SAP Center hosts Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular

I've been to SAP Center in San Jose many times and I've seen many kinds of performances -- pop concerts, ice skating shows, the circus, ice hockey, indoor football, motorcross stunt shows, even animatronic dinosaurs! You'd think by now I'd have seen every different kind of show you could possibly put on in a large concert arena, but you'd be wrong. Last night we saw something at SAP that we've never seen before -- a live orchestra.

We took the family to see Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular, a one-of-a-kind holiday show that combines acrobatic circus acts and live holiday music. The show had about a dozen acrobatic circus acts (I lost count!), each set to a different piece of music. The orchestra is seated at the back of the stage, and the acrobats perform their acts at the front of the stage. The stage backdrop features winter-themed animations that constantly move and change.  Here's a description from the show producers:

Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular is a fun filled family holiday event featuring the cast of Cirque Musica together with all-time favorite holiday songs performed by a live orchestra! Cirque Musica is a concert and visual experience where audiences journey into a world of high-flying adventure with amazing acrobats, aerialists, hilarious hijinks and holiday cheer, too! The show blends the spell-binding grace and dare-devil athleticism of today’s greatest circus performers with the sensory majesty of the greatest holiday music of all time.

Acrobatic Performers
The acrobats were some of the best that I've ever seen. There is nothing to distract from their performance -- no flashy lights or colorful props or scenery, and there are just one, two, or three on stage at a time. So they really have to be good in order to capture the audience's attention! We were on the edge of our seats the entire time, hoping and praying they wouldn't fall. The strength and skill required is astonishing.

All my kids play a musical instrument, so they were just as excited to hear the orchestra as they were to see the acrobats. Hearing a live orchestra is always a treat, and hearing them play familiar tunes is a nice bonus. I was a bit worried that they'd be playing Christmas carols throughout the show, but it wasn't like that at all. They did play some carols and Christmas songs, but they also played classical music by Johann Pachelbel, Rimsky Korsakov, Franz Schubert, and John Williams. My daughter recently danced in The Nutcracker, so we were thrilled to hear two selections from Tchaikovsky's famous score. The musical repertoire was a great mix of classical, pop, and holiday, and I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Insider Tips
The stage was about the size you would see in a concert hall, so it was a smaller performance area than I'm used to seeing at SAP center, which is a big concert arena.  They had chairs out on the arena floor, so for the best views of the acrobatic acts, those were definitely the best seats to get. You'll probably get a better view if your seats are in the 10th row or farther so you don't strain your neck looking up at the stage. The side rows are also good but the regular seats (not on the arena floor) are quite far away. However, every single seat in the arena is a good seat for appreciating the wonderful music!

One final tip, I definitely recommend getting a programme. It only costs $5, and you get a list of all the acrobatic acts and all the music performed during the show.

If you've had your fill of the usual holiday shows like The Nutcracker, Handel's Messiah, A Christmas Carol and the like, Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular is a refreshingly different kind of celebration! It's also a great way to introduce your kids to classical music, because many kids get distracted when listening to an orchestra with no visuals. At Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular , they can watch the acrobats while listening to the music, and it all combines for a wonderful experience.

Tickets and performances
Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular runs till December 18 in California, Texas, Washington and Arizona. Purchase tickets at or on

Disclosure: I received tickets for my family and I to attend the show. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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