Fairytale of New York named as the UK’s favourite Christmas song

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl has been crowned the UK’s favourite Christmas song, according to our research.

We conducted a survey* to see when people tuned into the festive hits, their favourite Christmas tracks and just what about them gets our spirits high during the Christmas period. 

The Pogues’ iconic Christmas tune topped the list for one in six (15%) Brits, followed by Last Christmas by Wham (8%) and All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (8%).  

The UK’s top 10 favourite Christmas songs: 

  1. Fairytale of New York, The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl 15%
  2. Last Christmas, Wham! 8%
  3. All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey 8%
  4. Do They Know It’s Christmas?, Band Aid 6%
  5. Merry Xmas Everybody, Slade 6%
  6. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, Wizzard 5%
  7. Driving Home For Christmas, Chris Rea 4%
  8. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Michael Bublé 4%
  9. White Christmas, Bing Crosby 3%
  10. Step Into Christmas, Elton John 3%

Our survey revealed that over 9 in 10 (93%) will choose to listen to Christmas music during the festive period, but when do they start cranking up the festive tunes? 

Over half (55%) will only listen to Christmas songs during December, and more than a quarter (27%) will start listening in November. Only one in eight (12%) will hold off listening until the week leading up to Christmas, while 4% saying they listen to festive tracks all year long.

What is it about Christmas songs that Brits can’t get enough of?

With the nation seemingly big fans of Christmas music, the research also found that over two-fifths (41%) love Christmas tunes because they are catchy, while another four in ten (39%) said the atmosphere the songs create is what wins them over, followed by the tune (38%). 

Other qualities that are appreciated in festive tunes are nostalgia (33%), the level of festivity of the song itself (31%), the lyrics (31%) and how easy they are to sing along to (29%).

What makes people press play on Christmas music?

People in the UK are most likely to pop the tunes on as soundtrack for chores, with over half (53%) playing Christmas music when wrapping gifts, followed by doing home tasks (48%) and when cooking (45%).  

Many also like to get a playlist going when they drive (39%) and when opening presents on the big day (35%). 

However, it seems that Christmas music isn’t the chosen genre when people are looking for motivational music when exercising, with only 10% of respondents saying they enjoy having a festive soundtrack as they hit the gym. 

So, why do we love Christmas music so much? Music therapist, Marianne Rizkallah, explains:

“Christmas music takes us to a place that’s not just happier but more carefree. There are lots of ceremonies and individual or family traditions at Christmas, which Christmas music is often a big part of (Carols from Kings, Christmas parties), emphasising togetherness and good times with loved ones. 

“If we have good associations of the Christmas season then Christmas music can act as a helpful psychological cue to get us into the festive spirit. Music’s effect on our limbic system (which deals with our emotions) means that, if our associations are good, we are prompted to feel warmer, more relaxed, and lighter in mood, which is always good in the darker and colder months. 

“The building blocks of a festive hit are percussion, sleigh bells, “ding dong” bell effects, and hand chimes to create the shimmering snowfall effect that you hear in many of the most notable Christmas songs. Many are light and upbeat in nature and (most of the time) an overwhelm of jolly, positive lyrics is noticeable.”


* A survey commissioned by PPL PRS of 500 UK respondents by Attest in October 2023    



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