Things to Do

Get Into the Holiday Spirit With These Festive Concerts and Shows

Dozens of holiday plays, ballets, and performances happening in Washington this month.

Photo courtesy of Roman Boldyrev.

It’s December—which means it’s time to light a fire, break out your Christmas album collection, and watch a billion holiday movies. But there are also plenty of reasons to get out of the house. These plays, concerts, and performances happening all over Washington are sure to get you in the holly, jolly spirit.


Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is at the National Theatre until December 5. The Broadway holiday hit features favorite songs “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas.” $50-$95.

The Washington Ballet will grace the Warner Theatre stage with its Washington-themed interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker through December 26. The production, set in Revolutionary War-era Georgetown, features George Washington as the Nutcracker Prince, King George III as the Rat King, and other characters reimagined as well-known historical figures. $49-$145.

For another take on The Nutcracker, join the Smithsonian American Art Museum for the “Virtual Nutcracker Family Celebration” on December 4. Former Radio City Rockette DeMoya Watson Brown will read the holiday classic aloud. After story time, Washington Ballet School instructor Margaret Williamson will lead an interactive ballet masterclass. Free.

Through December 27, Ford’s Theatre reprises Michael Wilson’s radio play adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring acclaimed Washington actor Craig Wallace as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. The adaptation, which was first performed on WAMU 88.5 last year, will feature traditional caroling and new staging throughout the run. $36-$109.

The Netherlands Chamber Choir performs Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in a virtual concert for the Library of Congress on December 3. Free.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC returns to the Lincoln Theatre stage with their popular festive program, “The Holiday Show,” on December 4. Tap-dancing elves and drag queens will join the chorus in performing holiday favorites such as “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “The 12 Rockin’ Days of Christmas.” There will also be performances on December 11 and 12. $25-$65.

NPR presents its annual holiday concert, “A Jazz Piano Christmas,” at the Kennedy Center’s Terrance Theater on December 4. The show features beloved holiday classics performed by jazz pianists Gerald Clayton, Patrice Rushen, and Eric Reed. $59-$69.

Also on December 4, jazz singer Landon Paddock will perform a holiday-themed show at Capitol Cider House. Paddock’s voice has been likened to Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé. Free.

Put on your favorite cringe-inducing holiday sweater and listen to the National Symphony Orchestra fill the halls of The Anthem with holiday songs on December 8. $15-$30.

December 9 through December 19, Step Afrika! will celebrate the holidays and the dance group’s 10th anniversary with their “Magical Musical Holiday Step Show” at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. The holiday show highlights the African-American tradition of stepping and will include appearances by furry friends, such as Popper the Penguin and polar bear twins Pinky and Polo. $25-$45.

December 9, DC comedians Elani Nichelle and Elliot Bromberg present their holiday comedy show “Double EE Comedy Ugly Sweater Edition”  at Red Bear Brewing Company. Put on  your ugliest sweater and enjoy some funny stories from a roster of local comics. $10. 

The Keegan Theatre’s An Irish Carol runs December 10 through 31. This production retells the Dickens classic from the perspective of a wealthy and greedy Irish pub owner. $41-$55.

On December 10 and 11, Indie-pop icon Ingrid Michaelson performs her biggest hits, as well as songs from her holiday album Ingrid Michaelson’s Songs For The Season at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. $29-109.

Seraph Brass, an award-winning, all-female brass ensemble, will join the Cathedral Choral Society for the Joy of Christmas concert at the Washington National Cathedral on December 11 and 12. $20-$98.

The Singing Capital Chorus will have a sing-a-long performance at the Van Ness Main Street Holiday Pop-Up on December 11. Browse pottery, botanical goods, stained glass decor, clothing, accessories, and more as you listen to some fun holiday tunes. There will also be a special book pop-up at Politics and Prose. Free.

Also on December 11, watch American University a cappella group Dime a Dozen perform holiday classics and current hits while hanging at Union Market. Free.

The Folger Consort presents their annual holiday concert, “A Medieval Christmas” at St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill. From December 10 through December 18, the early music ensemble will perform English and Latin carols from the Middle Ages, such as “Gabriel from heaven’s king,” and “Ah, my dear son.” $20-$50.

