List of UK singles chart Christmas number ones

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A black and white photograph of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley of the group Wham!
Wham!'s "Last Christmas", originally released in 1984, is the most-recent Christmas number one

In the United Kingdom, Christmas number ones are singles that top the UK Singles Chart in the week in which Christmas Day falls.[nb 1] The singles have often been novelty songs, charity songs or songs with a Christmas theme. Historically, the volume of record sales in the UK has peaked at Christmas.[1]

The Christmas number one is considered especially prestigious, more so than any other time of year.[2][3] Christmas number-one singles have often also been the best-selling song of the year, though in recent years they have been released by reality television contestants and charity efforts. Due to the common practice of dating a chart by the date on which the week ends, the Christmas chart is dated the end of the week containing 25 December. The most recent Christmas number one single is "Last Christmas" by Wham!.[4]


Publicity photograph of Al Martino from 1952
Al Martino was the first person to reach Christmas number one, in 1952

The UK Singles Chart began in 1952 – appearing in the New Musical Express.[5] The positions of all songs are based on weekly sales (from Sunday to Saturday until 2015, then from Friday to Thursday).[6][7] Before 1987, they were released on a Tuesday due to the need for manual calculation.[8] The emergence of a serious contest for the Christmas number-one spot began in 1973, when the glam rock bands Slade and Wizzard deliberately released festive songs in an effort to reach the top of the charts at Christmas, with Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody" beating Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday".[2][9] The Christmas number-one single was not revealed on Christmas Day itself until 1994.[10]

From 2002 until 2014, the competition for the Christmas number one was dominated by reality television contests, with the winners often heading straight to number one in the week before Christmas. This trend began when Popstars: The Rivals contestants released the top three singles on the Christmas chart.[11][nb 2] Between 2005 and 2014, the winners of The X Factor took the number-one spot on seven occasions. In 2007, the X Factor single was such a strong favourite for number one that bookmakers began taking bets on which song would be the "Christmas Number Two" instead.[12] Rage Against the Machine's 1992 single "Killing in the Name" outsold Joe McElderry in 2009 following a successful Facebook campaign against this trend.[13] This made them the first group to get a Christmas number one with a download-only single, and resulted in the most download sales in a single week in UK chart history.[13] Similar campaigns in 2010 promoting acts such as Biffy Clyro, John Cage and the Trashmen were unsuccessful.[14]

In 2011, the Military Wives and Gareth Malone, both involved with the reality television show The Choir, outsold X Factor winners Little Mix and a host of social network campaigns for various novelty acts.[15][16] In 2012, a supergroup cover of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", supporting charities associated with the Hillsborough disaster, reached the number one ahead of The X Factor's James Arthur.[17] Following the UK Charts' move to Fridays,[18] the Christmas number one is revealed on Christmas Day whenever it falls on a Friday, such as in 2015 and 2020;[19][20] the former year's chart was the first in a decade to not feature the X Factor winner's single in the top two.[21][22] Amazon Music has released a number of exclusive festive tracks since 2018, recorded with acts such as Justin Bieber, Jess Glynne, and Ellie Goulding, none of which have topped the Christmas chart, though Goulding's track later reached number one.[23][24][25][26] More recently, non-traditional acts have been successful with novelty songs released for charity; most notably, YouTuber LadBaby achieved number one every year between 2018 and 2022, each time raising money for the Trussell Trust,[27][28] before voluntarily ending their streak by not releasing a Christmas single in 2023.[29]


LadBaby is the act with the most Christmas number ones with five, surpassing the Beatles' previous record in 2022.[27] On two occasions, in 1963 and 1967, the Beatles had both the Christmas number one and the number two, the first act to have achieved this. As part of two acts, George Michael repeated the feat with Band Aid and Wham! in 1984, and Ed Sheeran did so in 2017 with duets with Beyoncé and Eminem, and again in 2021 with duets with LadBaby and Elton John. Paul McCartney has been top eight times with various acts (four as The Beatles, and one each as Wings, Band Aid, Band Aid 20, and The Justice Collective). Cliff Richard has spent four Christmases at number one; two as a solo act, one with The Shadows and one as part of Band Aid II. The Spice Girls later equalled the then-record of three consecutive Christmas number ones, from 1996 to 1998; Spice Girl Melanie C achieved a fourth Christmas number one as a member of the Justice Collective in 2012, which also gave Robbie Williams his third. In 2022, LadBaby became the first act to achieve five consecutive number ones.[30]

