Christmas in Washington: Holiday-Themed Theater, Dance, Music, Movies, and More

Choose from Christmas carols, Dickens adaptations, Nutcrackers, Kwanzaa events, jazz shows, and plenty more options.

By: Sophie Gilbert

Christmas Carols, Scrooge-Style

Ford’s Theatre brings back its popular production of A Christmas Carol, starring Edward Gero as Scrooge. Through December 30.

At Olney, local actor/director Paul Morella also reprises his pared-down version of the classic, based more heavily on Dickens’s original text. November 30 through December 30.

MetroStage has A Broadway Christmas Carol playing through December 23.

Also in Old Town, the Little Theatre of Alexandria stages A Christmas Carol November 30 through December 16.

Meanwhile Keegan Theatre’s An Irish Carol, an “homage” to the Dickens story, plays at the Church Street Theatre December 14 through 31.


More Theater

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, the stage adaptation of the film classic, runs December 11 through January 6 in the Kennedy Center’s Opera House.

Theater Alliance stages the local premiere of The Night Before Christmas, a new comic riff on the classic tale. Through December 29 at H Street Playhouse.

December 14 through 23, Signature stages The Holiday Guys, a song-and-dance show featuring three-time Tony nominee Marc Kudisch and Jeffry Denman.

December 18 through 23 Signature also stages “Holiday Follies,” a cabaret series featuring local artists and performers.


A Nutcracking Good Time

The Washington Ballet brings its production of Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker back to the Warner Theatre. The locally themed show features George Washington as the heroic nutcracker and George III as the villainous Rat King. November 29 through December 23.

Ballet West, Utah’s beloved ballet company, brings The Nutcracker to the Kennedy Center December 5 through 9.

The Moscow Ballet presents its Great Russian Nutcracker at Strathmore December 16, and at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts December 19 and 20.

And the Columbia Figure Skating Club stages its annual Nutcracker on Ice December 15 and 16.


More Dance

Dance Place hosts its annual Kwanzaa celebration December 14 through 16, featuring Coyaba Dance Theater, Coyaba Academy, and more.

Step Afrika! presents a holiday performance at the Atlas Performing Arts Center December 12 through 23.


Holidays With Handel

Never let it be said that the Washington area is wanting for productions of Handel’s Messiah come December. The National Symphony Orchestra performs the holiday favorite at the Kennedy Center December 20 through 23, with a sing-along performance on December 23.

Over at Strathmore, the National Philharmonic performs Messiah December 8, 22, and 23.

The National Cathedral choirs sing Messiah December 7 through 9.


More in Classical Music

December 6 at the Kennedy Center, see Pro Musica Hebraica celebrate Hanukkah with a concert of cantorial masterpieces.

December 9, the Thomas Circle Singers perform their annual holiday show, “Sing We All Nowell,” at St Paul’s Lutheran Church in DC.

December 14 through 23 at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Folger Consort performs a concert dedicated to Christmas music from Florence.

At Strathmore the Cathedral Choral Society sings “A Dickens Christmas” December 17.

The Washington Chorus performs “A Candlelight Christmas” at the Kennedy Center December 15 through 22 and at Strathmore December 20 and 21.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington sings “An Enchanted Christmas” at the KenCen December 17 through 24.

A cappella group the Capital Hearings perform at the US Botanic Garden December 6. There’s also live music Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the month.


Symphonic Sinatra (and More)

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs a Holiday Pops Celebration at Strathmore December 12.

The NSO Pops also plays a holiday-themed show at the Kennedy Center December 13 through 16.

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra presents a holiday pops concert featuring Tony DeSare December 14.

The Washington Symphonic Brass also performs festive favorites at Strathmore December 18.

The Judy Collins Christmas Show stops by Birchmere December 12.


Alternative Holiday Shows

November 30 and December 1, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs “Winter Nights” at the Lisner Auditorium.

If you love Morris dancing (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), early music, and “the mysterious Abbots Bromley horn dance,” don’t miss the Christmas Revels at Lisner December 8 through 16.

Birchmere brings back “A John Waters Christmas,” featuring the King of Camp himself, December 10.


A Jazz/Bluegrass Christmas

Scarf-wearing, be-bopping liberals, rejoice: NPR’s “A Jazz Piano Christmas” returns to the KenCen December 8, featuring none other than artistic adviser for jazz and MacArthur “genius” Jason Moran, NEA jazz master Ellis Marsalis, and more.

The 17-piece Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra performs three holiday shows at Strathmore December 16.

Strathmore artist in residence Mary Alouette sings “A Gypsy Jazz Christmas” at Strathmore December 21.

Appalachian fiddler Mark O’Connor performs “An Appalachian Christmas” at Strathmore December 13.


For Kids

“A Little House Christmas” runs at Adventure Theatre through December 31.

ICE!” returns to Gaylord National Harbor, this year with a Shrek theme. Through January 6.


Christmas on the Big Screen

The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse presents the 2012 Christmas Movie Festival December 16, with screenings of A Christmas Story, Scrooged, Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and more.

AFI Silver’s holiday screenings include Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and more.