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Holiday Performing Arts in Philadelphia

Visions of sugarplums dance across Philadelphia’s stages as the performing arts herald the holiday season.

From the stately Avenue of the Arts to the city’s cozy suburban playhouses, Philadelphia has plenty of great holiday-themed theater this season that is a treat not just for theater enthusiasts, but anyone feeling like getting into the holiday spirit.

There are hilarious remakes, new renditions of the old classics, originals and even some more risque and funny plays happening around town that you don’t want to miss.

Seasonal Favorites

Philadelphia Orchestra’s Holiday Performances

Dates: November 29-December 31 (various dates)
Location: The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

The Kimmel Center will be dressed to the nines for the Philadelphia Orchestra’s series of holiday concerts in December. It all begins with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on Thanksgiving weekend (November 29-December 1) and continues with the Christmas Kids Spectacular on December 14.

Enjoy timeless holiday classics during the orchestra’s popular The Glorious Sounds of Christmas from December 19-21 followed by a performance of Handel’s Messiah on December 21, a holiday tradition since 1961.

Philadelphia’s most beloved orchestra will make your holiday favorites ring out from the Verizon Center stage. Start your New Year’s celebration in style with a special 7:30 p.m. performance on December 31.

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The Nutcracker

Dates: December 7-29
Location: The Academy of Music

A long-lasting holiday tradition, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is celebrating its 44th year. Set to Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky’s iconic score and backed by the Philadelphia Boys Choir, the Pennsylvania Ballet – one of the premier ballet companies in the nation – once again prove why The Nutcracker is the perfect performance for the holidays.

Don’t miss the first-ever Nutcracker Market at the Kimmel Center (December 6-8) featuring handcrafted gifts, delicious holiday treats and special appearances.

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A Christmas Carol at the Walnut Street Theater

Dates: November 30-December 22
Location: Walnut Street Theater

Watch as the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge undergoes a miraculous change of heart after being visited by three wondrous holiday spirits. The Walnut Theatre’s touching musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol will delight children and adults alike, as will the historic atmosphere at America’s oldest theater.

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Holiday POPS!

Dates: December 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 21
Location: Kimmel Center | Broad and Spruce Streets

A cheerful performance for the entire family, Holiday POPS! features a special mix of joyous choirs, merry sing-a-longs, and a special visitor from the North Pole.

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Seasonal Shows

Elf

Dates: Through January 5, 2014
Location: Walnut Street Theater

The hit Hollywood holiday film Elf hits the stage of the Walnut Street Theatre, the oldest theater in the country, in a magical family-friendly holiday musical.

Brian Sanders’ JUNK Dance Company

Dates: December 4-15
Location: Annenberg Center | 3680 Walnut Street

Sanders’ troupe performs a family-friendly holiday suites of dances telling a story about a group of characters who discover that a little change in perspective can reveal big surprises, all set to 80s music. Through December 15. Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut Street, (215) 898-3900 or visit

A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Dates: December 5, 2013-January 5, 2014
Location: St. Stephen’s Theater | 10th & Ludlow Streets

Performance artist Sebastienne Mundheim partners with Lantern Theatre Company to recreate Dylan Thomas’ classic reminiscence about the holidays of his childhood using language and puppetry.

Twelfth Night, or What You Will

Dates: December 4-22
Location: FringeArts | 140 N. Columbus Blvd.
Pig Iron Theater Company performs Shakespeare’s original text with their own twist which includes a gypsy rock musical score.

More Holiday Events and Activities

Looking for even more fun this holiday season? Check out our Guide to the Holidays in Philadelphia for special events, annual traditions and holiday shopping ideas. Take advantage of all the holiday fun the city has to offer with the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, a two-night stay with FREE hotel parking.

View more holidays in philadelphia

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