Holidays in the Twin Cities are celebrated with concerts, plays, ballets, and musical performances galore. Minneapolis and St. Paul have much to offer in the performance arts department, meaning renditions of "The Nutcracker," "A Christmas Carol," and other holiday classics are abundant. And so are unique, original productions—like the ones often playing in the Hennepin Theater District. Some are free while others require tickets. Make sure to reserve your spot early as holiday shows and concerts tend to sell out fast.
Keep in mind that many holiday events have been canceled or altered for the 2020-2021 season. Check the websites of the organizers for updated information.
"A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theater
The traditional Twin Cities holiday production of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" plays at the Guthrie Theater each November and December. Although it's been performing this holiday show for decades, the Guthrie succeeds at making it fresh and full of wonder every year. In 2020, the show will be presented virtually from December 19 to 31. Tickets cost $10, but you can bundle your admission with a donation to the Guthrie for $35 or $60.
"The Nutcracker" at the Metropolitan Ballet
Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" may be the classic of all holiday classics, and the Hopkins Youth Ballet has been putting on a production of it at the Metropolitan Ballet since 1989. The annual rendition includes three performances with a full symphony orchestra, starting in mid-December. In 2020, the show will be held outside in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods on November 7 and 8, or you can stream it virtually from December 15.
Ordway Theater Holiday Concert
The holidays at St. Paul's Ordway Theater typically include an annual holiday concert, "Christmas with Cantus"—a combination of songs and storytelling—and a rendition of Handel's "Messiah." During the 2020-2021 season, the Ordway will present "A Virtually Celtic Christmas" on December 18, "Visionaries Who Matter" (a video on racial and social justice and healing) on December 26, and a "Night Before Christmas" concert by the Sounds of Blackness from December 19 to January 3. All shows will streamed online.
The Minnesota Boychoir's Holiday Concerts
The Minnesota Boychoir performs winter holiday concerts every December and January at various venues throughout the Twin Cities, from the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis to the Landmark Center in St. Paul. All shows are free, but donations are requested.
During the 2020-2021 season, all in-person performances have been canceled, but the Minnesota Boychoir will hold a virtual holiday concert via YouTube on December 20.
Minnesota Public Radio's Holiday Concerts
Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) always puts on a slew of holiday performances, such as The Steeles in concert, at Fitzgerald Theater. This 1,000-seat venue acts as Minnesota Public Radio's largest broadcast studio. During the 2020-2021 season, all MPR performances have been made virtual.
VocalEssence's Holiday Concert
The choral group VocalEssence has been performing its annual holiday concert every December for four decades. The group performs at churches in Apple Valley, Plymouth, Minneapolis, Edina, and Stillwater, but in 2020, the concert has been made virtual. The video—the work of Artistic Director Philip Brunelle and Associate Conductor G. Phillip Shoultz, III—will be available from December 6 to June 30, 2021.
The Minnesota Orchestra celebrates the holidays with joyous concerts like "Home for the Holidays," plus jazz and gospel caroling classics. Buy tickets early while a good selection of seats is available. This year, in lieu of an in-person performance, the orchestra—with singer Kevin Kling—will perform "A Midwinter Gathering" for a virtual audience.
Hennepin Theater District
The Hennepin Theatre District presents all kinds of holiday entertainment in several restored historic theaters. Events may range from a classic ballet to a modern concert. You may even come across a holiday show featuring a local star. All of the Hennepin Theatre Trust's holiday offerings—including "Trolls Live!"—have been postponed indefinitely.
Actors Theater of Minnesota
The Actors Theater of Minnesota holds several holiday shows every December at the Camp Bar and Cabaret at Camp in St. Paul. In the past, the group has presented "Miracle on Christmas Lake," an original play by local playwright Jessica Lind Peterson. In 2020, however, all Actors Theater of Minnesota operations have been suspended.
College Holiday Concerts
Holiday concerts at Twin Cities colleges are produced and performed by students, faculty, and staff. Some are free while others require tickets, which should always be purchased in advance. Check the calendars at Augsburg College, Concordia College, and Bethel University for holiday programming. In 2020, all college-affiliated concerts have been canceled.