From traditional choral showstoppers at venues like the National Cathedral, to community concert bands and a Christmas tree populated by over 80 singers, D.C.’s holiday music and arts offerings are delightfully family-friendly with afternoon performances, discounted or free admission for kids, and guest appearances by costumed characters (er, Santa!).
Mini-Nut by Maryland Youth Ballet
Nutcracker options abound, but if you are looking for your young Balanchine protege’s introduction to this dramatic ballet, give these downsized but hardly less than impressive versions a try. Featuring all the favorite sequences from the full score, Mini-Nut performed at Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring and Nutcracker in Nutshell hosted by NOVA Community College in Alexandria, serve up just enough Tchiakovsky and Sugar Plum to make kiddo smile without trying to jump on stage during the Mouse King’s combat scene.
When to go: Dec. 12-13
Cost: $20; $15/kids under 12
Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
7995 Georgia Ave. (Silver Spring, Md)
Cathedral Choral Society Family Joy
Don’t miss out on this majestic show at the Cathedral, staged specifically for families with a noontime performance, and shortened version of the Cathedral singers evening program. Ticket prices for Family Joy allow the entire clan to join in on the fun with guest appearances by Childrens’ Chorus of Washington and American Youth Philharmonic Brass Ensemble.
When to go: Dec. 12
Washington National Cathedral
Massachusetts and Wisconsin Aves., NW
The Living Christmas Tree
A 30 foot Christmas tree populated by close to 80 choral singers, accompanied by a live symphony are the center of attention at this family-friendly performance hosted for the last 29 years by a Riverdale, Maryland church. While the show is two hours, rest assured there is both babysitting available for children under three with reservation, as well as a “calming room” in case any underage family member is antsy and prefers to view the performance on video. Arrive early and treat the kiddos to the live nativity scene outside, plus refreshments.
When to go: Dec. 11
Cost: $12; $10 kids under 10
Riverdale Baptist Church
1177 Largo Rd. (Upper Marlboro, Md)
Kwaanza Celebration with Coyaba Academy and Dance Theater
If Clara and her Nutcracker just are not on your dance card this year, choose instead the high-energy Coyaba and Dance Place in N.E. for a celebration of the seven principles of Kwaanza. With discounted tickets for all the young dance enthusiasts in your family, and free admission for one child 12 or under( with one paying adult) to the Dec. 13 show, Dance Place encourages families to join them for this culturally engaging event.
When to go: Dec. 12
3225 8th St., NE (Brookland)
National Philharmonic Handel’s Messiah
What? Listening to a piece of choral music written in 1741 no matter how hauntingly beautiful is not Junior’s idea of a fun afternoon? While the allure here may just be an enjoyable cultural afternoon for the adults in the family, bear in mind your at first disinterested toddler, or perhaps adolescent, may learn to appreciate it, and if not you won’t waste the ticket price, because as it is for all National Philharmonic concerts now, admission is free to all those under 17.
When to go: Dec. 19-20
Cost: $44-$94; free/kids ages 7-17
5301 Tuckerman Ln. (N. Bethesda)
Are there any other shows you are excited to check out? Tell us in the comments section below.