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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

The Beatles' Christmas Show was at the Astoria in Finsbury Park in December 1963 and January 1964.

Rick Burton, an expert on the theatre’s history (who worked at the venue in a three-year stint from 1977 to 1980), insists: “That was the start of Beatlemania. The shows were from Christmas Eve 1963 until January 11, but sold out instantly.

“The audience screamed when they walked out, and didn’t stop screaming. George Harrison said they were the best shows they ever did, and said Finsbury Park Astoria had the best audience.”

The Beatles had only released two albums by this point, which meant they were not above doing silly sketches (described by one onlooker as “so bad” and “organised chaos”) in between songs.

“It was the first Christmas show they put together,” Rick says. “The sketches had them in costume and climbing out of submarines.

The theatre closed as a concert venue in 1982, but with performers ranging from The Osmonds and David Bowie to Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd, Rick says its legacy speaks for itself.

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Tags (All lower case. Use " " for multiple word tags): finsbury park astoria
Albums: Historical Images of Finsbury Park Town

Comment by Ms on October 19, 2018 at 14:43

I am glad to say, I was there!  I was 12 and came up to the Astoria from my home in Sunbury on Thames with 3 school friends, my mother to chaperone us all, my elder sister and a friend to keep her company.  My dear father had queued for 4 hours to get the tickets.  The Beatles were wonderful, and yes, I screamed all the way through.

Comment by Richard Woods on October 19, 2018 at 16:32

Elsewhere I have referred to this. Tickets went on sale early in December and huge numbers of youngsters played hookey to queue for them. I did a story on this for the Hornsey Journal and later buttonholed George Harrison as the band arrived on December 24 to ask him what he thought about the kids playing truant just to get tickets. Ever laconic, Harison reply was something like "good for them - hope their teachers didn't find out". Of course they did because a certain Harringay hack rang them up and asked them about it! I was due to be there as a reviewer on January 3 as I recall but I got my only ever dose of genuine flu and was even immobile for this gig! Someone else got the job - lucky so and so.

Comment by C.J.Raven on October 19, 2018 at 23:31

So this was the start of Beatlemania?

The Beatles had created some mania excitement several weeks before in that year when they headed Brian Epsteins "Merseybeat" soundshow at the Majestic Dance Hall just further along the road by Finsbury Park. That show included Billy J Kramer + Dakottas, The Big Three with Johnny Gustafason, The Merseybeats, etc. The young girl mania screamers were there throwing themselves on stage.

One particular girl was very adept at avoiding the bouncers and managed to get an embrace and kiss from all four of the Beatles Group. They had a great night.

Comment by Ed Butler on October 20, 2018 at 9:27

I didn't know that The Beatles had also played at the Majestic


Comment by Victor Farthing on November 9, 2018 at 9:08

Richard Woods Was you a reporter on the Hornsey  Journal at that particular time of the Beatles Christmas show? Just wondering if you would have known my good friend Brendan Monks that was a photograph for the Hornsey  Journal at that time. Perhaps you were both at the Astoria at the same time! Great memories. Vic.

Comment by Janis Milnes on May 19, 2019 at 22:53

I was taken to see the Beatles her by my big sister. 

Comment by John Shulver on November 27, 2020 at 18:39

I was there that Christmas Eve 63 along with 2 mates.  I bunked off school to queue for tickets.  Loved The Beatles.  I drove my poor old Mum mad.  Everything evolved around The Beatles for me.   Many years later in life (c.96) I discovered that my then boss was at same show and later still (c.2010) discovered that my current girlfriend was also there !!

Comment by David Adrian Grant on December 1, 2023 at 9:45

I don't know if it says something about me, but my mate Dave Earp and I were walking down Fonthill Road on one of our evening strolls, when we passed a large black Limo pulled into the side of the road. As we passed I had a quick look inside and we walked on. "Funny to see the Beatles waiting there!" I said. Yes I suppose it is said Dave and we walked on. Ahead of us was a mob of girls partly blocking Severn Sisters Road. looking back I suppose I should have been excited, but I preferred motorbikes to pop music to spend my money on!

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