Arts for the holidays

December calendars are full for local arts groups, offering performances, exhibits, bazaars and other events

Still making holiday plans? There are plenty of festivities to choose from in the coming weeks, whether you're looking for choral music, the Sugar Plum Fairy, kids' activities or artwork to give as gifts.

Read on for a sampling of seasonal events in the Palo Alto area.

Art and exhibits

Youngsters ages 5 and up can develop their creativity by doing holiday-themed activities during the Palo Alto Art Center's Holiday Family Day from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 7. The free event is at 1313 Newell Road. Go to

At the 26th annual Christmas Creche Exhibit at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Palo Alto, artists from around the globe offer up their own visions of one thing: the nativity scene. Media typically include glass, wood, ceramics and even straw. Marionette shows and musical performances will take place throughout the exhibit, which runs Dec. 7-11, noon to 9 p.m. The church is at 3865 Middlefield Road, and admission is free. A full schedule is at

Many art galleries have holiday shows and sales in December, often with smaller works of art displayed as gift suggestions. To name two: Gallery House's event is at 320 S. California Ave. in Palo Alto through Dec. 24, open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 to 3. Go to Portola Art Gallery has an "after-Thanksgiving shopping event" on Nov. 29 and 30 and a group show focused on gift-worthy art during the month of December. The gallery is in the Allied Arts Guild at 75 Arbor Road in Menlo Park. Go to


The Palo Alto Children's Theatre presents a theatrical adaptation of "The Nutcracker," adapted by June Walker Rogers, at the theater at 1305 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. Performances are Dec. 5, 6, 7, 13 and 14 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 2 p.m.; and Dec. 11 and 12 at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$14. Go to

There are "Nutcracker" performances aplenty on the Midpeninsula each winter. They include several at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts at 500 Castro St.: Pacific Ballet Academy on Nov. 29 and 30 and Dec. 1; and Western Ballet on Dec. 6 and 7. Also: Dance Connection of Palo Alto at Gunn High School's Spangenberg Theatre at 780 Arastradero Road in Palo Alto Dec. 6 through Dec. 8. "Nutcracker" times and ticket prices vary; go to or

Smuin Ballet also makes regular trips to the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. The "XXMAS" program will be performed Dec. 11-15: Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8, and Sunday at 2. Tickets are $49-$65. Go to


It's all about tradition at "A Festival of Lessons and Carols," presented by Stanford's Memorial Church Choir under the direction of Robert Huw Morgan. Admission is free, and the Memorial Church concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6. The next night, the Friends of Music at Stanford put on the yearly == "Holiday Musicale"== spotlighting music-department ensembles. Tickets are $15 general and $10 for seniors and students. Go to

The second week of December is also big for holiday music at MemChu. On Dec. 11, "A Chanticleer Christmas" features the San Francisco men's chorus at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28-$56 ($10 for Stanford students); go to The next day, the Stanford Baroque Soloists perform a free concert called "There were shepherds abiding in the fields ..." at 7:30. Go to Dec. 13 brings the popular "Messiah Sing Along / Play Along," at 7:30. Tickets are $15 general and $10 for students and seniors. Go to

Music and costumes from 16th-century Tudor England, courtesy of the Palo Alto High School choirs. That's the annual Madrigal Feaste at 50 Embarcadero Road. A royal meal is part of the festivities, which start at 2 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 8. More info is at; for ticketing details, email

"A Jazzy Little Christmas" is Soli Deo Gloria's holiday concert, planned for 5 p.m. Dec. 7 at the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto, 305 N. California Ave. Bob Chilcott's "A Little Jazz Mass" headlines the program. Tickets are $26 general and $21 for students and seniors. Go to

The Ragazzi Boys Chorus presents "A Cheerful Noise," at 5 p.m. Dec. 7. Tickets are $10-$27, and the concert is at the First Congregational Church, 1985 Louis Road, Palo Alto. Go to Later, on Dec. 21, the Ragazzi Continuo, made up of graduates of the boys' chorus, has its own concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, All Saints' Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto. Tickets are $20. Go to

