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WNYC's 2016 Holiday Specials

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WNYC's 2016 Holiday Specials

This year's holiday programming on WNYC is robust, featuring a wide range of specials celebrating the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the general spirit of December as the year comes to a close. Below, find a schedule of programming, and learn more about each special. Keep checking back for more updates and audio.   

Jonathan Schwartz: Christmas at Birdland

Listen live on Sunday, December 18 from 12 - 4pm on 93.9FM and The Jonathan Channel

Jonathan Schwartz hosts his annual Christmas Show, live from Birdland, featuring special guests John Pizzarelli, Jessica Molaskey, Jason Robert Brown, Barbara Carroll, Andrew Bergman, Audra Mariel, Deborah Solomon, Bill Charlap, John Weidman, and others. Learn more.

Listen Wednesday, December 21 from 10pm - 12am on 93.9FM, or stream online at

The Winter solstice is December 21 at 5:44am. Celebrate the Return of the Sun -- and the Warming of the heart with Paul Winter's Annual Winter Solstice Celebration. On the darkest night of the year, John Schaefer takes us back to New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine to hear The Paul Winter Consort and the glorious Cathedral Pipe Organ. The performance brings traditional holiday favorites and new sounds from around the world with special guests Ivan Lins and Renato Braz. Listen here.

Leonard Lopate’s Annual Christmas Gospel Show

Listen live on Friday, December 23 at 12pm on 93.9FM, AM 820 and NJPR

Tune in for Leonard’s annual Christmas presentation of gospel music for the holiday. Learn more.

The Dinner Party Download: Holiday Special

Listen Friday, December 23 at 9pm on 93.9FM, or stream online at

The Dinner Party Download teams up with Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward of She & Him, food whiz Alton Brown, and actor and carpenter Nick Offerman for a new holiday special. You'll hear a Yuletide playlist, etiquette tips to save you from a work party snafu (or maybe create a memorable one?), a little-known chestnut of holiday history, and lots more! Listen here.

Occasional Shivers

Listen Friday, December 23 at 10pm on 93.9FM, or stream online at

Hosted by Branford Marsalis, and with music, song and dialogue, “Occasional Shivers” tells the story of two young lovers who meet at a pair of Christmas parties in 1960s Manhattan. The music is new, but sounds straight up torch song, written in the tradition of the Great American Songbook. Millie Maguire, Marshall Crenshaw, Don Dixon, Django Haskins and Skylar Gudasz are joined by jazz greats Scott Sawyer, Bill Frisell and an all-star cast for what is sure to become the next sentimental holiday classic. Produced by WUNC. Listen here.

Festivo Alt Latino with Gaby Moreno & Friends

Listen Saturday, December 24 at 6pm on 93.9FM, or stream online at

NPR Music's Alt.Latino presents the 20-piece choral ensemble Coral Cantigas. This musical performance also includes stories about holiday traditions and cultures. Hear a traditional Peruvian Christmas Carol, folk music from Brazil, Spain, and Mexico plus Parrandas from Venezuela and Puerto Rico. The many rich styles of Latino choral music will unite listeners through the joyful and transformative power of music. Hosted by Felix Contreras. Listen here.

A Swinging Holiday Jazz Party with Wynton Marsalis

Listen Saturday, December 24 at 7pm on 93.9FM and NJPR, or stream online at

Wynton Marsalis hosts an hour of holiday jazz favorites by Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Gregory Porter, René Marie, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Presented by WQXR. Learn more.

Hanukkah Lights 2016

Listen Saturday, December 24 at 10pm on AM 820, and Sunday, December 25 at 11am on AM820 and NJPR, or stream online at

A perennial NPR favorite returns with all new Hanukkah stories, as told by authors R.L. Maizes, Lia Pripstein, Elisa Albert, Ellen Orleans, and more. Hosted by Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz. Listen here.

