Calendar | December 2021


TheatreWorks’ It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

Cue the nostalgia! In TheatreWorks’ It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, the iconic story of George Bailey is presented as a live 1940s radio broadcast, voiced by five actors taking on dozens of roles and even creating the sound effects. Catch the show at Palo Alto’s Lucie Stern Community Theatre or stream it from anywhere. Through December 26 (with previews December 1–3). Tickets: from $30.


Dickens Fair. | Photo courtesy of Rich Yee.

Drive Thru Dickens’ London

Making a pandemic pivot, this year’s Great Dickens Christmas Fair is billed as: Drive Thru Dickens’ London. Revelers can participate from their cars, rather than inside the Cow Palace. The Daly City venue’s exterior will be transformed with scenes from A Christmas Carol as well as stages featuring live music, comedy and dance. English food and drink, along with handcrafted gifts, will be available for purchase. Weekends, through December 19. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Tickets: $25 per vehicle.



Nutcracker Sweet

It’s an ideal intro to a beloved holiday tradition: Nutcracker Sweet offers an abridged version of the ballet, designed for audiences ages 3 to 6. For an extra treat, reserve a spot at the Sugar Plum Tea Party. December 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tickets: $55–$115. Peninsula Ballet Theatre, San Mateo.



Sleigh Bells Ring

Get into the holiday spirit with Sleigh Bells Ring, a magic show for kids. Arts and crafts, an ice cream truck and shopping are also part of the festivities — plus Frozen’s Elsa will be making a special appearance. Tickets: from $20. 10:30–11:30 a.m. Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden, Palo Alto.



Symphony San Jose’s Beethoven Turns 251

Symphony San Jose’s Beethoven Turns 251, conducted by John Nelson, includes pianist Jon Nakamatsu performing the German composer’s Piano Concerto No. 4 and Symphony No. 5. December 4 at 8 p.m. and December 5 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $55–$115. California Theatre, San Jose.



The Art of the Brick

Here’s your chance to see more than 1 million Legos in one spot, arranged into 70-plus sculptures by Nathan Sawaya. The Art of the Brick includes the award-winning artist’s original creations as well as versions of famous masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s “David,” Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” Through January 30. Tickets: from $21. 1 Grant Avenue, San Francisco.



Deck the Hall Drive-In

San Francisco’s Fort Mason parking lot will be the site of two showings of Deck the Hall Drive-In, a digital concert event featuring the San Francisco Symphony. 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sponsorships: $500–$10,000.



Wender Weis Foundation for Children’s Holiday Heroes

Wender Weis Foundation for Children’s Holiday Heroes is making it easy for everyone to join in this year’s festivities. Party in the City at Oracle Park alongside celebrity athletes and your favorite team mascots. Or purchase a box, filled with an array of goodies, to be enjoyed at home or donated. Either way, you’ll be supporting the foundation’s goal of raising the spirits of 300 underserved children. (Find out more in this month’s Preview, page 30.) Tickets/boxes: from $150. 5:30–8 p.m. NHG Sponsored



Cool Yule

Chill out with Cool Yule, San José State University Jazz Orchestra’s concert, directed by Aaron Lington and highlighting beloved holiday classics. The Valley Christian High School Ensemble will help launch the evening’s festivities. Tickets: $29. 7:30 p.m. Hammer Theatre Center, San Jose.



San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker

Set in the City in 1915, San Francisco Ballet’s enchanting Nutcracker, showcasing more than 150 dancers, pairs Tchaikovsky’s score with choreography by Helgi Tómasson. War Memorial Opera House. Through December 30. Tickets: from $19.



Holigays Are Here… Again

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is back! Featuring more than 250 singers and kicking off its 44th season, the Holigays Are Here… Again concert will take place at two San Francisco venues. December 10 and 11 at Sydney Golden Theater; December 24 at the Castro Theatre. Tickets: from $25.



Carols in the California

Enjoy your favorite yuletide tunes in a stunning setting — San Jose’s historic California Theatre — complete with a choir and brass ensemble. Carols in the California, conducted by Elena Sharkova, features Symphony San Jose and the SSJ Chorale. Tickets: $36; $26 for attendees ages 26 and under. 7 p.m.



A Merry- Achi Christmas

’Tis the season for A Merry- Achi Christmas. Led by José Hernández, Mariachi Sol del Mexico brings the festive sounds of holiday favorites from Mexico and America to San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. Tickets: $20–$120. 8 p.m.



Pink Martini Holiday Spectacular

Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall welcomes vocalist China Forbes and her bandmates for Pink Martini Holiday Spectacular, an afternoon of classical music, jazz and old-fashioned pop. Tickets: $15– $92. 4 p.m.



The Woman in Black

The original London production of the West End hit The Woman in Black makes its San Francisco premiere at the Strand Theater. The chilling play — based on Susan Hill’s ghost novel — revolves around a remote mansion in England, whose shuttered windows hide tragic secrets. Through January 16. Tickets: $35–$85.



A Chanticleer Christmas

A Chanticleer Christmas returns to Stanford’s Memorial Church, with the San Francisco men’s vocal ensemble front and center at the historic venue. The holiday tradition of including the creation of a new program every year remains intact. Tickets: $15–$64. 7:30 p.m.



