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Holiday Happenings: Concerts and Shows

Our roundup of all the plays, ballets, and Yuletide performances happening in Washington this month.

Edward Gero (right) stars as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at Ford’s. Photograph by T. Charles Erickson

It’s the most wonderful time of year for some, the most tiring for others. With a veritable cornucopia of plays, concerts, and performances, how can you possibly know which ones to choose from? We’ve assembled a list of holiday-themed shows happening in DC, Maryland, and Virginia over the next few weeks, so at least you’ll have all your Sugar Plum Fairies, Messiah performances, and carols covered. We’ve tried our best not to include sold-out events, but please let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything.

Holiday Concerts Around Washington:





So. Many. Messiahs. Check out our full roundup here, and our list of Christmas-themed December classical concerts here. But we can’t not include the Kennedy Center’s annual Messiah Sing-along on December 23, which is a holiday institution in Washington (and is free, to boot). Conductor Barry Hemphill leads the Opera House Orchestra and a 200-person choir (which will be enough to drown out anyone else’s tuneless squawking).

Ford’s Theatre reprises its production of A Christmas Carol, starring Edward Gero as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. The show is rapidly becoming a holiday tradition in Washington. $41 to $75.

The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker is at the Warner Theatre through December 24. The Washington-themed interpretation of the ballet, with George Washington as the Nutcracker Prince, features a different special guest each night. $31 to $90.

The Keegan Theatre presents An Irish Carol , an adaptation of the Dickens classic, at the Church Street Theater through December 31. $30 to $35.

All through December, the United States Botanic Garden hosts different musical performances in its conservatory. The shows are free and include jazz quartets, choral groups, and Irish rock.

December 9 through 18, the Folger Consort presents “O Magnum Mysterium,” a concert of Christmas music from 16th-century Spain. $45.

Ellen Greene, who originated the role of Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors off-Broadway (and starred in the cult movie adaptation) joins the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC for a holiday performance of Red & Green December 16 through 18. $25 to $50.

Jazz singer Jane Monheit performs a holiday-themed show at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater December 17. Monheit’s voice has been likened to Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall. $45.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington presents “Why the Chimes Rang,” a family Christmas concert, in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall December 17. The show, a fusion of music, dance, and theater, also features the Joy of Motion Youth Dance Ensemble. $15 to $45.

Dance Place’s annual Kwanzaa Celebration returns December 17 and 18, featuring Coyaba Dance Theater, guest group Urban Artistry, and students from the Coyaba Dance Academy. $22.

December 17 and 18, the Children’s Chorus of Washington presents “A Nordic Holiday Concert” at the National City Christian Church in Thomas Circle. The chorus is joined by Washington Symphonic Brass for the concert of Scandinavian music. $25 to $50.

December 18, organist Jeremy Filsell performs Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur at the Washington National Cathedral. Free.

December 17 through 22, the Washington Chorus presents “A Candlelight Christmas,” the group’s annual holiday performance of classic songs and carols at the Kennedy Center. The event includes the 200-person chorus, brass, organ, percussion, and a candlelight procession. $15 to $65. Also at Strathmore December 21.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington performs “Holiday Treasures from Russia,” a concert of traditional Russian carols and other holiday tunes, at the KenCen December 19 through 24. $15 to $65.

God bless the Kinsey Sicks. The troupe, self-billed as “America’s Favorite Dragapella Beauty-Shop Quartet,” comes to Theater J December 24 through 26 with a reprise of last year’s hit show, Oy Vey in a Manger . The adult-themed production includes songs such as “’Tis the Season to Drink Stoli” and “I Had a Little Facial.” $55 to $60.


ICE! returns to the Gaylord National Harbor this year with “Merry Madagascar,” a frozen spectacle inspired by the DreamWorks cartoon. The interactive display of ice sculptures was carved from more than two million pounds of ice. Through January 8.

Adventure Theatre’s world premiere run of Twas the Night Before Christmas continues at Adventure Theatre through January 2. The show is by acclaimed local playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You).

Olney Theatre Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker runs December 9 through 24. $41.

Pink Martini comes to Strathmore December 12, performing hits from their 2010 holiday album, Joy to the World. The fusion/jazz/classical/pop chamber orchestra will be accompanied by special guest singers. $55 to $125.

December 14, local a cappella group the Capital Hearings perform modern hits, seasonal favorites, Renaissance compositions, and more at Strathmore. $15.

Also at Olney Theatre, Paul Morella reprises his stripped-down, one-man adaptation of A Christmas Carol , December 14 through January 1.

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra presents “Holiday Pops: Simply Sinatra Christmas” December 16. The performance features vocals from Steve Lippia. $45.

Also on December 16, jazz vocalist Lena Seikaly performs holiday standards in the Strathmore mansion. $15.

The Columbia Figure Skating Club reprises its annual production of Nutcracker on Ice December 17 and 18. $12.

At AFI Silver December 18 through 22, you can catch a screening of The Nutcracker performed by the Bolshoi Ballet. $15.

The National Philharmonic and Washington Symphonic Brass present a joint holiday celebration at Strathmore December 22. The concert includes medieval and Renaissance holiday standards such as “The Holly and the Ivy” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” $25 to $45.

The Music Pilgrim Trio brings a number of Jewish, Yiddish, Klezmer, and Hanukkah songs to Strathmore December 21. $15.

Singer Darlene Love performs “Love for the Holidays” at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center December 23. $44.

And finally, all through December the Willard InterContinental is hosting choral performances in its lobby, from groups as varied and acclaimed as the Thomas Circle Singers to Philomela. Free.


The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of A Christmas Carol runs through December 18. $15.

The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker is sold out at Strathmore, but as far as we can tell, tickets are still available for the company’s performances at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts December 13 and 14. $28 to $88.

Signature Theatre’s “Holiday Follies” runs December 13 through 23. The cabaret event includes guest performers singing festive standards, as well as full food and drink service. $41.

Decmber 15, the Vienna Boys Choir brings “Christmas in Vienna” to the Hylton Center, performing a mixed program of holiday favorites and choral works. $32 to $48.

A John Waters Christmas comes to the Birchmere December 18. The alternative holiday cabaret features songs such as “Here Comes Fatty Claus” and “Santa Claus Is a Black Man.” $45.

Kathy Feininger’s A Broadway Christmas Carol runs at Alexandria’s MetroStage through December 18. The Helen Hayes–recommended show combines the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge with a number of comically rewritten show tunes. $45 to $50.

GMU’s Center for the Arts also hosts Grammy-winning troupe Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano for a performance titled “Fiesta Navidad” December 18. $23 to $46.

Crooner Chris Isaak brings his holiday show to the Birchmere December 19.

And comedian Sean Altman, a.k.a. Jewmongous, is also at the Birchmere December 21. $25.