St. Olaf College's Christmas Festival will not be held in-person this year

St. Olaf College's annual Christmas Festival musical celebration held on campus in Northfield, Minnesota. (St. Olaf College)

For the first time since 1912, St. Olaf College’s Christmas Festival will not be held in-person.

The Christmas Festival, which features more than 500 student musicians and draws thousands to the Northfield, Minnesota campus each holiday season, will come in the form of a free digital concert and musical program Sunday afternoon, Dec. 6 at 3:30 p.m. and will not feature St. Olaf students from this year. 

The college said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for the college to offer the performance in-person this December.

"We simply cannot host an event that large, that involves so many people visiting campus, in a way that adheres to our commitment to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the health of our students," the school announced on its website. 

The virtual program, which is free to the public, will showcase music captured from recent Christmas Festival programs and additional material from older festivals, too.

Minnesota Public Radio will still broadcast a one-hour long radio program featuring archival recordings, interviews and other features. Twin Cities Public Television and PBS will also distribute a new, hour-long television program featuring material from last year’s show called A New Song of Grace and Truth. St. Olaf’s music radio program Sing For Joy will also be distributed in its 30-minute format.