Winter Holidays in Washington: Movies, Music, Theater, and More

Your guide to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and winter solstice-themed events.

By: Rebecca Nelson

Caroling Choruses

At Georgetown’s Evermay estate, the Overtures Holiday Concert Series showcases emerging classical and chamber musicians in six performances. Through December 19.

Catch the Cathedral Choral Society singing at spots around DC—such as the Dupont Circle Metro station’s Q Street entrance—which culminates in The Joy of Christmas at the Washington National Cathedral. Caroling December 4 from 5:30 to 6:15 and 6:45 to 7:30 at the Willard Hotel; December 6 from 6 to 7 at the Q Street entrance of the Dupont Circle Metro station; and December 7 from 2 to 3 at the main level of Mazza Galleria. The Joy of Christmas, December 14 and 15.

The National Museum of American History hosts the official Air Force chorus for hourly performances in its Flag Hall. December 7 and 8.



Twists on Classics

Hear what Christmas sounded like in 16th- and 17th-century Latin and South America at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Christmas in New Spain: Early Music of Mexico and Peru. December 13 through 22.

Celebrate the winter solstice with the Christmas Revels’ Echoes of Thrace, a folk performance of music and dance from Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. December 7 through 15.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra tribute band Ornament—“southern New England’s premier rock orchestra”—play the ensemble’s greatest hits, a potpourri of holiday songs sung to rock, blues, and gospel music, at the Hamilton. December 15.

Don’t have plans for Christmas Day? Celebrate with other jazz fans at the All-Star Christmas Day Jazz Jam at the Kennedy Center. December 25.



From Baby Jesus to Buddy the Elf

Black Nativity, Langston Hughes’s Christmas gospel play, comes to the Ellington Theatre. December 4 through 15.

Buddy the Elf finds himself far from the North Pole yet again—this time, at the Kennedy Center—in the musical take on the movie Elf. December 17 through January 5.



Scrooge: Posthumously Way More Popular

Edward Gero stars as Scrooge in the Ford’s Theatre rendition of A Christmas Carol. November 21 through January 1.

The Little Theatre of Alexandria stages the Dickens classic “complete with special effects.” December 5 through 22.

Instead of a moneylender, a rich pub owner fills the Scrooge-like role in the Keegan Theatre’s An Irish Carol. December 13 through 31.

Olney Theatre’s take on the classic favors simplicity, sticking to the original Christmas Carol. November 29 through December 29.



Interactive Christmas

Watch your most embarrassing holiday moments play out at Washington Improv Theater’s Seasonal Disorder, a medley of improv performances that use real-life stories as inspiration. December 5 through 31.

Embrace your inner Mariah Carey at Wolf Trap’s family-friendly Holiday Sing-Along, featuring Christmas carols and Hanukkah hymns. December 7.



All Singing, All Dancing

Step into the Christmas spirit with the Step Afrika! Magical Musical Holiday Step Show at H Street’s Atlas Performing Arts Center. December 11 through 22.

Composer Matt Conner sings and plays the piano at Arlington’s Signature Theatre in A Matt Conner Christmas, sharing his favorite holiday memories through music ranging from classical to bluegrass. December 11 through 15.

Holiday Follies blends songs of the Spice Girls, Frank Zappa, and others with classic carols at Signature Theatre. December 17 through 23.

Let your holiday spirit shine with Sparkle, Jingle, Joy, a holiday revue from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. December 20.



Nutcracker With a Twist

For a familial take on The Nutcracker, check out Olney Ballet Theatre’s production, which features three members of Brookeville’s Welch family onstage and one behind the scenes. December 13 through 24.

In a distinctly Washington iteration of the classic tale, Septime Webre’s Washington Ballet production features George Washington as the Nutcracker. December 5 through December 29.

See the tale with a puppet twist at the Puppet Company Playhouse in Glen Echo. Through December 29.



Silver Bells, Silver Screen

AFI Silver screens classic Christmas films, including Miracle on 34th Street, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and It’s A Wonderful Life. December 6 through 24.

You don’t need Netflix to binge-watch all your favorite holiday films; that’s what the Christmas Movie Festival is for. December 15.



You’ve Gotta Handel It to Them

The Washington National Cathedral’s choir and baroque orchestra performs Handel’s Messiah. December 6 through 8.

The National Symphony Orchestra plays the piece at the Kennedy Center December 19 through 22.

Get some history with your Handel at Strathmore, which offers lectures before each of its Messiah performances by the National Philharmonic.



Happy Hanukkah

Matisyahu keeps the Hanukkah festivities going past the eighth night with his Festival of Light show at the 9:30 Club. December 9.

After eight crazy nights, cap off the Hanukkah season withthe DC-based Klezmer band Lox & Vodka at the US Botanic Gardens’ Conservatory Garden Court. December 5.



Kreative Kwanzaa

Get crafty this Kwanzaa with the Alexandria Black History Museum’s family fun workshop, featuring games, songs, dances and crafts. December 7.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa take center stage in the Coyaba Dance Theater’s musical celebration at George Washington University’s Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre. December 14.