nutcracker toronto

The top holiday concerts and shows in Toronto for 2015

Holiday shows in Toronto run the gamut from traditional fare, like National Ballet of Canada's production of The Nutcracker (Dec. 12 to Jan. 3) to Ross Petty's annual pantomime (until Jan. 3). And there are also plenty of other options that play loosely with the holiday theme and give us entertaining performances that may or may not be suitable for the whole family.

Here are my picks for the top holiday concerts and shows in Toronto this year.


City Dance Corps: The Nutcracker (Dec. 5, Al Green Theatre)
Every year, Toronto's City Dance Corps presents its version of The Nutcracker that breaks away from tradition. This performance will feature not only ballet, but a variety of dance styles, allowing you to see the Sugar Plum Fairy in a whole new light.

Indigal (Dec. 6, Daniels Spectrum)
This collective made up of nine independent female artists raised more than $5,000 on Indiegogo to put out a folk-rock-inspired Christmas album. Hear them take on carols and seasonal songs such as "River" and "The Little Drummer Boy" live during an afternoon concert at Daniels Spectrum.

Soundstreams: Electric Messiah (Dec. 7 and 8, The Drake)
For a completely novel take on Handel's Messiah, head to this show at The Drake. Along with the Electroacoustic Orchestra of York University and electronic musician Doug Van Nort, this show features four vocal soloists and a guitarist to remix and reinvent a centuries-old Christmas classic.

Cirque de la Symphonie: Holiday Hits (Dec. 8 and 9, Roy Thomson Hall)
While the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's (TSO) Christmas Circus on Dec. 13 is sold out, you can still treat yourself to a majestic concert, accompanied by circus performers, at the holiday edition of Cirque de la Symphonie. This may be marketed as more of a children's show, but it also looks to be a great introduction to the symphony for TSO newbies.

The 11th Annual Andy Kim Christmas Show (Dec. 9, The Phoenix Concert Theatre)
Rock around the Christmas tree with an all-star Canadian showcase featuring bands and musicians like the Barenaked Ladies, Tom Cochrane, (members of) Broken Social Scene, The Trews and many more.

A Kosher Christmas (Dec. 9, Hugh's Room)
Did you know that many of the most iconic carols were written by those who likely had little experience celebrating Christmas? Yes, Jewish composers such as Irving Berlin ("White Christmas") and numerous others created holiday hits and JAZZ.FM91 will host an intimate Chrismukkah show to honour their legacy.

Krampus Ball (Dec. 11, Opera House)
Krampus is jolly old St. Nicholas's evil twin and according to CBC Arts, he's becoming quite popular in Canada. Not only is he the star of a new darkly comedic movie, but he's also being celebrated in Toronto at Squid Lid's annual Krampus Ball.

Against The Grain's Messiah (Dec. 16 to 18, Harbourfront Centre Theatre)
This company filled with classically trained musicians takes operas and performs them in unconventional and unexpected ways. It does the same with Messiah, and for the third year in a row, it'll put a its spin on the Handel classic.

White Cowbell Oklahoma Annual X-Mess (Dec. 19, Lee's Palace)
If you're all Handel-ed out and looking for something decidedly less Baroque, the annual White Cowbell Oklahoma concert at Lee's Palace will definitely do the trick. This show isn't for the light-hearted, but it'll provide the perfect break from all that family time.

Tafelmusik: Sing-a-long Messiah (Dec. 20, Massey Hall)
A compilation of holiday show's wouldn't be complete without the sing-a-long Messiah. This annual event always sells out and it brings together nearly 3,000 voices, which is pretty spectacular. Despite the complexity of the music, non-singers are of course welcome.


Did I miss any? Add your suggestions to the comments.

Photo of the Nutcracker via the National Ballet

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