Millikin University’s Vespers Choral Celebration Returns for 64th Year

The tradition continues at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center on Dec. 2 and 3.


DECATUR, Ill. – Vespers, Millikin University's most beloved holiday choral event, returns Dec. 2-3. 2023 for a 64th year at Kirkland Fine Arts Center. Performances will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m.

Tickets for Vespers range from $12 to $16 and will go on sale Tuesday, Nov. 7. The Kirkland Fine Arts Center Ticket Office, located at 1215 W Kirkland Dr. in Decatur, will open two hours earlier on Nov. 7 at 10 a.m. for in-person Vespers ticket purchases only.

Tickets can then be purchased online, over the phone, or in person at the ticket office between noon and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Discounted tickets, as well as accessible seats, are not available online but can be purchased at the ticket office. For further inquiries, visit or contact the Kirkland Ticket Office at 217.424.6318.


“Vespers is a chance for the community to come together and celebrate the holiday season in beauty and contemplation,” Kirkland Fine Arts Director Bryan Diver said. “Kirkland is proud to host this long-standing tradition, and we look forward to many more years to come.”

For more than 60 years, Millikin’s Vespers has signaled the start of the holiday season in central Illinois with a delightful evening of carols, choirs, and candlelight. More than 200 musicians come together for this joyous musical feast. Songs from past centuries combine with familiar carols and arrangements to create an evening of seasonal warmth for the whole family.

Originating in 1959, Vespers is a beloved tradition not only in the Decatur area but worldwide. In 1921, Millikin began a much smaller version of Vespers in which faculty put on a concert for students. This eventually transformed into a holiday choral concert developed by Richard D. Hoffland and his wife, Kathryne “Kay” Hoffland. When the Hofflands retired in 1991, Brad Holmes took the helm with his wife, Beth Holmes, directing the production until 2021. 

Ben Hawkinson, current Director of Choral Music and Artistic Director of Vespers, who holds a doctorate in choral conducting and has taught at Millikin since 2019, looks forward to another exciting performance of traditional and new Winter holiday selections.

Additional programming offered by the Kirkland Fine Arts Center can be found at

For further information, please get in touch with LJ Pemberton, Marketing and Patron Relations Manager at Kirkland Fine Arts Center, at 217.424.3931 or