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Holiday Happenings: Concerts and Shows

The holidays may only come once a year, but they bring almost enough musical and theatrical events to keep us going for the next 11 months. Here are our picks for the best holiday-themed shows and events this year in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

The Moscow Ballet Brings its version of the Nutcracker to Strathmore.

>> The Complete Holiday Guide

Ford’s Theatre continues its annual holiday tradition with A Christmas Carol, November 20 through January 2. The Michael Baron-directed tale of Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas stars Washington stage mainstay Edward Gero as the miserly hero. Tickets ($52 to $60) at

The Kennedy Center has a kid-oriented show in the Family Theater November 26 through December 19. Snow White, Rose Red (and Fred) is billed as a “Grimm meets Glee” tale about a high-school drama club. The KenCen commissioned show is a world premiere. Tickets ($18) at

Septime Webre’s Washington-themed Nutcracker—December 1 through 26 at the Warner Theatre—is as much a part of the holidays as the National Christmas Tree. The Nutcracker is depicted as George Washington, the Rat Kin as King George II. Tickets ($31 to $89) at

The Washington National Cathedral Choir teams with the Baroque Orchestre for three performances of Handel’s Messiah, December 3 through 5 at Washington National Cathedral. Tickets ($25 to $85) at

The Washington Revels drop by George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium for their 28th annual Christmas Revels December 4, 5, 10,11, and 12. Guest artists the Mellstock Band celebrate this year’s theme of “An English Country Christmas” with traditional carols, dancing, and performances. Tickets ($18 to $45) at

Cirque Dreams, the Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatic company presents its new show, Holidaze, at the Kennedy Center December 7 through 12. Thirty cast members transform themselves into holiday ornaments on a magical tree, including gingerbread men, toy soldiers, and candy canes. Tickets ($31 to $50) at

Guest conductor and composer Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line) joins the NSO Pops December 9 through 12 for Happy Holidays, a show of seasonal favorites also featuring the City Choir of Washington. Tickets ($20 to $85) at

The Folger Consort celebrates “A Renaissance Christmas” December 10 through 12 at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall. Guest choir the Tallis Scholars, described by the Guardian as “not just the choral event of the year, but possibly of the decade,” joins the Consort for a performance of Renaissance music. Tickets ($30 to $50) at

A Kennedy Center holiday tradition, NPR’s “A Jazz Piano Christmas” returns to the Terrace Theater December 11. The program features Monty Alexander, Helio Alves, Freddy Cole, and others playing holiday classics. Tickets ($42) at

The Cathedral Choral Society joins the Maret School Concert Choir at Washington National Cathedral December 11 and 12 for “The Joy of Christmas,” a choral concert. Tickets ($25 to $85) at

The Thomas Circle Singers, a chamber choral ensemble, present their annual Christmas concert December 12. “Sing We All Nowell!: Music for Christmas” also includes the Sidwell Friends Middle School Advanced Girls Ensemble and Commonwealth Brass performing carols and lullabies. Tickets ($20) at

The Choral Arts Society of Washington celebrates the holidays in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall December 13, 21, and 24. "Christmas Music: The Treasured Holiday Tradition" includes classical music, carols, and standards. Tickets ($15 to $65) at

Conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini joins the NSO December 16 through 19 for the Kennedy Center’s annual production of Handel’s Messiah. Tickets ($20 to $85) at December 23, guest conductor Barry Hemphill leads the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra (and the audience) in a Messiah sing-along. Free tickets will be distributed beginning at 6 PM on the day of the performance in front of the Concert Hall; one ticket per person in line.

December 17 through 19, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC presents Men in Tights: A Pink Nutcracker at Lisner Auditorium. The “holiday fantasia” includes vodka, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and a young hero named Clarence. Tickets ($20 to $50) at

The Smithsonian American Art Museum hosts a reading of Christmas Stories From the Saturday Evening Post December 18. The event, organized to coincide with the exhibit of Norman Rockwell illustrations from the collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, is free. For more information visit

If nothing says “holidays” to you like a drag beauty-shop quartet, don’t miss the Kinsey Sicks in Oy Vey in a Manger at Theater J December 18 through January 2. Numbers include “Tis the Season to Drink Stoli” and “Harried Little Christmas.” Tickets ($30 to $60) at

The Washington Chorus presents “A Candlelight Christmas” in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall December 18 through 22. The program features carols, a singalong, and a traditional candlelight processional. Tickets ($15 to $65) at

Dance Place wel
comes Coyaba Academy and Coyaba Dance Theater December 18 and 19 for a Kwanzaa Celebration. The dance-based show showcases the seven principles of Kwanzaa, the African cultural holiday. Tickets ($22) at

The Rock and Roll Hotel presents a “Modern Times Christmas Show” December 23, with music from Echo Armada, Adrian Hardkor, Star FK Stadium, and more. Tickets ($10) at

Throughout December, the United States Botanic Garden offers extended hours Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 8 PM along with live musical performances. Free. See for details.

