Interview: Christmas Traditions with Engelbert

Everyone has their own Christmas traditions and for Leicester’s favourite crooner, Engelbert Humperdinck, things are no different at all. As he releases his brand new Christmas album, we caught up with him to find out what the festive period means to him.

I love Christmas with the family, the lights, the music, it’s a special time for us”, Engelbert tells us as we sit over dinner in one of his favourite restaurants in the heart of London’s West End. He may have been in the industry for over 50 years but that passion for his music is still evident, especially as he talk about the release of his first Christmas album in over 30 years.

Warmest Christmas Wishes features 14 wonderfully festive tracks, including 2 brand new numbers. “Some of them are my favourite Christmas songs from over the years but I wanted to make sure there was something new on there too. It’s really an album for the whole family.” 

Family is of course very important to Engelbert. With his granddaughter seeming to follow in his musical footsteps, he’s begun to duet with her on some of his tracks as she appears on his last album, The Man I Want To Be, which is an open love letter to his wife, Patricia. With his granddaughter aged just 9 years old, does he see a future in the business for her? “It was so special for me to get to duet with my granddaughter and I definitely want to do that more in the future. She’s so young still but with so much talent! On the last album I covered songs by Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran and it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy those modern recordings with my grandchildren.

We caught up with Engelbert over dinner during his Christmas promo in London.

As such a family man, Christmas is a very special time and Engelbert talks fondly of his Christmases here in Leicester. “Every year we spend Christmas in Leicester with the family. Unfortunately this year my wife, who is suffering from Alzheimers, is too unwell to make the journey, so for the first time in a long time we’ll be spending the holiday in Los Angeles.” 

Christmas is such a special time for me though. I’m a huge fan of Christmas lights and I make sure both my house in Leicester and my house in Los Angeles are lit up throughout the holidays.” I tell Engelbert the story of my friend who used to drive through Great Glen each Christmas time just to see the lights on his house and he smiles, “That’s so lovely to hear. That’s what I want, to bring joy to people over Christmas!” He pulls out his mobile and begins showing photos of his house in Los Angeles, all lit up, “I made sure the lights went up before I came over to England so now when I go back it’s so festive.”

Los Angeles and Leicester are a world away from each other in terms of cities, so where really feels like home? “I love Leicester. I love how welcoming everybody is to me. They see my car and wave to me, they know my house, it’s such a special place for me and my family and it will always be home.” Of course, Engelbert’s house in Great Glen is very well known among people in the county, a house that truly has its own quirks, he even has his own pub inside it! “Yes, I have a little English pub inside. I just love the pub so having one in my house is wonderful. It doesn’t stop me going out though and I love The Greyhound in the village (now the Pug & Greyhound in the centre of Great Glen). They all know me in there and we’re made to feel so welcome when we go down!

As he continues to recall tales about the city, from getting his hands on the Premier League trophy, to receiving his Freedom of the City alongside Alan Birchenall, it’s clear that whilst Los Angeles may have the glitz and glamour, there’ll always be a part of his heart in Great Glen.

I’m going back to Leicester tomorrow for a couple of days to check things before Christmas. Even though I won’t be there with my family this Christmas, I want to make sure that the lights are up for everybody else to enjoy.

So if you’re driving nearby this Christmas, be sure to swing past Engelbert’s house and send him your warmest Christmas wishes.

Warmest Christmas Wishes is out now and available to order or download.