The enchanted time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a little longer than usual this year, and that means we are guaranteed our fill of holiday traditions like the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” TV special and renditions of Handel’s “Messiah.” Both of these Christmastime necessities — and many others — are getting live performances this year in Austin.
Here are all the holiday-related theater and classical music shows you will want to find time for in between all the visits with Santa, some inevitable holiday shopping madness, Christmas tree lightings and all the other things that make this time of year so memorable.
Theater and dance shows
Playing as of Nov. 21
“A Tuna Christmas.” Zach Theatre is kicking off its yuletide season in Tuna, the third smallest town in Texas, with this holiday favorite produced in collaboration with the Paramount Theatre. Co-creator Jaston Williams directs the actors from the recent hit tour of “Greater Tuna,” who play all 25 colorful citizens. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 31. $30-$88. 713 Congress Ave. zachtheatre.org.
“The Santaland Diaries.” David Sedaris’ work, adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello, serves as a wry and witty look at the combination of retail hell and theatrical spectacle that has become the holiday season, and the Georgetown Palace Theater is offering it as a Christmastime treat for adults. Various dates and times through Dec. 30. $23-$35. 810 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown. georgetownpalace.com.
“A Christmas Carol.” This Zach Theatre tradition is also returning, though not quite as fans of Charles Dickens’ book will remember it. Zach’s production combines new songs and reimagined carols with traditional Victorian setting and costumes. Opens Nov. 22. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 31. $25-$150. 202 S. Lamar Blvd. zachtheatre.org.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.” The television special we all grew up with will have all your favorite characters from the Christmas classic on stage, including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph himself. 4 p.m. Nov. 24, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Nov. 25. $29-$59. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. 512-474-5664, thelongcenter.org.
“A Miracle on 34th Street Classic Radiocast.” This is the seventh production in Penfold Theatre’s series of live radio plays for the holidays. The adaptation from the Round Rock theater company will take viewers back to 1946 as members of the KPNF radio station are assembling for a live radio performance of “A Miracle on 34th Street.” Opens Nov. 30. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through Dec. 23. $23-$25. Old Settler’s Hall, 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock. penfoldtheatre.com.
“Christmas Belles.” The City Theatre is producing this Texas-set comedy, written about a church Christmas pageant that spins hilariously out of control. Opens Dec. 1. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, with no shows Dec. 21-24, through Dec. 30. $10-$25. 3823 Airport Blvd. citytheatreaustin.org.
“Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.” How about a Jane Austin Christmas? The Austin Playhouse takes on a charmingly imagined sequel to Austen’s beloved literary romance “Pride and Prejudice” to tell the story of the oft-overlooked, bookish middle sister Mary. She has come into her own as a confident woman full of curiosity and wit — and is ready for love when the family reunites for Christmas at Pemberley. Opens Dec. 1. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 23. $16-$36. 6001 Airport Blvd. austinplayhouse.ticketleap.com/miss-bennet/.
“Of Mice and Men: a Jazz Tap Nutcracker.” Tapestry Dance Company is giving “The Nutcracker” a jazzy update. Opens Dec. 7. 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 17. $23-$34. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Dr. thelongcenter.org.
Photo by Tony Spielberg. Ballet Austin "The Nutcracker" is a local tradition 55 years old.
“The Nutcracker.” For the 55th year, Ballet Austin will dance the Tchaikovsky classic to life with choreography from the troupe’s visionary Stephen Mills and live accompaniment by the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Opens Dec. 8. 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, with additional performances Dec. 19-21, through Dec. 23. $19.20-$89. The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Dr. balletaustin.org.
“A Christmas Carol: A New Musical.” This new musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, playing at the Georgetown Palace Theater, features original songs along with the familiar carols and songs of Christmas that we all want to hear. Opens Dec. 8. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 30. 810 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown. georgetownpalace.com
Circus Chickendog’s “Mutt-cracker (Sweet!).” Buy your tickets as soon as possible to this family-friendly circus extravaganza featuring rescue dogs and a talking scarlet macaw. The endearing production will recount “The Nutcracker” tale. Opens Dec. 21. 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on various dates through Jan. 6. $15-$35. The Vortex, 2307 Manor Rd. vortexrep.org.
“A Christmas Story: The Musical.” From the songwriting team behind the Tony Award-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” and the Academy Award-winning film “La La Land,” this weekend show at the Long Center brings the classic 1983 movie to hilarious, tongue-sticking life on the theater stage. 8 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Dec. 30, and 1 p.m. Dec. 31. $26-$86. 701 W. Riverside Dr. thelongcenter.org.
“An Early Christmas.” Texas Early Music Project will deliver a rich feast of Christmas music through the ages, ranging from medieval Spain and England to baroque France and Germany and beyond, encompassing more than 500 years of love, hope and joy. Dec. 8 and 9: 8 p.m., First English Lutheran Church, 3001 Whitis Ave. Dec. 10: 3 p.m., First Presbyterian Church of Austin, 8001 Mesa Dr. $5-$30. early-music.org.
Charlie Brown Christmas at Stateside at the Paramount. The Austin Chamber Music Center recreates Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy take on Christmas standards from the 1965 television special, a beloved holiday classic. $22-$37. 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9. 713 Congress Ave. austintheatre.org. — Deborah Sengupta Stith
Handel’s “Messiah.” The Austin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Austin are once again partnering up to perform the music of Handel’s “Messiah,” which includes the beloved Christmastime song the “Hallelujah Chorus.” The symphony’s show has become a holiday tradition. 8 p.m. Dec. 12. $25-$60. Hyde Park Baptist Church, 3901 Speedway. austinsymphony.org.
“Celtic Christmas at the Cathedral.” Some of the city's most honored vocalists have come together for this night of wonder and beauty. Their voices combined within the extraordinary schola cantorum of St. Mary's Cathedral are paired perfectly by traditional Irish and Scottish music played by artists of the Celtic Cultural Center. 7:30 to 10 p.m. Dec. 21-22. $25 in November, $30 in December. 203 E. Tenth St. celticchristmasaustin.com.