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'Tis the season: holiday entertainment guide

A guide to some holiday highlights

Though winter doesn't officially arrive until the solstice on Dec. 21, the holiday season has begun. With it comes plenty of arts-and-entertainment events to help you warm up in cool weather, deck the halls or make merry (and who knew there were so many local productions of "The Nutcracker"?). Avert your eyes, Grinches and Scrooges: Some local suggestions are listed below (for the most up-to-date listings, or to submit your own, check out the Community Calendar).

Pacific Ballet's 'Nutcracker'

Pacific Ballet Academy's take on the seasonal classic features students from the Mountain View dance school.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Nov. 25-27 at 1 and 6 p.m. (12:30 and 4 p.m. on Sunday)

Cost: $25-$30

Info: Pacific Ballet

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Ballet America's 'Nutcracker'

Kids of all ages are welcome at all performances of Ballet America's family-friendly "Nutcracker," featuring special guests in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy and others.

Where: Fox Theatre , 2221 Broadway St., Redwood City

When: Friday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4, at 1 and 4 p.m.

Cost: $22-$39

Info: American Ballet

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Dance Connection 'Nutcracker'

Dance Connection's annual "Nutcracker" features ballet and tap students from the Palo Alto dance school.

Where: Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills

When: Friday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 3, at 4 p.m.

Cost: $15-$30

Info: Dance Connection

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Western Ballet's 'Nutcracker'

Can't get enough of that magical tale of toys and candy come to life? Mountain View's Western Ballet offers a "Nutcracker" of its own.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Dec. 2-4 (Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.)

Cost: $28-33

Info: Western Ballet

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Menlo Park tree lighting

Free hot cocoa, live entertainment and old St. Nick will all be a part of Menlo Park's annual holiday-tree lighting, rain or shine.

Where: Fremont Park, Santa Cruz Avenue at University Drive, Menlo Park

When: Friday, Dec. 2, at 5:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: City of Menlo Park

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Menlo Park Breakfast with Santa

Early birds can eat a pancake breakfast and take photos with Santa, plus make some holiday crafts.

Where: Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, 700 Alma St., Menlo Park

When: Sat., Dec. 3, 7:30-11:30 a.m.

Cost: $5 kids/$7 adults

Info: City of Menlo Park

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Holiday Train

The Caltrain Holiday Train, a festively lit locomotive that collects toys for kids (presented by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation) will be rolling into select Peninsula stations for 20-minute stops. Meet holiday characters and bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate.

Where: Various Caltrain stations (see online)

When: Dec. 3-4, station-stop times vary

Cost: Free (toy donation requested)

Info: Holiday Train

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Hometown Holidays

Redwood City's annual holiday festival includes a parade, dance performances, ice sculptures, tree lighting and a 3-D light show.

Where: Courthouse Square, Redwood City

When: Sat., Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: Hometown Holidays

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'Jul, jul: A Scandinavian Christmas'

God Jul! The California Bach Society choir will sing in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Latin, and English during its celebration of Scandinavian music and Christmas traditions, with a repertoire ranging from traditional folk carols to modern pieces.

Where: All Saints' Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m.

Cost: $10-$35

Info: CalBach

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Artists' Holiday Open Studios

Seven galleries and studio spaces around Redwood City will be open to the public as part of the first-annual Artists' Holiday Open Studios, presented by the community organization Arts RWC. Around 80 local artists will present their work and show off their processes.

Where: Multiple locations; see online

When: Saturday, Dec. 3, and Sunday, Dec. 4, 12-5 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: ARTSRWC

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'Christmas Jubilations'

The Bay Choral Guild joins the Frequency 49 woodwind quintet for a holiday show featuring the world premiere of a BCG commission, "Missa Brevis for the Refugees of War" by local composer Henry Mollicone, an arrangement of traditional Christmas melodies by Swedish composer Anders Ă–hrwall, and Daniel Pinkham's "Christmas Jubilations."

Where: First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m.

Cost: $5-$25

Info: Bay Choral Guild

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Ragazzi Boys Chorus

The Ragazzi Boys Chorus will perform two local shows in December: "In the Company of Angels," about the role of angels in the Christmas story, and the group's winter recital, which concludes with sing-along carols.

