The ultimate holiday shows list: 81 'Christmas Carols,' 'Nutcrackers' and more

Matt Cooper
·17 min read
Clockwise from top left: Pete Davidson (Peggy Sirota); Taylor Mac (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times); Andrew Lincoln in A Christmas Carol (Helen Maybanks); Lila Downs (Marcela Taboada)
Clockwise from top left, Pete Davidson does "It's a Wonderful Life," Taylor Mac serves "Holiday Sauce," Andrew Lincoln plays Scrooge and Lila Downs marks the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe in virtual holiday shows this month. (Peggy Sirota; Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times; Helen Maybanks; Marcela Taboada)

Our gift to you: a stocking stuffed full of star-studded virtual shows this holiday season, including "Saturday Night Live" star Pete Davidson in "It's a Wonderful Life," Andrew Lincoln of "The Walking Dead" fame in "A Christmas Carol," an intimate concert with chanteuse Lila Downs and a pandemic edition of "Taylor Mac's Holiday Sauce." Here are more than 80 shows, including the big-name extravaganzas, globe-hopping affairs and hometown entertainment for those looking to support local talent — all listed largely in chronological order. All times are Pacific.

"Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol"

Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays stars in a filmed version of his one-man staging of the beloved holiday fable. Available on demand through Jan. 3. $50 per household, with proceeds going to benefit arts institutions including the Geffen Playhouse, Boston Court Pasadena, International City Theatre, South Coast Repertory and La Jolla Playhouse.

“Holiday on Strings!”

Puppets from Bob Baker Marionette Theater frolic in this variety show streaming as one of the special "on demand" offerings on Pasadena Playhouse's PlayhouseLive platform. $14.99. playhouselive.org

“A Star-studded Folksbiene! Chanukah Spectacular”

Billy Crystal, Barry Manilow, Carol Burnett, Mayim Bialik and Mandy Patinkin are among the famous faces featured in this holiday offering from New York City’s National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Available until 4 p.m. Dec. 12. Free; donations accepted. nytf.org

“An Evening With Audra McDonald”

The six-time Tony winner sings show tunes and standards in this New York City Center gala. Available on demand through Dec. 16. $35. nycitycenter.org

“The Car Man”

British choreographer Matthew Bourne’s reimagining of the Bizet opera “Carmen” sets the action in the Midwest in the 1960s. 8 p.m. Dec. 11, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 12, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13. $10. centertheatregroup.org

“Cyndi Lauper and Friends: Home for the Holidays”

Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Cher, Harvey Fierstein, Bette Midler, Adam Lambert, Billy Porter and Boy George are among the myriad stars in an online edition of Lauper's annual benefit to fight homelessness in the LGBTQ community. 5 p.m. Dec. 11 on tiktok.com. Free; donations accepted. Encore at 5 p.m. Dec. 13 on youtube.com, facebook.com

“Welcome to Meadowlark Falls — Christmas at Home”

Tin Can Telephone presents this immersive, interactive holiday rom-com told through letters, packages and online content. Must register by Friday. Performances through Dec. 26. $40 plus $15 shipping. meadowlarkfalls.com

“Nutcracker Rouge at Home”

Company XIV, a Brooklyn-based purveyor of burlesque, reimagines its saucy take on the holiday favorite as a virtual series of eight newly recorded performances, with a new film dropping weekly. Available through Dec. 31. $150 and up. companyxiv.com

“The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk”

Bristol Old Vic, Kneehigh and Wise Children theater companies present this multimedia-enhanced romantic fable about painter Marc Chagall and his wife, Bella. Available on demand from 8 p.m. Dec. 11 through 18. 16 pounds (about $21). thewallis.org

“George Balanchine’s the Nutcracker”

New York City Ballet performs the choreographer’s take on Tchaikovsky’s family-friendly holiday fable. Through Jan. 3. $25. marquee.tv

“La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin”

The Latino Theater Company streams an archival performance of this large-scale pageant, normally staged at L.A.'s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which re-creates the Virgin Mary’s visitations with peasant Juan Diego in 16th century Mexico. Suzanna Guzmán stars. In Spanish with English subtitles. Available on demand from 7 p.m. Dec. 11 through Dec. 20. Free. thelatc.org, youtube.com

“Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol”