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, which reached the number-one spot at Christmas 1975 and 1991, is the only record to have reached the top twice. "Mary's Boy Child" is the only song to be Christmas number one for two artists — Harry Belafonte in 1957 and Boney M. in 1978 — although "Do They Know It's Christmas?" has been Christmas number one for three generations of Band Aid.[31] The original version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" is the second-bestselling single in UK history (behind "Candle in the Wind 1997" by Elton John), while "Bohemian Rhapsody" is third.[32][33]


The Beatles had four Christmas number ones during the 1960s, three of which were consecutive
Slade reached number one with a Christmas-themed novelty song in 1973
Bob Geldof, creator of charity supergroup Band Aid who, with "Do They Know It's Christmas?", were Christmas number one in three incarnations
"Bohemian Rhapsody", by Queen, reached the number one slot twice, in 1975 and 1991
Cliff Richard, who reached the number one slot at Christmas three times (four times with the inclusion of Band Aid II)
The Spice Girls had three consecutive Christmas number ones in the 1990s
Girls Aloud's "Sound of the Underground" reached number one in 2002, edging out their fellow Popstars: The Rivals contestants One True Voice's "Sacred Trust"
Rage Against the Machine's record "Killing in the Name" achieved the Christmas number one in 2009, 17 years after the song's original release.
Year Primary Artist Song[34] Weeks at
No. 1[31][35][36]
1952 Al Martino "Here in My Heart" 9
1953 Frankie Laine "Answer Me" 8
1954 Winifred Atwell "Let's Have Another Party" 5
1955 Dickie Valentine "Christmas Alphabet" 3
1956 Johnnie Ray "Just Walkin' in the Rain" 7
1957 Harry Belafonte "Mary's Boy Child" 7
1958 Conway Twitty "It's Only Make Believe" 5
1959 Emile Ford and the Checkmates "What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?" 6
1960 Cliff Richard and the Shadows "I Love You" 2
1961 Danny Williams "Moon River" 2
1962 Elvis Presley "Return to Sender" 3
1963 The Beatles "I Want to Hold Your Hand" 5
1964 "I Feel Fine" 5
1965 "Day Tripper" / "We Can Work It Out"[nb 3] 5
1966 Tom Jones "Green, Green Grass of Home" 7
1967 The Beatles "Hello, Goodbye" 7
1968 The Scaffold "Lily the Pink" 4
1969 Rolf Harris "Two Little Boys" 6
1970 Dave Edmunds "I Hear You Knocking" 6
1971 Benny Hill "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)" 4
1972 Jimmy Osmond "Long Haired Lover from Liverpool" 5
1973 Slade "Merry Xmas Everybody" 5
1974 Mud "Lonely This Christmas" 4
1975 Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody" 9
1976 Johnny Mathis "When a Child Is Born (Soleado)" 3
1977 Wings "Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School"[nb 3] 9
1978 Boney M. "Mary's Boy Child – Oh My Lord" 4
1979 Pink Floyd "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" 5
1980 St Winifred's School Choir "There's No One Quite Like Grandma" 2
1981 The Human League "Don't You Want Me" 5
1982 Renée and Renato "Save Your Love" 4
1983 The Flying Pickets "Only You" 5
1984 Band Aid "Do They Know It's Christmas?" 5
1985 Shakin' Stevens "Merry Christmas Everyone" 2
1986 Jackie Wilson "Reet Petite" 4
1987 Pet Shop Boys "Always on My Mind" 4
1988 Cliff Richard "Mistletoe and Wine"[nb 4] 4
1989 Band Aid II "Do They Know It's Christmas?" 3
1990 Cliff Richard "Saviour's Day" 1
1991 Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are the Days of Our Lives"[nb 3] 5
1992 Whitney Houston "I Will Always Love You" 10
1993 Mr Blobby "Mr Blobby" 3
1994 East 17 "Stay Another Day" 5
1995 Michael Jackson "Earth Song" 6
1996 Spice Girls "2 Become 1" 3
1997 "Too Much" 2
1998 "Goodbye" 1
1999 Westlife "I Have a Dream" / "Seasons in the Sun"[nb 3] 4
2000 Bob the Builder "Can We Fix It?" 3
2001 Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman "Somethin' Stupid" 3
2002 Girls Aloud "Sound of the Underground" 4
2003 Michael Andrews and Gary Jules "Mad World" 3
2004 Band Aid 20 "Do They Know It's Christmas?" 4
2005 Shayne Ward "That's My Goal" 4
2006 Leona Lewis "A Moment Like This" 4
2007 Leon Jackson "When You Believe" 3
2008 Alexandra Burke "Hallelujah" 3
2009 Rage Against the Machine "Killing in the Name"[nb 5] 1
2010 Matt Cardle "When We Collide"[nb 6] 3
2011 Military Wives with Gareth Malone "Wherever You Are" 1
2012 The Justice Collective[nb 7] "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" 1
2013 Sam Bailey "Skyscraper" 1
2014 Ben Haenow "Something I Need" 1
2015 Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir[39] "A Bridge over You"[nb 8] 1
2016 Clean Bandit "Rockabye" ft. Sean Paul and Anne-Marie 9
2017 Ed Sheeran[nb 9] "Perfect" 6
2018 LadBaby "We Built This City" 1
2019 "I Love Sausage Rolls" 1
2020 "Don't Stop Me Eatin'" 1
2021 "Sausage Rolls for Everyone" ft. Ed Sheeran and Elton John[42][nb 10] 1
2022 "Food Aid" [27] 1
2023 Wham! "Last Christmas" [4] 6

