This holiday season, country stars convened in Nashville for the ninth annual CMA Country Christmas special, a televised showcase of music and cheer set to air on Dec. 10. For the second year in a row, country icon Reba McEntire returned to host the event, in addition to performing during the show.

Against a backdrop of holiday wonder as lavish and festive as Santa's workshop itself, the artists in attendance offered their own renditions of holiday classics. Brett Eldredge, Dustin Lynch, Old Dominion and Dan + Shay were just a handful of the acts who made appearances during the CMA Country Christmas taping, sharing their own interpretations of some of the season's most beloved songs.

Among the ensemble of stars performing during the evening's festivities were some of the big names who have put out iconic Christmas records, both in the country genre and beyond. Tony Bennett, Amy Grant, the Isaacs, dancer and violinist Lindsay Stirling and jazz pianist Diana Krall all contributed performances to CMA Country Christmas 2018.

"When you watch this, you are going to see the most beautiful stage," McEntire commented to The Boot and other media before the show. "They have done a great job with all the decorations, and when everything is lit up and the scenes are in back, it's incredible to me. So that's what's going to be getting everybody into the Christmas spirit tonight. And it's working on me, too."

One of the evening's performers, Martina McBride, has already been getting into the holiday spirit this year: The singer released a new Christmas album, then kicked off her annual holiday tour in November. "It's amazing how the whole world transforms at Christmas," McBride reflects. "We listen to different music, use special decorations, and we bring out our own decorations and traditions, too."

As her kids have gotten older, the country star shares, one of traditions closest to her heart involves having her adult children home for the special season. "They always have to be home for the holidays," McBride relates. "It's so great having them home. I miss them. My two oldest daughters and I, we've always been very close, and we spend a lot of time together. Having them gone has really changed the dynamic, but having them both back at the same time [for Christmas], it really makes you appreciate the time you do spend."

While the superstar may keep her calendar full with touring dates and recording sessions, McBride says the most important thing about the holidays is the simple joy of being with family. "Some of my favorite holiday traditions are definitely putting up the Christmas tree, and decorating the tree," she adds. "And then sitting down to a Christmas dinner together."

The 2018 CMA Country Christmas TV special will air on Dec. 10 at 8PM ET on ABC. Readers can flip through the photo gallery above to get a sneak peek at some of the performances.

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