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
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, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.