this song is only played here at Christmas. East 17 is what Take That could have been if they had fallen on hard times. Plus we all know someone who’s been broken up with right before Christmas so their S.O. didn’t have to splash out on a prezzie. Those parkas though…

The Wombles
Wombling Merry Christmas
I get this song stuck in my head Every.Damn.Year. Apparently a British soldier that attempted to ski across Antarctica had this stuck in his head for five days after his iPod broke two hours into the journey. I can only imagine he’s still recovering from that. The Wombles started out as a children’s book series, then a television show and then someone decided to make a pop group based on the characters from the book, as you do. So if you’re struggling for a lack of a theme for your band, just turn to the children’s section of the library.

Chris Rea
Driving Home for Christmas
While this is probably the weakest contender for snappy/catchy/memorable out of the songs in this list, I include it for sentimental value. It always seems to come on the radio at least once when my husband and I are driving to Manchester to visit his family for the holidays. And with so many North Americans driving long distance to see family for Christmas it is the perfect song to start off your Christmas road trip.

The Pogues w Kirsty MacColl
Fairy Tale of New York
Shane MacGowan does not have the voice of an angel, but he has the songwriting skills that make us wish Santa could deliver talent instead of presents for Christmas. It has some controversial lyrics (you can discover those for yourself) that makes this more of a Christmas song for those that see the grittier side of Christmas.

[PS The video for this song has a cameo by a relatively famous actor. See if you can find him.]

The Darkness
Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)
You probably thought The Darkness only had I Believe In A Thing Called Love before sadly dropping into obscurity but they left us this song to unwrap before doing so. If the normal saccharin warblings of Christmas songs is not your bag, give this one a try.

Cliff Richard
Mistletoe and Wine
This tends to be the favourite of the mums and grandmums in the crowd who used to swoon over Cliff when he was a handsome young crooner. A true British institution, a co-worker once described him as “Britain’s Elvis”. Plus Cliff’s dancing (if we call it that) is superb. And the lyrics offer an almost anthropological take on what Christmas is.

Paul McCartney
Wonderful Christmastime
Alright, so you have probably already heard this one, but it wouldn’t be a list of UK Christmas songs without one of The Beatles popping up. That and I just dig the synth in here a lot. And I love the special effect graphics. You can’t have Christmas without disco balls.

The “song” to impress your British friends:
Bo Selecta
Proper Chrimbo
Again, like The Wombles this is less a Christmas song and more a culturally confusing experience for anyone outside the UK. Bo Selecta is one of the characters played by comedian Leigh Francis and Chrimbo is a UK slang term for Christmas. If you have any British friends, they’re likely to know who this is and may still have it stuck in their head.

Anyways, that’s me from over the sea wishing you a very Happy Christmas (as they say in the UK)!



Former overachiever and current dabbler, Elyse has a soft spot for DIY, Murder She Wrote, her fur babies and her husband. When she’s not falling into the black hole of the Internet, she’s dreaming of the junk food she left behind in Canada.

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