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Top Holiday Shows and Performances in Philadelphia

Visions of sugarplums dance across Philadelphia’s world-class performance venues as the city ushers in the holiday season.

Families journey to the grand Avenue of the Arts for traditional seasonal performances including The Nutcracker by the Pennsylvania Ballet or holiday songs from The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The city’s smaller stages also capture the holiday spirit with new twists on old classics, original works and even a bit of humor to close out the year.

Put on your dancing shoes, warm up your singing voice and enjoy a few of the best performing arts the city has to offer during the holidays.

Pennsylvania Ballet presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

Performances, December 6-31
Nutcracker Market December 10-14
Tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy, December 14, 20
The Pennsylvania Ballet will once again delighting audiences this holiday seasons during their annual performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™. Now in its 46th year, the fanciful journey of Marie and her prince, set to the iconic score by Peter Tschaikovsky, has been a beloved holiday tradition at the Academy of Music. This year, meet member of the cast and browse for holiday gifts during the Nutcracker Market at the Kimmel Center and experience a magical afternoon during Tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy.

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The Philly Pops Christmas Spectacular

December 6-20 (select days)
Sing along with your favorite holiday songs during the joyous Philly Pops Christmas Spectacular at the Kimmel Center. Conductor Davide Charles Abell leads The Philly Pops for a evening of beloved holiday songs featuring more than 300 musicians, choirs and Broadway vocalist Hugh Panaro.

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Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Walnut Street Theater

November 29-December 21
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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A true holiday tradition, the Pennsylvania Ballet’s performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker has delighted audiences for nearly five decades. (Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia)

Philadelphia Orchestra Holiday Concert Christmas Kids Spectacular

December 13, 11:30 a.m.
The Philadelphia Orchestra gets into the holiday spirit with a lively, family-friendly sing-a-along at the Kimmel Center. Actors, dancers and even Santa himself will join the orchestra on stage for performances of holiday favorites including Sleigh Ride and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

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Philadelphia Orchestra Holiday Concert Glorious Sound of Christmas

December 18-20
Conductor Bramwell Tovey joins the Philadelphia Orchestra for three nights of cheerful holiday songs and arrangements including Leopold Stokowki’s Christmas Day broadcast in 1930 and Eugene Ormandy’s 1962 best-selling recording The Glorious Sounds of Christmas.

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Philadelphia Orchestra Holiday Concert Messiah

December 21
A holiday tradition for more than five decades, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance of Handel’s Messiah fills the Kimmel Center with the joyful sounds of the season. With just one performance a year, you’ll want to get your tickets well in advance.

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The Kimmel Center hosts a number of holiday performances including free shows, songs from the Philadelphia Orchestra and more. (Photo courtesy the Kimmel Center)

Disney on Ice Presents Frozen at the Wells Fargo Center

December 25, 2014-January 4, 2015
Join Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and the lovable snowman Olaf for a magical experience at the Wells Fargo Center as Disney on Ice presents Frozen. Starting on Christmas Day, the beloved characters will take to the ice for the first of 27 performances. The immersive show features incredible special effects, world-class skating and musical favorites from Frozen including Do You Want to Build a Snowman? and Let it Go.

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Philadelphia Orchestra Holiday Concert New Year’s Eve with Yannick Nézet-Séguin

December 31
Ring in the New Year with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Start your New Year’s Eve celebration with the Fabulous Philadelphians and say goodbye to 2014. The concert ends before midnight, so you’ll still be able to catch Philadelphia’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Delaware River!

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Free Family-Friendly Fun at the Kimmel

FREE Giving Tuesday Concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra, December 2
Christmas @ The Kimmel, December 6
Joybells of Melmark and The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, December 7
Christmas Posada, December 18
Tuba Christmas, December 21
Festival of Lights, December 21

Throughout the month of December, the Kimmel Center is hosting a series of FREE holiday events including a performance from the Philadelphia Orchestra led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, visits with Santa, international traditions, holiday lights and Tuba Christmas, featuring more than 100 tubas in Commonwealth Plaza.

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Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

December 21
Join renowned jazz master Wynton Marsalis at the Kimmel Center for a lively, swing-era holiday performance featuring vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant.

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Christmas with Lúnasa and Karan Casey

December 7
The Annenburg Center hosts all-star quartet Lúnasa, one of the most popular acoustic Irish groups in the world, for a passionate holiday performance featuring vocalist Karan Casey.

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Walnut Street Theater

Go on a holiday journey with Scrooge during the Walnut Street Theatre’s annual performance of Charles Dickens’ a Christmas Carol. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)

David Sedaris’ “Holidays on Ice”

December 12-21 (select days)
Take a satirical journey through the meaning of the holidays as Philadelphia actors bring the short stories of humorist David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice to life in the Red Room at the Society Hill Playhouse.

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Kimmel Center Presents A Soulful Christmas

December 16
Join the the J. Donald Dumpson Singers, special guest Edwin Hawkins and community choirs for a moving celebration of holiday classics, spirituals and gospel favorites at the Kimmel Center.

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The Philadelphia Orchestra embraces the sounds of the holidays with festive sing-a-longs and powerful performances. (Photo by Ryan Donnell)

Rock School Nutcracker 1776

December 19-20
An alternate take on the traditional tale, the Rock School’s Nutcracker 1776 brings the Sugar Plum Fairy and Ben Franklin together for fun performance featuring future stars of the stage.

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This Is the Week That Is

November 28-December 31
Take a light-hearted look back at the top headlines of the year with the semi-political, totally-satirical This Is The Week That Is from 1812 Productions. For nine years, the comedic group has put their humorous spin on the year’s local and national headlines with a fast-paced and ever-changing script that keeps audiences laughing.

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STOMP at the Merriam Theater

December 26-30
For more than two decades, audiences have been mesmerized by international percussion sensation STOMP. The rhythmic performance brings its blend of unconventional instruments and transfixing choreography to the Merriam Theater for a special holiday performance starting December 26.

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The Academy of Music on the Avenue of the Arts hosts the Pennsylvania Ballet’s beloved performance of The Nutcracker. (Photo courtesy the Academy of Music)




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