The Christmas Revels

An American Celebration of the Winter Solstice

The 2021 Christmas Revels

This holiday, join Washington Revels for a homegrown celebration of the Winter Solstice that honors our shared American roots through music, dance, and story.

It is December 1870 in Washington, DC, and in the elegant parlor of Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress, the household is preparing for a party! Hiram and his wife Phoebe have invited colleagues and friends from near and far to celebrate the season and to look ahead to a new year.

With joyous carols, traditional melodies, heartfelt spirituals and toe-tapping dances, guests from all walks of life meet under the Revels family roof. In the midst of this camaraderie the merrymakers also take care of their Yuletide community — welcoming a traveler with an urgent request, seeking out a lost love, and comforting a melancholy man longing for the joy of the season.

Together, all who enter Senator Revels’ home share the hope that long years of national struggle are in the past; remember those who have gone before; and take joy in reunion with loved ones who were separated for many years.

After our own months apart, Washington Revels invites you to ring in the holidays with a Christmas Revels featuring local artists, the Washington Revels Brass and the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices. Whether you revel with us in-person or from the comfort of home, we will celebrate the Winter Solstice in a uniquely American way with the stories, music and traditions that bring us closer — Welcome Yule!

How to Revel: Video-on-Demand from December 21-January 6

  • Full performance info here.

On-Demand Resources:

For those who purchased an on-demand ticket, we have prepared a webpage with important ticketing reminders, technology guides, and some fun resources for enhancing your Revels experience at home. Click below for more:

Support Revels Online

Make a Donation

You can make a one-time donation or set your recurring gift at the button above.

Give by Phone

Call the Revels office with your credit
card information at 301-587-3835

Give by Check

Send a check payable to “Washington Revels” to:
Washington Revels, Inc.
PO Box 665
Glen Echo, MD 20812

Donate Stock

Make a donation of stock or other securities by calling the office for instructions

Washington Revels is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, so donations are tax-deductible to the full extent permitted by law.

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2021 PERFORMANCES

2021 Christmas Revels On-Demand:

Enjoy a video of this year’s Solstice celebration from the comfort of home!

  • Watch On-Demand from December 21–January 6

TICKETS

On-Demand:

$40 per device
Helpful resources for enjoying your on-demand experience are available here.

General Information:

  • Ticketing & Delivery: this year all tickets must be purchased online with email delivery.
  • Service charges: $2.50 per ticket plus $3.50 per order.

The Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park

This year’s production will be staged at the historic Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, MD!

Important:

The Spanish Ballroom is unheated. We will have space heaters running in the venue prior to the performances and during intermission (not during the performance).

  • We encourage you to dress in layers and to bring scarves and gloves to ensure your comfort.
  • You may also bring blankets and seat pads. Please be considerate in the size of bag you use to transport these items.
  • Please note: no food or drink of any kind is permitted in the ballroom itself, to protect the historic floor.

VENUE ADDRESS

The Spanish Ballroom
Glen Echo Park

7300 MacArthur Boulevard
Glen Echo, MD 20812

Driving/Parking & Transit

GPS address: 5801 Oxford Rd, Glen Echo, MD 20812

Driving Directions:

Created by Glen Echo Park

  • From the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495), take exit 40 on the outer loop or exit 41 east on the inner loop. Take Clara Barton/Cabin John Parkway to the MacArthur Boulevard/Glen Echo exit. Make a left onto MacArthur Boulevard. Cross Goldsboro Road and then make a left onto Oxford Road where you will see the Park’s main parking lot.
  • From downtown Washington, take Massachusetts Avenue in the northwest direction, to its end at Goldsboro Road. Turn left, and continue to MacArthur Boulevard. Turn right on MacArthur Boulevard and take an immediate left onto Oxford Road where you will see the Park’s main parking lot.

Glen Echo Public Parking Lot:

For those driving to Glen Echo Park, you may park for free in the Glen Echo Public Lot. It is accessed via Oxford Road (see GPS address above). From this lot, you follow the paved trail across the bridge and into the Park. As you reach the end of the paved trail, the Spanish Ballroom will be to your right, just beyond the carousel [this is an approximately 1,000 ft. walk].