The Chicago-based company mixes human actors, puppets and miniature sets in live performances of a pandemic-inspired reworking of Dickens' holiday fable. 5 and 7 p.m. Dec. 11, 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 12, 1 and 4 p.m. Dec. 13. $20. thesoraya.org

“Merry Christmas Darling: Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter”

Kettenring and her band celebrate the songs of the 1970s pop star. Available on demand from 7 p.m. Dec. 11 to 11 p.m. Dec. 28. $35. lagunaplayhouse.com

“Tinsel on the Tracks”

Union Station’s annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony goes virtual and includes a performance by the Grand Arts Chamber Singers. 7 p.m. Dec. 11. Free. facebook.com, youtube.com

“Virtual Kwanzaa Celebration

The Robey Theatre Company celebrates the holiday with a live variety show over Zoom. 6 p.m. Dec. 11. $10 suggested donation. therobeytheatrecompany.org. Available on the company’s YouTube page beginning Dec. 18.

“Fowler Out Loud: Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s Holiday Concert”

The ensemble led by Grammy winner Arturo O’Farrill plays works by Tito Puente, Graciela and others in this live show presented by UCLA’s Fowler Museum. 6 p.m. Dec. 11. Free. RSVP at eventbrite.com

“The Doo Wop Project: Live in Your Home for the Holidays”

The vocal group performs seasonal favorites. 5 p.m. Dec. 12. $25, with proceeds benefiting the Carpenter Center in Long Beach and other arts organizations. carpenterarts.org

“@Home for the Holidays”

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles mixes new material with memorable performances from seasons past. 8 p.m. Dec. 12. Free. Register at gmcla.org

The Baked Potato 50th Anniversary Livestream Benefit and Christmas Show

The venerable Studio City jazz venue presents a concert by the Bundle featuring Toto guitarist Steve Lukather. 7 p.m. Dec. 12 with 24-hour replay. $20. thebakedpotato.com

“Broadway Princess Holiday Party”

“Beauty and the Beast” actress Susan Egan, “Cinderella” star Laura Osnes, “Aladdin” cast member Courtney Reed and special guests share songs and stories. 5 p.m. Dec. 12; then available on demand through Dec. 26. $25. 54below.com

“A Christmas Carol”

“The Walking Dead’s” Andrew Lincoln is the miser Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ holiday fable streamed live from London’s Old Vic theater. 11 a.m. Dec. 12-15; 5 and 11 a.m. Dec. 16; 10 a.m. Dec. 17; 5 and 11 a.m. Dec. 18-19 and 21; 11 a.m. Dec. 22; 5 and 11 a.m. Dec. 23; 5 a.m. Dec. 24. 10-65 pounds (about $13-$87). oldvictheatre.com

“Family Fun Day 2020”

The Brooklyn-based Mark Morris Dance Group presents a mix of dance and caroling that includes highlights from “The Hard Nut,” the choreographer’s reimagined version of “The Nutcracker.” 10 a.m. Dec. 12. Free; reservations required. markmorrisdancegroup.org

“The Fruit Cake Follies”

This annual holiday variety show normally staged at the Cavern Club in Silver Lake moves online. 8 p.m. Dec. 12 through Dec. 27. $20, $30. fruitcakefollies.ticketspice.com

“Holiday Traditions and Trappings”

The Group Rep in North Hollywood presents eight short holiday-themed plays. 8 p.m. Dec. 12 through Jan. 1. $10. thegrouprep.com

“Lang Lang and Friends: Reaching Dreams Through Music”

The Chinese pianist is joined by soprano Renée Fleming, jazz artist Diana Krall, ballerina Misty Copeland, filmmaker Ron Howard and others for this virtual concert in support of music education. Available on demand beginning noon Dec. 12. Free. youtube.com

“Lila Downs: A Virtual Experience”

The Grammy-winning Mexican singer-songwriter known for her eclectic mix of pop and folk marks the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe with a concert filmed at Downs' artist retreat in Oaxaca and presented by the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State L.A. Available anytime on demand beginning 6 p.m. Dec. 12. Free. luckmanarts.org

“A Night of Holiday Magic”

Four L.A.-based magicians perform in this family-friendly show presented by the Sorting Room at the Wallis. 8 p.m. Dec. 12; available for 24 hours. $25. thewallis.org

“Santasia: A Holiday Streaming Special”

