Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

The holiday season can be overwhelmingly busy. For many of us it has become a time where we immerse ourselves in mundane, associated tasks and forget the whole point of the season, which ultimately, is to be uplifted. All around us are signs that this is a season of cultural ascension and climax. Cultural arts can transcend the menial nature of day-to-day holiday tasks and help us slow down and experience joyfulness and thankfulness. Here are 10 cultural events to help elevate and uplift your holidays.

Messiah Sing-In
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

You’ve had your fill of turkey and stuffing and the obligatory leftover sandwich. Now what do you do with the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend? How about starting off the Christmas season with Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony and Symphony Chorus Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. as they present the annual Messiah Sing-In.

If you don’t feel like your Handel is quite up to snuff, don’t worry! Members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be in the audience on Nov. 30 and singers from the University of Utah will be in the audience on Dec. 1 to help keep you on the right track.

Soloists will be Utah Opera’s resident artists and the concert will feature orchestra members along with the Utah Symphony Chorus. This is probably the only kind of Handel you'll want to include in your Christmas plans.

To buy tickets, go to or call 801-355-ARTS.

A Ceremony of Carols

To celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of prolific British composer Benjamin Britten, Utah Chamber Artists will perform Britten’s, “A Ceremony of Carols” as part of their “Tis the Season — The Music of Christmas” concert.

The beauty of Britten’s carols lies in the simple interplay of harp and vocal harmonies. If you aren’t familiar with Britten, you won’t want to miss what is sure to be terrific execution of Britten’s masterpiece.

The concert will also feature a collection of carols by the Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski and carols by Barlow Bradford, who conducts the group. The concert will be Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

Visit for tickets.

Choir, harps & organ

Don’t worry, you haven’t died, but you may be feeling like you have been transported to heaven when you hear the seven harps that will accompany the Salt Lake Choral Artists as they present “Welcome Christmas! Music of the Season for Choir, Harps, & Organ.”

What is unique to this choral concert is that it will feature all seven groups from the organization with singers ranging in age from 8 to 80. Highlights of the performance will include Robert Ray’s “Gospel Magnificat” and Ken Darby’s “Twas’ the Night Before Christmas.”

The group will also honor Benjamin Britten this year with a performance of “A Ceremony of Carols.” Concerts will be Saturday, Dec. 21, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

Visit for tickets.

MoTab Christmas concert
Ravell Call, Deseret News

The annual Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert has become a Christmas staple in many American homes.

If you are itching to hear the choir perform this year with American soprano Deborah Voigt and British actor John Rhys-Davies, but you didn’t receive the anticipated email confirming your good luck in getting tickets, don’t lose hope yet.

For each of the concerts, Dec. 12, 13 and 14, and a mini-concert on Dec. 15, there will be a stand-by line for those hoping to get in at the last minute. It will be located at the north gate of Temple Square.

Based on past years, the best bet may be trying for stand-by seats for the Sunday morning broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word"

Here Comes Santa Claus!

Have you been naughty or nice? Utah Symphony wants to help you find the answer on Dec. 14 at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. as part of its “Here Comes Santa Claus!” concert.

Vladimir Kulenovic will bring the magic of the season to life with the symphony as it performs holiday favorites. If you have been looking for ways to expose your kids to the joy of classical music, this might be a great way to pique their classical curiosities.

Santa Claus will be on hand in the lobby of Abravanel Hall before the concerts, so come early to make sure you are on the nice list.

For tickets, head to or call 801-355-ARTS.

Repertory Dance Theatre
Jeremy Harmon

Repertory Dance Theatre is giving thanks with a “Lively” gift to the community this holiday season.

“Lively” is a show for all audiences and will demonstrate that dance can evoke strong emotions of all kinds in both the dancers and audience members, but don’t worry, they plan to keep things light. The show will include “Jukebox” by Bill Evans danced to the music of Glenn Miller, as well as “Fin Amours” by Susan Hadley and “Bolero” by Joanie Smith, which was an audience favorite last year.

"Lively" will run Nov. 22-23 at the Jeanne Wagner Theatre, and tickets are only $10 through or by calling 801-355-ARTS.

The Nutcracker
Luke Isley

Although his version of the ballet was first performed in San Francisco, Ballet West continues to keep founder Willam Christensen’s 58-year tradition alive with this year’s performance of “The Nutcracker.”

“The Nutcracker” is a collaboration of the sublime music of Tchaikovsky and a visionary escape into unknown lands through dance.

If you have seen “The Nutcracker” recently and want something a little different, there will also be an alternate version, “The Nutty Nutcracker,” performed on Dec. 30.

The show runs Dec. 6-30 at the newly renovated Capitol Theatre. Children (and children at heart) have one more bonus to look forward to. Ballet West has planned sugar plum parties after each matinee.

Visit or call 801-355-ARTS for tickets.

Jewish Arts Festival
Jordan Allred, Deseret News

Hanukkah comes but once a year.

The Jewish Arts Festival, which started on Nov. 9 and runs through Dec. 22., will feature a photo exhibit “Your Fortunate Eyes,” which captures life through the eyes of 26-year-old Rudi Weissenstein after emigrating from Czechoslovakia to Palestine in 1936. The photos tell the stories of immigrants who settled in Palestine and the landscapes that surrounded them.

Admission to this photo exhibit is free and open to the public. It will be at the I.J. and Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center, 2 North Medical Drive, in Salt Lake City.

'Elf' at Pioneer Theatre

Christmas drama unfolds as a young man undertakes a harrowing journey, traveling thousands of miles to find his birth father in New York City.

This may sound like heavy material for the holiday season, but your tune may change when you find out that the young man is 6-foot-2 Buddy the elf from Santa’s Workshop.

Pioneer Theatre Company will perform what the New York Post has called “a bona fide treat” with “Elf-The Musical,” running Dec. 6-24. Take the whole family and head to PTC for this Christmas treat.

You can buy tickets online at

'A Christmas Carol'
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

Probably the most well-known Christmas story of the past 150 years comes to life on stage every year at Hale Centre Theatre.

Now in its 29th incarnation, Hale once again presents the triumphant tale of the true gifts that life has to offer with “A Christmas Carol.”

The production runs Dec. 7-24 with shows at 5 and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Saturday matinees at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. You can buy tickets at