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89 Days

Ten festive Twin Cities shows for the holiday season

Curtiss A and friends pay tribute to John Lennon at First Avenue.
Curtiss A and friends pay tribute to John Lennon at First Avenue.Tony Nelson for MPR

by Erik Thompson

December 05, 2022

Things always get merrier in the Twin Cities in December. Here’s a roundup of some of the best holiday shows happening over the coming weeks to bring some warmth to your days.


43rd Annual John Lennon Tribute at First Avenue

Brian Setzer’s annual hometown holiday show used to be the unofficial kickoff to the festive music season here in the Twin Cities. But since the Stray Cats frontman has been sidelined with tinnitus and put his shows on hold, it’s up to Curtiss A and his merry band of revelers to jumpstart the season (along with the New Standards Holiday Show this past weekend). Each year Curtiss takes a sad event – the anniversary of Lennon’s murder – and turns it into a celebration of his life and his brilliant collection of songs. The warm camaraderie of everyone on stage along with those singing along in full voice in the crowd creates a unified musical community.

7 p.m., Thursday, December 8


The Blenders at Pantages Theatre

After not being able to perform their beloved annual Holiday Soul Tour the last two years, The Blenders are back in a major way and ready to share the love with their dedicated local fans over the course of three festive shows at the Pantages. The talented Minneapolis vocal quartet is celebrating their 32nd year performing together. These intimate shows will also provide a way for the band to personally thank their loyal audience for helping support them with a successful Kickstarter video campaign while they couldn’t perform live.

8 p.m., Friday, December 9, and Saturday, December 10; 2 p.m., Sunday, December 11


El Mesías (The Messiah) at Orchestra Hall

Artistic director Ahmed Anzaldúa leads this bilingual Spanish/English collaboration between Border Crossing and the Minnesota Orchestra. Western classical styles fluidly mesh with the folk traditions of South America in these cross-cultural interpretations of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah and Navidad Nuestra, a Christmas cantata by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramírez. Orchestra Hall always looks and sounds resplendent during the holidays, and this show will be a wonderful way to help ring in the season.

8 p.m., Friday, December 9, and Saturday, December 10


Maria and the Coins Holly Jolly Christmas Show at Icehouse

This is the second annual fundraiser and single-release show for Maria and the Coins. This time around they will be joined by Jillian Rae and The Twins of Franklin. In addition to the lovely music on offer, the evening will all be for a good cause, as the money raised from the show will go directly towards The Bridge for Youth Homeless Shelter, a Minneapolis non-profit that empowers youth experiencing homelessness through safe shelter, basic needs, and healthy relationships.

7 p.m., Sunday, December 11


Christmas in the City: Jim Brickman and John Trones at Pantages Theatre

The Grammy-nominated songwriter and pianist Jim Brickman will be joined at his annual holiday show by Minneapolis’s own John Trones. The pair’s vocals mesh beautifully in concert, singing a blend of seasonal songs and recognizable hits. This show will be a meaningful one for Trones, as he has dedicated this performance to the life and memory of his sister, beloved local pianist and recording artist Mary Beth Carlson, who passed away in 2021. This special show will be a fundraiser for myeloma research at the International Myeloma Foundation.

7:30 p.m., Monday, December 12


Trailer Trash’s Trashy Little Xmas Show at Turf Club

This raucous annual show is now in its 27th year of Trailer Trash blending their boisterous honky-tonk jams with seasonal classics. This year’s Trashy Little Xmas show has the theme of “Xmas By The Pool,” and your guess is as good as mine as to what specifically that means in Minnesota in the dead of winter.

7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, December 16 and 17


Belfast Cowboys ‘Musical Mistletoe!’ at The Hook and Ladder

The nine-piece Belfast Cowboys blend rocking holiday songs as well as their classic Van Morrison covers. The band promises an evening filled with plenty of “Love Songs & Hot Dance Numbers from Nine Not-So-Tiny Reindeer.” Singer Terry Walsh and saxophonist Vic Volare are sure to get the crowd at the Hook swinging with cheery anthems.

7 p.m., Saturday, December 17


Mark Mallman’s Peace on Earth Holiday Show at The Parkway Theater

This is Mark Mallman’s sixth annual celebration of peace, love, and pop music. While Mallman’s outsized personality is more than enough to fill the entire theater with joy, each year he is typically joined by a series of special guests. Mallman will certainly be basking in all the love in the room at this show and giving it back tenfold to all of his friends and fans at the Parkway.

7 p.m., Saturday, December 17


The Rock and Roll Playhouse Plays Music of The Beatles for Kids Holiday Celebration at First Avenue

This holiday concert is geared towards music-loving kids and their families, with a focus on the songs of the Beatles. The Rock and Roll Playhouse is a family concert series hosted at historic venues across the country, with kids encouraged to play, sing, and dance along. All children must be accompanied by a parent or adult caregiver, and the music volume will be adjusted accordingly.

12 p.m., Sunday, December 18


Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Xcel Energy Center

Following their first year off the road in more than two decades in 2020, TSO celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2021 and have kept that creative momentum going. These performances geared towards music fans of all ages are titled "The Ghosts of Christmas Eve – The Best of TSO & More," which will feature a spellbinding light and visuals show augmented by towering seasonal anthems from throughout the progressive rock group’s long, multi-platinum career.

3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Friday, December 23

A collection of icons of winter clothing, food, recreation
The Current's 89 Days of Winter brings together highlights of the season for music, entertainment, and more.
Alexis Politz for MPR

This feature is part of The Current’s 89 Days series, helping you enjoy the best of the season with weekly guides to events, entertainment, and recreation in the Twin Cities.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.