40 shows and concerts to help you celebrate the holidays

Planning what concerts, plays, and musicals you’re going to go see this holiday season provides a nice balance to the stress of figuring out how you’re going to get your shopping done, even if that doesn’t include Black Friday. With that in mind, here are 40 performances coming to the Tri-State for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.


“Rock of Ages”

It’s the 10th anniversary for this jukebox musical that celebrates the hair metal songs of the 1980s. Nominated for five Tonys and adapted into a film starring Tom Cruise, the show uses the generic plot of two young people trying to make it in Hollywood to showcase re-imagined musical numbers by Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, and many others. (Nov. 15, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical”

Although there have been numerous “Rudolph” adaptations, this live musical takes its inspiration from the classic 1964 TV special. Obviously, we know you already teach your children that what makes you different can also make you special, but this show provides some nice reinforcement. (Nov. 16-17, Schuster Center, Dayton)

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David Feherty

This ex-professional golfer has become a real-life Happy Gilmore, bringing his irreverent wit as both an analyst on CBS Sports and to his self-titled interview series on the Golf Channel. This one-man show will include two hours of jokes and zany storytelling (Nov. 17, Taft Theatre)

“A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage!”

You watched it every year as a kid, now take your own kids (or grandkids) to see this live-action version of the Peanuts gang putting on their Christmas play and discovering the true meaning of the season. A meet-and-greet with the cast and kid-friendly Christmas activities will precede the show. (Nov. 17, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

Generation Axe

Get your 1980s hair metal groove on (again) with this supergroup that includes old-school guitar heroes, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) and relative newcomer, Tobin Abasi (Nov. 19, Taft Theatre).

The Beach Boys

The iconic surf rock band is coming to Dayton to help the Kettering Medical Center Foundation’s Heart to Heart Gala, which has raised over $7.5 million for heart-related research, care, and technology, celebrate its 30th anniversary. (Nov. 19, Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center)

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“A Christmas Carol”

Although the Playhouse performs this Dickens classic every year, don’t be misled into thinking it’s just another tired standard. The Playhouse production features lush sets and state-of-the-art special effects. (Nov. 21-Dec. 29, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park)

Monty Python’s “Spamalot”

Although the musical differs from the 1974 movie classic in many ways, rest assured there’s still plenty of silly sots, enough to win the Tony for Best Musical in 2005. (Nov. 23-25, Palace Theatre, Columbus)

WWE Starrcade

This WWE extravaganza includes a U.S. championship match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev (with Lana), a tag team championship match between The New Day and The Bar, WWE steel cage championship matches for men (A.J. Styles vs. Samoa Joe) and women (Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair), and a street brawl match between The Shield, Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre. (Nov. 24, U.S. Bank Arena)

98 Degrees at Christmas

The Cincinnati-based boy band featuring Drew and Nick Lachey released their first Christmas album in nearly two decades with 2017’s “Let It Snow.” Come hear your holiday favorites filtered through their R&B-tinged, four-part harmonies. (Nov. 24, Aronoff Center for the Arts, $44.25-$84.25)

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Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews comes to Cincinnati quite frequently, but you’ll have to mosey northward to see him for Christmas in 2018. They released their ninth album, “Come Tomorrow,” last June, their seventh consecutive album to debut at No. 1. (Nov. 27, Schottenstein Center, Columbus)

“The Play That Goes Wrong”

Winner of the “Best New Comedy” Olivier Award in 2015, this play will instruct you in what happens when a small theater company tries to put on a murder mystery and everything falls apart (literally). (Nov. 27-Dec. 2, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

Trailer Park Boys

A special, live-action holiday version of the popular mockumentary TV show, which follows several trailer park residents. Watch them discover the true meaning of Christmas with the aid of drugs and alcohol. (Nov. 28, Taft Theatre)

Craig Ferguson

It might surprise you to know that even when he was hosting his megapopular late-late night talk show, Craig Ferguson never stopped doing stand-up. His 45-city “Hobo Fabulous” Tour stops in Columbus. No word on whether he’s bringing any puppets. (Nov. 28, Riffe Center Theater Complex, Columbus)


Chris Tomlin

This contemporary Christian songwriter has sold over seven million albums. Suffice it to say he knows a few Christmas songs. (Dec. 1, Taft Theatre)

Death Cab for Cutie

When this acclaimed alternative rock band first came on the scene, they were dubbed “American Coldplay.” They released their ninth album, “Thank You For Today,” last August. (Dec. 3, Murat Theatre at Old National Center, Indianapolis)

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An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas starring Evan Tyrone Martin

Evan Tyrone Martin, a rising Chicago theater star who has appeared in “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Oklahoma!,” will channel the legendary Nat King Cole, singing his holiday hits while relating his personal journey. (Dec. 5-7, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

The Piano Guys: Christmas Together

This classical music group, consisting of a pianist, cellist, videographer, and producer, is supporting their latest Christmas album (and seventh overall), “Christmas Together.” (Dec. 6, Murat Theatre at Old National Center, Indianapolis)

“The Hip Hop Nutcracker”

The story is relocated to New York City and the Tchaikovsky score is re-imagined with hip-hop choreography, breakdancing, an onstage DJ, and an electric violinist. (Dec. 7, Murat Theatre at the Old National Center; Dec. 8, Palace Theatre, Columbus)