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This means that sales/streams on Christmas Day itself are not a factor in determining the Christmas number one.
  2. ^ In addition to the two groups that were the focus of the show (Girls Aloud and One True Voice), who charted at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, the No. 3 on the chart was "Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)" by The Cheeky Girls, who had also been contestants on Popstars.[11]
  3. ^ a b c d Released as a double A-side.
  4. ^ "Mistletoe and Wine" by Cliff Richard was announced as the 1988 Christmas number one a day later than usual, on Monday 26 December.[37]
  5. ^ This song originally peaked at No. 25 on the chart in 1993; first download-only single to be a Christmas number one, which it achieved as a result of a successful Internet campaign.
  6. ^ A cover of a Biffy Clyro song, originally titled "Many of Horror".
  7. ^ The Justice Collective was the name taken by a group of British musicians and football personalities who released the song in aid of various charities associated with the Hillsborough disaster.[17][38]
  8. ^ A mashup cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song "Bridge over Troubled Water" and Coldplay's "Fix You".[39]
  9. ^ Versions of "Perfect" featuring Beyoncé ("Perfect Duet") and Andrea Bocelli ("Perfect Symphony") counted towards the placement; however, due to chart rules, only Sheeran was officially credited.[40][41]
  10. ^ A novelty version of the Ed Sheeran and Elton John song, "Merry Christmas".[43][44]