December 1 through 23, the Willard InterContinental presents “Holiday Lobbying,” a series of choral concerts in the hotel’s lobby (by the Christmas tree). Performers include the Alexandria Singers, the Fairfax Choral Society, and the Washington Chorus. Free. For more information, visit

>> Next: concerts and shows in Maryland


“ICE! Featuring How the Grinch Stole Christmas,”
the main holiday attraction this year at National Harbor’s Gaylord National Resort, features 15,000 square feet of frozen scenes carved from more than 2 million pounds of ice. November 18 through January 9; $13 to $29. Tickets available at

Children’s-book favorite Junie B. Jones is the main character in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells at Bethesda’s Imagination Stage November 24 through January 9. The family-friendly show features classroom drama and holiday adventures. Tickets ($10 to $22) at

Grammy-wining jazz saxophonist Kenny G—whose 1994 album, Miracles, remains the best-selling holiday album of all time—plays a holiday concert at Strathmore December 2. Tickets ($38 to $125) at

The Rockville Civic Ballet
performs its annual Nutcracker at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre December 4, 5, 11, and 12. Tickets ($16) at 240-314-8690.

At Strathmore, the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker—called “expressive and a delight to watch” by the Washington Post—runs December 8 and 9. Tickets ($27.50 to $87.50) at

The Gaithersburg Community Chorus performs its 23rd annual winter concert December 11 at the Gaithersburg High School Auditorium. The program includes “Holocaust Cantata” by Donald McCullough and pieces by Benjamin Britten and Michael Horvit in addition to lighter holiday fare. Free. For more information, visit

The National Philharmonic and conductor Stan Engebretson present Handel’s Messiah December 11 and 12 at Strathmore. Tickets ($32 to $79) at

Columbia Figure Skating Club presents its 20th anniversary Nutcracker on Ice December 11 and 12 at Columbia Ice Rink. The show features more than 100 local skaters, including regional and national competitors. Tickets ($10) at the door. For information, visit

Local actor Paul Morella presents his one-man adaptation of A Christmas Carol at Olney Theatre Center December 16 through 31. Tickets ($26 to $39) at

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Capitol Quartet performs a Holiday Pops concert at Maryland Hall December 17. Tickets ($25 to $45) at

Country mainstay Kenny Rogers joins members of the National Philharmonic Chorale at Strathmore December 19 for holiday classics and some of his greatest hits. Tickets ($49.50 to $77.50) at

>> Next: concerts and shows in Virginia


Kathy Feininger’s A Broadway Christmas Carol runs at Alexandria’s MetroStage November 18 through December 19. The show combines the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge with a number of comically rewritten show tunes. Tickets ($45 to $50) at

December 3 through 12, the Little Theatre of Alexandria presents A Christmas Carol, adapted by Donna Ferragut and directed by Jennifer Lyman. In an alternative take on the tale, the theater is also running Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge November 26 through December 18, with the heroine reinvented as a stressed-out housewife. Tickets ($15) at

December 4 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the Turtle Island Quartet—featuring Cyrus Chestnut and Mike Marshall—performs holiday favorites along with classic jazz. Tickets ($22 to $44) at

Wolf Trap’s annual Holiday Sing-A-Long returns December 5 featuring local choirs and “the President’s Own” United States Marine Band performing Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs. Free. For more information, go to

Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison, the Austin-based alt-country husband-and-wife duo—she grew up in the Washington area—stop by the Birchmere with their holiday show December 12. Tickets ($29.50) at

The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse celebrates the holidays December 12 with an all-day Christmas Movie Festival. Features include A Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Tickets ($8) at

Aaron Neville, one of the grandfathers of R&B and soul, comes to the Birchmere with his quintet for a holiday show December 15. Tickets ($49.50) at

Also at the Birchmere is “The John Waters Xmas Show” on December 16. The alternative show features songs such as “Here Comes Fatty Claus” and “Santa Claus Is a Black Man.” Tickets ($45) at

The Alexandria Singers present their 2010 Holiday Pops Concert, “Yule School Reunion,” at Bethany Lutheran Church December 17 and 18. Free. For more information, visit

The Vienna Boys Choir, a 500-year-old choral institution, performs a holiday concert at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts December 18 and 19. Tickets ($24 to $48) at

December 19, the Colonial Ringers Handbell Ensemble perform—in costume—at the Lyceum in Alexandria, performing holiday favorites on a set of Whitechapel bells. Free. For more information, visit

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