The Wizards of Winter return to York with Christmas-spirit rock opera

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
The Wizards of Winter perform their Christmas-themed rock opera in venues across the country. The group will bring the show to York on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Looking for an answer to the true meaning of Christmas? There may be a wizard who can help.

The Wizards of Winter, a classic and progressive rock holiday music ensemble, will return to York City on Saturday, Nov. 17, to perform their Christmas rock opera and explore the meaning of the holiday season.

"Our story is, you get on a mythical vehicle we call the 'Arctic Flyer' and you go on a journey inside a snow globe in search of the true meaning of Christmas," said Scott Kelly, founder, director and keyboardist.

The Arctic Flyer can travel anywhere in time and space, and the rock opera takes audiences on a journey exploring all of the feelings and themes of Christmas, from the jolly to the melancholy.

Album art for "The Magic of Winter," the Wizards of Winter's second full-length album, released in 2015.

About a dozen Wizards songs are available to stream on the group's website,

The Wizards of Winter began as a one-time benefit group Kelly and his wife, flutist and vocalist Sharon Kelly, put together to raise money for a food pantry in their New Jersey hometown.

The performance was so popular that they held additional shows and eventually developed a fan following. Now they record albums and tour the country.

Their third album is set to be released next year, and the group will perform six new songs in the York performance.

Musical influence: The Wizards are often compared to the early iterations of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, an internationally known progressive and classic rock outfit that became famous with their original Christmas album, "Christmas Eve and Other Stories." That album was released in 1996 and has since become one of the best-selling Christmas albums of recent decades.

"There was a big shake-up in TSO in 2012," Kelly said. "A lot of original members had left. They’d heard our music, and about five approached us."

Since then, Kelly said nine former TSO members have performed with the Wizards, including two who will be at the York performance.

Kelly said the Wizards most resemble the sound of classic rock groups such as Styx, Journey and Kansas.

The Wizards of Winter perform their Christmas-themed rock opera in venues across the country. The group will bring the show to York on Saturday, Nov. 17.

"On any given night, our show could change," Kelly said. "We’ve got so much original music now that we have different parts of the storyline and we just adjust it as we go."

A few of the performers who will be in York City on Saturday are:

  • Greg Smith: Current bassist and vocalist for Ted Nugent and past collaborator with Billy Joel, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult and others.
  • John O'Reilly: Drummer who has recorded and performed live with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Blue Oyster Cult, Bruce Springsteen and others.
  • Tony Gaynor: Narrator and former longtime member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
  • Karl Scully: Lead vocalist and former member of The Irish Tenors.

Visit the band's website at for the full 2018 line-up.

If you go: The Wizards of Winter will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Strand Theatre in the Appell Center for the Performing Arts, 50 N. George St. in York City.

Tickets start at $30.13 and can be purchased at