Handicap Parking:

  • There are seven (7) reserved handicap parking spaces in the Glen Echo Public Lot. These spaces are located closest to the paved trail.
  • There are five (5) reserved handicap parking spaces in Glen Echo’s Permit Parking Lots, accessed from MacArthur Blvd and close to the large neon “Glen Echo Park” sign. From these spaces it is a shorter walk under the neon sign and past the Carousel to the Spanish Ballroom. For this lot, use GPS Address: 7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo, MD 20812.
  • If these handicap spaces are full, attendees may also be dropped off and picked up in front of the neon “Glen Echo Park” sign.

Public Transit

Glen Echo Park is accessible by the #29 Ride On bus, operating daily from the Friendship Heights metro station (Red Line) and operating on weekdays only from the Bethesda metro station (Red Line). For information on rates and schedules, follow the links below to Montgomery County’s Transit website.

Please note that Ride On bus service on weekend evenings is limited. For your transit planning, we estimate that the Friday & Saturday 7:30 pm performances will conclude by 9:45 pm and that the Sunday 7:00 pm performance will conclude by 9:15 pm.

Health & Safety Information

Vaccination Policy for Christmas Revels Audience Members:

  • To ensure the safety of our audiences, performers, volunteers, and staff, Washington Revels is requiring Christmas Revels attendees to show proof of full vaccination* against COVID-19 or a negative COVID test result taken within 72 hours of the performance.
  • Children who are not eligible to be vaccinated may attend with a negative test result.
  • Per Montgomery County guidance, all audience members must be masked while indoors at Glen Echo Park, including during the performance.
  • Attendees will be asked to show photo ID and vaccination card/negative test prior to entering the Christmas Revels venue.

How to Present Your Health & Safety Documents:

When you check in at the Spanish Ballroom, adults and children alike must show a copy of your COVID-19 vaccination card or your negative COVID test (PCR or at-home accepted):

  • PCR tests should be taken within 72 hours of showtime.
  • At-home rapid tests should be taken on the day of the performance.
  • You may present your physical vaccination card/test result or you may show a photo on your mobile device. Consider taking a photo on your device as a backup in case you forget your card/test result at home.
  • Adults must also show their ID along with COVID test/vaccination card.

 


Vaccination Policy for Christmas Revels Performers, Volunteers and Staff

  • Anyone performing, rehearsing, or otherwise gathering as a Washington Revels performer, volunteer, or staff member for a public Washington Revels event must be fully vaccinated* for COVID-19.
  • Non-performing volunteers and staff who interact with Washington Revels performers, production volunteers/staff, or the public must be fully vaccinated*.
  • The above policies apply to the 2021 Christmas Revels. For Washington Revels’ full policy for performers, volunteers, and staff, click here.

All policies to protect the health and safety of our performers, volunteers, audience, and staff are subject to modification as circumstances evolve.

*Full vaccination/fully vaccinated means at least two weeks past the last required injection based on manufacturer’s recommendations.

2021 Guest Artists

Byron Thomas, banjo & bones

Byron Thomas, a native of Charles County, MD, has been playing music since about 2015 and the banjo since 2016. Byron has also played the psaltery and the lap dulcimer and currently dabbles in other string instruments such as the guitar, mandolin, lap steel guitar, and the bowed dulcimer. He loves a wide range of music and plays what sounds good to him.

Byron started playing the banjo after learning about the African American roots of the instrument. This knowledge propelled him on a personal quest to learn about how the banjo has shaped the rest of American history and the narratives that are shared today. Byron believes that the banjo has played more of a significant part of our collective history than we realize. He also feels that the banjo can be more than just a novelty instrument and that, just like the violin or guitar, it can have whatever voice one feels it should have. He has recently been learning early American music from the turn of the 20th century and mid 1800s. Byron started his public playing by working with the Banjo Project through the Charles County Arts Alliance.

Hear Byron in this MD Banjo Project Video:

Don’t Miss the On-Demand Christmas Revels:


 

Greg McGruder, Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels

Greg McGruder has performed in Washington, DC since 1985 when he was cast in the Hexagon Club’s satirical revue Thirty Proof. He was a founding member of the award-winning a cappella group Brock & the Rockets and performed with the jazz vocal quartet Love & Madness. As a solo artist he appeared at venues throughout the city, and he also worked with artist Joyce Wellman, on her multi-disciplinary project Steal Away, performing spirituals and giving voice to first-person stories of formerly enslaved individuals for a CD that accompanied the artist’s illustrations.

