THERE was a real festive buzz around St Albans today as thousands attended carol services held at St Albans Abbey.

Shoppers were drawn in from the streets as they heard the singing from within the cathedral.

The six Christmas carol services, organised to cope with demand, attracted around 2,500 people.

Sub Dean Stephen Lake said: “It has been fantastic and beyond our wildest dreams. “When looking around we only recognised about five per cent of the congregation so we attracted a lot of new people.”

He added: “It’s amazing how many people want to participate in carol services. As people have been finishing off their Christmas shopping they’ve been popping in. We hope we have met a need.”

There was a 30-minute service every hour from 11.00am today and boys’, girls’ and adult choirs took it in turn to perform at each.

The services were in addition to ticket-only services of nine lessons and carols which are to be held tomorrow and Monday evening.

St Albans diocesan and communications officer Arun Kataria said: “The cathedral holds 2,000 and in past years has had to turn away people hoping to attend the two traditional carol services because it was just too full."

“At half an hour each service was long enough for people to come along and really experience some of the important spiritual dimension of Christmas and have a good sing as well."

Visitors were also able to enjoy a small market which sold a variety of crafts and produce.