December 16 through 19, the National Symphony Orchestra will continue one of Washington’s favorite holiday traditions and play selections from Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Magnificat at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. $15-$89.

The King’s Singers will bring the magic of Christmas to the Washington National Cathedral on December 17. The holiday concert will feature songs from the British vocal ensemble’s albums Finding Harmony, Christmas, and The King’s Singers Christmas Songbook. $23-$90.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington presents “A Family Christmas,” a kid-friendly show at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall December 18 through 24. The one-hour event, filled with holiday sing-alongs and Christmas favorites, will also feature a visit from Santa Clause, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. $20-$45.

Catch the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC caroling at Union Market on December 18. Free.

The Dance Institute of Washington performs “The Spirit of Kwanzaa” on December 18 and 19. The show tells a story about the seven principles of Kwanzaa through dance, music, drumming, spoken word, singing, and live video. $20-$25.

The Clear Harmonies Carolers will perform a mix of traditional carols and modern holiday favorites at Union Market on December 19. The singing group has previously performed at holiday attraction Enchant Christmas and Gaylord Resorts. Free.

December 19 through 22, the Washington Chorus presents “A Candlelight Christmas,” the Grammy Award-winning group’s annual holiday performance of carols and holiday favorites at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The group will also perform at Strathmore from December 16 through 23. $10-$101.

Rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra comes to Capitol One Arena December 23, performing hits from their famous “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” show. $49.50-$89.50.

December 26, political sketch troupe The Constituents will give their unfiltered takes on political big-names in their “A Happy Holiday Hangover” show at Union Stage. The holiday roast will transport you to a bipartisan dinner party with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Tucker Carlson, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Candace Owens, Bernie Sanders, and some guy who thinks he won the 2020 election. $30.

In Maryland

Through December 26, Paul Morella reprises his one-man adaptation of A Christmas Carol at Onley Theatre. $40.

Through January 2, the Puppet Co. brings The Nutcracker to life through larger than life-size costume characters and marionettes in this super kid-friendly version of the tale. $15.

The Puppet Co. also takes Eric Kimmel’s beloved book Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins to the stage through January 2. $15.

Mannheim Steamroller comes to Strathmore December 4, performing hits from their 1984 holiday album, Christmas. $52-$108.

December 10 through 19, the Washington Revels perform their annual holiday concert, “The Christmas Revels: An American Celebration of the Winter Solstice,” at the Spanish Ballroom. There will eight performances from local artists the Washington Revels Brass, and the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices. The concert is also available for streaming online through January 6. $20-$55.

December 11, Irish fiddler Seán Heely and other Celtic performers will take the Strathmore on a holiday trip through Scotland and Ireland with familiar Christmas melodies and ancient Gaelic carols. $22-$32.

The Ballet Theatre of Maryland will perform their rendition of The Nutcracker at the Maryland Hall December 12. $25-$47.

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra presents “Holiday Pops: Sultans of String” at the Maryland Hall December 17. The performance features award-winning flamenco dancer and singer Tamar Ilana and vocalist Rebecca Campbell. $59-$119.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker will bring hip hop dance and Tchaikovsky’s timeless musical score back to the Strathmore stage December 20 through 22. The show features dancers, a DJ, violinists, and hip hop founding father MC Kurtis Blow. $34-$68.

In Virginia

Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Dianne Reeves makes her George Mason University Center for the Arts debut December 4. Reeves will be singing music from her holiday album Christmas Time Is Here. $41-$65.

GMU’s Center for the Arts also hosts the American Festival Pops Orchestra for a performance titled “Holiday Pops: Songs of the Season.” $41-$65.

John Waters comes to the Birchmere to perform music from his 2014 holiday compilation album, A John Waters Christmas, on December 15. The alternative holiday cabaret features songs such as “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus Is a Black Man.” $55.

December 18 and 19, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and Fairfax Ballet Company will come together to perform The Nutcracker at GMU’s Center for the Arts. $54-$94.

Damare Baker
Research Editor

Before becoming Research Editor, Damare Baker was an Editorial Fellow and Assistant Editor for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.