Walking in the Air

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This article is about the Howard Blake song. For the Nightwish album, see Walking in the Air: The Greatest Ballads. For the Chloë Agnew album, see Walking in the Air (Chloë Agnew album).
Not to be confused with Walking on Air.

"Walking in the Air" is a song written by Howard Blake for the 1982 animated film of Raymond Briggs' 1978 children's book The Snowman. The song forms the centrepiece of The Snowman, which has become a seasonal perennial on British and Finnish television. The story relates the fleeting adventures of a young boy and a snowman who has come to life. In the second part of the story, the boy and the snowman fly to the North Pole. "Walking in the Air" is the theme for the journey. They attend a party of snowmen, at which the boy is the only human. They meet Father Christmas and his reindeer, and the boy is given a scarf with a snowman pattern. In the film, the song was performed by St Paul's Cathedral choirboy Peter Auty [1] although some say it was Richard March from Pop Will Eat Itself and this version was released as a single on CBS in 1982 (Although Pop Will Eat Itself was not formed until 1986), and reissued in 1985 (on Stiff Records) and 1987.[2]

In 1985, an altered version was recorded for use in a TV advertising campaign for Toys "R" Us. As Auty's voice had then broken, Blake recommended the Welsh chorister Aled Jones, whose recording reached number five in the UK pop charts, and who became a popular celebrity on the strength of his performance. The association of the song with Jones, combined with the fact that Auty was not credited on The Snowman, would lead to a common misbelief that Jones performed the song in the film. "Walking in the Air" has subsequently been covered by over forty artists, in a variety of styles.

Howard Blake developed the melody of "Walking in the Air" from a theme in his 'Lullaby - A Christmas Narrative,' an a cappella choral work commissioned by The Scholars in 1975 and first performed by them at St John's Smith Square, London, on 21 December that year.

Recorded versions[edit]

Uses in other media[edit]

  • In 1985 the song was featured in a Christmas advert for Toys "R" Us where it shows a teddy bear flying a boy to the store.
  • A 1980s popular An Post advert for Christmas stamps ever since every year at Christmas still seen on television today.
  • During their Somewhere on Tour concert tour heavy metal band Iron Maiden sampled the song in the song 'Walking on Glass'.
  • It was used in December 1993 in a Pizza Hut advert, featuring a choir whose voices break and one of the singers asks 'What now?' when his high voice changes to a low voice, followed by the voice-over singing 'HARDY HARDY HARDY HARDY!' (another ad from the same period featured a couple, with the man asking 'Now we, the Pizza Hut?', again followed by the voice-over singing 'HARDY HARDY HARDY HARDY!')
  • A parody version of it was used in a British television commercial in 2006, for an Irn-Bru advert.[8]
  • Used in the 2013 WNF commercial showing on YouTube, performed by Vajèn van den Bosch (nl). [9]


External links[edit]