St. Olaf College | News

St. Olaf will not hold in-person Christmas Festival this year

Dr. Therees Hibbard conducts the St. Olaf Orchestra and massed choirs during the 2019 St. Olaf Christmas Festival, A New Song of Grace and Truth.

Since 1912, St. Olaf College has hosted an annual Christmas Festival featuring more than 500 student musicians and bringing thousands of visitors to campus. However, the global COVID-19 pandemic makes it impossible for the college to offer an in-person Christmas Festival this year. 

Instead, we are pleased to announce that St. Olaf College will present All Earth is Hopeful, a digital concert and musical program celebrating the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season on Sunday, December 6, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. CT.  Although nothing can or should substitute for the communal and elevating exchange that happens between musicians and in-person attendees of the St. Olaf Christmas Festival, this musical program is intended to offer healing and hope to thousands, whether they have experienced the festival in person, watched a live stream, listened on the radio, or viewed it through public television. Although the program will not include students from this year, All Earth is Hopeful will showcase music captured from recent Christmas Festival programs plus additional material from festivals not seen in many years.

Fans of the St. Olaf Christmas Festival tradition will be also able to experience music through additional mediums this holiday season:

  • St. Olaf will again collaborate with Minnesota Public Radio to offer a separate one-hour long radio program featuring archival recordings, interviews, and other features. This program will be heard on public radio stations nationwide. 
  • St. Olaf will distribute, in cooperation with Twin Cities Public Television, a new one-hour long television program featuring material from the 2019 Christmas Festival, A New Song of Grace and Truth, on PBS+ television stations nationwide.
  • St. Olaf College’s sacred music radio program Sing For Joy will offer a 30-minute radio version of the 2019 Christmas Festival that will be distributed to its affiliate stations.

Music at St. Olaf College is treasured by students, alumni, faculty, and staff alike. We are proud of our musical legacy, which has brought peace and joy to listeners and audience members across the globe. 

The St. Olaf Christmas Festival is a beloved tradition for our community, and we will continue to honor this tradition however we can. We look forward to resuming an in-person Christmas Festival as soon as it is safe to do so. 

St. Olaf will continue to provide updates to students, alumni, and the public as details are finalized about All Earth is Hopeful and our additional partner broadcasts.