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Harry and the Potters at the Harry Potter Yule Ball
Photograph: Courtesy Harry and the Potters

Must-see Christmas concerts in NYC this holiday season

If you’re looking to add some holiday pep to your step, check out our list of the best Christmas concerts this season

By Kristen Zwicker

Don’t let the wintry mix snow you in this December. From visiting the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to digging into the best pies in NYC, there’s a host of stellar seasonal events to shovel your way down to. As always, NYC hosts some of the best Christmas concerts around (Radio City Christmas Spectacular is always a can’t miss)—so might we suggest taking a break from the cold outdoors to catch one of these awesome shows?

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in New York

Best Christmas concerts in NYC

The Blind Boys of Alabama
Photograph: Cameron Witting

Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show with Amy Black

Music Folk, country and blues

Formed in 1939 at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind, the Blind Boys of Alabama have since collected five Grammy Awards, been inducted to the Gospel Hall of Fame, recorded a freaky album with pedal-steel prodigy Robert Randolph and shared bills with Prince (at a club) and Bob Dylan (at the White House). Here, they kick off the Christmas season with the help of singer-songwriter Amy Black.

Mark Kozelek
Photograph: Courtesy Gabriel Shepherd

Mark Kozelek & Kevin Corrigan

Music Folk, country and blues

Mark Kozelek, who writes pensive folk-inflected songs as Sun Kil Moon, is known for collaborating extensively—a surprising fact, considering his combative, beef-starting tendencies (remember his song "War On Drugs, Suck My C***"?). Here, he teams up once again with actor Kevin Corrigan for a set of Christmas songs.

John Legend
Photograph: Courtesy the artist

John Legend - A Legendary Christmas

Music Pop

John Legend is making his first contribution to the wellspring of holiday cheer and easy money otherwise known as the Christmas album and it has us thinking: He hasn't done this already? Could've fooled us. He brings all the classic fireplace jams—and likely some of his secular hits as well—to the stage at the Theater at MSG.

Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Pandolfe

A 3rd Stereogum Christmas Show

Music Punk and metal

Music website Stereogum hosts its third annual Christmas hoedown featuring sets from Washington, D.C., postpunk powerhouse Priests, Philly noise-rock fourpiece Empath and Brooklyn pop punks Nervous Dater. Expect tons of racuous, manic energy to be packed in at this show.

New York Philharmonic
Photograph: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox/Chris Lee

Home Alone in Concert

Music Classical and opera

The New York Philharmonic performs John Williams’s score during this festive screening. If you’ve ever wanted to feel refined while snickering at lines like “I wouldn’t let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my ass” or watching a little kid literally torture grown men, here’s your chance.

The Slackers
Photograph: Courtesy Joelle Andres

The Slackers + War on Women

Music Rock and indie

Local ska outfit the Slackers sprinkles laid-back, syncopated grooves with plenty of humor and soul, successfully avoiding much of the cheesiness of ska’s ’90s revival. At its annual holiday bash, the band peppers in Christmas and Hanukkah classics amid the reggae and boogaloo.

Harry and the Potters at the Harry Potter Yule Ball
Photograph: Courtesy Harry and the Potters

Harry and the Potters: Yule Ball

Things to do

The annual themed Yule Ball transforms the Bell House into Hogsmeade’s raviest tavern with live performances, loads of cosplay and plenty of flowing butterbeer. On top of the night’s hosts, Harry and the Potters, you can also catch wizard-rock bands like the Whomping Willows or Tonks and the Aurors over the course of the magic night.

Florence and the Machine
Photograph: Loren Wohl

Not So Silent Night

Music Rock and indie

ALT 92.3 brought alt-rock back to NYC's airwaves last fall, and this winter they're celebrating the season with a stacked lineup at the Barclays Center. Florence and the Machine, Muse, Deathcab for Cutie, Chvrches, AJR, Mike Shinoda, Foster the People and Bastille take the stage for an arena-sized holday bonanza.

Yo La Tengo
Photograph: Courtesy Carlie Armstrong

Yo La Tengo

Music Rock and indie

Even if Yo La Tengo’s sound weren’t cozier than a warm sweater, its annual Eight Nights of Hanukkah would be a major event if only for the surprise guest talent. Last year, Jeff Tweedy, Nick Lowe, Sun Ra Arkestra members and others performed with the tireless trio, which, as usual, learned a ton of fun covers to make each of the nights a totally unique experience.

Delicate Steve
Photograph: Courtesy Robert Scheuerman

Christmas Steve & Sam (with Delicate Steve / Sam Evian)

Music Rock and indie

"Delicate" Steve Marion teams up with Celestial Shore guitarist and singer Sam Evian for a holiday outing in Bushwick. Expect a trippy, uplifting evening of layered tropicalia, jazzy bops, patterned post-rock, sinewy guitar jams and wistful indie rock. Oh, and Marion recently released a Christmas album, so count on hearing some standards sprinkled throughout.

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