Along with an array of yuletide festivities to partake in over the next couple of weeks (including several Nutcracker productions with a twist), there’s a spate of wonderful activities that don’t involve any mistletoe or carols (from a circus with Parisian influences to a West End play on the local stage). Amid the holiday frenzy, treat yourself to something sweet or savory from a new spot opening this week in the Ferry Building.
Seasonal Fun for the Science-Minded
(Cal Academy’s Science Under the Sea Stars)
San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences is kicking off a brand-new wintertime event, Science Under the Sea Stars, that includes a magic show, cookie decorating, a snow science experiment, yuletide-themed crafts, puppet shows and more. Even the cafe will be getting into the spirit, with special items such as eggnog and latkes. Plus! All exhibits will be open late.
Wednesday, December 15, 6–9 p.m.
A Remix of a Yuletide Classic
(Peninsula Ballet Theatre’s 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. Get tickets for the Friday show at Redwood City’s Fox Theatre while you still can! (Saturday’s performance is already sold out.)
Friday, December 17, 7 p.m.
Put a Little Variety in Your Holidays
(Holiday Gaiety, co-emceed by Edwin Outwater and Peaches Christ)
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.
Friday, December 17, 7:30 p.m.
Meet Your New Favorite Ferry Building Spot
Pudding lovers — of the custard and bread variety, sweet and savory — rejoice! On Friday, Quanisha Johnson debuts a brick-and-mortar location of Yes Pudding at the Ferry Building. Come celebrate and devour some of her famous banana pudding. The day kicks off with an hourlong grand opening ceremony, with the shop staying open until 7 p.m. (Psst … Johnson is expanding her menu to include seasonal crisps!)
Friday, December 17, 11 a.m.
A Very Silicon Valley 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.
December 18–December 22; VIP Experience available.
Enjoy Jazz and More at an SF Landmark
(Christmas at Grace Cathedral, including Soulful Joy led by Destiny Muhammad)
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 next week’s Soulful Joy, a jazz concert led by Destiny Muhammad.
Monday, December 20, 7:30 p.m.
A Tony Winner’s Take on Tchaikovsky
(SF Symphony’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, narrated by Alan Cumming)
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. This new production has three parts: the origin of the Nutcracker, what happens on Christmas Eve, and the status of the girl and the prince once the ballet comes to a close.
Tuesday, December 21, 7:30 p.m.
Spend Christmas Eve at the Castro Theatre
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is presenting its Home for the Holidays concert three times on Christmas Eve. No matter which performance you attend at the historic Castro Theatre, expect an evening of mischief and merriment.
Friday, December 24, 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Catch a Circus in Sonoma
(Cirque de Bohème’s 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.
A Good Case of Stage Fright
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.