Here at Red Curtain Addict, our mission is to make your arts-going experience as easy and as fun as possible! You can now discover and search performances across genre on our site and generate a recommendation list of performances to see based on your personal interests by simply creating a profile on our site. With the holidays in full swing, our team wanted to go even above and beyond by curating our annual MUST-SEE HOLIDAY PERFORMANCES for the Bay Area! We think you’re going to love what you find.
There are so many ways to celebrate the holidays, especially when it comes to the types of performances to see when your family and friends come in town. So, to help make those decisions easier, we’ve curated a list of fun and unique holiday performance happening in the Bay Area, one from each genre (opera, theater, symphony, jazz, and dance).
And guess what?! Our list was recently featured on KPIX CBS! Scroll below to watch the segment and see what’s on this year’s list…!
The first one on the list is Handel’s Messiah, that will be performed by the American Bach Choir at Grace Cathedral on December 15th-17th, 2021. We put this on the list first because this oratorio (which is very similar to an opera) is one of the oldest holiday works (first performed in 1742) that has been presented by choirs and orchestras from around the world for centuries. What would the holidays be without hearing one of the most famous songs of all time (Hallelujah!)?!
The American Bach Choir (made up of 40 local Bay Area professional voices and a 35-piece orchestra) will perform Messiah at the majestic Grace Cathedral – the ULTIMATE location. The acoustics could not be more perfect for a performance like this! The Washington Post named ABS “the best American specialists in early music … a flawless ensemble … a level of musical finesse one rarely encounters.” AKA: This is not to be missed! Get your tickets HERE!
If you have family members coming to town and they love theater, we have just the thing! Two visionary Tony Award winners, playwright Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and director Matthew Warchus (Matilda), offer a magical , immersive and new interpretation of Charles Dickens’ timeless story that will be presented by BroadwaySF from now through December 26, 2021.
You’ve probably seen a production of this in one way or another, either on TV, film or in a local theater. But what makes this particular production so unique is that it recently won FIVE Tony Awards that were announced in September, making it the first holiday play to win awards at the Tony’s. They took home awards for best costumes, lighting, scenic, sound and score of a play. So what are you waiting for, go grab those tickets before they’re gone!
Another fun tradition for the holidays is re-watching some of the classic holiday movies. Do you know what the highest-grossing holiday film is of all time? Home Alone! On December 16th & 18th, 2021, the San Francisco Symphony will be projecting this film on a huge screen at the Davies Symphony Hall and the music will be performed live by the San Francisco Symphony. This is such a fun option if you have kids and are looking for something special to treat them to. And tickets for this start around $25!
*BONUS: Other performances that we suggest seeing is The Nutcracker & the Mouse King featuring Alan Cumming as narrator on December 21, 2021 and if you’re looking for New Year’s plans, check out their New Year’s Eve featuring Darren Criss on December 31, 2021.
Another cherished holiday movie is Schultz’s ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’! This is one of our all-time favorites. And to us, it’s just not Christmas until we’ve watched it. For this particular performance, the movie will not be projected but the music will be performed by Adam Shulman at SFJAZZ on December 17th & 18th, 2021. However, there is STILL a film aspect to it. If you aren’t able to get to the theater, SFJAZZ will be streaming the December 17th performance for everyone to watch from home on your televisions. This concert is a part of their Friday’s LIVE series! Streaming tickets are only $5 and in-person concert tickets start at $30.
Fun fact: When Shultz and his team first showed CBS their final cut of the cartoon, the network executives said it was a disaster. From the story line, to the artwork and to the music (saying it was too jazzy), they were not happy with how it turned out. But, they didn’t have time to go back and make changes (thank goodness!). When it aired on December 9, 1965, over 15 million people tuned in to watch. This sweet and cherished movie became an instant classic overnight!
If you’re looking to shake up your Nutcracker-going-experience, we have just the thing! The Peninsula Ballet (in Redwood City) will be performing a Hip-Hop Nutcracker Holiday Mashup on December 17th & 18th, 2021! Clara receives a prized wooden nutcracker during a holiday party at her Victorian home. Once she falls asleep, her dream takes her into a world with wizards, toy soldiers, mice, and a sugar plum fairy. Instead of Candy Land, Clara finds herself in a modern hip-hop land dancing with characters who don’t look or dance the way they do back home!
A cast of 35 all-star hip-hop artists join The Tribe and Poise’n Brigade to present the score and story with a contemporary flavor. Sanders and Martinez, dance partners who met at the Academy of Villains, incorporate their dance and hip-hop backgrounds into the performance, fusing love, holiday spirit, community, and even a little magic. Click HERE to grab your tickets!
We hope that our annual list of 5 Must-See Holiday Performance in the Bay Area helps give you some fun ideas of how to celebrate the holidays this season! To find more holiday concerts, check out our homepage and simply toggle the filters to generate a list of other festive performances happening near you and online.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!