When the holiday season approaches, we tend to turn to things that give us joy and comfort. The arts always seem to take center stage during these darker months – providing togetherness, light, and inspiration through singing carols, telling stories, and watching beloved seasonal plays, ballets, and movies. This year, of course, is special – so we’ll need to find ways to gather online. Like the below organizations, we encourage you to keep with tradition and enjoy the arts – but in a new way. We hope you’ll invite your friends and family to join you virtually at some of the below events. There are also a select few in-person events. This list was last updated at 12 PM on December 23, 2020.
AMERICAN POPS ORCHESTRA
The American Pops Orchestra and PBS have released a very special performance on streaming. Maestro Luke Frazier and APO present a new take on Ella’s classic 1960 holiday album, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas with Vanessa Williams, performed in its entirety by a stellar lineup of artists. Filmed in front of a small, socially-distanced live audience under strict COVID-19 mitigation procedures at the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C., “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas with Vanessa Williams” features performances by Grammy and Tony Award-winner Dee Dee Bridgewater (joining APO from New Orleans); Broadway and jazz vocalist Carmen Ruby Floyd; Broadway star and recording artist Morgan James; Grammy and Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis; and celebrated recording artist Nova Y. Payton. The program also features performances by its host, the multi-Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-nominee Vanessa Williams. All performers are joined by The American Pops Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Luke Frazier.
AMERICAN SHAKESPEARE CENTER
American Shakespeare Center is offering A Christmas Carol to view online through December 31. What’s Christmas without a little Dickens? Marley, the three Christmas ghosts, and Tiny Tim are all back to take Scrooge on the ride of his money-grubbing life once again. A Blackfriars Christmas tradition, ASC is excited to bring back this fan-favorite for another year of holiday cheer. Tickets are PWYC starting at $20.
BEST MEDICINE REP
Best Medicine Rep is streaming An Independent Claus through December 31! It’s a holiday comedy strictly for the adults. Mrs. Claus has had enough! She spills the beans to her marriage counselor about a certain jolly old elf, who knows just who’s naughty and nice. This virtual production is by Jackob G. Hofmann and directed by John Morogiello. Starring Grace Brockway, Terence Heffernan, Alyssa Sanders, and Cristen Stephansky. You can find all show information on their website.
THE BRITISH PLAYERS
Unable to cross the pond for the holidays? Missing puddings, pies, panto, and poetry? The British Players have just the solution – the Online Pandemic Holiday Spectacular! Join them for a holiday variety show on YouTube. There’s an amazing array of artistes performing new versions of favorite numbers from Music Hall and pantomime, as well as stellar performances of holiday music, demonstrations of traditional holiday fare, reminiscences of holidays past, and wonderful recitations of classic holiday messages. We have a cheeky chappie, a chairman, chefs and children! And everyone is invited to sing along to ring in the holiday season with some popular carols.
Dance Place hosts Coyaba Dance Theater: In Spirit of Kwanzaa on December 29. Join Coyaba Dance Theater West African Dance Company as they celebrate 15 years! This high-energy virtual presentation is based on the 7 Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa: Umoja, Kuchjichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba, Imani. Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday from December 26 – January 1. In gathering, we commemorate and recommit to our families, community economics, and Faith. This show will lift your spirits and warm your hearts.
ENCORE UNIVERSITY: CREATIVITY FOR OLDER ADULTS
Encore Creativity for Older Adults hosts a virtual holiday choral concert, Joy!, in collaboration with AARP, streaming on YouTube. Viewing is free and available until January 16, 2021. The uplifting multimedia production featuring string, brass, woodwind and percussion instruments is entertaining for all ages. www.encorecreativity.org
In addition, the company hosts Encore Chorale’s joyous performance of the Hallelujah Chorus as a part of two WETA Arts specials this December for all to enjoy. Encore Chorale is one of 14 Washington, D.C.-area choral ensembles to be featured in Washington Voices: Songs of the Season, and Washington Voices: Choir Celebration. As part of both programs, WETA television channels will broadcast a previous performance of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, one of the most beloved choruses in all the oratorio repertoire. As many as 450 singers from Encore’s choral programs in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and New York City took the stage at Concert Hall at Encore’s 13th annual holiday concert at the Kennedy Center. The shows will also be available to stream online. Visit www.weta.org/arts for more information.
Ford’s Theatre partners with WAMU 88.5 FM to present a one-hour radio play adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, featuring acclaimed Washington actor Craig Wallace as Ebenezer Scrooge. WAMU 88.5 FM will broadcast the play on December 25, 2020, at noon ET. The radio play is available now via the Ford’s Theatre website, www.fords.org/carol-radio.
