The CHRISTMAS LECTURES are engaging and mind-expanding television programmes for all ages but particularly children and young adults.

  • Christmas Lectures 2016

    Credit: Paul Wilkinson
  • Dr Peter Wothers presents The Modern Alchemist in 2012. 

    Credit: Paul Wilkinson


Begun by Michael Faraday in 1825, the CHRISTMAS LECTURES are now broadcast on UK television every December and have formed part of the British Christmas tradition for generations.

The Lectures have taken place every year since they began, stopping only from 1939 to 1942, when it was too dangerous for children to come into central London. The theme changes every year, and they are delivered by an expert in their field.

Discover the amazing history of the CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

The Lectures

Although they began with little fanfare, no one could have predicted how popular they would become.  And since they were first broadcast on television in 1936, many world-famous scientists and science communicators have given the lectures since then, including Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, George Porter and Richard Dawkins.

Demand for tickets to the live recordings is always very high. To ensure tickets are allocated fairly, we use a ticket ballot similar to the Wimbledon ballot system. The ballot is open to UK registered schools and Ri Members, Ri Young Members and Ri Patrons. Become an Ri Member today for a chance to get one of the hottest tickets in town.  Not only will you be supporting the Ri’s charitable objectives, you’ll also receive free and better than half-price tickets to our Discourses and public talks as well as a host of other benefits. 

With screening rooms streaming the action live from the theatre, offering a more relaxed view and no age restrictions, it’s still possible to enjoy the Lectures. 


After broadcast, the Lectures go online for everyone in the world to watch for free right here on the Ri's website.. We’re currently digitising a large archive of past Lectures, which will be regularly added to the catalogue.

And for the last four years we’ve paired with the award-winning online engagement team behind ‘I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here’, to stimulate even more interaction with the audience, allowing members of the public and school groups to take part in live chats and have their questions about the science and engineering behind the Lectures answered online by the Lecturer and a team of professional scientists and/or engineers working in related fields.

The Lectures can be used in the classroom, so we create a range of online teaching resources for teachers and home educators to use, including short YouTube clips which illustrate and explain the key scientific or engineering concepts in each 

Beyond London

There is also an important international dimension to the Lectures. They travel internationally over the summer, and in recent years the shows have been repeated to school audiences in Singapore and Japan, broadcast on national TV.


The impact of the CHRISTMAS LECTURES reach far beyond our famous lecture theatre. However, we receive no guaranteed support for the Lectures, either from government departments or through endowments, to cover the costs each year. We are entirely reliant on the funding we raise through ticket sales, donations and sponsorship.

Find out how you can help support the CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

The CHRISTMAS LECTURES is a registered trademark. Contact xmaslecs@ri.ac.uk for more information.

Become a member

Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.

Join todayGo