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Get in the holiday spirit at Chicago’s top Christmas concerts

’Tis the season for carols, Handel, jingle bells and oodles of holiday music

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Once Upon a Symphony
Photograph: Todd Rosenberg

Some of the most high-profile concerts in December don't happen until the last day of the month (have you seen this year's lineup New Year's Eve shows?), but there's plenty to see before the champagne toasts begin. Celebrate the holidays in Chicago with a traditional sing-along to Handel’s Messiah or bring the kids to the Chicago Symphony’s festive year-end concerts. Local radio stations take over arenas with massive bashes and balls, packed with pop music stars like Cardi B, Shawn Mendes and Calvin Harris. Not sure where to get your jingle bell fix this winter? Try one of Chicago's jolliest Christmas concerts.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to Christmas events in Chicago

Christmas concerts in Chicago

Katy Perry
Photograph: Michael J. Chen
Music, Pop

B96 Jingle Bash: Katy Perry + Camila Cabello + Marshmello

Allstate Arena, Suburbs

What better way to celebrate the holiday season (and take a break from the barrage of Christmas music being piped into your ears) than with an evening of performances from a cavalcade of contemporary pop stars. Hot on the heels of squashing her feud with Taylor Swift, pop-singer Katy Perry headline's this year's B96 Jingle Bash, with support from "Havana" singer Camila Cabello and masked EDM DJ Marshmello. Normani, Monsta X, Lil Tecca, AJ Mitchell and NCT 127 will also take the stage, so settle in for a long night of earworm melodies.

Andrew Bird
Photograph: Amanda Demme
Music, Rock and indie

Andrew Bird

Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, Streeterville

After taking a year off to complete his cheekily-titled album, My Finest Work Yet, whistlin' violinist Andrew Bird returns to the altar of the Fourth Presbyterian Church for a series of special performances. The winter "Gezelligheid" (a dutch word that roughly translates to "cozy") are something of a holiday tradition in Chicago, and offer a chance for fans to hear Bird play a solo set filled with new arrangements of classic tunes and collaborations with special guests. In the past, Bird has tested out new songs in front of a receptive audience and dabbled in expansive instrumental compositions that are piped through his array of horn speakers.

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Allstate Arena
Photograph: CC/Wikimedia Commons/Jonrev
Music, Pop

KISS FM Jingle Ball: Jonas Brothers + NF + French Montana

Allstate Arena, Suburbs

Radio station 103.5 KISS FM wraps up the year with a barrage of performances by some of pop music's biggest stars at its annual Jingle Ball concert, featuring reunited boy band the Jonas Brother and "Let You Down" rapper NF. The stacked bill also includes French Montana, Niall Horan, Why Don't We, Zara Larsson and Lewis Capaldi.

Photograph: Courtesy International Music Foundation
Music, Classical and opera

Do-It-Yourself Messiah

Harris Theater, Millennium Park

Ever since 1976, Chicagoans have gathered during the holiday season to belt out Handel’s classic oratorio (the one with the famous “Hallelujah!” chorus) backed by a volunteer orchestra and professional soloists at the Harris Theater. You'll need to show up to the event familiar with the score and ready to sing your heart out all evening long, and you might also want to figure out if you're a soprano, alto, tenor or bass.

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Photograph: CC/Wikimedia Commons/John Walsh
Music, Rock and indie

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Allstate Arena, Suburbs

Holiday prog-rockers Trans-Siberian Orchestra make their annual trip to Rosemont, though you'll have to wait until after Christmas to see this year's seizure-inducing light show set to overwrought versions of seasonal songs. If you're still not tired of hearing the band's inescapable high-octane rendition of "Carol of the Bells," snag a seat and warm yourself in the glow of crackling pyrotechnics at one of TSO's Allstate Arena gigs.

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