He performed with award-winning singer Donal Leace, and on his 2002 album Leace Renewed. He is a founding member of the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices and sings with the Chancel Choir at Foundry United Methodist Church. Professionally, he has worked at the National Geographic Society for more than three decades, currently serving as director of Global Special Events. (Photo by Riley Robinson)


Korey London, djembe

Korey London, a native of Prince George’s County, is a multi-instrumentalist and specializes in percussion. He has been playing the drums since the age of 3 and continues to pursue his love of music by playing the trumpet and keyboard while also attending Gwynn Park High School.

Mr. London is currently a junior and a member of the Gwynn Park Marching Band playing the bass drum. Mr. London also plays the drums for Pleasant Grove Baptist Church during service.


Washington Revels Jubilee Voices

Founded in 2010, the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices is committed to the preservation of African American history and traditions. Through a cappella singing and spoken word, its members present songs and stories of struggle and perseverance. Performances have especially honored local heritage at area heritage sites and at Black History Month events. Recent highlights include the Library of Congress American Folklife Center’s “Archive Challenge” (2019), the Commemoration of the 155th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens (2019), and the opening ceremonies of the National Park Service’s Frederick Douglass Bicentennial (2018). In July 2020, Jubilee Voices marked its 10th anniversary with a month-long “Jubilee July” celebration, featuring member profiles, a series of videos, and a one-hour live virtual event. In June 2021, Jubilee Voices partnered with the Alexandria Black History Museum to present a virtual Juneteenth production titled: “Our People: A Juneteenth Story.

Meet Jubilee Voices in this Video Profile:


H.R.’s Own Parlor Band

Local musicians Rebekah Givens (fiddle, dance), Robert LaRose (mandolin, bones, piano), Abbie Mulberg (piano, flute) and Jackie Owen (guitar) are thrilled to be joining Washington Revels as members of Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels’ parlor band. Together, the group has over 75 years of experience playing music in a wide variety of genres. They all play in the seven-person Irish group Whiskey Before Breakfast Band. The band can be seen performing at local pubs and festivals throughout the DC region. Not one to quarantine quietly, Whiskey Before Breakfast Band taught themselves how to make music virtually and started their own YouTube channel. Soon, they’re looking forward to applying everything they’ve learned to their first album (planning to record in 2022). But mostly, they’re glad to finally be together making music again and looking forward to reveling with all of you! (Photo by Erin Sutherland)

Meet H.R.’s Own Parlor Band in this Video Profile:


Washington Revels Brass

The Washington Revels Brass lends its joyful, clarion sound to every Christmas Revels production. Current performers include trumpeters Les Linn and Fred Marcellus and trombonists Bryan Bourne and Jeff Gaylord. The ensemble views itself in a certain sense as a microcosm of Revels everywhere: they have their own rituals, traditions, and personality. They differ from every other part of the Revels only in that their ways are largely invisible to all but themselves. (Photo by Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida)

Get Your Tickets Today!

Local Dining & Discount

Washington Revels knows that a meal shared with family and friends before or after The Christmas Revels is an important holiday tradition for many of you! As you make your plans, we are delighted that The Irish Inn at Glen Echo has partnered with us to offer you a special discount when you show your Christmas Revels ticket! Right next door to Glen Echo Park, The Irish Inn is an easy walk from the Spanish Ballroom.

The Irish Inn at Glen Echo

Offering food, wine and atmosphere in a quaint setting. The upscale casual menu offers fresh seafood, hearty meats and Irish fare. Next door to Glen Echo Park!

Special offer:

10% off any entree with purchase of the Christmas Revels ticket! (offer expires 12/30/21)

Walking Directions: Glen Echo Park to The Irish Inn

Frequently Asked Questions

Every year, we get asked many excellent questions about The Christmas Revels. And this year, as we return from pandemic lockdowns towards in-person events, we expect we will receive many more. We’ve tried to anticipate and answer the ones we could think of here. If you have a question that isn’t answered below, or if you would like clarification on any of these FAQs, please send an email to info@revelsdc.org.

