In the UK, you are never far from a choir
The UK is unique in maintaining a choral tradition in almost every cathedral in the country. But it is not only cathedral choirs which sing choral services. Chapel choirs at Oxford and Cambridge Universities sing choral services on a regular basis. Some of the most well known (such as King's College Cambridge and New College Oxford) have children singing the top line, while others (for example, The Queen's College, Oxford) draw their top line from student sopranos. Larger parish churches with SATB choirs will also often sing music of a similar style to a very high standard. At Cathedral Music Trust, we use the term, 'choral foundation' to refer to any place of Christian worship which maintains one or more choirs.
Choral services at parish churches tend to take place on Sunday and, in some cases, once or twice midweek. Cathedral choirs and many Collegiate Foundations usually sing evensong between four and six times a week, and up to sing three services on a Sunday (Matins, Eucharist and Evensong). Foundations vary in their make-up from place to place; each service is different, and many are now streamed. Most cathedrals have boys' and girls' choirs which sing the top line. Usually the boys or the girls will sing with the adult altos, tenors and basses. Sometimes a service will be sung by only the adult choir members. On special occasions, the boys and girls may sing together with an augmented 'back row'.
It is free to attend
Although some cathedrals charge a fee to enter the building, it is always free to attend a service. Times and days of services can be found on each choral foundation's individual website. It is always worth checking these in advance as services often vary depending on the season of the year and on whether the day is, for example, a saint’s day or a holy day. The foundation's own choir usually only sings during academic term time (with the exception of Christmas and Easter). Services around these two Christian festivals can be very busy. There will be music at all sung services but more dramatic and impressive music is generally to be heard during the most attended services, normally those at weekends and on the major saints’ days.
Christmas and Easter
Christmas and Easter are the busiest times of year for choral foundations. Every cathedral will have at least one service of lessons and carols in the lead-up to Christmas, and some will have several. Many also have a special children’s service at which only the top line (usually the boys’ choir or the girls’ choir or both) will sing.
Holy Week usually involves special choral services on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.