Traditional church services attract some of their biggest congregations of the year on Christmas Eve. Around the country as many, if not more, Christians pack these services as the ones on Christmas Day.
Auckland St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral in Wyndham St expects at least 1000 worshippers at midnight Mass, preceded by an hour of carol singing. For Anglicans, St Matthew-in-the-city has had such big crowds in the past that it will hold two Christmas Eve carol and communion services this year, starting at 7 pm and 11 pm. More than 850 are expected at each. The church is at the corner of Hobson and Wellesley Sts.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell Rd will have a 7 pm children's gift ceremony and a choral Eucharist starting at 11.30 pm tomorrow.
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church on the corner of Symonds St and Alten Rd expects more than 200 at its Christmas Eve service, starting at 11.15 pm.
Several hundred will pack the Methodist Aotea Chapel opposite the Town Hall for communion and carols by candlelight, starting at 11.30 pm.
Tomorrow night at other centres:
Tauranga St Mary's Catholic Church, corner Cameron Rd and Elizabeth St: 7 pm Vigil Mass, 11 pm carols followed by midnight Mass, 700 or more at each. Holy Trinity Anglican Church 10.30 pm service of carols, worship and holy communion to be held at Baycourt Theatre on Durham St. St Peter's-in-the-city Presbyterian Church, cnr Cameron Rd and Spring St: 11.30 pm candlelight service.
Hamilton The Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Grey St, Hamilton East: 7.30 pm Vigil Mass, 11 pm carols and midnight Mass. About 1000 people are expected at each.
St Peter's Anglican Cathedral at the south end of Victoria St is holding a children's carol service at 7 pm, and carols and midnight Mass at 11 pm. A congregation of 500 is likely. St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Te Aroha St, expects about 200 at its 11.30 pm candle and carol service. The Chartwell Cooperating Church (Methodist-Presbyterian-Anglican), on the corner of Comries Rd and Belmont Ave, will hold an 11.30 pm service.
Rotorua St Michael's Catholic Church, Lake Rd: 7 pm Vigil Mass, 11.30 pm carols and midnight Mass, with 300 people expected at each.
St Luke's Anglican Church, corner of Pukuatua and Amohia Sts: 11.15 pm carols followed by midnight Eucharist for 300-plus congregation.
St John's-in-the-city Presbyterian Church, cnr Victoria and Ranolf Sts; 11.30 pm nostalgic service for 400 or more people.
St Francis Xavier Catholic Church, cnr Kamo Rd and Park Ave: 6 pm children's service, 11 pm carols and midnight Mass for up to 650.
Anglican Christ Church on the corner of Mill Rd, Kamo Rd and Deveron St: 7 pm family service, 11 pm carols and Eucharist for about