Boxoffice Insider: Good Tidings – Holiday Concerts Back On Stage
Stephen J. Cohen / Getty Images – Dave Koz
Rebecca Jade, Dave Koz, Rick Braun, and Jonathan Butler perform with Dave Koz & Friends at The Brown Theatre on Dec. 12, 2021, in Louisville, Ky.
Holiday-themed events have traditionally been a feature of the live landscape during the final weeks of the year with both concert touring and family show entertainment a staple of the season. This year, many annual events, canceled in a pandemic-mired 2020, have returned to the public arena following the absence of so many live holiday traditions last year.
One popular annual event to make its 2021 return after being canceled for the first time ever is the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” which kicked off in New York City on Nov. 5. This year marks 88 years since the first Christmas production hit the stage of Radio City Music Hall in 1933, the famed theater’s second year of operation.
Box office results tracked at the yearly holiday event stretch back to 1997, when ticket sales from the “Christmas Spectacular” were first reported. The archives show an overall gross totaling more than $1.9 billion from over 7,600 performances reported at Radio City Music Hall along with multiple theaters throughout the U.S. that staged regional productions of the show. Most recently, sold tickets from 2019’s 198-show run in New York numbered 1,051,186 from Nov. 8 through Jan. 5, 2020, with overall grosses topping $98.3 million.
Among the concert artists with annual tours during the holiday season, smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz returned this year with his “Dave Koz & Friends Christmas” tour that launched in November with shows booked through mid-December. One of the tour’s early stops was Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, where 1,840 bought tickets for a Nov. 26 show that grossed $130,197. That’s higher than his $111,000 average at the Atlanta venue where he has appeared on every Christmas tour since 2010. His 11-year sold-ticket average there is just 50 tickets higher than this year’s attendance.
The Atlanta venue joins the Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater in Mesa, Ariz., as the only two venues with Koz’ concerts occurring in 11 holiday seasons, yet two venues have hosted his Christmas tours for 14 years: Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Fla., and the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Southern California. Both hosted the tour for the first time in 2000 and most recently in 2019.
The Cerritos venue produced his highest gross recorded during the past 24 years: a $252,698 box office take from shows on Dec. 22-23, 2018. The venue with the highest attendance on record is the Chicago Theatre with a single performance on Dec. 4, 2010, attended by 3,549 fans.
Meanwhile, at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Amy Grant and Vince Gill returned this year with their traditional series of Christmas concerts. Their residency at the historic venue includes 12 shows booked Dec. 13-22.
The pair also played 12 Ryman shows in 2018, the most recent year box office totals were reported for their Christmas production. That year, they moved 27,238 total tickets at the Ryman with grosses topping $1.88 million from a ticket-price range of $55 to $135. The sold-out run averaged 2,270 sold seats and $157,000 grossed per show.
Those 2018 averages surpass Grant and Gill’s overall box office averages at the venue based on 52 of their holiday concerts reported during the previous decade. According to the archives, since 2008 grosses have averaged $143,817 at those 52 shows, while the average number of sold seats is 2,201.
While the Koz and Grant/Gill concerts were all set in theaters, one of the arena-sized attractions that returned in 2021 was Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas tour. Since the group’s first box office results were reported in 1999, the number of sold tickets at 1,934 reported shows over two decades is over 14.9 million – the fourth highest among all artists of any genre based on overall ticket sales during that time frame.