Live plays and performances in San Diego for the 2023 holiday season

We’re giving you the gift of live entertainment — score tickets to plays, ballets, concerts, and more.

Larry Raben as Grandpa Who, Bets Malone as Grandma Who, Katie Sapper as Mama Who, and Kevin Hafso Koppman as Papa Who in Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, 2019. Photo by Jim Cox.

Larry Raben, Bets Malone, Katie Sapper, and Kevin Hafso Koppman in “Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas” in 2019.

Photo by Jim Cox

Table of Contents

The weather is getting colder and days are shorter, but who wants a silent night? ‘Tis the season of festive, local events, so we’re gifting you a nice list of live holiday shows to get you into the seasonal spirit.

Dan Rosales and Jacque Wilke in "Ebenezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show" in 2022.

Dan Rosales and Jacque Wilke in “Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show” in 2022.

Photo by Jim Cox

For the playgoer

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” | Wednesday, Nov. 8-Sunday, Dec. 31 | Times vary | The Old Globe | $26+ | He’s mean, green, and bringing this Christmas tale to the Balboa Park theater for the 26th year.

Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show” | Friday, Nov. 17-Saturday, Dec. 24 | Times vary | The Old Globe | $29+ | This reimagining of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” sets Scrooge in a “wintry” San Diego with comic, local twists.

Inspecting Carol” | Friday, Nov. 17-Sunday, Dec. 10 | Times vary | PowPAC Theatre | $26 | Hilarity ensues when a man auditions for a role in “A Christmas Carol” and is mistaken for an informer for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Plaid Tidings” | Friday, Nov. 24-Sunday, Dec. 24 | Times vary | San Diego Musical Theatre Stage | $25+ | The Plaids return to Earth to spread yuletide cheer by performing holiday classics of a bygone era.

Nuncrackers” | Friday, Nov. 17- Sunday, Dec. 17 | Times vary | Patio Playhouse | $15+ | This show is performed in the style of a TV special filmed for a cable access network, filled with “nunsense” humor and new music.

The cast of "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"

The “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” cast joins the “Million Dollar Quartet” cast for a Christmas show.

Photo by JT MacMillan.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T-F-U-L-L-Y Christmas” | Saturday, Nov. 25-Sunday, Dec. 24 | Lamb’s Players Theatre | $28+ | Cast members from “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and “Million Dollar Quartet” join forces in this world premiere show packed with music.

A John Waters Christmas | Wednesday, Nov. 29 | 8 p.m. | Belly Up Tavern | $114 | The cult-favorite performer puts on a one-man Christmas show filled with advice, virtue, and holiday cheer.

1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas” | Thursday, Nov. 30-Sunday, Dec. 24 | New Village Arts | $33 | This story of a Black family from Carlsbad celebrates culture and family — with a dash of Christmas drama.

Star of Ocotillo” | Friday, Dec. 1-Saturday, Dec. 23 | OnStage Playhouse | Times vary | $15+ | This dark Chicano Christmas comedy follows the story of a Hollywood couple that builds a luxury home on the edge of the border, and a guest who exposes secrets.

A Christmas Carol” | Friday, Dec. 1-Saturday, Dec. 30 | Cygnet Theatre | $39+ | Don’t be a Scrooge — this Charles Dickens classic returns for its eighth season.

Christmas with the Carps” | Friday, Dec. 8-Sunday, Dec. 17 | Times vary | Vista’s Broadway Theater | $27 | Randall Hickman and Douglas Davis’ two-person, 11-character show about a dysfunctional family at a Christmas party returns in all of its hilarious glory.

A Christmas Story” | Friday, Dec. 8-Sunday, Dec. 17 | Times vary | Community Actors Theatre | $10 | This show tells the origins of Christmas and runs for two weekends: The first round is performed by the child/youth department and the second by the adult theater group.

Amahl and the Night Visitors” | Friday, Dec. 22 + Saturday, Dec. 23 | Times vary | STAR Repertory Theatre | $24+ | This Genesis Opera Theatre production — starring a cast of SoCal-based performers — retells the story of the Magi from the point of view of Amahl, a young, disabled boy who lives in poverty.

Irish step dancers performing "An Irish Christmas."

Make Irish stepdance part of your holiday season.

Image via San Diego Theatres + Kerry Irish Productions

For fans of dance

Evolution Dance Center presents “The Nutcracker” | Saturday, Dec. 2 + Sunday, Dec. 3 |Times vary | California Center for the Arts, Escondido | $20+ | Youth dancers perform the classic holiday ballet.

World Ballet Series: “The Nutcracker” | Sunday, Dec. 3 | 2 + 6 p.m. | Balboa Theatre | $39+ | Gorskaya-Hartwick Productions presents a cast of 50 professional dancers performing the classic set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score.