Hip-Hop Nutcracker

The Peninsula Ballet Theatre drops the beat with Hip-Hop Nutcracker, artistic directors and choreographers Isaac “Stuck” Sanders and Alee Martinez’s take on the 129-year-old ballet. December 17 at 7 p.m. and December 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets: $25–$65. Fox Theatre, Redwood City.



David Benoit Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown

David Benoit Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown features the Grammy-nominated contemporary jazz pianist playing his own original songs in addition to Vince Guaraldi classics from the cherished Peanuts specials. The performance, with vocalist Courtney Fortune, will be held in the Carriage House Theatre on the grounds of Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga. Tickets: $59– $65; $15 parking. 7:30–9:30 p.m.



Holiday Gaiety

Looking for a holiday variety show with some flair? Check out Holiday Gaiety at Davies Symphony Hall, co-emceed by conductor Edwin Outwater and drag dynamo Peaches Christ, with music by the San Francisco Symphony and performances by myriad special guests. Tickets: $29– $109. 7:30 p.m.



The San Jose Nutcracker

The San Jose Nutcracker, presented by New Ballet at the restored California Theatre, takes Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet and sets it in turn-of-the-century Santa Clara Valley. Dalia Rawson choreographed the production, which stars Rebecca Nugent as Clara. Through December 22. Tickets: from $25; VIP Experience available.



Soulful Joy

Since 1947, Christmas at Grace Cathedral has meant musical diversions in a majestic setting in the City, and this year is no different. Among the slate of holiday happenings — check the cathedral’s website for all of them — is Soulful Joy, a jazz concert led by Destiny Muhammad. Tickets: from $15. 7:30 p.m.



The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

John Mauceri conducts the San Francisco Symphony, while Tony winner Alan Cumming narrates E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Tickets: $20–$99. 7:30 p.m. Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco.


Cirque Christmas. | Photo courtesy of Matt Bishop.

A Magical Cirque Christmas

Don’t miss A Magical Cirque Christmas, coming to the San Jose Center for Performing Arts for one night only. Prepared to be dazzled by an assortment of entertainers and cirque artists, with holiday music performed live. Tickets: $43–$103. 7:30 p.m.



Darrin Criss at Davies Symphony Hall

Darrin Criss takes the stage at Davies Symphony Hall to ring in 2022 with the San Francisco Symphony. The actor, singer and songwriter — a native of the City — belt outs an array of hit songs for a rollicking New Year’s Eve. Tickets: $35–$175. 7:30 p.m.


Santa, Skating, A Circus And More


Mainly Mexican

Sin Título Gallery’s latest pop-up exhibition brings the vibrancy of today’s Latin American art scene to downtown San Francisco. Mainly Mexican explores art movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, with works by the likes of Vanessa Freitag, Sergio Chávez Hollar and Elsoldelrac. Through December 24. Thursday–Saturday, noon–6 p.m.; Sunday, noon–4 p.m.; and by appointment.



Behind the Mirror

Cirque de Bohème, inspired by an old-fashioned Paris circus, has returned to Cornerstone Sonoma. This winter’s all-new show, Behind the Mirror, combines poetry, music and mystery. World-class performers such as a magician, mime, contortionist, mentalist and juggler take the stage to wow audiences. (Bonus: Onsite restaurant Folktable, helmed by Top Chef star Casey Thompson, has devised a special menu that’s perfect for enjoying before or after the show.) Every weekend through December 26, 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets: $28–$38.



Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square

For many, winter in the City is synonymous with the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square. The iconic plaza, in the heart of downtown San Francisco’s shopping scene, beckons skaters of all levels. This year’s events include Flashback Fridays (to the ’80s), Drag Queens on Ice and a Polar Bear Skate (with prizes!). Through January 17. Tickets: $19, including skate rental.



Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery’s San Francisco exhibition

New York-based Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery’s inaugural San Francisco exhibition continues this month. Set in Gallery 181, a penthouse in the luxe 181 Fremont residential building, the show spotlights 16 artists, including Jay DeFeo, Chris Johanson and Annette Lemieux. Through December 31. By appointment only.



Fairmont San Francisco’s Giant Gingerbread House

The Fairmont and See’s Candies — two treasured local institutions — have partnered on an epic edible creation: a two-story gingerbread house in the San Francisco hotel’s festively appointed lobby. Kids can write letters to St. Nicholas in the North Pole Nook that has been set up, while adults partake in the Moët champagne bar. Through January 2. Admission is $10 for non-hotel guests without a holiday tea or dining reservation; proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area.


Filoli Santa | Photo courtesy of Tiffany Zabala
Filoli Santa | Photo courtesy of Tiffany Zabala

Holidays at Filoli

Marvel at the sparkly splendor of Holidays at Filoli. Throughout the season, the historic Woodside estate’s mansion and gardens are hosting special events, including themed Monday nights and weekend visits from Santa. (Read more about Filoli in Spirits of the Bay, page 42.) Through January 2. Daytime admission (10 a.m.– 4 p.m.): $12–$28. Evening admission (4–8 p.m.): $16–$38.



Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice in San Jose

Keep cool at Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice in San Jose, celebrating its 25th anniversary, and skate around the illuminated palm trees for a truly magical experience. Noteworthy happenings: the Silent Skate Party, Musical Mondays (presented by Broadway San Jose) and a joint event with Humane Society Silicon Valley. Through January 9. Tickets: $19, including skate rental.

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