You don't have to be religious to enjoy an Evensong service at St. Paul's Cathedral. You can just sit there and stare at the architecture and choral singing. We actually prefer seeing the cathedral like this, because it's not the same with a couple of hundred tourists walking around chatting, and pressing buttons with their headphones. When you attend this service you can just sit there in silence and take it all in.
And there's another bonus: the Evensong service is free!
What you need to do is queue up outside the front door about 30 minutes before the service starts. You will then be led up the Nave to the seats. You will have a brief amount of time to walk around the cathedral and admire the architecture, but only a very small section of it -- the worshippers are not allowed to visit the galleries or proceed beyond the central dome (you have to buy a sightseeing ticket for those). A small part of the Crypt will also be open (the part that contains the restaurant and shop) -- but not the section that contains the famous tombs.
The Evensong service consists of readings, prayers, and hymns sung by the Cathedral choir. During the holidays a visiting choir might take their place.
Craig has attended this service himself, and definitely recommends it. Even if you're not in the slightest bit religious, it's still an easy way to see inside the Cathedral for free. It doesn't compare with a proper tour, though, because the part you see is limited to the main space up the middle. Have a read of Craig's review of the Evensong, so you can see what it's like. You might also like to read his review of St. Paul's Cathedral itself, so you can compare the two. Feel free to ask him some questions about the Evensong before you go.
If you like the idea of this service, then you might like to visit the Evensong at Westminster Abbey as well. Craig has also written a review of the Evensong at Westminster Abbey. (If truth be told, Craig prefers the one at Westminster Abbey to St. Paul's.) The Sunday service at Hampton Court Palace is also worth a try, as is the service at the Tower of London.
Guest – “What time is the Evensong Mass, please?”
Admin – “the time is shown in the 'Dates & Time' box on the londondrum.com/events/?p=23044 -- it's usually 5 PM to 5.45 PM (Mon-Sat), and 3.15 PM to 4 PM (Sun) you might want to check your date on the calendar on the St. Paul's website to be sure, because they sometimes have other services and events on (link is in the 'Dates & Time' box as well)”
Craig’s review – “After doing the Evensong at Westminster Abbey last week, I thought I'd give the one at St. Paul's a try as well. I was all ready for the entry scrum this time so I turned up at 4:30 only to find that the big queue was already going in. It's a lot more civilised in the City, it seems. Everyone queues up in an orderly line. At the other place it was a huge free-for all… continued”
Blessing the crib at St Paul’s Cathedral – 16 Dec 2018 – The annual blessing of the crib and lighting of the Christmas trees at St Paul's Cathedral is always an atmospheric service
Britten’s Ceremony of Carols at St. Paul’s – 21 Dec 2018 – Listen to Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols" performed inside St Paul's Cathedral, alongside some readings for advent.
Family carol service at St. Paul’s Cathedral – 22 Dec 2018 – This short(-ish) Christmas carol concert at St Paul's Cathedral is aimed especially at families with little children.
Christmas Carol Service at St. Paul’s – 23 to 24 Dec 2018 – Enjoy some seasonal readings and Christmas carols sung by the congregation and Cathedral Choir at St Paul's Cathedral
Sunday organ recitals at St Paul’s Cathedral – Every Sun (apart from the last Sun of the month) – Every Sunday St Paul's Cathedral invites one of the world's finest organists to play on the Grand Organ for half-an-hour.
Guided tour of Wren’s best churches – Every Tue and Thu – This guided walk will look at the outside of St Pauls Cathedral and at a selection of Christopher Wren's finest City churches
Evensong Mass at Westminster Abbey – Every day (except Wed) – You can enjoy a choral Evensong service at Westminster Abbey, which combines a traditional mass with a choir.
Look for more religious events taking place in December
Here are some more free events in London if you want a cheap day out
If you enjoy St. Paul’s then you might like to visit Brompton Oratory (catch the train from St Pauls to South Kensington), Westminster Abbey (catch the train from St Pauls to Westminster) and Westminster Cathedral (catch the train from St Pauls to Victoria)
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans