Columbia Road Carols crowd

Columbia Road Christmas Carols cancelled due to overcrowding 

Columbia Road Christmas Carols have been cancelled for the remainder of the month after the event went viral on TikTok resulting in safety risks due to overcrowding.

St. Peter’s Church on Bethnal Green has cancelled its annual Christmas Carol service on Columbia Road due to overcrowding presenting a ‘risk to public safety’. The announcement was made on Sunday after last Wednesday’s event attracted a crowd of over 7,000 people. 

After being advised by the police and local authorities, St Peter’s Church released a statement on Instagram reporting that the remaining dates of the service will no longer take place on the 13th and 20th December. The decision was made with the parish, Columbia Road Traders Association and Tower Hamlets Council. 

The carol service has been reoccurring for over a decade and is a prominent feature of Columbia Road Market Christmas Wednesdays held yearly. Ordinarily, the event would consist of a sing-a-long in the street led by parish clergy and created a partnership between the parish church, residents and shops on Colombia Road.

This year, large crowds estimated to be in the thousands swarmed the service, making shops inaccessible and raising concerns over safety risks. This widespread attraction has been attributed to a viral video of the event which surfaced last Christmas on Tiktok.

In 2013, the carol service reported 200 people in attendance. This year’s crowd of 7,000 people marks a 97% increase. Images shared on Twitter of a packed Columbia Road last Wednesday displayed large crowds in which people were hardly able to move.

St Peter’s on Bethnal Green has stated on their website: ‘We celebrate that social media conveyed good news: a community infused with joy and a gig worth going to’. 

However, the subsequent cancellation of the beloved tradition has raised concerns surrounding ‘Tiktok tourism’, probing debates as to whether the extent of this newfound virality is an advantage for business or a hindrance to the security of local communities. 

Despite this, Colombia Road Christmas Wednesdays will continue throughout the festive period with shops open until late. The Carol service will no longer be taking place but eager attendees have been diverted to seek similar events by going to or following the thread through #FollowTheStar. 

If you’re interested in more Christmas events, Bow Church will be holding a series of carol services throughout the lead-up to Christmas.

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