Philly Nightlife Calendar: The 27 Best Things to Do in December

Kurt Vile, Matisyahu, Mamma Mia — and everything else worth doing in one handy calendar.

Johnny Showcase | Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

Johnny Showcase | Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

This Month’s Really Big Show

Johnny Showcase

If you want to know how we’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve, look no further than sweaty South Philly funk wizard Johnny Showcase. The perpetually Spandexed singer and his 10-piece “absurdist soul outfit” are teaming up with Balkan brass dance band West Philadelphia Orchestra for a double bill sure to leave you too wrecked for the Mummers the next day. It’s okay; you can watch the parade on TV.

December 31st at Underground Arts.

And 26 Other Things to Do in Philly This Month
A Year With Frog and Toad

Nov. 23-Jan. 29 at Arden // Perfect for when the little ones really start getting on your nerves over the holidays.


Nov. 29-Dec. 11 at Wilma // Written, directed and performed by Lebanese-Canadian artist Wajdi Mouawad, Seuls tells the semi-autobiographical story of a man ripped out of his homeland as a child due to civil war. Critics have been raving.

The Carols
The Carols | Marc Garvin

The Carols | Mark Garvin

Dec. 1-31 at Plays & Players // Need a good laugh right about now? Look no further than this world-premiere musical from the always-funny 1812 Productions.

Norah Jones

Dec. 2 at Academy of Music // Seemingly from out of nowhere.

Strand of Oaks

Dec. 2-4 at Boot & Saddle //Three nights of stripped-down music from one of our favorite local acts.


Dec. 2-17 at Curio // A new work from Philly playwright Rachel Gluck about four young adults doing their best to escape their pasts.

Jingle Ball

Dec. 7 at Wells Fargo Center // Q 102’s annual celebration of the ditzy pop music it plays over and over again. This one stars Shawn Mendes and Ellie Goulding.

Peter Murphy

Dec. 7 at Sellersville Theater // Of Bauhaus fame.

Wilde Tales

Dec. 7-31 at Quintessence // The Germantown theater company adapts Oscar Wilde’s stories into a show for kids. We’re intrigued.

Reverend Horton Heat

Dec. 8 at TLA // The enduring psychobilly trio from Texas has a fiercely loyal cult following.

Nels Cline
Nels Cline | Benjamin Lozovsky

Nels Cline | Photograph by Benjamin Lozovsky

Dec. 8 and 11 at Johnny Brenda’s // Best known as the guitarist from Wilco.

Adam Sandler

Dec. 9 at Tower // Appearing with David Spade, among other SNL familiars. If he doesn’t do “Hanukkah,” ask for your money back.

Martin Lawrence

Dec. 9-10 at Caesars // We’re imagining he’ll have some pretty good Donald Trump jokes.

The Nutcracker

Dec. 9-31 at Academy of Music // A true holiday classic.


Dec. 10 at the Kimmel center // Philly Mag arts and entertainment editor Victor Fiorillo, who compiled the Rocky oral history in this month’s issue of Philly Mag (it’ll be posted online soon — stay tuned!), hosts a showing of the original movie on the big screen.

Seu Jorge

Dec. 12 at Union Transfer // The Brazilian singer pays tribute to David Bowie, just as he did in the Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic.

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | Photograph by Phobymo

Japanese Breakfast | Photograph by Phobymo

Dec. 15 at First Unitarian Church // The solo project from local punk singer Michelle Zauner. Listen to her recent debut LP Psychopomp for a taste.


Dec. 18 at the Kimmel Center // The Philadelphia Orchestra and a gigantic choir team up for the Handel masterpiece. You probably won’t be the only person who decides to sing along when they get to the Hallelujah Chorus.

Disney on Ice

Dec. 23-Jan. 2 at Wells Fargo Center // For kids of a certain age.


Dec. 27 at TLA // We’re pretty sure the Philly expat is the only beat-boxing, reggae-singing Jewish rapper around.

Mamma Mia
Mamma Mia | Photograph by

Mamma Mia | Photo: Joan Marcus

Dec. 27-31 at Merriam // Tickets make a great stocking stuffer.

Kevin Eubanks

Dec. 28-30 at Chris’ Jazz CafE // The former Tonight Show bandleader with jazz pianist Orrin Evans and his trio.

Guided by Voices

Dec. 30 at Underground Arts // They’re royalty on the lo-fi indie rock scene.

The James Brown Dance Party

Dec. 30 at Ardmore Music Hall // Get on up and shake your moneymaker in honor of the 10th anniversary of his passing. The night features James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield, among many others.

Dark Star Orchestra

Dec. 30-31 at Electric Factory // If spending New Year’s Eve with a Grateful Dead tribute band sounds like a fun idea to you, you can do no better than this 20-year-old Chicago outfit.

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile | Photograph courtesy LiveNation

Kurt Vile | Photograph courtesy LiveNation

Dec. 31 at Fillmore // In a 2015 feature, Vice aptly called the singer-songwriter “the chillest guy in Philadelphia.”

This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of Philadelphia magazine.