Where: First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m. ("Angels") and Saturday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. (winter recital).

Cost: $17-$29

Info: Ragazzi Boys Chorus

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'Harps for the Holidays'

Harpeggio presents its 18th annual concert of solo harpists and a 20-harpist ensemble performing traditional carols and holiday favorites.

Where: Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Ave., Los Altos

When: Saturday, Dec. 3, at 4 p.m.

Cost: $12-$15

Info: Harpeggio

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'Twas the Night Before Christmas'

Dancers Repertory Theatre presents its 12th annual performance of the classic Christmas poem, including 150 dance students and dancers from the professional company.

Where: Woodside Performing Arts Center, 199 Churchill Ave., Woodside

When: Dec. 4, 10 and 11 at 1 and 4 p.m.

Cost: $15-$25

Info: Twas the Night Before Christmas

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Christmas Creche Exhibit

The 29th Annual Christmas Creche Exhibit returns, featuring more than 350 nativity scenes from around the world, a community-service project, children's crafts and live music.

Where: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3865 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

When: Dec. 3-7, noon-9 p.m.

Cost: Free; canned-food donation suggested

Info: Christmas Creche

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Palo Alto Studios Holiday Party

The artists of Palo Alto Studios will showcase their paintings, drawings, ceramics, prints and more, along with live music by the Parenthesis Jazz Duo.

Where: 4030 Transport St., Palo Alto

When: Sunday, Dec. 4, 1-5 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: Palo Alto Studios

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'Celtic Rose: Rare Holiday Gems'

Celtic Rose (the musical duo of Caroline Garbarino and Doris Williams) will perform lesser-known holiday songs from a variety of cultural traditions on lute, drum, recorder and guitar.

Where: Mountain View Library, 585 Franklin St.

When: Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: Celtic Rose

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Mountain View Breakfast with Santa

Families are invited to a catered breakfast with Santa, plus live entertainment, holiday stories, photos and crafts.

Where: Mountain View Senior Center, 266 Escuela Ave., Mountain View

When: Saturday, Dec. 10, 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Cost: $15-$20

Info: City of Mountain View

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'Gamble Garden Grinch-mas'

Gamble Garden hosts a Dr. Suess-themed day of holiday fun, including face painting, treats and, of course, reading from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Where: Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 10, from 10:30 a.m. to noon

Cost: $25-$40

Info: Gamble Garden

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'Holiday Musicale'

Stanford's Early Music Singers, members of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and harpist Selina Her will perform a program of seasonal works and carols, sponsored by the Friends of Music at Stanford and the university's music department.

Where: Memorial Church, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford

When: Saturday, Dec. 10, at 2:30 p.m.

Cost: $10-$15

Info: Stanford Events

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Palo Alto Ballet School's 'Nutcracker'

Palo Alto Ballet School will perform its abbreviated version of "The Nutcracker Suite" with guest artist Francisco Preciado.

Where: Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 10, at 2 and 6 p.m.

Cost: $10-$25

Info: Palo Alto Ballet

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'The Christmas Ballet'

Smuin, the Bay Area-based contemporary ballet company, presents its annual "Christmas Ballet," this year featuring three world premieres. The show's highlight may be its beloved "Santa Baby" number, which this year stars Redwood City native Erica Felsch (along with Erin Yarbrough-Powell and Nicole Haskins) dancing with the "world's longest feather boa" to the sultry Eartha Kitt song.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Dec. 7-11 at 8 p.m. (plus weekend matinees at 2 p.m.)

Cost: $56-$72

Info: Smuin Ballet

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Ragazzi Continuo

Ragazzi Continuo, the men's spinoff of Ragazzi Boys Chorus, will perform its own holiday concert, "Christmastime is Here," at performances in Redwood City and Palo Alto.

Where: St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 178 Clinton St., Redwood City and Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston Road, Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 10, at 7:30 p.m. (Redwood City) and Sunday, Dec. 18, at 5 p.m. (Palo Alto)

Cost: $15-$25

Info: Ragazzi Continuo

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'Wintersongs'

Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble, which is inspired by traditional vocal techniques and songs from Eastern Europe, will perform its annual concert of holiday music ranging from Slavic folk carols to Eastern Orthodox sacred music, Muslim hymns, pagan Baltic incantations and Yiddish Hanukkah songs.

