Valley holiday events big, small get us in season spirit
Christmas events, like Christmas shopping and Christmas music on the radio, start as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers go into the fridge.
From now until Santa comes sliding down chimneys, there’s plenty to do to get into the holiday spirit — from parades and Christmas carols to live theater, music and dance.
Some of the big ones happen this weekend, such as Christmas Tree Lane’s first walk night, the annual Tuba Christmas, the opening of “White Christmas” and Clovis’ Christmas parade. Our guide to holiday events gives you the scoop on those — and adds plenty more.
Entering its 90th year, we don’t need to sell you on Christmas Tree Lane.
You know what it’s about. It’s a Fresno Christmas staple for the whole family.
So let’s just skip to what you need to know: The walk nights are Saturday (which is also opening night) and Dec. 11. Otherwise, it’s open 6-11 p.m. (Fridays and Saturday) and 6-10 p.m. (Sunday-Thursday) until Dec. 25.
Something new this year: the Fresno Jingle Bell Run, a 5K down Christmas Tree Lane on Dec. 15. It comes complete with jingle bells, a decorated course and a candy cane station. Get more info at fresnojinglebellrun.com.
– If you love parades, then pick a good spot at these two annual events. First up is Saturday’s Children’s Electric Christmas Parade in Old Town Clovis (starting at 6:30 p.m.). Dec. 8 is Fresno’s 83rd annual Christmas Parade on the Fulton Mall at 11 a.m. Details: downtownfresno.org, oldtownclovis.org.
– Enjoy Fresno Chaffee Zoo with a new view — covered in Christmas lights. The annual Zoo Lights event runs 5-8 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Dec. 7-9, 14-23 and 26-30. $3-$6. Details: (559) 498-5910.
– After a seven-year hiatus, Christmas at Kearney Mansion is back. The historic Fresno mansion offers a series of Victorian Christmas teas Dec. 7-8, 14-15 and 20-21 ($25-$35) and Sunday open houses Dec. 2, 9 and 16 ($6-$10.) To set a reservation or get more info: (559) 441-0862.
– Sing Christmas carols, make your own ornaments, watch old cartoons and decorate a tree at the annual Mmm Mmm Christmas celebration organized by Nate Butler on Dec. 21 at Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave. 8:30 p.m. $3. natebutler.com.
The Fresno Community Chorus Master Chorale, conducted by Anna Hamre, joins the orchestra in such traditional tunes as the Hallelujah chorus from “Messiah,” “Silent Night” and “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
Special guest is Dan Pessano of Good Company Players, who will narrate ” ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” with the orchestra. 8 p.m. Saturday, Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St. Details: fresnophil.org, (559) 261-0600. $10-$75.
– Ever listened to an elephant-herd-sized group of tubas boom out a Christmas carol? Manchester Mall is a great place to experience the annual Tuba Christmas. Noon and 1 p.m. Saturday. Free. (After a decade-long hiatus, Tuba Christmas participants will play Dec. 9 at the lighting of the General Grant Tree at Sequoia National Park.)
– The premiere performance of Kevin Memley’s “The Prayer of St. Francis” is a highlight of the San Joaquin Chorale‘s Christmas concerts. Many of the pieces on the program are newer arrangements of familiar carols, including “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Away in a Manger” and “Jingle Bells.” In a more reflective turn, the chorale will sing Locklair’s “O Magnun Mysterium” and Fielding’s “Behold the Dark and Bitter Night.”
Roy Klassen conducts. The chorale performs 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Reedley’s First Mennonite Church, 1208 L St., Reedley; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Fresno’s First Congregational Church, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd. Details: sanjoaquinchorale.com. Reedley concert is free; Fresno concert is $10, $5 students and seniors.
– Organ and soprano make a gorgeous combination in a concert titled “Christmas Tradition.” Tony Imperatrice plays the organ and Kathleen Whiting sings in a program of classical favorites and traditional hymns. There are two performances: 7:30 p.m. Friday at the First Congregational Church, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd.; and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Selma’s First Christian Church, 2026 Arrants St., Selma. Details: (559) 291-8699. $10.
– In “Making Spirits Bright,” soprano Hannah York joins the Fresno Community Concert Band for a holiday program that includes “Greensleeves,” “Sleigh Ride” and a traditional carol sing-along, 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Shaghoian Hall, 2770 E. International Ave. Details: fresnocommunityband.org, (559) 440-9429. $10, $5 children.
– Here’s your chance to celebrate the season and listen to Fresno’s top-notch women’s chorale. Soli Deo Gloria presents “Christmas Past and Present” with music from three continents sung in eight languages. The program includes two distinctly different arrangements of “Ave Maria” by Canadian and Finnish composers. Julie Carter directs. The 16-voice chorale will be joined by the brass ensemble Trombe Music.
There are two concerts: 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at St. Peter Prince of Apostles Church, 19 Follett St., Lemoore; and 7 p.m. Dec. 9 at Fresno’s University Presbyterian Church, 1776 E. Roberts Ave. Details: sdgchoir.com, (559) 473-6486. $15, $10 seniors and students for Fresno concert; freewill offering for Lemoore concert.
– Fresno City College’s 2012 Holiday Choral Festival features the college’s choral ensembles, including Symphonic Choir and the City Singers. Julie Dana directs. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Old Administration Building Auditorium. Details: fresnocitycollege.edu, (559) 442-8221. $8, $6 students and seniors.
– The annual tradition known as Earl Meyers’ holiday concert attracts a big audience of devoted followers. Meyers, appearing with a distinguished group of guest artists, offers a program of hymn arrangements, spirituals and music of the Christmas season. 4 p.m. Dec. 8, Fresno Westside Seventh Day Adventist Church, 2750 Martin Luther King Blvd. Free.
– Fresno Grand Opera takes advantage of the gorgeous acoustics of the First Congregational Church, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd., to highlight “Christmas on Van Ness.” The Fresno Grand Opera Chorus, Bach Children’s Choir and soloists join together for songs of the season. 3 and 6 p.m. Dec. 8. Details: fresnograndopera.org, (559) 442-5699. $29.50.
– Two guest artistic directors are featured in Fresno Choral Artists’ “A World of Christmas.” Lukas Cerny will direct selections from Handel’s “Messiah.” And Zachary D. Durlam will present his cantata of traditional and secular carols and readings, “The Night Before Christmas.”
Also on the program: Carl Schalk’s “Before the Marvel of This Night” along with readings from the Bible and the poetry of Robert Frost. 4 p.m. Dec. 9, Pilgrim Armenian Church, 3673 N. First St. Details: fresnochoralartists.org, (559) 906-3221. $15, $10 students.
– At Fresno State, the university choirs and the Bach Children’s Choir teams up for “Seasons Greetings.” Guest artist is Laura Porter on harp in Finzi’s “In Terra Pax.” 2:30 p.m. Dec. 9, Fresno State Concert Hall. Details: fresnostate.edu/artshum/music, (559) 278-2654. $7, $6 seniors, $5 students.
– For some South Valley cheer, try the Tulare County Symphony Orchestra‘s annual holiday concert. The program features traditional winter and holiday tunes with local soloists and children’s choir. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia. Details: tcssymphony.org, (559) 732-8600. $20-$39.50.
What’s your best chance for snow in Fresno for the holidays? It has to be “White Christmas,” the holiday offering from the community-theater arm of Children’s Musical Theaterworks. The classic holiday movie has been adapted for the stage and includes such tunes as “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano” and, of course, the title number.
All performances feature a “Snow Zone” in the center section treating audience members to a light snowfall. Elizabeth Fiester directs. Friday-Dec. 16, Fresno Memorial Auditorium, 2425 Fresno St. Details: cmtworks.org, (866) 973-9610. $14-$22.
– Good Company Players always delivers a fun holiday show. This year’s is “Dad’s Christmas Miracle,” in which a boy (Colin Clark Bracewell) tries to convince his family he’s worthy of a visit from Santa. Through Dec. 23, 2nd Space Theatre, 928 E. Olive Ave. Details: gcplayers.com, (559) 266-0660. $16, $15 students and seniors.