  1. ^ Douglas, Jayne (23 December 2001). "Have a chart-topping Christmas". BBC News. Archived from the original on 22 October 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  2. ^ a b Meighan, Nicola (2004). "Why do we still love Christmas number ones?". BBC. Archived from the original on 12 May 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Sound of silence vies to be Christmas number one". The Daily Telegraph. 16 October 2010. Archived from the original on 19 October 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (22 December 2023). "Wham!'s Last Christmas finally reaches Christmas No 1, 39 years after release". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 22 December 2023. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  5. ^ "The story of the single". BBC News. 23 March 2001. Archived from the original on 5 June 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
  6. ^ "FAQs". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Who We Are - How the Official Charts are compiled". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2005). Guinness World Records: British Hit Singles and Albums (18th ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-904994-00-8.
  9. ^ Shennan, Paddy (13 December 2011). "Will Christmas Number One hopes 'The W Factor' (The Wombles) or 'MW Factor' (The Military Wives) beat The X Factor?". Liverpool Echo. Archived from the original on 23 December 2023. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Official UK Top 40 with Bruno Brookes". BBC Genome Project. 25 December 1994. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Girls Aloud top festive chart". BBC News. 23 December 2009. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  12. ^ Swash, Rosie (16 November 2007). "X Factor faces online Christmas chart challenge". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Rage Against the Machine beat X Factor winner in charts". BBC News. 20 December 2009. Archived from the original on 21 December 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  14. ^ "X Factor's Matt Cardle beats Biffy Clyro, Surfin' Bird and John Cage to UK Christmas Number One". NME. 19 December 2010. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  15. ^ "Military Wives Choir capture Christmas number one". BBC News. 25 December 2011. Archived from the original on 25 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  16. ^ Sexton, Paul (23 December 2011). "Military Wives & Italian Donkey in Race for U.K.'s No. 1 Christmas Single". Billboard. Archived from the original on 29 May 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Hillsborough single is Christmas number one". BBC News. 24 December 2012. Archived from the original on 5 October 2018. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  18. ^ "The Official Chart on BBC Radio 1 to move to Fridays from July - Greg James to present the weekly show from 4-6pm". BBC. 24 March 2015. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  19. ^ "The Christmas No 1!, The Official Chart with Greg James - BBC Radio 1". BBC. Archived from the original on 27 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  20. ^ Furness, Hannah (21 December 2015). "NHS Choir in the lead in race for Christmas number one". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  21. ^ Blake, Jimmy (22 December 2015). "Christmas number one: Why the X Factor is an outsider". Newsbeat. Archived from the original on 11 January 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  22. ^ "The demise of the X Factor Christmas Number 1". The Independent. 21 December 2015. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  23. ^ "George Ezra, Camila Cabello and Alessia Cara announced for Amazon Exclusive Christmas songs line-up". Official Charts Company. 3 November 2021. Archived from the original on 5 November 2021. Retrieved 7 November 2021.
  24. ^ "New Christmas songs by Jess Glynne and Justin Bieber set to enter Top 40". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 7 December 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  25. ^ "Jess Glynne enters Christmas Number 1 race with festive cover". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 29 November 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  26. ^ Savage, Mark (27 December 2019). "Ellie Goulding gets the final number one of the 2010s". BBC News. Archived from the original on 8 November 2021. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  27. ^ a b c Savage, Mark (23 December 2022). "LadBaby: Food Aid is the UK's Christmas number one". BBC News. Archived from the original on 23 December 2022. Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  28. ^ "Christmas number one: Why is the festive chart-topper such a big deal? - CBBC Newsround". Newsround. 13 December 2018. Archived from the original on 5 December 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  29. ^ "Odds slashed on 2023 Christmas Number One race | Virgin Radio UK". Virgin Radio. 1 December 2023. Archived from the original on 2 December 2023. Retrieved 2 December 2023.
  30. ^ "LadBaby make history with fifth consecutive Christmas No 1". BBC News. 23 December 2022. Archived from the original on 23 December 2022. Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  31. ^ a b "All the Christmas number ones". CBBC. 16 December 2002. Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
  32. ^ "Do They Know It's Christmas?". BBC Radio 2: Sold on Song. BBC. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  33. ^ "The UK's top 50 million-selling singles". NME. 5 November 2012. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  34. ^ Myers, Justin (13 December 2013). "Every Official Christmas Number 1 ever!". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 30 November 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  35. ^ "Christmas Number Ones – Singles". EveryHit. Archived from the original on 12 April 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  36. ^ "Thirty years of Christmas No 1s". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  37. ^ Masterton, James (20 December 2004). "Christmas Commentary from James Masterton". London: LAUNCHcast. Archived from the original on 31 December 2004. Retrieved 6 June 2011. ... This actually did happen back in 1988 when Christmas Day fell on a Sunday (the usual chart day). This resulted in the chart show being broadcast a day late on Monday 26th and with the industry agreeing that the crowning of Cliff Richard as that years Christmas Number One would take place then. ...
  38. ^ "Paul McCartney guests on Hillsborough charity single with Robbie Williams". The Guardian. 23 November 2012. Archived from the original on 8 December 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  39. ^ a b "NHS Choir beat Bieber to UK Christmas number one". BBC News. 25 December 2015. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  40. ^ "Ed Sheeran claims Christmas Number 1: "It's an actual dream"". Official Charts Company. 22 December 2017. Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  41. ^ Savage, Mark (22 December 2017). "Ed Sheeran is number one for Christmas". BBC News. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017. though chart rules mean Beyonce is denied a credit on the Christmas number one, with Sheeran's original counted as the lead track.
  42. ^ Savage, Mark (24 December 2021). "LadBaby score historic fourth Christmas number one". BBC News Online. Archived from the original on 23 December 2023. Retrieved 24 December 2021.
  43. ^ O'Connor, Roisin (10 December 2021). "Sausage Rolls for Everyone: Ed Sheeran and Elton John announce surprise LadBaby Christmas song collaboration". The Independent. Archived from the original on 10 December 2021. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  44. ^ "LadBaby announce bid for record-breaking fourth consecutive Christmas Number 1 with Ed Sheeran and Elton John". Official Charts Company. 10 December 2021. Archived from the original on 19 December 2021. Retrieved 19 December 2021.

Further reading[edit]