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A sleigh full of musical instruments and words "Our Gift to You"

Holiday Specials 2023


Saturday, December 23

8 p.m.  BlueNotes:  Christmas Jazz, hosted by Larry Beck

Join host Larry Beck for the annual BlueNotes All-Jazz Christmas. Hear jazz covers of favorite Christmas carols and popular holiday songs from an eclectic mix of classic jazz, big band swing, jazz vocals, and smooth jazz.


Sunday, December 24 Christmas Eve

10 a.m. – noon  A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols 

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols presents an opportunity to share in a live, worldwide Christmas Eve broadcast of a service of Biblical readings, carols, and related seasonal Classical music. This special will be presented by one of the world’s foremost choirs of men and boys and performed in an acoustically and architecturally renowned venue, the 500-year-old Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, England.

2 – 5 p.m.  Sunday Afternoon Classics: Special Christmas Eve Edition

Former IPR host Steven Turpin returns to present three hours of holiday music, including Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, John Rutter’s delightful Brother Heinrich’s Christmas, and festive favorites performed by Cantus, The Baltimore Consort, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Brass, Cologne Salon Orchestra, and many others – even mechanical instruments!

7 p.m.  The Nights Before Christmas

For thirteen years in Northeast Indiana, producer/host Rob Martinez has been shaking up the holiday season with selections from his own personal Christmas music archives – one of the largest privately owned collections in the United States. Join Rob for a special one-hour ride through all aspects of holiday music – the good, the bad, NEW Christmas music that doesn’t get the airtime as well as segments about the songs and traditions of the holiday season.

11 p.m.  Christmas Music all Through the Night

Peter Van de Graaff hosts this special presentation of classical music for the overnight hours of Christmas Eve into Christmas Day


Monday, December 25 – Christmas Day

9 – 11 a.m.  St. Olaf Christmas Festival

One of the nation’s most cherished holiday celebrations—which takes place at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN —includes hymns, carols, and choral works, as well as orchestral selections celebrating the Nativity and featuring more than 500 student musicians in five choirs and the St. Olaf Orchestra.

11 a.m.  Christmas with Morehouse and Spelman Glee Clubs

One of the great holiday traditions in America, the choirs of Morehouse and Spelman Colleges — two of the most prestigious historically black institutions in the nation — get together to present a spine-tingling concert program. This encore presentation features the best works of the last several years. It’s a joyous celebration of the schools’ tradition of singing excellence, with their trademark mixture of spirituals and carols. Korva Coleman hosts.

12 p.m.  The Big Tiny Desk Holiday Special

Celebrate the season with amazing holiday performances from The Tiny Desk Concert series including Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Steve Martin, Hanson, The Polyphonic Spree, and more! Hosted by NPR Music frenemies Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson.

 1 p.m.  An Afro Blue Christmas

Join us for a very special holiday concert with Howard University’s premiere vocal ensemble Afro Blue and special guest pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Hear the a-cappella group perform a variety of holiday songs including African-American spirituals, jazz and pop tunes, and classical repertoire. The joyous celebration includes one-of-a-kind arrangements of traditional holiday songs plus new compositions…music perfect for the holidays and the spirit of Christmas. Hosted by Michele Norris.

2 p.m.  A World Cafe Holiday

World Cafe celebrated 30 years by revisiting special holiday performances from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Los Lobos, Andrew Bird, The Bird and The Bee, Pink Martini, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more. Hosted by Raina Douris, this musical gift will provide a full hour of hip holiday cheer.

3 p.m.  A Jazz Piano Christmas   

Your favorite holiday classics as you’ve never heard them! The Kennedy Center and NPR present A Jazz Piano Christmas, the annual sell-out event featuring jazz-infused renditions of the season’s most-loved music. This year, we spotlight remarkable pianist, vocalist, and actress Melvis Santa—whose eclectic Afro-Cuban style has made her one of the most electrifying artists on the scene—in addition to internationally acclaimed Cuban composer and jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez. Hosted by Felix Contreras.

4 p.m.  IPR Radio Drama: All Out for Christmas: A Showbiz Radio Fable

All Out for Christmas takes place in 1947, and a big Broadway star has come to a small Midwest radio station to be in their annual Christmas radio show. Will her appearance save the radio station from financial ruin? Will the ingenue and the young radio technician find romance? Will the songwriters be able to compose a catchy melody to sell the show? Stay tuned!


Sunday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve

2-5 pm Sunday Afternoon Classics:  Special New Year’s Eve Edition

Close out the year with classical music presented by IPR’s long-time former host Steven Turpin.  Included will be orchestral favorites from Bach to Bernstein, and waltzes by members of the Strauss family, Waldteufel, and others – after all, the date is 123123!

8 p.m. – midnight  Toast of the Nation

An NPR tradition every New Year’s Eve since the 1970s, Toast of the Nation is the perfect audio complement for the occasion. It’s festive jazz you can party to, all night long.


Monday, January 1 – New Year’s Day

11 a.m.  New Year’s Day from Vienna 2024 (live)

The ever-popular annual New Year’s Day Concert will be performed by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Christian Thielemann. With this concert it is not only the desire of the Vienna Philharmonic to provide musically definitive interpretations of the masterworks of this genre but also, as musical ambassadors of Austria, to send people all over the world a New Year’s greeting in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace. Hosted by WBUR’s Lisa Mullins.