Virtual version of the long-running variety show from the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. 7 p.m. Dec. 12 and 18; noon, 4 and 7 p.m. Dec. 19; 7 p.m. Dec. 20, 24-25. $30. santasia.com

“Season in Song”

Mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, tenor Nicholas Phan and the California Symphony Brass Quintet perform holiday favorites. 7 p.m. Dec. 12. Free. californiasymphony.org

“Sing Your Hallelujah”

Broadway's Shoshana Bean ("Waitress") is joined by Jeremy Jordan (“Newsies”), tap dancer Jared Grimes and others in this new holiday concert filmed at Harlem's Apollo Theater. 6 p.m. Dec. 12; available on demand afterward. $30. singyourhallelujah.com

“Solo at Dusk”

Benjamin Millepied's L.A. Dance Project streams a filmed version of this pandemic-era dance piece choreographed by Bobbi Jene Smith in collaboration with Or Schraiber. 5 p.m. Dec. 12 and available for 24 hours. $19.99, $24.99. ladanceproject.org

“Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce … Pandemic!”

The theater artist, musical historian and drag performer stars in a revised version of this vaudeville-style revue in a benefit for the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. 7 p.m. Dec. 12. Minimum $25 donation. cap.ucla.edu

“Crazy Talented Asians Holiday Edition!”

The variety show presented by AJ Rafael and East West Players returns. 5:30 p.m. Dec. 13; available on demand afterward. Free. facebook.com, youtube.com

“Ariel Quartet — Hanukkah Baking Special”

The string quartet shares classical favorites and family recipes. 1 p.m. Dec. 13. Free. ourconcerts.live

Handel’s Messiah

The Choir of Trinity Church Wall Street in New York streams a film of last year’s performance of the holiday favorite. Noon Dec. 13. Free. trinitywallstreet.org, facebook.com

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

Pete Davidson plays the James Stewart role in a star-studded live table read of the script from Frank Capra’s 1946 fantasy tale, presented as a fundraiser for the Ed Asner Family Center in Reseda. With Vanessa Williams, Mia Farrow, Ellie Kemper, Carol Kane, BD Wong and Ed Begley Jr. 5 p.m. Dec. 13. $50. edasnerfamilycenter.org

“Latina Christmas Special ‘Special’”

Maria Russell, Diana Yanez and Sandra Valls, the trio behind the hit holiday comedy, return in this Zoom event hosted by Sharon Gless. 3 p.m. Dec. 13. Free. latinachristmasspecial.com

“School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play”

Cynthia Erivo and Gabourey Sidibe star in a benefit reading of Jocelyn Bioh's comedy for Manhattan's MCC Theater. Noon Dec. 13. $30, $50. mcctheater.org

“A Season of Hope and Inspiration”

The vocal ensemble Broadway Inspirational Voices is joined by guests including Tony winners Patti LuPone, Billy Porter and Leslie Odom Jr. 4 p.m. Dec. 13. Free. broadwayinspirationalvoices.org

Skirball Hanukkah Celebration

The Skirball Cultural Center presents a holiday show featuring L.A.-based klezmer band Mostly Kosher and Israeli singer Gili Yalo, plus puppetry and storytelling. 3 p.m. Dec. 13. Free. youtube.com

“A Very, Very Chance Holiday Cabaret”

Company members from Anaheim's Chance Theater perform in this family-friendly variety show. On demand Dec. 13-Jan. 12. $25-$125. showtix4u.com

“Latkes and Lights: An Evening With Holocaust Survivor Gabriella Karin and Chef Akasha Richmond”

Holocaust Museum LA presents an interactive Hanukkah celebration over Zoom. 6 p.m. Dec. 14. $12 minimum donation. holocaustmuseumla.org

“All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914”

Streaming premiere of Peter Rothestein’s fact-based stage drama set on the battlefields of World War I. Available beginning Dec. 15. $8.99 monthly subscription, seven-day free trial available. broadwayhd.com

“A Christmas Carol”

South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa streams an audio recording of a new radio-style adaptation of the Dickens classic. Dec. 15-31. Free. scr.org

“Pam Temperature’s Holiday Xtravaganza”

The Groundlings’ Annie Sertich is joined by guests including Ron Perlman, “Community” star Jim Rash and “SNL” cast members past (Kevin Nealon) and present (Chloe Fineman) in this Zoom show. 7 p.m. Dec. 15. $10. groundlings.com

