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Seasonal Spirit on an Austin Stage

Whether it’s a century-old ballet or a snarky new comedy show, there’s something for everyone at an Austin theater this Christmas.

Music aficionados have a wide range of choices, from the traditional carols performed by well-trained voices to a hard-rockin’ light and laser show or a cowboy-sized country music Christmas. Those who prefer the wry and witty have more than one sardonic satirist to choose from. And those with more traditional tastes can revisit one of the world’s most enduring holiday performances.

The holiday to-do list can wring the spirit out of even the most chipper elf, so take a little time to get you and your family in the swing of the season — you’ll be glad you added it to your wish list.


Main Article

Take a Seat and Get Some Holiday Spirit

Rush, rush, rush — it seems that’s all we do in the month of December. But if you don’t take a little time to enjoy the season, all those chores and errands will just drain your spirit. Recharge your holiday batteries by taking some time to sit and watch a show. There’s something for the music lover and those who love to laugh, as well as some great opportunities to create a family theater tradition. And isn’t it more fun to do Santa’s work with a song in your heart?

The Santaland Diaries
Zach Theater, November 25th through January 8th
What’s daily life like for a shopping mall elf? Is Santa really the jolly old character we’ve come to know and love? David Sedaris takes an unsparing look at our holiday traditions and sees them through a materialistic lens, giving audiences a new perspective in the process. You’ll never view Santa in quite the same light.

Michael Martin Murphey’s Cowboy Christmas Show
Paramount Theater, November 29th
Country music just wouldn’t sound the same without Michael Martin Murphey. With six gold albums and multiple Grammy awards to his credit, this crafty old cowboy has penned numerous standards, including New Mexico’s state ballad. If your idea of Christmas has more to do with starlit skies and gettin’ cozy by the fire than stylish shops and black tie affairs, this is the show for you.

Conspirare Christmas
Various locations, December 2nd through the 5th
This annual homage to holiday music is a journey through genres and periods, all served by the incomparable Craig Hella Johnson. Blending musical strains like an artist blends colors, this celebrated maestro guides listeners through Christmases past, adding nuances from the modern canon in an emotional evening you won’t soon forget.

John Waters’ Christmas
Paramount Theater, December 2nd
You may never see Christmas the same way again! The avant garde director shares his thoughts on the holiday season, bringing sarcasm, kitsch and a scathing sense of humor to bear on all the most sacred traditions. If you love the irreverent and eccentric, you won’t want to miss this show.

The 49th Annual Production of The Nutcracker
The Long Center, December 3rd through the 23rd
A little girl is transported to a magical kingdom located just beneath the Christmas tree, escorted by a Nutcracker Prince: a story that has resonated with audiences for more than a century. Glittering costumes, magnificent sets and more than 200 dancers bring the world of mice and sugarplum fairies to Austin each year. If this fantasy of dance and music hasn’t become a part of your family’s tradition, make this year the first of many.

Mannheim Steamroller
The Long Center, December 28th
It’s been more than 25 years since Mannheim Steamroller bulldozed its way onto the Christmas music scene, and in that time they have sold more than 27 million holiday albums, making them the biggest-selling Christmas artists of all time. This modern take on traditional music includes amazing multimedia displays that will captivate young and old. Don’t miss this one-night-only performance.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Frank Erwin Center, December 21st
This hard-rockin’ band redefines “Christmas music.” Heavy metal is woven with snow, lights, lasers and jets of flame to create a new story of the holidays. You may recognize some of the melodies, but you won’t believe how they’ve been transformed. It’s a spectacle to make any hair band jealous, and it’s only in Austin for two performances. Get your leather jacket on and get your tickets!

A Tuna Christmas
Paramount Theater, November 22nd through the 27th
When was the last time you went to Tuna, Texas? Well, that’s too long! All your friends are still there, just waiting to share the holidays with you. Two Texas treasures, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams, bring an entire town to life, and give all us big-city dwellers a slightly different perspective on life in the Lone Star State.


Sidebar of Related Information

A Season of Singing

This time of year seems to bring out the performer in us all, and whether we’re singing in a choir or just caroling through the neighborhood, we love to raise our voices as part of the annual celebration.

  • Although Christmas hymns have been dated as far back as the fourth century, the first appearance of what we would think of as popular Christmas music was in the thirteenth century, in Italy, France and Germany.
  • A book of 25 “caroles of Cristemas” appeared in England in the early part of the fifteenth century, most likely sung by groups who went from house to house or performed at celebrations.
  • A few of our most popular carols, like "Good King Wenceslas" and "The Holly and the Ivy," have been passed down to us from the Middle Ages.
  • Some leaders of the Protestant Reformation, including Martin Luther, encouraged religious music. But under Cromwell the Puritans prohibited carol singing — and all celebrations of the Christmas holiday — labeling such things as “pagan.”
  • Secular Christmas carols emerged in the late 1700s and first half of the 1800s. Several of the best-loved songs of today, including "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells," come from this period.
  • "White Christmas" has sold more than 100 million copies, making it the world record holder for best selling Christmas song. It is also the most recorded song, with over 500 versions to date.
  • The world’s largest caroling event took place in 2003, and included 1,175 carolers, who sang for 28 minutes.