The crisp, cool air in the evening and the leaves slowly dying hint that winter is near. With the snowy days lingering ahead, holiday concerts and cheer will fill the air. The wonderful thing about Philadelphia is that there is always such a wide array of concerts to choose from. These are the must-see holiday performances this year.
The Nutcracker
The Academy of Music
240 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 551-7000
www.paballet.orgPrice: from $55
Dates: Dec. 8 to Dec. 30

A quintessential holiday classic tale of magic, bold music and the well-known Sugar Plum fairy, “The Nutcracker” never grows old. George Balanchine’s rendition includes three company premieres from choreographers Trey McIntyre, Alexei Ratmansky and Jerome Robbins – plus a world premiere by choreographer in residence Matthew Neenan. Even for those who have never been to the ballet, this is a theatrical masterpiece sure to please even the most skeptical viewer.

A Christmas Carol
Walnut Street Theatre
825 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 574-3550
www.walnutstreettheatre.orgPrice: from $20
Dates: Dec. 1 to Dec. 22
Great for young and old alike, this touching musical lasts from Dec. 1 to Dec. 22 this holiday season. Even for non-Christians, this play offers time-tested advice about helping others and giving in the spirit of the season. With Tiny Tim pulling at your heartstrings in every scene, song and dance, it is easy to remember why Christmas celebrations continue generation after generation.

A Holiday Spectacular
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
300 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 670-2300
www.kimmelcenter.orgPrice: $15 to $40
Date: Saturday, Dec. 1

The Philadelphia Orchestra is decking the halls with its festive musical celebration filled with your favorite songs of the season, sing-alongs and even Santa. Come-a-caroling with music from “Sleigh Ride,” “The Nutcracker” and “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” narrated by Charlotte Blake Alston. With prices varying depending on your seats, there is a spot and song for everyone Dec. 1.

Related: Top Restaurants for the Holidays Near Philadelphia

Deck the Alley 2012
126 Elfreth’s Alley
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 574-0560
www.elfrethsalley.orgPrice: $20 adults/$10 seniors, students/$55 per family
Date: Dec. 1 – 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Elfreth’s Alley Association is dedicated to preserving historic structures as heritage sites to create a living museum street. If you picture a nostalgic holiday, this is up your alley. This event features private historic home tours, colonial artisans, holiday treats, caroling in the alley and a one-of-a-kind raffle. Finish up with some shopping in the museum’s gift shop on your way out. Be a part of your own choir concert with this time-honored tradition.

Dianne Reeves Christmas Time is Here
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, University of Pennsylvania
3680 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-3900
www.pennpresents.orgPrice: $20 to $60
Date: Saturday, Dec. 1

If you prefer to hear your holiday tunes in the form of smooth, sizzling jazz melodies, Dianne Reeves is a concert not to miss. This four-time Grammy award-winning vocalist continues to reign at the top of the jazz world. Let her voice melt off that cold winter chill with renditions of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells” and “Let It Snow.” The Zellerbach Theatre is the place to see this jazzy lady and her festive favorites.

Related: Bring in the New Year with Special Holiday Traditions

Cassie Hepler is a freelance writer covering all things Philadelphia. Her work can be found on