Dickens and drag queens and dreidels (oh my!)

culture@sfbg.com

HOLIDAY GUIDE 2011 You know what would be a good present to yourself this holiday season? Some ankle weights. Imagine all the almond cake and vegan eggnog you’ll have shoved into your belly by this time next month, you soon-to-be-less-svelte snowy sexpot. Not into approximating a house arrest prisoner? How about pledging to run about to as many as the Bay’s holiday hotspots as possible this year — you’ll be a Kwanzaa cutie in no time a’tall. And with such jingling gems — from costume fairs to drag queens in Union Square and free chamber orchestra performances — you’ll come out on the other side (2012) cut and cultured. 

 

Union Square iceskating rink Good news for nervous wall-grabbers and double axel spinners alike: the holiday ice rink is back at Union Square. Cue icicle lights, grand romantic gestures, and seizing onto strangers for suddenly-needed support.

Through Jan. 16. 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m. except for when closed for private parties, $10 for 90-minute session. Union Square, SF. www.unionsquareicerink.com

 

Great Dickens Fair Before Harry Potter and Kate Middleton transformed young Americans into full-blown Anglophiles, a whole different conception of Britain flourished stateside: the Dickensian version, replete with scones and hot toddies. Walk off your burgeoning middle with a jaunt through the Cow Palace’s temporary lamp-lit alleys.

Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 18, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., $25. Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva, SF. www.dickensfair.com

 

“The Best Time of Year” SF Symphony Christmas special concert The San Francisco Symphony and Chorus exhale classical Christmas picks and carols to a fully-bedecked Davies Symphony Hall.

Nov.30-Dec.1, 8 p.m., $25–$68. Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness, SF. (451) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org

 

Working Solutions holiday gift fair Showcasing San Francisco businesses assisted by Working Solutions’ micro loan programs, this fair lets shoppers pick up everything from Bernal Heights-wrought knives to chunks of Mission-crafted chocolate.

Dec. 1, 5-8 p.m., free. 101 Second St., SF. (415) 655-5433, www.tmcworkingsolutions.org

 

The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes Trannyshack takes on the blue-haired wonder that was The Golden Girls in a glitzy, raucous yearly San Francisco tradition.

Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays Dec. 1-23, 8 p.m., $25–$30. Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St., SF. www.trannyshack.com

 

A Christmas Carol There’s no better way to get in the mistletoe mood than to watch old Ebenezer slowly thaw out his icy, pinched heart in the Deco glory of the ACT Theatre.

Dec. 1-24, 7 p.m., $20–$75. American Conservatory Theatre, 415 Geary, SF. (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org

 

Holiday tree-lighting ceremony Jack London Square becomes a Bay-side holiday crèche two hours with live reindeer, snow, wintry tunes, and a tree-lighting to launch the flurry of the holidays.

Dec. 2, 5-7 p.m., free. Jack London Square, Oakl. www.jacklondonsquare.com


Oakland-Alameda Estuary lighted yacht parade How can yachts parade, you ask? With style, we answer — East Bay boat owners trick out their vessels with festive lights visible from the shore.

Dec. 3, 5:30 p.m., free. Visible from Jack London Square, Oakl. www.lightedyachtparade.com

 

Fantasy of Lights celebration ‘Tis the season for brilliant night-time lights, and Union Street will not be an exception. Stately Victorians provide the glowing background for a holiday gathering featuring everything from a monkey to Santa and his elves.

Dec. 3, 3-7 p.m., free. Union between Van Ness and Steiner, Fillmore between Union and Lombard, SF. www.sresproductions.com

 

San Francisco Forest Choir Imagine yourself in a snowy Narnia glen, the Forbidden Forest, or roaming through the woods with Hansel and Gretel to the music of the San Francisco Forest Choir, an all-female group who sing in Japanese and English at the Western Addition library.

Dec. 3, 3-4 p.m., free. Western Addition branch library, 1550 Scott, SF. (415) 355-5727, www.sfpl.org.

 

Sharon Art Studio winter pottery and craft sale Thousands of gleaming pieces are up for sale by this staple of the Bay Area craft scene; lug your loot home and get your bicep curls out of the way for a week.

Dec. 4, 11 a.m., free. Sharon Art Studio, Children’s Playground, Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 753-7005, www.sharonartstudio.org

 

SF Chamber Orchestra holiday family concert Circus Bella and the SF Chamber Orchestra team up for a strangely compelling holiday pairing: clownish acrobatics set to the strains of classical music.

Dec. 4, 3-4 p.m., free with RSVP. Bayview Opera House, 4705 Third St., SF. (415) 824-0386, www.bayviewoperahouse.org

 

Gourmet Ghetto’s snow day For those Bay citizens unfamiliar with the bliss of a true snow day, the Gourmet Ghetto’s version provides a superior version to the rest of the country’s admittedly frigid ones: real snow, yes, but also crafting, hot cocoa and cookies, a Snow Queen, and the warmth of community.

Dec. 5 10 a.m.-3 p.m., free. Andronico’s parking lot, 1550 Shattuck, Berk.; 1-4 p.m., free. M. Lowe and Co., 1519 Shattuck, Berk.; Noon-4 p.m., free. Twig and Fig, 2110 Vine, Berk. www.gourmetghetto.org

 

“Winter in the Wineries” Sixteen wineries will stamp your passport for a two-month period starting December 2, enabling you to enjoy unlimited tastings, tours, and meet-and-greets throughout Napa Valley.

Various locations and times, Calistoga. www.calistogavisitors.com. $50 for one passport ticket

 

Palestinian Craft Fair Straight from the hands of Palestinian artists and craftspeople: olive oil-based soap, embroidery, glassware, ceramics, books, honey, and Dead Sea products sold to benefit their makers an ocean away.

Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., free. Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 548-0542, www.mecaforpeace.org

 

“Songs and Harps to Celebrate the Holiday Season” Harpists of the Bay, unite! The young pluckers of the Bay Area Youth Harp Ensemble join the Triskela Celtic Harp Trio to perform holiday pieces from around the world. Singing along is not only encouraged but expected.

Dec. 6, 6 p.m., free. Main Library, 100 Larkin, SF. (415) 557-4400, www.sfpl.org

 

“Drag Queens on Ice” Break out your very best glitz for a night spent skating next to legions of SF’s drag personalities. A 9:30 p.m. performance by the queens in question ends the evening.

Dec. 8, 8 p.m., $10 for 90-minute session. Union Square, SF. www.unionsquareicerink.com

 

“A Very Shut-Ins Xmas” The vanguard leaders of the “hulabilly” sound, the Shut-Ins return with a Christmas show to benefit San Francisco’s Legal Assistance to the Elderly.

Dec. 8, 5:30-8 p.m., $20. 50 Mason Social House, 50 Mason, SF. (415) 538-3333, www.laesf.org

 

Golden Gate Park tree lighting Golden Gate Park’s hundred-foot Monterey cypress (shouldn’t it have a name by now?) transforms into a light-bedecked behemoth for the 82 year.

Dec. 8, 5 p.m., free. McLaren Lodge, 501 Stanyan, SF.

 

La Cocina gift fair Its cryptic but tasty-sounding “tamale alley” should provide enough of a draw, but La Cocina’s gift fair also promises local vendors selling organic olive oils, handmade pasta, and mushrooms nourished by recycled coffee grounds. Pretty easy to stomach.

Dec. 9, 5-9 p.m., free. Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF. www.lacocinasf.org

 

Winter Wunderkammer holiday art sale The most you can spend here on one item is 50 bucks, the least a dollar. Accompanied by spiced wine and tunes, small-format works from local artists are on sale. Proceeds from this walk-in curio cabinet benefit The Lab and participating artists.

Opening party Dec. 9, 6-11 p.m., free. Also Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free. The Lab, 2948 16th St., SF. (415) 864-885, www.thelab.org

 

California Revels Ah, the revels. This year, the interactive period presentation will sit you smack down at the Round Table. Dance and sing, young knight — no one’s mocking you at this costume-heavy conclave.

Dec. 9-11, 16-18; Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. and Sun. 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., $19-52. Scottish Rite Theater, 2850 19th Ave., SF. (510) 452-8800, www.californiarevels.org

 

SF Ballet’s Nutcracker Even with its lampoonable name, the Nutcracker remains a incomparable date choice for its lush costumes, fantastical storyline, and ability to trigger childhood flashbacks.

Dec. 9-25, various times, $25–$285. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, SF. (415) 865-2000, www.sfballet.org

 

Misfit Toy Factory For one evening, artists cobble together sculptures, toys, and gifts under one roof to the beat of DJ Yukon Cornelius. Items are sold at the end of the evening for a fixed price of forty dollars.

Dec. 10, 7-10 p.m., free. Root Division, 3175 17th St., SF. (415) 863-7668, www.rootdivision.org

 

The Revolutionary Nutcracker Sweetie A radical alternative to the holiday classic, Dance Brigade’s version features Clara, an undocumented worker, a homeless Sugar Plum Fairy, and an angel of resistance.