THE FOLGER CONSORT: CONCERTS
Christmas with the Folger Consort is available on-demand through January 5. For its annual holiday concert, the Folger Consort rejoices with a mix of Yuletide favorites. The rippling counterpoint of J.S. Bach’s Wachet auf (Sleepers Wake), composed during his time in Leipzig, is heard alongside Michael Praetorius’s wonderful setting of the same 16th-century Advent text from a century earlier. Complementing the joyous German holiday fare are Christmas classics from the English and American traditions, including festive carols by 18th-century American choral composer William Billings. With vocal quartet, winds, strings, and continuo.
GAY MEN’S CHORUS OF WASHINGTON DC
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC presents their famous Holiday Show, streaming through December 31. This year, GMCW brings you 75 minutes of holiday hits from over the years, plus many never-before-seen virtual performances, some new dance numbers from 17th Street Dance, new music from all of our vocal ensembles and the GenOUT Youth Chorus, plus a virtual holiday sing-a-long and much more! Tickets: $25. After placing your ticket order, you will receive an email with a link to watch the concert at your convenience during that period. One ticket allows viewing on one device. Video can be viewed more than once on the same device for 48 hours after the first viewing. For more information, visit GMCW.org.
The Keegan Theatre hosts An Irish Carol on demand! This year marks the 10th anniversary, and to commemorate and celebrate this milestone, they have assembled the original cast and artistic team. This new filmed version is in production this month, and will be available for on demand viewing Dec 24-31, with pre-ordering available now! Find more about the team and pre-order tickets here.
NATIONAL CHAMBER ENSEMBLE
National Chamber Ensemble will be streaming their Holiday Concert Happy Holidays on YouTube. The winners of the 2020 Outstanding Young Artist Competition feature in this performance, which brings the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family – including works by Dvorak, Bach, Strauss, Mozart and more. Outstanding Young Artist Award – string competition winners will perform, as well as other talented young guest artists. NCE is also streaming their concert Vivaldi: The Remarkable Four Seasons online on YouTube.
OLNEY THEATRE CENTER
Olney Theatre Center hosts Paul Morella’s A Christmas Carol online through January 3. Coming to see Paul’s show is part of the Christmas tradition for many families, so they have created a filmed version that captures that joy for returning audiences as well as introduce new viewers to this virtuoso performance. Tickets start at $15.
Pointless Theatre streams A Very Pointless Digital Holiday Spectacular, running Thursdays through NYE. It’s Christmas Eve at the North Pole, and Santa’s elves are off the clock and ready to cut loose! Join Mrs. Claus and her co-hosts Dick & Stuffy in this NSFW Pointless reprise. Live-streaming from the comfort of your own elf cabin, featuring new Special Guests from the North Pole every week. Pants optional, cheer required*. Recommended for Elves 13+. Find out more on their website.
Step Afrika! presents the StepAfrika! Magical Musical Holiday Step Show, streaming now on YouTube! As the world’s first holiday show highlighting the African American tradition of stepping, the Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is a feast for the eyes and ears. Fabulous and furry friends from the Arctic Kingdom – Popper the Penguin along with polar bear twins, Pinky and Polo-ensure a fun and exciting experience for the entire family!
Two time Grammy award winners The Washington Chorus present A Candlelight Christmas, recorded at The Music Center at Strathmore, and livestreamed online now through December 31. A beloved tradition for over 30 years, TWC reimagined its annual Candlelight Christmas concert in a beautifully produced show filmed live at the Music Center at Strathmore with socially distanced performances, guest soloists, and carol sing-alongs. Presented in one hour with no intermission featuring members of The Washington Chorus with organ, bells, soloists, our guest “Side by Side” high school chorus from Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and much more. All tickets just $15 each, and available at thewashingtonchorus.org now.
Washington Revels’ 38th Christmas Revels, a DC holiday tradition, has been transformed into a 4-month “Season of Reveling” that celebrates fall holidays from many cultural traditions. On December 20 they will premiere the highlight of this series, the Winter Solstice Revels, a live, virtual, participatory holiday celebration for all ages. The event will then be available for on-demand viewing from 12/23-1/6. They will also present several other “Season of Reveling” virtual events, including a series of menorah lightings with members of the Revels community from 12/10-17, and a Santa Lucia Festival on 12/13. Click here for more details.