Where: St. Bede's Episcopal Church, 2650 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park

When: Sunday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m.

Cost: $15-40

Info: Kitka

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Y-Studs a cappella group

The Y-Studs, or "Yeshiva Students," an a cappella group from Yeshiva University, will perform a Hanukkah concert alongside beatbox duo Ilan and Josh (seen on "America's Got Talent").

Where: Oshman JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

When: Sunday, Dec. 11, at 4:30 p.m.

Cost: $18-$25

Info: Y-Studs

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'It's a Wonderful Nutcracker'

Menlowe Ballet combines two Christmas classics into one: "It's a Wonderful Nutcracker" blends the beloved Frank Capra film with the magical Tchaikovsky ballet.

Where: Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton

When: Dec. 9-11 and 16-18 at 7 p.m. (plus weekend matinees at 2 p.m.)

Cost: $35-$65

Info: Menlowe Ballet

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'From Us to You: A Musical Celebration of the Holidays'

Local youth performers join adult actors for Los Altos Stage Company's holiday musical, which features a visit from Father Christmas himself (including a sing-along, photos with Santa and holiday treats).

Where: Bus Barn Theatre, 97 Hillview Ave., Los Altos

When: Dec. 16-18, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Cost: $15-$20

Info: Los Altos Stage Company

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'A Certain Slant of Light'

The Peninsula Women's Chorus will perform works by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds, Ernst Bacon, Joseph Haydn and Ron Jeffers, among others, and conclude with a holiday sing-along.

Where: Saint Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, at 2:30 p.m.

Cost: $10-$35

Info: Peninsula Women's Chorus

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'Winter's Gifts'

The Choral Project and the San Jose Chamber Orchestra join forces to present "Winter's Gifts," a concert of live holiday music that honors winter traditions from around the world.

Where: First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, 1140 Cowper St.

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, at 8 p.m.

Cost: $10-$35

Info: Choral Project

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Holiday Ukulele Jam

Uke-lovers (or the uke-curious) are invited to bring a ukulele or borrow one from the library and strum some holiday songs while sipping cider. All levels and abilities welcome.

Where: Mountain View Library, 585 Franklin St.

When: Saturday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: Mountain View Library

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'Christmas Angels' and 'Messiah Sing'

Hallelujah! Schola Cantorum is celebrating its 50th year of offering a sing-along performance of Handel's triumphant "Messiah." (A preparatory workshop, going over some of the piece's lesser-known sections, will be held Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. at Shoup Park Garden House, 400 University Ave, in Los Altos). And on Dec. 18, the choir is also performing a family-friendly show, "Christmas Angels," featuring lullabies and carols with special guest harpist Dan Levitan.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Sunday, Dec. 18, at 3 p.m. ("Christmas Angels") and Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. ("Messiah").

Cost: $16-30 ("Angels"), $23-$41("Messiah")

Info: Schola Cantorum

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Hanukkah lunch and concert

Pianist and award-winning Broadway expert Richard Glazier will provide entertainment at a luncheon featuring traditional Hanukkah foods and blessings.

Where: Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

When: Tuesday, Dec. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Cost: $20

Info: Palo Alto JCC

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'An Irish Christmas'

Irish music, song and dance are brought to life in "An Irish Christmas" (the show's also been broadcast on PBS).

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Wed., Dec. 21, at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $35-$60

Info: An Irish Christmas

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'Oy, Humbug!'

Curtains Cabaret is back at Dragon Theatre, this time with a holiday treat. "Oy, Humbug!" is billed as a "variety show for the rest of us" that will "celebrate the winter holidays that Christmas forgot" and will give locals a non-traditional option for Christmas Eve. Expect a blend of striptease, songs, dance, comedy and more.

Where: Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway St., Redwood City

When: Saturday, Dec. 24, at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $10-$20

Info: Curtains Cabaret

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'It's a Wonderful Life'

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings." Admit it; you know it, you love it, you're crying just thinking about it. The tear-jerking Frank Capra film "It's a Wonderful Life" screens as usual on Christmas Eve at the Stanford Theatre.

Where: 221 University Ave., Palo Alto

When: Dec. 24 at 9 p.m.

Cost: $5-$7

Info: Stanford Theatre

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