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`A Christmas Carol,' `The Nutcracker,' Handel’s `Messiah,' and other holiday shows around the Philadelphia region

From Nutcracker performances to reindeer-starring plays to dance interpretations of the Twelve Days of Christmas, holiday shows of all sorts are set to unfold through the New Year at venues across the region.

Travel back in time to 19th century London and meet Ebenezer Scrooge and his three visiting ghosts at the Walnut Street Theatre during its production of A Christmas Carol this year.
Travel back in time to 19th century London and meet Ebenezer Scrooge and his three visiting ghosts at the Walnut Street Theatre during its production of A Christmas Carol this year.Read more

From Sugar Plum Fairies to Rosie the Reindeer to Ebenezer Scrooge and his three visiting ghosts, characters of all sorts are set to come alive at venues across the region. Award-winning choirs, musicians, and conductors will also take to the stage as part of a robust season of holiday concerts and shows.

Read on to find a production that piques your interest, and then be sure to book tickets in advance. The best seats are always snatched up early, and shows often sell out — so don’t hesitate in gifting yourself with tickets ASAP.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Walnut Street Theater

Walnut Street Theater brings Dickens’ magical story to life in a special hour-long musical adaptation designed specifically for the little ones in the audience.

Through Dec. 23, 825 Walnut St., $15-$18, 215-574-3550,

Hedgerow Theater

Now in its 26th year of production, Dickens’ three-ghost show has become a Delaware Valley tradition at Hedgerow Theater. Nearly two dozen performances of the holiday classic will take place through Christmas Eve.

Dec. 7-24, 64 Rose Valley Rd., Rose Valley, $20-$37, 610-565-4211,

Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big Playhouse Christmas Show

The Bucks County Playhouse carries out its own comedic version of A Christmas Carol, tasking five quick-changing actors to play dozens of roles, and instruments, too, throughout each individual show of the three-week run. Come out for perhaps one of the funniest and most energetic renditions you’ll find of the Christmas tale.

Dec. 7-30, Bucks County Playhouse, 70 S. Main St., New Hope, 215-862-2121, $40 and up,

Handel’s Messiah

Philadelphia Orchestra

Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in its annual Messiah production this year. Plan to book tickets soon if you wish to attend the three-day-only performance, featuring soloists Carolyn Sampson, a Baroque specialist; Christophe Dumaux, a lyrical countertenor; Jonas Hacker, a well-seasoned tenor; and Philippe Sly, supported by the Westminster Symphonic Choir.

Dec. 6-9, Verizon Hall, 300 S. Broad St., $49 and up, 215-875-7695,

Ama Deus Ensemble

Hallelujah! The Ama Deus Ensemble is back again, returning to four different locations to perform the Messiah. Look forward to beautiful notes from a wide array of Baroque instruments paired with the grand voices of experienced soloists and choristers alike.

Through Dec. 16, locations vary, $10-$25, 610-688-2800,

New Jersey Symphony Chamber Orchestra

Enjoy the Handel Messiah, a historical-interpretation-turned-masterpiece, inside Newark’s majestic Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The New Jersey Symphony Chamber Orchestra will use the ornate, stained-glass-adorned space for its annual performance.

Dec. 14 and 16, 89 Ridge St. , Newark, N.J., $20-$80, 973-624-3713,

The Nutcracker

Pennsylvania Ballet

The Nutcracker, one of the Pennsylvania Ballet’s most anticipated annual performances, returns for three-plus weeks at the Academy of Music. Watch the Sugar Plum Fairies prance in the Land of the Sweets, the Nutcracker battle the Mouse King, and the many other memorable moments of this timeless classic, set to unfold through New Year’s Eve.

Dec. 7-31, Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St., 215-893-1999,

New Jersey Ballet

Dancing to the live serenades of the New Jersey Symphony Chamber Orchestra, the New Jersey Ballet performs Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in a production fit for those of all ages.

Dec. 14-21, Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South St., Morristown, N.J., $29-$69, 973-624-3713,


Twelve Days of Christmas

Delight in a dance interpretation of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” from the modern dance company Dancefusion, who will bring seven swans swimming, 10 lords leaping, 11 pipers piping, and more to life in two energetic performances.

2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 15, 3611 Lancaster Ave, $20-$40, 215-222-7633​​​,

Winter Wonderettes

Watch as Cindy Lou, Betty Jean, and the other colorful Winter Wonderettes belt out “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Santa Baby,” and many more seasonal favorites on stage at the Walnut Street Theater. The show, created as a sequel to the long-running Off-Broadway hit The Marvelous Wonderettes, brings its own heaping helping of humor to the holiday stage through a quartet of dazzling females.

Through Dec. 30, Walnust Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St., $40 and up, 215-574-3550,

Rosie the Reindeer and the Case of the Stolen Snow Globe

Rosie the Reindeer needs help! Bring your kiddos out to assist in solving the mystery of how Santa’s magical snow globe was stolen from his sleigh. Two hilarious actors carry out this quick-change show, sure to get the whole family laughing.

Dec. 8-28, Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, $14-$18, 215-654-0200,


Trans-Siberian Orchestra to present ‘The Ghosts of Christmas Eve’

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s 20th anniversary winter tour heads to Wells Fargo for a one-day, two-show Friday full of theatrical rock-opera tunes. Incorporating songs like “O’ Come All Ye Faithful” and “Good King Joy,” the show follows a story line of a runaway who finds her way into a mysterious abandoned theater.

3:30 and 8 p.m. Dec. 21, 3601 S. Broad St., $35-$75.50, 215-336-3600,

A Philly POPS Christmas: Spectacular Sounds of the Season!

More than 300 performers take to the stage for A Philly POPS Christmas, including Hamilton’s Mandy Gonzalez, the Philly POPS Festival Chorus, the award-winning African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and the Philadelphia Boys Choir. Led this year by Tony-nominated Todd Ellison, the lively tradition returns to the Kimmel Center for another year of festive harmonics and holiday cheer.

Through Dec. 22, Verizon Hall, 300 S. Broad St., $35 and up, 215-893-1999,

The Crossing @ Christmas

The Crossing, a Grammy-Award-winning, Philadelphia-based chamber choir, is gearing up to deliver A Native Hill, a one-night holiday performance at the Church of the Holy Trinity. The 80-minute show draws on texts from American writer and environmental activist Wendell Berry and is designed to reflect on our world in the winter season.

8 p.m., Dec. 14, Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut St., $29, 215-898-3900,