– A new youth theater company gets the chance to shine with a production of “Miracle on 34th Street, the Musical.” Shine! Youth Theatre, under the direction of tony sanders, presents the classic tale about a 6-year-old who has doubts about Santa Claus. Dec. 7-Dec. 16, Break The Barriers, 8555 N. Cedar Ave. Details: shinetheatre.com, (559) 549-4741. $10, $7.50 students and seniors.
– If you’re a fan of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” here’s an intriguing event: local actor Jonathon Hogan’s one-man show “Supper With George Bailey” at Victoria Rose Restaurant, 356 Pollasky Ave., Clovis. Enjoy a three-course holiday meal while Hogan expands on the life of the James Stewart character from the movie. 6 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 and 18. Details: (559) 322-4832. $50.
Of the things on the annual “It really isn’t Christmas until … ” list — you know, with Charlie Brown specials and inflatable snowmen — we’re going to have to start including smooth jazz concerts at the Tower Theatre.
They’ve become a holiday staple. Case in point: the annual Peter White Christmas tour, which returns to the Tower on Dec. 21.
Headed by White, a guitarist, it also features saxophonist Mindi Abair and trumpet player Rick Braun. Tickets are on sale now and cost $53.50 and $68.50. Details: (559) 485-9050.
– Join popular local musicians Steve Ono and Patrick Contreras at the Fresno Folklore Society Christmas Sing-along this Thursday at Frank’s Place, 1432 Fulton St. It’s part of ArtHop. 7 p.m. All-ages. Free. Details: (559) 264-2848.
– Local faves The Joe Lenigan Big Band headline Big Band Christmas at the Warnors, happening Dec. 8 at Warnors Theatre. It also features the Buchanan High chamber singers and the Fresno Pipe Organ Academy. Expect holiday favorites and big band classics. 2 p.m. $10. Details: (559) 264-2848.
– Another one at Warnors Theatre? Yep. That place is overflowing with Christmas spirit. On Dec. 9 it hosts the Acoustic Christmas Tour with Christian rock acts Sanctus Real, Sidewalk Prophets and Dara Maclean. 7 p.m. $12-$40. Details: (559) 264-2848.
– Western music icons (and local boys) Sons of the San Joaquin have their annual cowboy Christmas shows Dec. 15 at Visalia Fox Theatre. There are two shows: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. $20-$24. Details: (559) 625-1369.
It’s the biggest tradition of them all: Central California Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” This year’s production, which plays Dec. 15 and 16 at the Saroyan Theatre, includes guest artists Michaela DePrince and Taurean Green of Dance Theatre of Harlem, who will play the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. Details: livelyarts.org, (877) 608-5883. $12.25-$50.25.
– More “Nutcracker”: The 20th anniversary production of Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” makes a stop Dec. 13 at Hanford Fox Theatre, 326 N. Irwin St., Hanford. Details: foxhanford.com, (559) 584-7423. $27.50-$68.
Santas, elves and possibly a reindeer or two plan to bar-hop Fresno’s Tower District on Dec. 8.
SantaCon — a nationwide Santa party — is back in Fresno for the second year. It’s basically a pub crawl with Christmas spirit. The people behind the Zombie Pub Crawl and “Star Wars” Pub Crawl are working with New Rock 104.1 on this event.
So start looking for costumes. It starts at 7 p.m. and is free to attend. Meet in the parking lot at Babylon, 1064 N. Fulton St.
– Filled with Seinfeld-ian lore, Fresno’s second Festivus Festival at Fulton 55 on Dec. 7 offers Costanza-inspired activities such as Airing of Grievances and The Feats of Strength, plus local bands and comedians. 7 p.m. $7-$12. Details: longbox.fm.
– Flaunt your shameful holiday garb at the Dec. 14 Ugly Sweater Party at Fulton Mall’s outdoor ice rink. There will be prizes, food trucks and cocktails. 7-10 p.m. $8-$10. Details: (559) 490-9966.
– Add a little sexiness to Christmas with the Valley Burlesque Society‘s annual “All I Want for Christmas” show. It features burlesque dancers, a Motown theme and live music Dec. 15 at Frank’s Place, 1423 Fulton St. 7 p.m. $15. Details: (559) 264-2848.
By Donald Munro and Mike Osegueda