The days are getting shorter and temperatures dropping, but the halls of Lincoln Center are aglow with the spirit of the holiday season. From dance to music, opera, and beyond, the world-class organizations at Lincoln Center have something for the whole family. Enjoy dozens of events across the storied campus this December that will warm you with the wonderment of the performing arts.

Introduce your family to the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Mozart’s enchanting fairy tale, The Magic Flute, which has become a New York holiday tradition. Julie Taymor’s stunning production—in a family-friendly, abridged, and English-language version—returns to delight audiences young and old, with performances from December 15 to January 4. And if you’re looking to usher in the New Year with some of opera’s most beloved repertoire, the Met will be hosting a New Year’s Eve gala starring Anna Netrebko on December 31. In an unprecedented program, the great Russian soprano steps into three of Puccini’s most revered roles—Mimì, Tosca, and Turandot—in fully staged and costumed acts.

The holiday season would not be complete without Tchaikovsky’s lush score and the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”—one of ballet’s most famed pas de deux. Enter a wonderful world of confection with George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, New York City Ballet’s cherished holiday spectacle, returning to the David H. Koch Theater November 29 through January 5. Nutcracker newcomers and aficionados alike are also invited to join NYCB for Behind the Magic, an onstage, insider’s look that features performance excerpts, demonstrations, and the rare opportunity to hear interviews with the artists who make this magical production possible (December 9).

The House of Swing is getting in the holiday spirit as well with soulful, big-band arrangements of holiday classics (December 18 to 22). The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will make your holidays merry and bright with Big Band Holidays, featuring favorites like “Jingle Bells,” “Joy to the World,” and “Brazilian Sleigh Ride.” This year, the typically sold-out show invites local teenage phenomenon Alexis Morrast, first-place winner of the nationally broadcast Showtime at the Apollo, along with the famed baritone vocalist Denzal Sinclaire.

Holidays at Lincoln Center
Photo by Chris Lee
The New York Philharmonic performs Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone™ in Concert

At David Geffen Hall, the New York Philharmonic offers a month packed with events, starting with Holiday Brass on December 15. Former principal trumpet, conductor, and host Philip Smith leads the New York Philharmonic Brass and Percussion in this colorful celebration. The Philharmonic’s annual production of Handel’s Messiah adds warmth and light to the winter months once again, this year sung by soprano Louise Alder, countertenor Iestyn Davies, tenor Joshua Ellicott, baritone Dashon Burton, and the Handel and Haydn Society Chorus, directed by Harry Christophers (December 17 through 21).

Though not specifically holiday-themed, tickets to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert will be on every child’s wish list this season. From December 11 to 14, kids ages four and up (and muggles of all ages) can revel in Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s adventures, set to John Williams’s iconic score. Then, help Music Director Jaap van Zweden ring in the New Year along with his renowned orchestra and exciting guest stars at a stunning New Year’s Eve program (December 31).

Though they be but small, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center offers a robust season of holiday programming. On December 8 and 10, CMS honors the work of violinist Arcangelo Corelli whose “Christmas Concerto” (Fatto per la notte di Natale) depicting the Nativity scene is a beautiful tone painting and audience favorite. You can also celebrate the art of chamber music on December 13, 15, and 17 with Bach’s irresistible Brandenburg Concertos, an essential experience for concertgoers.

Dozens of events this December will warm you with the wonderment of the performing arts.
Holidays at Lincoln Center
Photo by Carly Zavala
Strings N Skins: Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square Celebration

If you’re seeking free performances, be sure to spend a cozy winter morning at Juilliard’s Pre-College Winter Songbook (December 14), featuring outstanding talents on the rise. Also head over to the David Rubenstein Atrium where you’ll find amazing artists year-round—and all for free. For this year’s Winter’s Eve—an annual neighborhood festival that celebrates the start of the holiday season on the Upper West Side—dance to the infectious rhythms of Strings N Skins (December 2). Influenced by its Caribbean, Latin American, and African heritage, the Brooklyn-based band proudly spreads a message of unity by bringing people together on the dance floor. What better way is there to honor the spirit of the season?

And so, across the plazas, around the fountain, and throughout the concert halls, Lincoln Center will be bustling with the excitement of the holidays. Check out the full calendar of events online and get ready for your holidays to become even more festive.

Kaitlyn Zafonte is an arts journalist based in New York City.

Harry Potter characters, names, and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

For a complete list of programs, visit the Lincoln Center calendar.