Christmas Number One (Upper-Intermediate – B2)

Christmas Number One - Transcript

The announcement of the Christmas Number One in the United Kingdom is a highly anticipated annual music event. It refers to the song that tops the UK Singles Chart during the week of Christmas. Becoming the Christmas Number One is a significant accomplishment in the British music industry. It is a festive tradition, and winners experience a significant boost in popularity. Notable past winners include iconic artists like The Beatles, Queen, and Band Aid, whose charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” became one of the best-selling singles of all time. The Christmas Number One is a big deal as it symbolizes the most popular and influential song during the holiday season. For music lovers across the UK, it captures both the spirit of Christmas and the love of music.

Christmas Number One - Video

Christmas Number One - Video Gap Fill

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The UK Christmas Number One: Some Notable Winners

Radio playing the Christmas Number One

The UK Christmas Number One is a special tradition in the United Kingdom. For many, it is as much a part of the holiday season as greeting cards and gift-giving. This title “Christmas Number One” is awarded to the song that is at the top of the UK Singles Chart during the week of Christmas. Let’s explore some of the most famous (and infamous) winners of the UK Christmas Number One.

1. Harry Belafonte – “Mary’s Boy Child” (1957)

Harry Belafonte’s enchanting rendition of “Mary’s Boy Child” claimed the Christmas Number One in 1957. Over the years the song has been performed by many different groups and singers, and it is considered to be a Christmas classic. 

2. Slade – “Merry Xmas Everybody” (1973)

In 1973, the glam rock band Slade made it to the top of the charts with “Merry Xmas Everybody.” Unlike some Christmas Number One’s, it has remained popular for decades, and is still regularly heard during the holiday season throughout the UK. 

3. Band Aid – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (1984)

Bob Geldof and Midge Ure assembled this collaboration in order to raise money for children in Africa. The song, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” achieved great success in 1984. It remains popular to this day, and it 2004 (20 years after the original) a new version of the song was made. 

4. Cliff Richard – “Mistletoe and Wine” (1988)

Cliff Richard has achieved several Christmas Number Ones over the years. Perhaps the most popular of these is the heartwarming “Mistletoe and Wine,” which became the Christmas Number One in 1988. Not all Christmas Number Ones have been about the festive season, but this one remains true to the award’s Christmas roots. 

5. Spice Girls – “Goodbye” (1998)

At the end of the 1990s, the Spice Girls were the biggest band in Britain and one of the biggest in the world. During this time, they achieved several Christmas Number Ones. The 1998 song “Goodbye” was an emotional song that was especially popular among the group’s loyal supporters.

6. Westlife – “I Have A Dream” (1999)

Westlife was an Irish boy band that were popular during the late 1990s. Their song “I Have A Dream” became the Christmas Number One in 1999.

7. Band Aid 20 – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (2004)

On the 20th anniversary of the original version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, a collection of British musical talent created a new version of the song to raise money for charity once again.  Band Aid 20 included members from famous British bands such as Radiohead, The Darkness, and Coldplay.

8. Rage Against the Machine – “Killing in the Name” (2009)

The power of fan-driven movements was evident in 2009 when Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” became an unconventional Christmas Number One.

9. Ed Sheeran – “Perfect” (2017)

Ed Sheeran’s romantic ballad “Perfect” captured hearts in 2017, earning him the Christmas Number One and adding to his impressive streak musical successes.

10. LadBaby – “I Love Sausage Rolls” (2019)

In recent years, the Christmas Number One has been dominated, not by pop stars, but by YouTube personalities. The best example of this is LadBaby, who won every Christmas Number One between 2018 and 2022. The humorous and charitable single “I Love Sausage Rolls” won the title in 2019.

Young couple listening to the Christmas Number One


The rich tapestry of the UK Christmas Number One reflects a diverse musical landscape, with these unforgettable winners leaving an indelible mark on the holiday charts and contributing to the joy and unity of the festive season.

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