The early November snowstorm in Hamilton sent out a clear signal that winter was upon us. And as we move into December, the holiday season is here- and with it, an abundance of themed productions and events are coming to Hamilton. Whether you want to hum (or sing along) to some cheery holiday music, or are looking to start a tradition, there is no shortage of festive performances to attend in the coming weeks. Here’s a guide to help decide where to go and what to see:

For Traditionalists

Handel’s Messiah is a quintessential Christmas classic. The music and lyrics share the universal messages of charity, peace, goodwill and sacrifice. And there’s no better group to see perform the Messiah this year than the Brott Music Festival. With two performances (one on December 2 at the West Highland Church in Hamilton and one on December 3 at St. Thomas the Apostle in Waterdown), and a spectacular cast including soprano Elizabeth Polese, mezzo Lauren Segal, and local talents Bud Roach (tenor) and Jeremy Ludwig (bass), there’s no excuse to not make this part of your holiday tradition. For tickets and more information, visit brottmusic.com.

The Nutcracker is another holiday staple, and this year, Ballet Jörgen will once again be touring their production to Hamilton on December 7 at the FirstOntario Concert Hall. Ballet Jorgen has added a twist to this classic by setting the traditional story of a girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve to twentieth century landscapes of Canada, which make up the 30-foot backdrops of the performance. For those seeking something with local artists, Hamilton Ballet Company’s Nutcracker is performed on December 6-7 at the McIntyre Performing Arts Centre (Mohawk College).

For Those who want to Participate

If you don’t just want to watch the Messiah, but also want to be a part of it, the Bach Elgar Choir will host their biannual Messiah Sing-a-long on Sunday, December 8 at 3:00pm. Led by the Bach Elgar Choir, this performance invites every audience member to join in song to create a thrilling, massive choral experience. There is only one opportunity to be a part of this Messiah, so if you’re interested, make sure to get your tickets for $20 as soon as possible at http://www.bachelgar.com/handelsmessiah.

For the Young (or Young at Heart)

The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra will perform the music alongside a screening of the animated classic, The Snowman on December 21 at 7:30pm. Based on a picture book by Raymond Briggs, the heartwarming story is about a young boy who builds a snowman, which subsequently comes to life and the adventures the two of them share on one magical evening. The story is wonderfully creative, but the visuals and music make it absolutely incredible- it’s no surprise that the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, and has established a prominent place in British pop culture. Although this is the main piece on the program, expect the HPO to perform some holiday favourites as well. For more information, or to buy tickets (which start at $19), visit the HPO’s website.

For Something A Little Different

Hamilton blues music staple Steve Strongman is returning with his annual Christmas show. The 10th Anniversary edition will take place on December 14 at 8pm at the Leander Boat Club. With special guests Spencer MacKenzie, Jesse O’Brien, Darcy Hepner, The Stinkbugs (and anyone else that may get invited at the spur of the moment), this fun show is an easy way to get into the holiday spirit. Additionally, $5 from every ticket sold goes to An Instrument for Every Child, so it’s easy to feel good by just buying a ticket.

If Sinatra is a little more your style, the Westdale Cinema is presenting Canadian crooner Andrew Martin and his three piece band on December 8 at 3pm. Part of the singer’s southern Ontario tour, the show promises crooner classics dating back to the 50s as well as modern Christmas tunes. Tickets can be purchased directly through the Westdale’s website.  

Should you prefer something a little more outside-the-box, look no further than The Staircase Cafe Theatre, who have two noteable holiday offerings. So You Think This is Christmas (December 1 at 7:30pm) sees veteran storytellers Carlyn Rhamey, Jimmy Hogg, Thea Fitz-James and friends share stories and laughs with a festive theme. The Staircase also showcases their signature improv with Santa Survivor on December 13 and 14; tribes of elves will compete or be voted off the iceberg utilizing audience suggestions.

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