San Francisco Choral Artists presents "Sweet Voices & Noyses: Christmas In Italy," with carols, motets, folksongs and the Renaissance wind band The Whole Noyse. The concert is at 8 p.m. Dec. 7 in St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto. Admission is $25 general, $22 for seniors and $12 for students. Go to

The Peninsula Women's Chorus has a trio of "Illuminate This Night" concerts, featuring Conrad Susa's "Carols and Lullabies." Dates: Dec. 7 and 14 at 2:30 p.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto; and Dec. 15 at 4 p.m. at St. Patrick's Seminary, 320 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park. Tickets are $30-$35 ($10 for students 18 and under), with more info at

Music by Lassus, Gabrieli and others is on the program for the Bay Choral Guild's "A Renaissance Christmas" Dec. 8 concert at 4:30 p.m. in the First Baptist Church, 305 N. California Ave., Palo Alto. Tickets are $25 general, $20 for seniors and $5 for students. Go to

The California Bach Society presents "Christmas with Peter Warlock and Henry VIII," a program of Christmas music in England from the Middle Ages to the present. The concert is at 8 p.m. Dec. 14 in All Saints' Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto. Admission is $10-$25. Go to

Stanford's pipe organist extraordinaire, Robert Huw Morgan, plays his annual holiday recital at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 15 in the university's Memorial Church. The performance is free. Go to

Harper Hall Harp Ensembles plays a Christmas concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 15 at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 E. Meadow Drive, Palo Alto. Suggested donation is $10. Go to

The Magnificat Baroque ensemble shows off its polychoral style with "A Venetian Christmas Mass," performed at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 in the First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. The wind band The Whole Noyse will join in. Tickets are $12-$35. Go to

The Palo Alto-based California Pops Orchestra celebrates a "Very Merry Pops Christmas" with a concert replete with sleigh bells, toy trumpets and plenty of carols. The show is at 3 p.m. Dec. 22 at Foothill College's Smithwick Theatre, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. Admission is $15-$47. Go to

Kids and families

Kids line up for "Living LEGO-cy," the holiday-themed array of LEGO cityscapes and model railroads at the Museum of American Heritage at 351 Homer Ave. in Palo Alto. Exhibit dates are Dec. 13-Jan. 16, and the museum is open 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Friday through Sunday. Admission is $2 general and free for members. Go to

Also popular are the holiday puppet shows at Gamble Garden. This year's offering, aimed at kids ages 3 to 10, is "The Nutcracker," presented by The Puppet Company. Performances are in the Carriage House at 1431 Waverley St. in Palo Alto, at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 general and $10 for members. Go to


Palo Alto lights its Lytton Plaza Christmas tree on Nov. 30 with a tree-lighting and snowman competition from 4 to 7 p.m. The plaza is at 202 University Ave. Go to

A screening of the 1995 animal movie "Babe" is 7 p.m. Dec. 5 as a holiday fundraiser and gala for the Palo Alto Humane Society. Bagpiper Jeff Campbell will perform before the screening, followed by the music group The JewelTones at intermission. Admission is $5 and includes popcorn and a drink. The event is at the Aquarius Theatre, 430 Emerson St., Palo Alto. Go to

Who says railroads have lost their romance? On Dec. 7 and 8, Caltrain's holiday train will make local stops, strung with lights and delivering a Salvation Army brass band, carolers and the Claus family. The train makes 20-minute stops at Palo Alto's California Avenue station at 6:50 p.m. Dec. 7 and at the Menlo Park station at 7:45 p.m. Dec. 8. A full schedule is at

With minstrels, wreaths and handmade gifts, it's time again for the holiday bazaar at Deborah's Palm. The event goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 at 555 Lytton Ave., Palo Alto. Go to

"Chopshticks" is a comedy night for folks who think Dec. 24 is just another night. Hosted by the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center at 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto, the show starts at 7:30 p.m. and features comedian Mark Schiff. Tickets are $55 in advance and $60 at the door, and $50 in advance for JCC members. Go to


Like this comment
Posted by randy albin
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm

there are lots of events that are going on during the holidays. if palo alto was like earlier times, people could afford the cost of living. how sad for holiday "cheer?"

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