Christmas Plays and Holiday Favorites

The Rockettes performing their Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall.

Kevin Poh / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 

Whether you are looking for a play to attend or directing a Christmas pageant at your local church, a festival of lights celebration, or a school winter production starring mitten-clad kindergarten kids, there are some good plays out there to fit your needs. An Internet search for "Christmas Plays for Youth," in fact, turns up a wide variety of scripts for purchase as well as scripts for free.

Holiday Favorites

Over the years, Hollywood has produced countless holiday movies and television specials, many of which have been so beloved (and profitable) that amateur and professional theaters have adapted them for the stage. Some of the more popular holiday classics include:

Some people love to watch and re-watch the same holiday stories, but if you are up for something new, take a look at the next two titles.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Everbegan as a novel by Barbara Robinson. In Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, it goes by the title The Worst Kids in the World. Those kids are the Herdmans and they cause nothing but trouble for the adult organizers of the annual Christmas Pageant. The book is filled with raucous, funny, outrageous characters - most of whom happen to be kids. So, it is not surprising that did not take long for this story to be adapt for the stage.

Samuel French offers the script as a one-act play that runs approximately 60 minutes. There are 27 or more roles and the play can be done completely with young performers, but it is really great when adults play the adults and kids play the kids.

Here's a link to a video of the full movie version of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. If you want to see and hear the script for a stage production, click here

​The Last Night of Ballyhoo

This play by Alfred Uhry is suitable for older students to perform or discuss. It takes place over the Christmas season in 1939, but the characters are from a Jewish family in the South that actually has a Christmas tree in their home. Read more about ​The Last Night of Ballyhoo here.

The Favorite Holiday Favorite: A Christmas Carol

There have been hundreds of adaptations of this Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic. I confess, that I have seen so many different productions, television movies, and cartoon-versions that I have almost gotten tired of the story. Almost. The thing about A Christmas Carol is that the narrative is so tightly crafted, Dickens’ prose so smooth, and the end result of Scrooge’s transformation so heartwarming, that it is easy to understand why Hollywood and regional theaters repeatedly keep the material in the holiday festivities.

Wikipedia has an enormous list of the many incarnations of A Christmas Carol. However, the last time I checked, they left out the important early adaptations, written during Charles Dickens’ lifetime. For example, there’s no mention of C. Z. Barnett’s adaptation: A Christmas Carol or The Miser’s Warning. This two-act play was performed a mere two months after the publication of Dickens’ holiday novel. In fact, it was the only adaptation sanctioned by the author. (This is amusing since Barnett’s take does not add a great deal of sensationalism to the text to appeal to its Victorian audiences). offers a wonderfully presentation of the first edition of Barnett’s version.

Plays for Young Audiences offers a PDF of a script of A Christmas Carol!

Being a purist, however, I’m more interested a faithful adaptation of A Christmas Carol. such as Patrick Stewart’s famous one-man show in which he simply reads from the text – and brilliantly performs each character. Care to try performing it yourself? Visit our Classic Literature Guide site and read the original Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, unabridged in all its holiday glory.

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Bradford, Wade. "Christmas Plays and Holiday Favorites." ThoughtCo, Sep. 4, 2021, Bradford, Wade. (2021, September 4). Christmas Plays and Holiday Favorites. Retrieved from Bradford, Wade. "Christmas Plays and Holiday Favorites." ThoughtCo. (accessed October 25, 2021).