The Holiday Spirit Top 10

The season’s best offerings, in order of how much holiday spirit they’re likely to inspire.

  • All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914
  • New Standards’ Holiday Show
  • Vocalessence’s Welcome Christmas
  • Lorie Line: Immanuel
  • The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose
  • Katie McMahon’s Celtic Christmas

1) All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

If you’ve never heard the all-male vocal ensemble Cantus perform its emotionally wrenching rendition of the famous World War I incident in which all sides agreed to stop fighting for one night and celebrate Christmas together—go. And bring Kleenex. Dec. 19–22. Pantages Theatre


2) New Standards’ Holiday Show

Every year, The New Standards jazz trio—John Munson, Chan Poling, and Steve Roehm—put on one of the most entertaining holiday tune-fests you can imagine, with an unpredictable palette of songs, plenty of good-humored banter, and lots of surprise guests. Dec. 7–9. The Fitzgerald Theater


3) Vocalessence’s Welcome Christmas

VocalEssence doesn’t mess around: It pulls the Christmas spirit out of the clouds and deposits it directly into your solar plexus. Dec. 1–9. Various locations


4) Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker

If you’re going to sit through The Nutcracker, why not get it from the people who created it? More than 40 dancers, eye-popping sets and costumes, and a whiff of Russian gloom—this one has it all. Dec. 7–8. Orpheum Theatre


5) How the Grinch Stole Christmas

A classic for the kiddie set, but parents and grandparents will feel their hearts grow a few sizes too. Through Dec. 30. Children’s Theatre Company


6) A Christmas Carol

No one does Charles Dickens’s tale of stinginess and redemption better than the Guthrie, which has had 38 years to perfect it. Through Dec. 29. Guthrie Theater


7) Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker

Generations of children and their parents have been attending, and dancing in, Minnesota Dance Theatre’s version of the holiday standby, choreographed by the legendary Loyce Houlton and still featuring some of the original costumes. That’s a good thing. Dec. 14–24. Cowles Center


8) Lorie Line: Immanuel

It wouldn’t be Christmas in the Twin Cities without Lorie Line’s annual holiday show, remade every year—yet somehow predictably, gloriously the same. Which is to say, bring your bells. (If you’ve seen her, you know what that means. If not, go find out.) Dec. 7–9. State Theatre


9) The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose

Zenon Dance Company’s annual kid-friendly mash-up of The Nutcracker combines familiar nursery-rhyme stories with plenty of great dancing and some Tchaikovsky—without having to endure the whole thing. Dec. 8–9. Cowles Center


10) Katie McMahon’s Celtic Christmas

Best known as the original lead soprano of Riverdance, Irish singer/musician Katie McMahon got that honor because she has an amazingly clear and soulful voice that imbues Irish Christmas songs with the sadness and sparkle they need to be, well, Irish. The show includes her band and lots of dancers. Dec. 22. The O’Shaughnessy