The best holiday concerts and musicals happening in Tampa Bay in 2021

When you're sick of 'Jingle Bells.'

click to enlarge Nate Najar's jazz holiday @ Palladium - KEVIN TIGHE
Nate Najar's jazz holiday @ Palladium
‘Tis the season for carols, Sugar Plum Fairy dances, and just all kinds of festive productions in general. Here’s a list of some local and national productions ranging from kid-friendly to Grandma-pleasing, campy to classical, big budget and free and a whole bunch of “Nutcrackers.”

Check each venue for COVID-19 protocols, most of them have rules still in place. If we missed your event, submit it to our new event calendar then let me know via email.

The Florida Orchestra: Holiday Pops Bob Bernhardt conducts The Florida Orchestra in a family-friendly production of Christmas classics like “Sleigh Ride.” Five shows hit three Bay area venues from Friday to Sunday. Ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling ding-dong-ding!Friday-Sunday. Dec. 10 at David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa. Dec. 11 at Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg. December 12 at Ruth Eckerd Hall Clearwater.  floridaorchestra.org

Twas A Girls Night Before Christmas: The Musical Sort of like the movie “A Bad Moms Christmas” but on stage and set to music. Perfect night for a gal pal get together before the stress of last minute shopping really eats into your holiday spirit. Friday-Sunday, Dec. 10-12. Various times. $34.50-$49.50. Jaeb Theatre at Straz Center for Performing Arts, Tampa. strazcenter.org
Nat Najar’s Jazz Holiday Najar’s Jazz Holiday is a tradition we can get with. For the 13th year of the annual soirée, the guitarist brings in Brazilian singer Daniela Soledade, Adrian Cunningham (pictured above) on sax, clarinet, and flute, Bruce Harris on trumpet, and trombonist Russ Phillips. The ensemble also includes Joe Porter on bass, Patrick Bettison on piano, and drummer Jean Bolduc. That’s a lot of talent for one stage. Friday, Dec. 10, 8 p.m. $30-$40. Hough Hall at Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg. mypalladium.org

The Outlaws Green Grass and Yuletide Jam Bilheimer Capitol Theatre welcomes The Outlaws back to downtown Clearwater for the Southern rock band’s two-night 7th annual Green Grass and Yuletide Jam. Beside holiday tunes, the Southern rock band—who formed in Tampa in 1972—will also play hits like “There Goes Another Love Song.” Pure Prairie League (“Amie”) opens the show. Friday-Saturday. Dec. 10-11. $39.50-$149.50. Bilheimer Capitol Theatre, Clearwater. rutheckerdhall.com

Bowzer’s Holiday Party: Peter Noone's Herman's Hermits w/Gary Puckett & The Union Gap/more If you remember Bowzer and his retro rock group Sha Na Na, it’s time to get your booster shot. Especially before you go see Jon Bauman bring back his lovable rockabilly dufus for Bowzer’s Holiday Rock ‘n’ Roll Party. Joining in the vintage fun is Peter Noone's Herman's Hermits and Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. Saturday, Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m. $41.75-$118.75. Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. rutheckerdhall.com

St. Petersburg Opera Company: Holiday Sparkle! St. Pete’s Cage Brewing is the first location for two weekends of St. Petersburg Opera Company’s “Holiday Sparkle!” show. The “non-denominational holiday extravaganza” has five shows over the two weekends which wraps with a “pay what you can” family-friendly performance at North Straub Park’s pavilion. Bring your own chairs, blankets, food and drinks to make it a whole festive experience. Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 11-12 (3 p.m. $35. Cage Brewing, St. Petersburg) and Thursday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 18 (8 p.m. $30. Opera Central, St. Petersburg). Sunday, Dec. 19 (3 p.m. Pay what you can. North Straub Park, St. Petersburg). stpeteopera.org

Big Band Christmas If you like Glenn Miller and Count Basie style arrangements, then Largo’s Central Park Performing Art Center has a Big Band Christmas for you. The 18-piece orchestra plays early, a perfect reprieve from all that shopping. Sunday, Dec. 12, 2 p.m. $19.50-$34.50. Central Park Performing Art Center, Largo. largoarts.com

Ruth Eckerd Hall Chorus Holiday Concert Ruth Eckerd Hal’s adult chorus occasionally tours Europe and works on its performances in the members’ spare time. This performance is an affordable way to see some high quality holiday classics. Tuesday, Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. $5-$10. Murray Theatre at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. rutheckerdhall.com
Sarah Brightman In recent years, Brightman—who spoke to CL about this show—has revolutionized the role of Christine Daaé in “Phantom of the Opera.” The 61-year-old put together a massively successful, Christmas-themed live stream last year, while waiting for the OK to get back on the road. The positive response overwhelmed her, hence why she has decided to embark on a 17-date, U.S. tour that celebrates her career—and Christmas—with two stops in Florida. Read our interview with Brightman. Wednesday, Dec. 15, 8 p.m. $53.75 & up. Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater.

Snow Glow: Paul Oakenfold Get your red and green glow sticks because one-time Coachella headliner Paul Oakenfold brings fake flurries and a laser show to this “Snow Glow” event in St. Petersburg. Saturday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m. $16-$32. Jannus Live, St. Petersburg. jannuslive.com

Trans-Siberian Orchestra TSO is the quintessential, Tampa-born, Christmas soundtrack. It’s the 25th anniversary of “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo and other stories,” and if you’ve never seen the prog-rock band expect a lavish show with lasers, pyrotechnics and a choreographed light show. It’s a whole thing. Sunday, Dec. 19, 3 p.m. 7:30 p.m. $35-$187. Amalie Arena, Tampa. cltampa.com


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About The Author

Stephanie Powers

Freelance contributor Stephanie Powers started her media career as an Editorial Assistant long ago when the Tampa Bay Times was still called the St. Petersburg Times. After stints in Chicago and Los Angeles, where she studied improvisation at Second City Hollywood, she came back to Tampa and stayed put.She soon...
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