10 best holiday concerts in NYC — for the naughty and nice
Unless you're expecting Hugh Grant's driver at your door for caroling, get to NYC's best holiday concerts to make the season groove.
Sleigh bells aren’t the only joyful noises ringing out during the holidays. These festive concerts, from hilariously naughty to awe-inspiring, are sure to get you in the spirit.
Whether she’s up or down the rest of the year, Mariah Carey always shines brightest singing the Christmas song of our hearts. You know it, she knows it, and that’s why her annual residency at the Beacon Theater is a must-see affair. The Broadway-worthy production covers all her holiday hits accompanied by costumed characters, elaborate sets and her endless wardrobe of cut-down-to-there costumes. Dec. 2, 4, 5, $60+, mariahcarey.com
Z100’s Jingle Ball may only be a holiday concert in name, but don’t you want to celebrate the season with Taylor Swift, the Chainsmokers, Sam Smith, Halsey, Fall Out Boy and tons more acts? (They’ll probably drop a festive beat or two, let’s be real.) Tickets are not cheap, but if you can get an advance from Santa, it’ll be a starry night at Madison Square Garden. Dec. 8, 7 p.m., $231+, msg.com
No one loves holiday treats — naughty and nice — like Grammy-nominated singer Everett Bradley, whose Holidelic has been a hit every year since its debut in 2002. Putting the classics through a ‘70s funk blender with a beat you can shake your stockings to and lyrics that are all his own, Bradley puts on a crowd-pleasing show that’s a little bit silly, a lot sincere and all about celebrating the season in his own special way. Dec. 20, 8 p.m., $30-$60, highlineballroom.com
Who wants to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus hit the eggnog a little too hard? That would be everyone, and you’ll be treated to that and more at the 10th annual Joe Iconis Christmas Extravaganza. A giant cast assembled by musical-theater writer Joe Iconis brings a “yuletide explosion” of holiday hits old and new to Feinstein’s/54 Below. Think equal parts rock concert, theatrical production and, in their own words, “theme park attraction come to life.” Dec. 15-17, 7 p.m. & 11 p.m., $30-$80, 54below.com
Hearing your favorite Christmas classics on the radio is great, but nothing compares to a full orchestra bringing them to life. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year brings the New York Pops to Carnegie Hall for a two-day extravaganza of holiday cheer, with Broadway star Megan Hilty and the Essential Voices USA choir belting out holiday standards and Christmas carols. Dec. 15 & 16, 8 p.m., $21-$140, carnegiehall.org
At Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre, Home for the Holidays collects a whole galaxy of singing stars to make the season bright. Winners of the three biggest reality TV competitions will gather on one stage to sing carols and holiday standards all about what it means to be home for Christmas: Candice Glover (American Idol, Season 12), Josh Kaufman (The Voice, Season 6) and Bianca Ryan (America’s Got Talent, Season 1). They’ll be joined by host Kaitlyn Bristowe, star of the 11th season of The Bachelorette, and YouTube stars Peter and Evynne Hollens, plus a nine-piece brass and rhythm band. Through Dec. 30, $99.50-$169.50, holidaysonbroadway.com
Lest we forget, Christmas came from the Middle East. Lebanese tenor Amine J. Hachem makes his Carnegie Hall debut with A Middle Eastern Christmas, a round-the-world show drawing on his life in Lebanon, Europe and the U.S. The concert includes songs from rock to opera — often with flourishes of even more cultures like Russian folk songs and Latin beats — as well as holiday standards and traditional Arabic music. Dec. 13, 8 p.m., $55-$100, carnegiehall.org
The most famous Christmas songs are beautiful and timeless — but they don’t talk about a lot of the real emotions that get stirred up this time of year. Ohio-based folk duo Over the Rhine bring their third Christmas album, Blood Oranges in the Snow, to Highline Ballroom for An Acoustic Christmas, a night of reminiscing about changing traditions, wishing for warmer climes like the snowbirds celebrating the season far from home, the commercial pressures around the holidays and family, always there with us for better or worse. Dec. 15, 8 p.m., Tickets $29.50-$5, highlineballroom.com
Rockapella star and salty New Yorker Sean Altman always makes the season more jolly with his one-man show Jewmongous at the Cutting Room. This irreverent post-Hanukkah romp is more naughty than nice — how about this for a song title: “They Tried To Kill Us (We Survived, Let’s Eat)?” But it’s all in good fun. Outspoken but never outsung, Altman will be joined by Cynthia Kaplan and Michael Hunter. A sense of humor is a must, but leave the kids at home. Dec. 23, 7 p.m., $20-$25, thecuttingroomnyc.com
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is not only the city’s most dramatic Gothic church — its organist is the best in the city. This year, its Christmas concert is a dramatic three-part program that includes Vivaldi’s Gloria, New York composer James Bassi’s Quem Pastores Laudavere, and Benjamin Britten’s medieval-inspired “Ceremony of Carols.” Performers include the Cathedral Choristers, members of the Cathedral Choir, the Cathedral Chorale and the orchestra. Dec. 9, 7 p.m., $50-$75, stjohndivine.org