We will continue to update this page as we finalize decisions, learn more, and receive new questions. [Updated October 28, 2021]

Questions & Answers:

  1. Will the 2021 Christmas Revels be live and in-person? Yes, there will be a live in-person production this year.
  2. Will there be a virtual viewing option? Yes, the 2021 Christmas Revels will be filmed and released for on-demand viewing from December 21-January 6.
  3. Where will The Christmas Revels be staged this year? The Christmas Revels will be staged at the historic Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, MD.
  4. Is the Spanish Ballroom wheelchair accessible? Yes: there is a wheelchair elevator in the lobby and the Ballroom is fully accessible.
  5. Are there restrooms in the Ballroom?  The Ballroom includes full restrooms.  There are additional restrooms in other parts of the Glen Echo Park grounds near the Ballroom. All restrooms are fully accessible.
  6. Why is The Christmas Revels not being staged at Lisner Auditorium this year? The pandemic has challenged not only performing arts organizations like Washington Revels, but also presenting venues like Lisner Auditorium, which has gone through many changes in the past 18 months; some of those changes impacted their staffing, including the front-of-house personnel that we knew would be critical to safely operating in a large venue during the pandemic. While we have a wonderful and committed volunteer community, we would not be able to safely manage a space that size ourselves, and so we made the difficult decision to identify a smaller venue for this year. 
  7. Why did you select Glen Echo Park as the venue? You can learn more about the decision to stage this year’s Christmas Revels at Glen Echo Park here.
  8. How do I get to Glen Echo Park? Glen Echo is accessible by car from the Capital Beltway with ample free public parking; it is also accessible via public transit by busses departing from the Bethesda and Friendship Heights Red Line Metro stations. A comprehensive guide on getting to the Park, as well as local dining options, will be available on our website closer to the start of performances.
  9. When are the 2021 performances? This year we will offer our usual eight performances over the weekends of December 10-12 and 17-19. Exact performance dates and times will be announced when tickets go on sale, if not earlier.
  10. When will tickets go on sale? Tickets will go on sale in mid-November. Tickets will only be available online.
  11. How will I receive my ticket?
    • All in-person tickets are sent as a PDF attachment to the email address you used at checkout.
    • On-Demand tickets will include a link to the online viewing page rather than a PDF attachment.
    • If you have trouble finding your ticket email(s), search “tickets@revelsdc.org” in your inbox. If you still cannot find your tickets, simply call us or send an email to tickets@revelsdc.org and we will re-email your tickets to you.
  12. Do I have to print out my tickets? No, you can display your tickets on your mobile device when you arrive at the Spanish Ballroom; however if you have multiple tickets, it may speed things up to print them out in advance.
  13. Can I request my tickets be held at Will Call? To streamline the check-in process we will not be offering Will Call. However we will have a record of all ticket purchases, so if you lose your tickets we will be able to help check you in.
  14. Do I need to purchase a ticket for my child? Yes, you must purchase tickets for your children regardless of their age. Children typically love the shows; however, for your sake and as a courtesy to other patrons, we generally advise that you not bring children unless you are confident that they can sit quietly throughout a 2-hour performance. As a reminder, all children will need to be masked this year and be vaccinated or have a negative COVID test.
  15. I am a Washington Revels donor. Will I get my usual “Early Priority” ticketing benefit? Donors who gave $100 or more between October 1, 2020 and September 26, 2021 will receive Early Priority ticketing benefits. Exact benefits will be announced to qualifying donors during the week of October 11.
  16. What is the 2021 show theme? You can read a detailed description of this year’s theme here.
  17. How long is the show? This year we anticipate that performance will be 2 hours and 15 minutes long, including intermission.
  18. Will there be the usual audience singalongs and audience dancing during “Lord of the Dance”? We have not made final decisions about audience singalongs or other forms of audience-cast interaction. We will make final determinations on these traditional Christmas Revels elements as more information on health and safety becomes available.
  19. Is there a vaccination policy for the audience? Yes. To ensure the safety of our audiences, performers, volunteers, and staff, Washington Revels is requiring Christmas Revels attendees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID test result taken within 72 hours of the performance. Children who are not eligible to be vaccinated may attend with a negative test result. Per Montgomery County guidance, all audience members must be masked while indoors at Glen Echo Park, including during the performance. We will provide options to indicate your vaccine/test status closer to your performance date. All policies to protect the health and safety of our performers, volunteers, audience, and staff are subject to modification as circumstances evolve. This policy may also be found here.
  20. Is there a vaccination policy for the cast and backstage personnel? You may read Washington Revels’ vaccination policy for performers and volunteers here.
  21. Are there opportunities to volunteer during the production? Yes! If you are interested in volunteering for The Christmas Revels, please email Community Stewardship & Volunteer Manager Grace VanderVeer.

