Infectious, heartwarming and only appropriate this time of year, holiday tunes have become a landmark for celebrating the season. These festive shows and concerts will help get you into the spirit.
Boasting over 300 musicians — including the POPS festival chorus, the Philadelphia Boys Choir and African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir — and led by guest conductor David Charles Abell, the Philly POPS Christmas Spectacular, featuring new arrangements of popular favorites and audience sing-alongs, opens on Friday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad St.). Other performance times include 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6 and Sunday, Dec. 7; 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10; 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 and Sunday, Dec. 14; 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 17 and 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 19 and Saturday, Dec. 20.
David Sedaris' essay "The SantaLand Diaries," which comedically details the plight of a Christmas elf at Macy's in New York City, hits the stage at Congress Hall (200 Congress Place, Cape May, N.J.) at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays (and Monday, Dec. 29 and Tuesday, Dec. 30) and 3 p.m. Sundays until Tuesday, Dec. 30.
Opening Sunday, Dec. 21, hang out with Scrooge, Tiny Tim and company at the Walnut Street Theatre (825 Walnut St.) for "A Christmas Carol," playing at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.
The Joybells of Melmark, featuring hand bell, chime and percussion musicians with intellectual disabilities, team up with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia for two free seasonal shows at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Commonwealth Plaza at the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad St.). If you like what you hear, the joint ensemble will be releasing a CD that day of the same tunes performed.
The Pennsylvania Ballet's yearly production of the fantastical holiday classic "The Nutcracker" is marked by the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra giving Tschaikovsky's score the star treatment — in addition to the grace of the Pennsylvania Ballet dancers and School of Pennsylvania Ballet students. Catch it at the Academy of Music (240 S. Broad St.) at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6; 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13; noon and 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 14 and on select days and times until Wednesday, Dec. 31.
Song, dance, comedy — you name it — are set for Act II Playhouse's (56 E. Butler Ave, Ambler, Pa.) "Making Spirits Bright" cabaret, running Tuesday, Dec. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 28. Previews are set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 9 and 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10 and Thursday, Dec. 11 with opening night at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12. Check here for additional show times.
A kid-friendly program awaits on Saturday, Dec. 13 when dancers and actors accompany the Philadelphia Orchestra in presenting holiday classics like "Sleigh Ride" and pieces from the "Nutcracker" in tot-digestible doses. The show begins at 11:30 a.m. at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad St.).
Other Philadelphia Orchestra performances include the "Glorious Sound of Christmas" (crowd favorites and original arrangements) at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18; Handel's "Messiah" at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 21 and a New Year's Eve program, led by Yannick Nezet-Seguin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 31. All Orchestra programs are held at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad St.).
Seasonal favorites get a soulful twist on Tuesday, Dec. 16 for "A Soulful Christmas" at 7:30 p.m. at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad St.). Prepare to hear gospel and spiritual renditions from a communal choir of local performers.
Honoring the Mexican celebrations called Las Posadas, taking place the nine days before Christmas, the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad St.) welcomes Mexican pianist Juan Pablo Horcasitas for a cultural fete, starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18. Unwind a bit with a community piñata contest, too!
A Christmas detective story, perfect for kids, follows Murray the Elf as he tries to uncover who stole the magic bells from Santa's sleigh. "Murray the Elf and the Case of the Stolen Sleighbells" plays at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 20, Tuesday, Dec. 23 and Friday, Dec. 26; 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 21; 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 22; and 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 24 at Act II Playhouse (56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, Pa.).
A truly unique experience, over 100 tuba players come to the Commonwealth plaza at the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad St.) to put their spin on carols at noon and 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 21. In between, at 1 p.m. celebrate the Festival of Lights with Hanukkah songs, stories, crafts and dreidel games.
From soul to swing, Wynton Marsalis performs instrumental holiday arrangements from Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bennie Goodman and more at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 21 at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center (300 S. Broad St.).