A Great Miracle Happened There

Listen Sunday, December 25 at 7am on AM 820, or stream online at

A conversation between Rabbi Ismar Schorsch and host Larry Josephson about the history, rituals and meaning of Hanukkah--and its importance in our time. Cantors David Lefkowitz and Elisheva Dienstfrey sing the music of Hanukkah. Listen here.

Listen Sunday, December 25 at 12pm on AM 820 and NJPR, or stream online at

NPR presents its third collection of extraordinary Christmas stories that will transport you to unexpected places. Joy, hope, and childhood memories overflow as NPR voices, past and present, tell stories of the season. Hosted by Lynn Neary. Listen here.

Listen Sunday, December 25 at 7pm on 93.9FM and NJPR, or stream online at

The internationally acclaimed “little orchestra" Pink Martini bedecks the airwaves with festive holiday songs from across the globe. From timeless classics to rarely heard gems, hear a multi-denominational, multi-cultural jubilee, overflowing with enough holiday spirit to warm your entire family. Hosted by All Things Considered’s Ari Shapiro. Listen here.

Listen Sunday, December 25 at 8pm on 93.9FM and NJPR, or stream online at

From The Greene Space’s 2015 season comes The Soul Now Sings, a Christmas musical by award-winning recording artist and composer Damien Sneed, with libretto by author Karen Chilton. It tells a holiday story of hope and transformation with a cast of twenty singers and musicians performing Sneed’s original arrangements of gospel, jazz, and classical favorites like "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," "Sweet Little Jesus Boy," "Call Him By His Name," "Jesus Oh What A Wonderful Child," and "Joy To The World,” as well as a powerful rendition of "Rejoice Greatly" from Handel's MessiahWatch the performance here.

An Afro Blue Christmas

Listen Sunday, December 25 at 9pm on 93.9FM and NJPR, or stream online at

Howard University's premiere vocal ensemble Afro Blue presents a special holiday concert with guest pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Hear the acappela 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 on traditional holiday songs plus new compositions, music that is perfect for the holidays and the spirit of Christmas. Hosted by Michele Norris. Listen here.

Itzhak Perlman's Chanukah Radio Party

Listen Sunday, December 25 at 10pm on 93.9FM and NJPR, or stream online at

Itzhak Perlman invites you to his Chanukah Radio Party. Join the superstar violinist as he tells the story of the Jewish festival of lights, and shares his favorite recordings for the holiday – some serious, some silly. This special includes numbers from Itzhak Perlman’s radio-addicted childhood in Israel, evocative songs in Yiddish and Ladino, classical music that revolves around the Maccabee heroes of the story, and Chanukah gems by American folk singers. The master storyteller also regales you with jokes and memories, plus tales of three classic Chanukah symbols: the menorah, the latke, and, of course, the dreidel. Produced by WQXR. Listen here.

A Season's Griot 2016

Listen Monday, December 26 at 8pm on 93.9FM, or stream online at

This one-hour celebration in story and song is public radio's only nationally syndicated Kwanzaa program. Hosted for nearly 20 years by acclaimed storyteller Madafo Lloyd Wilson, this annual special captures the tales and traditions of African American and African peoples. This year’s program celebrates Family & Celebration. The show’s poet laureate, Beverly Burnette, and other members of the Season’s Griot family return and familiar and favorite elements of Griot will also be in place with plenty of music. Learn more.

BBC Newshour Extra: Correspondents Look Ahead

Listen Saturday, December 31 at 10pm on AM 820, or stream online at

Owen Bennett-Jones is joined by a group of senior BBC journalists to forecast what is likely to happen over the coming year. Last time they got together, they were firmly predicting that Marco Rubio would become the Republican presidential candidate – and that Britain was likely to vote to stay in the EU. So as the saying goes, making predictions is a tricky business… especially about the future. Yet our experts can at least lay out the parameters for what is likely to happen in the spheres of geopolitics, economics and society more widely – and give us essential tips on what and who to look out for in 2017. Learn more.

New Sounds: In Memoriam Tribute

Listen Sunday, January 1 at midnight, or stream online at

John Schaefer looks back on the great musicians who passed away in 2016, including David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, and Pierre Boulez.