The 2020 'Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir' Special Was Filmed a Full Year Ago

For those who watch it, PBS's 'Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir' special is an annual tradition, but when was this year's special filmed?


Dec. 14 2020, Published 2:02 p.m. ET

2020 has been a highly unusual year, mostly thanks to the global pandemic that has completely transformed the way the world operates. The pandemic has also made live events even more challenging than normal, which may explain why 2020 has seen fewer of them than most years. 

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, it also means that some normally televised traditions will also look a little different, while others will remain the same. 

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When was 'Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir' filmed?

Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir Featuring Kelli O'Hara and Richard Thomas is a special that normally airs on PBS on Christmas Eve every year. This year's special will air first on Dec. 14 before rebroadcasting on the 24th. If you've seen previews for the special, you may have noticed that it doesn't seem like social distancing guidelines are being adhered to. As it turns out, there's a pretty good reason the special doesn't look like much live pandemic content. 

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The special was actually filmed in 2019, long before most Americans even knew what the coronavirus was. Now, it's airing a year later, and the special looks like it does every year. For many people dealing with an unusual holiday season, the Tabernacle Choir special may offer a welcome return to normalcy. 

The special is always filmed a year ahead of time.

As it turns out, the Tabernacle Choir Christmas specials are always filmed in the December of the year prior. That explains why the special was filmed so far in advance and why everyone seems so unconcerned about physical contact. 

The special will feature Tony-award winner Kelli O'Hara and actor Richard Thomas alongside the Tabernacle Choir. 

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"Filmed in 2019, the concert is a visual and musical spectacle with vocalists, instrumentalists, bell ringers, dancers, the Gabriel Trumpet Ensemble, and the Cold Creek bluegrass band," the description for the special reads. 

In addition to its airings on PBS, the special will also be available to stream across PBS's streaming platforms, including on The special can also be viewed at or with the BYU TV app. 

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The Tabernacle special has been airing for more than a decade.

PBS first began airing the Tabernacle Choir Christmas special in 2004, and since then, the event has gone on to become one of the network's most popular holiday-related offerings.  

"It's the Grand Canyon of concert experiences," Richard said of the special in an interview with TV Insider. The special is filmed at Salt Lake City's Temple Square auditorium, which holds 21,000 people. "No matter what your faith, it's a profound experience if you let yourself be open to it," he continued. 

Richard's parents were dancers, and he grew up watching them perform The Nutcracker with the New York City Ballet every year at Christmas, which is why he loves the holidays. 

"It's my favorite time of year. And I'm especially in love with Christmas music," he says in the special. "I drive my family completely up a tree. They don't always want to hear 12th-century French Christmas music, but I do." 

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