The winter holidays are dead ahead, so now is the perfect time to buy tickets and make reservations for holiday fun. Here are a few recommendations for everything from music and theater to interesting local gift shopping.
Dancing the Eternal Nutcracker
The holiday chestnut of all time is The Nutcracker ballet, Tchaikovsky’s 1892 musical imagining of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” Though it didn’t hit the top of the charts in the 19th century, had there but been charts in those days, this easy-to-love ballet has become a major crowd pleaser — and moneymaker — for dance companies around the country since San Francisco Ballet staged it in 1944. That success came not only because people want a cheerful holiday spectacle but also because of the large number of roles in the ballet for dancing children, whose parents, relatives and friends all buy tickets.
Eugene Ballet has been doing Nutcracker as part of its repertoire since the company formed in 1981, often traveling around the Northwest before returning to Eugene for the show’s final performances at the Hult Center. They’re taking the show to Anchorage, Alaska, this year for the 10th time since 2009; there they’ll be doing seven performances over Thanksgiving weekend. In case you don’t want to travel that far to see them, the ballet is also doing six shows at the Hult Center in Eugene Dec. 21-24 and Dec. 26. Tix are $25-$65, $15 youth and students with ID, at EugeneBallet.org/performances and the Hult box office, 541-682-5000.
For a more jazzed up version of the tale, check out Ballet Fantastique’s holiday show (yes, Eugene has two professional ballet companies), Babes in Toyland: A Holiday Story, which features familiar classics as well as Duke Ellington’s jazz “Nutcracker.” The show runs Thanksgiving weekend at the Hult’s Silva Concert Hall, with performances at 7:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 25, and 2:30 pm Sunday, Nov. 26. Tickets are $22-$76, students/youth $15-$65, with $5 off regularly priced tickets for groups of 6 or more; get them at 541-682-5000 and HultCenter.org.
Theater: Christmas Carols, Wayward Elves and a Bit of British Comedy
What would Christmas be without a grumbling Scrooge? And Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim? Actors Cabaret of Eugene, our town’s best little dinner theater that does nothing but musicals, is bringing back the Broadway musical version of A Christmas Carol, the popular story based on Charles Dickens’ strange 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. ACE’s Christmas Carol opens at 7:30 pm Friday, Nov. 17, and runs Friday and Saturday evenings through Dec. 16, with 2 pm Sunday matinees on Nov. 26 and Dec. 3; tix at ActorsCabaret.org and at 541-683-4368. Order dinner with your tickets; the food at ACE is excellent.
For a more-spontaneous version of Dickens, check out No Script Society Improv’s A Scriptless Carolat 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15 and 16, in the intimate Stage Left at Very Little Theatre, 2350 Hilyard Street. The 90-minute show uses the Dickens original as a starting point for improvisation. Admission is by suggested donation of $10.
Should you want a more contemporary musical, head down to Cottage Grove and check out Elf the Musical, which opens Dec. 1 and runs through Dec. 23 at Cottage Theatre, 700 Village Drive. Based on the 2003 movie, the show follows Buddy the Elf in his quest for his true identity. Shows are 7:30 pm Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 Sundays, except that the Dec. 23 show is at 2:30 pm. Kids of all ages can meet and greet Santa in the lobby between 6:30 and 7 pm at evening shows and from 1:30 to 2 pm for matinees. Tix are $27 adult, $15 for 18 and under, at CottageTheatre.org and 541-942-8001.
Jane Austen fans can load up on regency holiday revelry when Oregon Contemporary Theatre decks its halls with Lauren Gunderson’s festive Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas At Pemberley. The show, populated with characters from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, runs Dec. 1 through Dec. 17 at OCT, 194 West Broadway; tix at OCTheatre.org and 541-465-1506.
Continuing the British theme, a traveling duo brings the flavor of Monty Python and Mr. Bean, with some audience participation thrown in, to the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater for three performances at 3 pm and 7:30 pm Dec. 9 and 3 pm Dec. 10. O Christmas Tea: A British Comedy is woven from wordplay and physical comedy by the comedy duo of James & Jamesy.
Tickets are $45 to $69 at OChristmasTea.com and 541-682-5000.
Just Plain Music
Traditional American Christmas fare, with a dollop of Tin Pan Alley, will be served up at Snowfall, the annual family Christmas concert at The Shedd, 868 High Street, at 7:30 pm Friday, Dec 15, and 3 pm Sunday, Dec. 17.
Artistic director Shirley Andress joins band leader Vicki Brabham and the Jazz Kings’ Christmas crew, including Bill Hulings and Marisa Frantz, for a program that ranges from “White Christmas” to “Silent Night” and the wistful “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Tickets are $12 to $36 at TheShedd.org.
Eugene Concert Choir performs A Merry Olde English Christmas at 2:30 pm Sunday, Dec. 10, at the Hult’s Silva Concert Hall. The 100-voice choir, decked out in Victorian attire, sings music of the English Renaissance. Tickets are $25 to $52, $10 for students and youths, at EugeneConcertChoir.org.
One way to enjoy the holidays is by buying — or just window shopping for — interesting gifts. And one of the best places to go shopping is Eugene’s art galleries and centers — and it’s always free to shop, at least until you buy something.