“A 2020 Nutcracker — From Bach to Metallica”

Pianist Daniel Vnukowski performs in this fundraiser for the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. 7 p.m. Dec. 15. Free; donations accepted. RSVP danperforms.com

“Merry and Bright Holiday Celebration”

With Jack Black, Michael J. Fox, Tori Kelly, Annaleigh Ashford and the Boston Pops Orchestra. 4 p.m. Dec. 15 through Dec. 21. Free. merryandbright.brightcove.com

“Holidaze Harmony”

Broadway’s Terron Brooks and Kamilah Marshall star in this holiday cabaret filmed onstage at Burbank’s Garry Marshall Theatre. 7 p.m. Dec. 16; available on demand Dec. 17-20. $29, $35. garrymarshalltheatre.org

“Doom, Gloom & Zoom With the Ghost of Jacob Marley”

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group in North Hollywood offers a virtual visit with the ominous spirit from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” For 22 minutes, Marley "will personally haunt you and/or your household via Zoom." Time slots available from 7 to 10:30 p.m. starting Dec. 16 and running through Dec. 30; dark on Dec. 25. $25. zombiejoes.com

“The Hebrew Hillbilly: 50 Shades of Oy Vey”

Shelley Fisher returns in a benefit performance of her tune-filled solo comedy about growing up Jewish in the South. 6 p.m. Dec. 17. $30. santamonicaplayhouse.com

“Holiday Karaoke”

Los Angeles Master Chorale offers a seasonal sing-along with popular Christmas carols and the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s “Messiah.” 7 p.m. Dec. 17; available on demand through Dec. 31. Free; donations accepted. lamasterchorale.org

“Holiday Song Tracks

Union Station presents this virtual concert featuring klezmer band Mostly Kosher and East L.A.’s Las Cafeteras. 7 p.m. Dec. 17. Free. facebook.com. Available anytime afterward at youtube.com

"Kwanzaa in Leimert Park Village"

Community members explore the history of the holiday in this Zoom event copresented by UCLA’s Department of African American Studies. 5 p.m. Dec. 17. Free. RSVP at ucla.zoom.us

“Nochebuena: Christmas Eve in Mexico”

Performers in this virtual variety show include Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar. 7 p.m. Dec. 17. Free. muscocenter.org. Also 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at carpenterarts.org

“Christmas With the Beatles”

Fab Four tribute band Abbey Road performs a holiday show live from the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. 7 p.m. Dec. 18; available for 48 hours. $12. bellyuplive.com

Glendale City Church Christmas Concert

Seasonal favorites with the Glendale City Church Sanctuary Choir, the Donald Brinegar Singers and others. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18. Free. YouTube.com

“Nochebuena En Casa”

Performers in this virtual variety show presented by the Soraya in Northridge include Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar plus ranchera singer Aida Cuevas and East L.A.’s Las Cafeteras. Available from 5 p.m. Dec. 18 through Jan. 1. Free. TheSoraya.org

“Kingdom of the Sweets”

Westside Ballet of Santa Monica presents a selection of filmed highlights from the holiday favorite "The Nutcracker." Dec. 18-31. Free. vimeo.com

“Sadonna: The Brown Ambition Tour”

Artist and choreographer Miguel Gutierrez puts his own spin on the songs of Madonna in this virtual cabaret show. 8:30 p.m. Dec. 18-19. $12, $15. redcat.org

“Storage Run”

L.A.-based Rogue Artists Ensemble presents this interactive three-part holiday experience. 7 p.m. Dec. 18 and 25 and Jan. 1; all three episodes will remain available through Jan. 31. Pay what you can (suggested $20 per person). rogueartists.org

“A Cajun Christmas With BeauSoleil Avec Michael Doucet”

Live-streamed holiday concert features Cajun and Creole music plus Zydeco, New Orleans jazz and Tex-Mex. 2 p.m. Dec. 19. $15. ourconcerts.live

“Christmas Joy Concert”

Pianist Junko Ueno Garrett and cellist David Garrett are among the performers in this entry in the Third@First series presented by Pasadena's First United Methodist Church. 4 p.m. Dec. 19; available on demand afterward. Free. youtube.com

“Great Russian Nutcracker”