Resources & Tech Info

General Info

  • On-Demand Access: Watch anytime, as many times as you like, from Tuesday, December 21 to Thursday, January 6.
  • Your ticket link enables access for a single device only.
  • This pre-recorded event will play in an online video player. You do not need Zoom to watch.
  • The video includes general Closed Captions that can be turned on by clicking the “CC” icon in the video player.

Ticket Information

  • At the time of your purchase you received your ticket links via email from tickets@revelsdc.org. Search for this address in your inbox (and be sure to check your spam folder). If you still cannot find it, send an email to tickets@revelsdc.org and we will resend your tickets.
  • If you purchased tickets for multiple households in a single order, remember to forward the ticket email to each recipient, with instructions for which link they should use (ex. “Dear Susan, please click the second button to watch”).
  • Be sure to share this resource page, and our pre-show emails, with anyone you sent tickets to.
  • Please remind your guests to contact you if they have issues locating their tickets. Washington Revels will not know which ticket email/link your guests received and we can only reissue tickets to the email address they were purchased with.

Resources for Revelry!

Program & Lyrics:

  • You can now download the full Christmas Revels program, including program notes and singalong lyrics. We encourage you to print this in advance.
  • If you prefer to print only the audience “All Sings,” you can download/print those below.

Get in the Yuletide Spirit:

Unlike inside the Spanish Ballroom, enjoying food and drinks while you watch the on-demand Christmas Revels is totally up to you! For those seeking a seasonal beverage, here are recipes from our Revels community, including:

  • Board Member Bill Conway’s traditional Quoit Club Punch, which he makes for the Washington Revels cast party every year. It serves many and serves them well!
  • Three festive treats — wassail, glögg, and egg nog — from the kitchen of Reveler Colin Bills and his mother, Beryl.

Technical Advice & Resources

Resources for Connecting Your Device to a TV:

There are so many different devices and options for viewing The Christmas Revels that we cannot provide one set of instructions. If you would like to watch this event on a larger screen, such as a TV, we have identified several websites that may help. We encourage you to test your viewing setup in advance of the performance.

If You Need Help:

You can contact Washington Revels Staff for help Monday-Friday at tickets@revelsdc.org or by calling 301-587-3835.

Technology Disclaimer

We understand that our patrons have a wide range of technical savvy and internet capabilities. However, it is the responsibility of the ticket holder to have a reliable internet connection and technical knowledge of the equipment they will be using to watch this event. We realize that technical difficulties may arise and, as noted above, we will do our best to help; however our staff cannot provide in-depth technical support.

Thank you for your understanding.

Press, Media & Photos

With a homegrown seasonal theme, a historic venue, and a talented cast of Washingtonians from around our region, the 2021 Christmas Revels makes a great holiday arts feature and a human interest story!

Download Our News Release & Media Kit

You can also read our News Release on the Revels Blog

2021 Production Photos Coming Soon!
Photos of previous 
Christmas Revels available on request.

Our flagship production, The Christmas Revels, is a festive, fully staged celebration of the Winter Solstice and the return of sun and light after the “shortest day,” radiating hope and joy in the renewal of life and the circle of the seasons. Seen by over 10,000 people every December, it draws on traditions and rituals from many lands and peoples, focusing each year on a different culture or related cultures.

Select a link below to learn more about that production.

 2011 Andalusian Production

2011-2020

 Photos from the Thomas Hardy Revels

2001-2010

 Photo from African-American Revels

1991-2000

  • 2000: Celtic
  • 1999: Celestial Fools
  • 1998: Shepherd Alley – Washington, D.C.
  • 1997: Medieval – King and the Fool
  • 1996: Northlands
  • 1995: French
  • 1994: Victorian
  • 1993: Celtic
  • 1992: Celestial Fools
  • 1991: Russian and American
 Photo from an early Washington Revels production

1983-1990

  • 1990: Medieval
  • 1989: Storybook
  • 1988: Medieval
  • 1987: Celtic
  • 1986: French
  • 1985: Appalachian-American (featuring Jean Ritchie)
  • 1984: “Haddon Hall”
  • 1983: Medieval

Glen Echo Park is a site owned by the National Park Service. Programs are produced in cooperation with the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, the National Park Service, and Montgomery County.

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