Maude Kerns Art Center, 1910 E. 15th Avenue, has its biggest show of the year when its 31st annual Art for All Seasons Membership Show and Club Mud Ceramics Holiday Show & Sale opens Friday, Nov. 17, with a reception from 5 to 7 pm, and runs through Friday, Dec. 15. Receptions are free and open to the public. The two shows feature work by more than 170 member artists, who have been busy all year creating plaster works, paintings, drawings, watercolors, prints, photography, metal, sculpture, jewelry, fiber art, wearable textiles, tapestry, basketry weaving, mixed media, fiber art, collage, ceramics, art quilts and video art.
The Eugene First Friday ArtWalk on Friday, Dec. 1, has downtown galleries staying open later into the evening, from 5:30 pm to 8 pm. Stop by the Farmers Market Pavilion, 85 E. 8th Avenue, to pick up an ArtWalk guide, browse the Artist Marketplace, and catch a free live concert by The Sugar Beets from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Holiday Market will return to the Lane Events Center, 796 W. 13th Avenue, opening Saturday, Nov. 18, and running weekends through Sunday, Dec. 24. Market hours are 10 am to 6 pm except for Dec. 24, when it closes at 4 pm. Family activities will be offered from 3 pm to 6 pm most market days, and on the last day, Dec. 24, Man of Words Theatre Company presents A Christmas Carol from noon to 2 pm. Free.
You can also check out Holiday Marketplace from noon to 4 pm Friday, Dec. 1, and 10 am to 4 pm Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Bob Keefer Center (no known relation to this writer), 250 S. 32nd St, Springfield. Free.
The market offers vintage, handcrafted holiday items suitable for presents or decor as well as enough food you can make it a lunch stop.
Junction City Scandinavian Festival’s Holiday Bazaar runs 9 am to 4 pm Saturday, Nov. 18, at Gale F. Fletchall Hall, 195 W. 5th Ave, Junction City. Twenty-two vendors will offer cookies, pipes, jewelry, magnets, succulents, gift items and more, and you can enter the raffle to win gift baskets, enjoy plenty of food and get pictures at the free photo booth.
Floor it down to Cottage Grove Speedway this month and next to indulge in the immersive holiday blowout Walking in a Winter Wonderland, described as “a walk through Christmas experience with fun and magic for children and adults alike.” Imagine the Speedway property decorated with thousands of lights and offering a Hot Chocolate Bar, fire pits and restaurant tents serving dinner. The Wonderland runs 5 pm to 10 pm Nov. 23-26, Dec. 1-3 and 8-10, and then nightly from Dec. 15-31. Tickets, at CottageGroveSpeedway.com/winterwonderland, are $10 adults, $5 kids and $25 for a family of four. In case you can’t get enough in one evening, season passes are $25 adults, $10 kids. Make dinner reservations in advance at 541-729-8666. Cash only.
The 6th Annual Midwinter Enchantment Yule Ball,which runs noon to 2 am — all ages before 8 pm — at Old Nick’s Pub, 211 Washington Street, features everything from kids crafting and a puppet show to live sword fights, beautiful vendors selling beautiful magical wares and a hot dance party, with awards for best costumes — starting at 9 pm — with DJ Refugium. Cascades Raptor Center will bring a live owl, and Dubelevay will perform fire dances; get photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Tickets, a schedule and more information at OldNicksPub.com.
The 71st annual Springfield Christmas Parade, aka the town’s “oldest and coldest” holiday parade, kicks off at 1 pm Saturday, Dec. 2, courtesy of the Oregon Riders Society — that’s “riders” as in motorcycles. This year’s theme is “Santa Paws is Coming to Town” and honors “the pets and animals we love and those that help us take care of them.” The parade starts at 21st and Olympic and ends at Main & Pioneer Parkway East.
The 2023 Creswell Winter Lights celebration brings bright lights, a parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus, a holiday market and hot chocolate and cookies to downtown Creswell’s main drag, also known as Oregon Avenue, on Saturday, Dec. 9. The vendor market is open from 10 am to 7 pm, and the parade kicks off at 5 pm.
Looking for New Year’s Eve entertainment? Here are a couple ideas for both the electronic music crowd and the classical music aficionados out there who want to ring in the new year with music.
San Francisco electronic dance music artist The Polish Ambassador — also known as David Sugalski — brings in the new year with an electronica concert at McDonald Theatre. Opening will be Saqui, Scott Nice and Yamanjo. Doors open at 8 pm, and a comedy concert begins at 8:45 pm. General admission tix are $35 advance at Cascade Tickets, and day-of tickets $40 at the McDonald box office, which opens at 5:30 pm.
The symphony crowd will want to check out Eugene Symphony’s New Year’s Eve Party, which begins with an 8:30 pm concert at the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall with Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor; Alexandre Dossin, piano; and Eugene vocalist Halie Loren, doing a program that features Strauss waltzes, favorites from the Great American Songbook and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which is about to reach the 100th anniversary of its 1924 premiere. After the concert, enjoy dancing and drinks in the Hult lobby. Tickets are $20 to $65 at HultCenter.org.