Moscow Ballet takes the stage in a filmed performance of the Tchaikovsky favorite. Available from 8 p.m. Dec. 19 through Dec. 29. $24.99. nutcracker.com

“Home for the Holidays”

Pasadena Symphony’s annual “Holiday Candlelight” concert goes virtual and features Broadway’s Lisa Vroman, the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus and the L.A. Bronze Handbell Ensemble. 4 p.m. Dec. 19; available through Dec. 21. Free. pasadenasymphony-pops.org, youtube.com

“Interviewing Miss Davis”

The Fountain Theatre’s Hollywood-themed holiday party includes a reading of this drama about screen legend Bette Davis. 5 p.m. Dec. 19. Free. fountaintheatre.com

“It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”

Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley of the music-and-comedy duo the Skivvies put their own spin on the Frank Capra classic. Available on demand from Dec. 19-Jan. 1. $20. lagunaplayhouse.com

“Josh Groban: His First Ever Holiday Concert!”

The Grammy winner sings holiday favorites. 1 p.m. Dec. 19 and available for 48 hours. $30; VIP packages available. joshgroban.com

“Carols for Kids”

Lythgoe Family Panto presents this virtual sing-along as a benefit for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; with Marissa Jaret Winokur, Shoshana Bean and Bruce Vilanch. Available on demand for one week beginning 5 p.m. Dec. 20. $20. stellartickets.com

“Clara’s Nutcracker Tea Party!”

Los Angeles Ballet presents a live, interactive and family friendly show inspired by the company’s annual staging of the holiday favorite. 11 a.m. Dec. 20. $39.99, $125. losangelesballet.org

“Making Spirits Bright”

Tony nominee Ann Hampton Callaway sings holiday favorites in this livestream show. 4 p.m. Dec. 20. $20, $25. paypal.com

“A Not So Silent Night 'Virtually Together'”

Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright and his siblings Martha and Lucy Wainwright host an online version of their annual holiday show. Noon Dec. 20; available through Jan. 6. $20-$250. rufuswainwright.veeps.com

“Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony”

The “Phantom of the Opera” star is joined by special guests including former husband and musical partner Andrew Lloyd Webber in this concert filmed at London’s historic Christ Church Spitalfields. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20. $18-$200. store.sarahbrightman.com

“Winter Tales”

Whitefire Theatre presents a reading of holiday-themes short stories and poetry by Robert Frost, O. Henry and others. 4 p.m. Dec. 20; encore streams 7 p.m. Dec. 21 and Dec. 23. $15.99. whitefiretheatre.com

“Estella Scrooge: A Christmas Carol With a Twist”

Gender-swapped update of the holiday tale. Dec. 21-Jan. 3. $29.99, $44.99. TheWallis.org

"Ballet Hispánico Holiday Celebration"

The New York-based troupe presents a watch party for its signature work "Club Havana" in this fundraiser. 4:30 p.m. Dec. 23. Free. youtube.com, facebook.com

“The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show”

The veteran gospel group performs. 6 p.m. Dec. 23. $18, $25, with proceeds benefiting the Irvine Barclay Theatre and other arts venues. thebarclay.org

61st Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration

This long-running family-friendly show presented by the Music Center goes virtual and features performances by a diverse array of local musical ensembles and dance troupes plus five mini documentaries filmed at different landmarks and neighborhoods around SoCal. 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 24. Free. pbssocal.org, kcet.org, musiccenter.org

“Doug Benson’s Boxing Day Comedy Sesh”

The veteran comic hosts a holiday edition of his stand-up showcase. 4:20 p.m. Dec. 26. $10. rushtix.com

Grand Park’s NYELA

DJ and producer Steve Aoki headlines an online edition of this annual New Year's Eve block party normally held in downtown L.A. 11 p.m. Dec. 31. Free. musiccenter.org, grandparkla.org, facebook.com, youtube.com

“The Annual One-Time-Only New Year’s Eve Musical Revue”

Family friendly variety show presented by Santa Monica Playhouse. 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Dec. 31. $20. santamonicaplayhouse.com

“New Years Queens: Goodbye 2020!”

Drag superstars including Alaska, Miz Cracker and Trixie Mattel take part in this 11-hour global livestream event. 3 p.m. Dec. 31. $49-$499. sessionslive.com

Our recurring coronavirus-era viewing recommendations are indexed in the same place arts event listings (sigh) used to post.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.