Monster Jam

This motorsport racing and freestyle competition features the biggest wheels in the world. Participants will include Bounty Hunter, El Toro Loco, Grave Digger, Razin’ Kane and many more. (Dec. 7-8, Nutter Center, Dayton)

Holiday Pops

The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, a troupe of dancers, and Ashley Brown, a CCM alumnus who appeared in “Mary Poppins” on Broadway, will perform all your holiday favorites. (Dec. 7-9, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

“Noel: The Musical”

A musical that champions the Christmas spirit of compassion and generosity, Noel is preparing for her starring role in a Christmas play when her mother disappears. To avoid being removed from her home, she keeps the disappearance a secret and tries to find her herself, meeting a group of homeless people along the way. (Dec. 8, Victoria Theatre, Dayton)

Sing Me A Story: The Night Before Christmas

This popular annual Christmas show has special guests read the classic poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” as the Cincinnati Boychoir sings both classic and contemporary Christmas songs. (Dec. 8, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

For King and Country Christmas

This Christian rock band is known for their lovely, harmonic melodies. Their take on traditional Christmas songs will surely recall the big arena anthems of old. (Dec. 8, Schottenstein Center, Columbus)

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Since wisely rejecting the offer to become Fuel’s lead singer, Chris Daughtry, a finalist on “American Idol” Season 5, has led a successful solo career. He released his fifth album, “Cage to Rattle,” last July. (Dec. 8, Murat Theatre at Old National Centre, Indianapolis)


This LGBT-themed contemporary Broadway classic is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The story of seven artists struggling to pursue their dreams in New York’s East Village under the shadow of HIV/AIDS won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony for Best Musical. (Dec. 11-18, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

“Happy Holidays with the Mighty Wurlitzer”

Hear all your seasonal favorites interpreted through the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, complete with jingling bells and other special effects. The show will be hosted by Evans Mirageas, Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Opera. (Dec. 12, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

“The Nutcracker”

The hipsters might make fun, but certain shows never go out of style. One of those is Tchaikovsky’s ballet, “The Nutracker,” where young Clara is whisked off to the Land of Sweets by the Nutcracker Prince. (Dec. 13-24, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

The TSO returns to Dayton and Cincinnati to recreate their 1999 TV movie, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” about a runaway girl who finds refuge in an abandoned theatre on Christmas Eve, and experiences ghostly visions (in the form of musical performances) of the theatre’s holiday past. (Dec. 1, Nutter Center and Dec. 14, U.S. Bank Arena)

Straight No Chaser

The amazing story of Straight No Chaser is as familiar as their regular Cincinnati performances: the a cappella group whose mid-1990s college performance went viral on YouTube a decade later. They’ve released six albums since that time, including three Christmas albums. (Dec. 20, Taft Theatre)

“Crystal” by Cirque du Soleil

For the first time in their history, Cirque du Soleil is doing an ice-themed show. World-class acrobats and skaters will skate, tumble, flip, twist, jump, and perform perhaps the first pas de deux that takes place on both the ice and in the air. (Dec. 27-30, U.S. Bank Arena)

“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

The adventures of Harry Potter’s second year at Hogwart’s include flying cars, the Whomping Willow and, of course, the horror inside the Chamber of Secrets. Watch the movie onscreen while the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra performs John Williams’s musical score live. (Dec. 28-30, Aronoff Center for the Arts)

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John Legend: A Legendary Christmas

The popular crooner of “All Of Me” and husband of Chrissy Teigen will perform a special Christmas show. (Dec. 9, Palace Theatre, Columbus; Dec. 10, Murat Theatre at Old National Theatre, Indianapolis)

Justin Timberlake: Man of the Woods Tour

The former NSYNC boy band member, Hollywood actor, and frequent Super Bowl halftime show performer has sold over 32 million albums. He’s touring in support of his fifth album, “Man of the House,” released last February. (Dec. 14, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis)

“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some)”

Inspired by the “Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” this 90-minute satirical romp takes you through every classic Christmas play, musical, movie, and TV special you grew up with. (Dec. 14-30, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company)

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker

Yes, you’ve seen “The Nutcracker.” But have you ever seen it performed by a ballet troupe from Tchaikovsky’s home country? See the Trepak (Russian dance) like you’ve never seen it before, and a few other uniquely Russian takes on the story. (Dec. 15, Express Live!, Columbus)

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis

Nowadays, reinterpreting Christmas songs are no big deal. But this electronic New Age band, founded by Chip Davis, was arguably the first to make modernizing Christmas carols “a thing.” (Dec. 23, Palace Theatre, Columbus)

“Americana Christmas”

Inspired by Norman Rockwell’s classic “Saturday Evening Post” covers, the Human Race Theatre Company will give a tuneful performance that evokes nostalgic memories. (Dec. 14-16, Loft Theatre, Dayton)

Acoustic Christmas with Over the Rhine

The Cincinnati-based folk duo who decided to stay home despite national acclaim goes on a Christmas tour every year to perform their special spin on carols and other traditional songs. (Dec. 21-23, Memorial Hall)

Harlem Globetrotters

These gentlemen spend every New Year’s season with us. Come see them thrill the kids, mess with the refs, and dominate the other team (whoever that is). (Dec. 29, Cintas Center and Dec. 31, Nutter Center)

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