Golden State Ballet Presents “The Nutcracker” | Friday, Dec. 15-Sunday, Dec. 24 | Times vary | Civic Theatre | $25+ | San Diego’s premiere professional ballet company performs the holiday production.

An Irish Christmas | Saturday, Dec. 16 | 7:30 p.m. | Balboa Theatre | $31.50+ | Kerry Irish Productions step dances into the holiday season.

The Nutcracker - Imagine The Magic” | Saturday, Dec. 16 | 1 + 5 p.m. | The Magnolia | $59+ | San Diego Ballet tells the holiday tale with 100+ costumes, swirling snow, and a dash of magic.

The Nutcracker” | Thursday, Dec. 21-Saturday, Dec. 23 | Times vary | California Center for the Arts, Escondido | $39+ | The City Ballet of San Diego performs, with choreography by Elizabeth Wistrich.

SD Noel Noel The Rady Shell

The San Diego Symphony’s “Noel Noel” show returns to The Rady Shell Friday, Dec. 15-Sunday, Dec. 17.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

For the music lover

El Milagro del Recuerdo” | Friday, Dec. 1 + Sunday, Dec. 3 | Times vary | San Diego Civic Theatre | $25+ | The San Diego Opera presents this holiday mariachi opera all about family, traditions, and change.

Carols by Candlelight | Friday, Dec. 8 | 8 p.m. | California Center for the Arts, Escondido | $27+ | Multi-platinum singer Deana Carter and country star Charlie Worsham team up for this show benefitting Rady Children’s Hospital, with additional performances by Anna and Steve Vaus and Back to the Garden.

A Big Band Christmas | Friday, Dec. 8-Sunday, Dec. 10 | Times vary | California Center for the Arts, Escondido | $35+ | This swingin’ jazz show features vocalists, dancers, and Christmas classics, with new arrangements by Duane Benjamin.

Jingle | Saturday, Dec. 9 + Sunday, Dec. 10 | Times vary | Balboa Theatre | $35+ | The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus leads a set of holiday tunes.

Million Dollar Quartet Christmas | Monday, Dec. 11 + Tuesday, Dec. 12 | 7:30 p.m. | Balboa Theatre | $31.50+ | Inspired by the Tony Award-nominated “Million Dollar Quartet,” this show brings together the sounds of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley for a holiday celebration.

Noel Noel” | Friday, Dec.15-Sunday, Dec. 17 | Times vary | The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park | $22+ | Conductor Christopher Dragon leads the San Diego Symphony’s holiday concert about the search for Santa and holiday magic, with vocals by Devin DeSantis.

Mariachi Sol de México : “A Merry-Achi Christmas” show flier

The season of merry is also a season for mariachi.

Image via San Diego Theatres

Mariachi Sol de México : “A Merry-Achi Christmas” | Sunday, Dec. 17 | 7 p.m. | Balboa Theatre | $43+
Maestro José Hernández leads this ensemble that infuses mariachi sounds into Christmas classics.

Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2023 | Tuesday, Dec. 19 | 7:30 p.m. | Balboa Theatre | $58.50+ | The long-running, jazz-based show features renditions of Christmas classics and a Hanukkah medley.

Abbey Road Christmas Show | Wednesday, Dec. 20 | 8 p.m. | Belly Up Tavern | $20+ | This holly, jolly show also pays tribute to The Beatles.

A Peter White Christmas | Saturday, Dec. 23 | 8 p.m. | Balboa Theatre | $23.50+ | Mindi Abair and Vincent Ingala join this jazzy show that puts a contemporary twist on the holiday classics.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” in Concert | Saturday, Dec. 23 | 6 p.m. | The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park | $22+ | Tim Burton’s classic is played as the San Diego Symphony performs composer Danny Elfman’s Grammy Award-winning score live.

“Mannheim Steamroller Christmas” by Chip Davis” | Thursday, Dec. 28 | 7:30 p.m. | Civic Theatre | $39+ | Listen to the sounds of holiday classics accompanied by dazzling multimedia effects.

Promotional image for Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland

We’re excited to see what happens at “Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland.”

Image via Harrah’s Resort Southern California

For the thrill seeker

Awaken Presents Night of Christmas | Friday, Dec. 1 + Saturday, Dec. 2 | 8 p.m. | The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park | $10+
Listen to Christmas classics accompanied by dance performances, aerialists, and a fireworks display.

Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland | Saturday, Dec. 2 + Sunday, Dec. 3 | 8 p.m. | $39.50+
Visit “Wonderland” and experience a holiday show filled with acrobatics, aerialists, and hilarious hijinks.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze | Saturday, Dec. 9 + Sun, Dec. 10 | Civic Theatre | $42.50+
This family-friendly holiday show mixes Broadway-style production, music, and jaw-dropping circus acts.