With the delta variant blues behind us and omicron anxiety looming, local arts and entertainment venues have begun their holiday seasons intent to spread joy, warmth, and gift opportunities to San Antonians.
A list of select performances and events is below. The San Antonio Report will update this list as further notices arrive.
Please check each venue’s website for ticket information and updates on pandemic safety requirements and restrictions.
Classical music and choral carols
For fans of classical music missing the dormant San Antonio Symphony’s usual holiday concerts, the Mid-Texas Symphony offers its Home for the Holidays in-person concert Dec. 12 in the Jackson Auditorium at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin.
On Dec. 19, the Candlelight Christmas event at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church will present traditional carols and a candlelight processional by the San Antonio Choral Society and baroque choral ensemble Sonido Barroco.
Dec. 20, The Light of Hope Returning concert-length ceremony of holiday folk carols will bring together the San Antonio Chamber Choir and the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
Ballet San Antonio is grateful to be back onstage with its traditional annual holiday performances of The Nutcracker, which run two weekends, Dec. 3-5 and Dec. 10-12, at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to do this,” said Evin Eubanks, the ballet’s CEO. “We do what we do for our community. In full holiday spirit, she added, “it’s such a gift to be able to be back onstage.”
Last year’s pandemic performances necessitated using recorded music and a pared-down cast for a ballet that is normally crowded with children and an expanded corps de ballet for elaborately staged scenes.
While the 2021 performances will also use recorded music — this time because symphony musicians are on strike — the company will return to a full cast of characters and, has invited local guest performers for its prized “Mother Ginger” role (former San Antonio Report Managing Editor Graham Watson-Ringo filled the role in 2019).
This year, Eubanks said, the role will be filled by frontline workers who have helped carry San Antonio through the pandemic.
Calling this year’s performances “even more special than usual,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg gave kudos to Ballet San Antonio “for their creative recognition of frontline heroes in the battle against COVID-19,” and said, “recognizing local heroes is a great way to add joy to an already exhilarating time of year.”
The Children’s Ballet of San Antonio offers its own version of The Nutcracker with a condensed 90-minute performance at the Lila Cockrell Theatre, which will be decked out with a holiday market offering ornaments, nutcrackers, and performance-themed dress-up items including tutus, Sugarplum Fairy wands, and Mouse King swords.
Three performances run each day on Dec. 10-11, but note that the busy Santa Claus will only be present for evening performances at 7 p.m. each day.
All that jazz, and more music
The free Balcones Heights Jazz Festival celebrates the season with its Dec. 3 Christmas concert featuring festival favorite Slim Man, who makes his 13th appearance at the Wonderland of the Americas Amphitheater. San Antonio crooner Ken Slavin will open the 7:30 p.m. show.
On Dec. 4, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán will close the weeklong Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza at the Lila Cockrell Theatre.
For its festive Dec. 11 holiday market, the Dellview Music Center will pack its parking lot in the Dell Village plaza with 15 vendors including local toymaker James Huizar and the intriguingly named Transylvanian Treats dessert vendor. Live music starting at 12:30 p.m. will accompany market browsing with sets from jazz duo Polly Harrison and Dave Deering and singer-songwriter Matt Kirk.
The Magik Theatre started its holiday season early on Nov. 19, opening Ella Enchanted: The Musical that runs through Christmas Eve. This modern take on the Cinderella fairy tale empowers young kids to overcome obstacles and find their voice.
The Public Theater will serenade the many cultures of San Antonio with a capella performances of holiday pop and seasonal songs in Season’s Greetings from San Antonio, which runs now through Dec. 19.
Museums join the fun
Each year, Ruby City remembers San Antonio artist and personality Chuck Ramirez, while celebrating the holidays by putting his gaily decorated, colorful Christmas trees on display. Ruby City founder Linda Pace used to enjoy these trees in her private home, and now the public can get in on the fun.
The Briscoe Western Art Museum brings its own twist to the holiday season with a visit from Cowboy Claus on Dec. 5. The museum will offer Christmas craft-making for the kids, along with hot cocoa and cookies, and a special “12 Days of Christmas” scavenger hunt through the Briscoe collection of Western-themed art.
Dec. 11, the San Antonio Museum of Art opens its evening Holiday Museum Market from 5-9 p.m., with hot cocoa to inspire arty gift shopping featuring crafts by local artisans.
The Pearl offers its own holiday ecosystem, going local with its Holiday Night Markets each Wednesday until Christmas, Dec. 8, 15 and 22. Market-goers can peruse gifts and crafts from local vendors while enjoying music by Noah Harris, Mariachi Las Coronelas, and Groupo Tan Tan on successive Wednesdays.
A holiday stroll through the Pearl grounds on Dec. 9 will feature extended shopping hours, and the Mission Concepcion choir presents an evening of carols for the annual Posada at 6 p.m. on Dec. 16.
The Pearl also took 2nd place in a Yelp listing of Top 20 Spots for Holiday Lights in Texas, just behind the spectacular River Walk display.
Cookies, carols and lights
Main Plaza will light its Christmas tree with the free “Silver Bells in the City” celebration 4-9 p.m. on Dec. 4. Distinguished guests will kick off the evening, which will also feature live entertainment from Patricia Vonne and the John Jay High School Rockn’ Stringz, and family activities including Christmas carolers, letter writing to Santa Claus, and local vendors.
Also on Dec. 4, the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions will host its annual Pecan Harvest, a celebration of the aboriginal people of the region and their ancestral late fall pecan harvest. Naturally, pecan-themed foods and beverages will be on offer, accompanied by indigenous art and performances.
Villa Finale promises that its 1876 Italianate mansion, owned by Walter Mathis, will “dazzle during the holidays,” with lavish garland, a 14-foot Christmas tree, “an irreverent and witty Santa collection” and vintage glass ornaments. The museum and gardens offers a free open house Dec. 17 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. with hot cocoa, Christmas cookies and twinkling holiday lights in the gardens.