Alternative Christmas Albums For The Holiday Season


It’s getting to that time of year when every shop is playing Christmas music. The same Christmas music that we’ve been listening to for the last decade or more, year after year. So, it’s about time we changed up our usual festive tunes for something a bit different whether that be calm folk covers, indie pop, or a cappella. 

Beta Radio, The Songs the Seasons Brings Vol. 1-4

Beta Radio is a band who cross grass blues with indie-folk. A two-person group of banjo, guitar and vocals, they are a world away from Wham! and Mariah Carey. 

This album comprises of a mixture between covers of classic Christmas carols and original seasonal songs. They give the covers a very mellow feel of gentle slow-paced folk, perfect for a quiet afternoon in the holidays. Their original songs offer something a bit different from the usual Christmas tunes, something more homely with beautiful lyrics and soothing instrumentation is wholesome and festive all at once. 

Kate Rusby, Sweet Bells 

Kate Rusby is a folk singer from Yorkshire who has been gifting us with new music for over 20 years. Her first Christmas album is no exception to her high standard of performance. Reinventing old Yorkshire carols and wassailing songs for a modern audience, this album is a great one to sing along for the whole family to sing along. 

Pentatonix, That’s Christmas To Me

If you want to jazz up those old Christmas carols, then listen out for this Pentatonix album. The five-piece a cappella group released their first Christmas album back in 2015; however, it remains my favourite out of all the ones that have come since. Highlights of the collection include a cover of ‘White Winter Hymnal’, with a cracking music video to go with it, and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’, which remixes the classic carol into something more gospel-esque. Plus, for those still in the Frozen craze, it includes a cover of ‘Let it Go’. 

This album is perfect for anyone who loves those classic holiday pop songs and wants to mix it up without throwing the entire songbook out the window. 


This short EP is a new addition to the list, released in 2019, and it falls somewhere between pop-rock and alternative rock. While this band is most known for their hit single ‘Choke’, this EP presents a different side to the group, with a cover of ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ that feels like it’s stuck in the late ’70s and trying to remind us of music-trends past. 

Various Artists, Holidays Rule

With everyone from Calexico, to Punch Brothers, to Paul McCartney, this is the ultimate alternative Christmas album. Covering classic and pop festive tunes alike, this collection has something for everyone and things you never knew you were missing. 

Personal favourites include The Civil War’s ‘I Heard the Bell on Chirstmas’, which is a more sombre tune to even out the mood, and Andrew Bird’s cover of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, which is far more entertaining than the usual dreary tune we hear at New Years. 

Lindsey Stirling, Warmer In The Winter

If you require something more instrumental, maybe as some background noise while baking for the big day, then this is the album for you. Lindsey Stirling is an all-dancing electronic violinist, who released her first Holiday album in 2018, which became the best-selling new holiday album of the year with over 40 million spins on Pandora. 

Ruth-Anne Walbank

My name is Ruth, and I'm the Editor of SCAN for 2019-20. I have been the Arts and Culture Editor in 2018-19, and the Deputy Arts and Culture Editor before that. I've written over 80 articles for SCAN across a variety of sections.
If you have any questions about the newspaper, feel free to message me!

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