Safety fears force cancellation of carol services after 7000 cram into Colombia Road

Crowds at the Columbia Road Christmas Carols event this year. Pic TikTok/@nickwaplington

Columbia Road Christmas Carols have been cancelled after a crowd of around 7000 people attended last week, sparking safety concerns, due to the event going viral on TikTok.

This year’s first caroling event on December 6, which usually attracts hundreds of people to the market street, was overrun with crowds deemed “dangerous to public safety”.

Further carols due to take place on December 13 and 20 have now been called off. 

The event went viral on TikTok in the lead up to December 6 due to footage of previous years being posted, with one video posted in November which deems the carols “real life Love Actually” racking up over 200,000 views.

Further Videos shot by attendees have been posted online, one with the caption “Thanks TikTok”. 

Another video showing the crowds was captioned: “POV: Columbia Road’s so busy you can’t hear the singing.” The video also stated that there was a 30-minute queue for drinks.

Attendee Ivan Pecek told Eastlondonlines: “There was complete chaos on the overground station to start with and when we got there, there was just too many people. I couldn’t hear anything because of people chatting as if they were in a pub. We left after 15 minutes.” 

St Peter’s Bethnal Green church organise the event annually; it usually features a piano on wheels that travels from the church down the length of the street to soundtrack the carols. 

They said in a statement that they are: “grateful to God and to those working at the event that there were no serious injuries.”

They continued: “This decision is in support of our community which had became dangerously overrun. Furthermore, this decision is on the strong advice of the police and local authority.”

The carols were covered by the BBC last year, as it was their first time returning after Covid, which may also have contributed to the rise in attendance. 

Some blamed the council for a lack of events in neighborhoods and surrounding boroughs, and for not doing enough to support St Peter’s. Poplar resident Danny Kelleher said: “I was going to go this week as it was such a good vibe last year. There’s nothing else in Tower Hamlets that brings the whole community together. I understand the streets were tightly packed but that could be solved with crowd control or ticketing. Tower Hamlets Council have really missed the mark here, they should’ve given more support. People coming together is what we need at this present time with all that’s going on in the world.” 

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said: “The decision to cancel the Columbia Road carolling event was made by the event organiser due to their own concerns around public safety. It was not a decision taken by the council. 

“We work closely with community organisations and partners, including the police, to support the management of local events and ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents, visitors, and local businesses, and will continue to do so.” 

The church has also encouraged those who are looking for caroling to find a service local to them at

Columbia Road is also home to the Sunday Flower Market, the popularity of which has also continued to rise in recent years. The road’s late-night Christmas Wednesdays will continue to be open, with shops and businesses open from 5-9pm for those looking to squeeze in some last-minute present shopping. 

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