Dec. 10, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Dec. 11, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., $15–$17. Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., SF. www.dancemission.com

 

Hanukah festival of light Geared towards the younger set and their handlers, the JCC East Bay’s festival of light features storytelling, menorah making, dreidel games, and a concert by Isaac Zones, a mainstay in the Bay’s Jewish music scene.

Dec. 11, 10 a.m-2 p.m., $5. JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut, Berk. www.jcceastbay.org.

 

“Holidays: Christmas, Chanukah, and Other Festive Celebrations” lecture Library docents present an examination of paintings from around the world dealing with everyone’s favorite subject: the giving, feasting, and receiving endemic to the holiday season.

Dec. 14, 6:30-7:30 p.m., free. Glen Park branch library, 2825 Diamond, SF. (415) 355-2858, www.sfpl.org

 

Mechanics’ Institute holiday gift and poster sale The staggeringly lovely Mechanics’ Institute hosts a large sale of hard-cover and paperback books, gifts, and posters straight from its library.

Dec. 15, 4:30-6:30 p.m., free. Mechanics’ Institute, 57 Post, SF. (415) 393-0100, www.milibrary.org

 

Holiday youth mariachi concert Three zestful youth mariachi bands perform traditional Mexican holiday music, providing an energizing segue into a sometimes exhausting season.

Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m., $10. Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission, SF. (415) 643-2785, www.missionculturalcenter.org

 

Holiday Memories double feature Head back to the times of toboggans and candle-lit windows with two short films recounting rural winters of yesteryear. A Child’s Christmas in Wales visualizes Dylan Thomas’ Welsh childhood; The Sweater animatedly recounts Roch Carrier’s Quebecois, hockey-centered upbringing.

Dec. 17, 2 p.m., free with $15 museum admission. The Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, SF. (415) 561-0360, www.exploratorium.edu

 

Renegade Craft Fair holiday market For the third year and showcasing more than 250 makers and craftspeople, the Renegade Craft Fair’s holiday happening can be a bit overwhelming. But it’s an undeniably great answer to gifting woes: pick up jewelry, body products, paper goods, clothing, and way, way more, all DIY enough to satisfy your most loca-ttired friend.

Dec. 17-18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., free. Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St., SF. www.renegadecraft.com

 

Reclaiming Yule ritual It may be chilly outside, but Sebastapol’s midwinter celebration (led by Starhawk, a leader in Bay Area earth-based spirituality) is indoors and full of warmth-inducing activities, namely dancing in honor of the Earth and Sun.

Dec. 18, 6:30 p.m., $7. Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris, Sebastapol. www.reclaiming.org

 

Solstice Eve celebration With a bonfire and roles doled out to participants (rocks, trees and mists), celebrating the longest night of the year on Ocean Beach is actually rather toasty. Bring items to release into the transformative fire — love letters are just the starting point.

Dec. 20, 3:30 p.m., free. Ocean Beach at Taraval, SF. www.reclaiming.org

 

Bill Graham menorah lighting The lighting itself takes place at 5 p.m., but the hours-long run-up is by no means lacking: traditional Jewish music, arts and crafts, and menorahs for every child fill Union Square starting at 3 p.m.

Dec. 20, 5 p.m., free. Union Square, SF. www.chabadsf.org

 

Kujichagulia celebration Kwanzaa’s day of personal definition and expression comes to City Hall, followed by a candle-lighting ceremony and dinner at Gussie’s, known for its fried tasties, red velvet cake, and Southern sweet tea.

Dec. 27, noon, City Hall, SF., 6 p.m., Gussies Chicken and Waffles, 1521 Eddy, SF. www.kwanzaasanfrancisco.com

 

Ujima celebration On Ujima, the third day of the week-long Kwanzaa holiday, community members gather to celebrate a collective spirit of responsibility and work.

Dec. 28, 3-6 p.m., free. Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, 1601 Lane, SF. www.sfpl.org

 

Keeping Score: Ives Holiday Symphony screening Unrecognized at the time of his death, experimentalist composer Charles Ives labored over his Holiday Symphony, which now gets fitting recognition by the San Francisco Symphony in a library concert that follows an hour-long documentary on the man.

Dec. 29, noon, free. Main Library, 100 Larkin, SF. (415) 557-4400, www.sfpl.org

 

Kuumba celebration Fittingly, the main San Francisco celebration of Kwanzaa’s Kuumba (day of creativity) occurs in the Jazz Heritage Center, a space shared by musical hotspot Yoshi’s. Celebrate the Fillmore’s manifold musical virtuosos on the last day of the year.

Dec. 31, 1-5 p.m., free. Jazz Heritage Center, 1330 Fillmore, SF. www.jazzheritagecenter.org