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Comfort and joy

Holiday happenings on the Midpeninsula

'Tis the season to be jolly, as the old song says. But perhaps you're in a more contemplative mood? Whether you're feeling merry and bright, quiet and reverent or more "Bah! Humbug!" than "deck the halls," there's something for everyone happening on the Midpeninsula this holiday season.

Looking for a traditional concert of classic carols? Check out a cappella group Chanticleer's annual performance at Stanford University's Memorial Auditorium. The winter season itself will be honored by the beautiful voices of Kitka, an all-female vocal group singing songs of Eastern Europe, while Hanukkah (and Woody Guthrie) will be celebrated by the Grammy-winning Klezmatics. There's no shortage of local "Nutcrackers" for dance fans: Try Menlowe Ballet's for a unique blend of the beloved ballet with the tear-jerking film "It's a Wonderful Life" (with a few new, politically aware twists this year). If it's some snarky laughs you're after, try TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's "The Santaland Diaries" or the Pear Theatre's "Millionth Production of a Christmas Carol." Of course, plenty of festivities for kids and families are on the calendar, too.

Featured here are but a few of the many holiday-themed events happening locally in the coming month, so grab your scarf and cup of hot cocoa and start making your plans. For more event listings, or to submit your own, check out the Midpeninsula event calendar.



Live holiday music at the mall

What: Stanford Shopping Center is hosting a variety of free musical performances during the holiday season, including performances by Holiday Festival Strings, Dickens Carolers, Steel Pan Band, Musical Toy Solider Guard and Merry Mariachi Band.

Where: 660 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto.

When: Afternoons, Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas Eve.

More information: Stanford Shopping Center.


'Christmas in Poland and the Baltics'

What: In a departure from J.S. Bach, the California Bach Society presents a program of Christmas music from Poland and the Baltic countries.

Where: All Saints Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto.

When: Saturday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m.

More information: Cal Bach.


'Ubi Caritas: Where There is Love'

What: Ragazzi Boys Chorus' holiday program celebrates the concept of universal love with musical selections drawn from diverse traditions and faiths.

Where: First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto, 625 Hamilton Ave.

When: Saturday, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m.

More information: Ragazzi.


Festival of Lessons

What: Stanford University's Department of Music, Office for Religious Life will hold its annual Festival of Lessons and Carols service this holiday season. The Memorial Church Choir and Stanford Chamber Chorale will perform.

Where: Stanford Memorial Church, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford.

When: Friday, Dec. 8, 7:30-9 p.m.

More information: Stanford Events.



What: The Bay Choral Guild and Redwood Symphony present Paul Ayres' "Messyah," a reimagined, light-hearted update of the Handel original choral masterpiece.

Where: First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto.

When: Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.

More information: Bay Choral Guild.


Winter's Warmth

What: Ragazzi Continuo, the adult a cappella choir for graduates of the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, presents its holiday concert "Winter's Warmth."

Where: First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, 1985 Louis Road.

When: Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m.

More information: Ragazzi Continuo.


'The Hot Sardines' Holiday Stomp'

What: The Hot Sardines present a concert of jazz versions of holiday favorites.

Where: Bing Concert Hall, 327 Lasuen St., Stanford.

When: Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m.

More information: Stanford Live.


'A Chanticleer Christmas'

What: Male a cappella choir Chanticleer returns to Stanford University for its annual holiday concert.

Where: Memorial Auditorium, Stanford.

When: Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

More information: Stanford Live.


The Klezmatics' 'Happy, Joyous Hanukkah'

What: The Grammy Award-winning Klezmatics fuse Klezmer sounds with melodies by Woody Guthrie in this holiday concert.

Where: Memorial Auditorium, Stanford.

When: Thursday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m.

More information: Stanford Live.


'Winter's Gifts'

What:The Choral Project performs its annual holiday concert, "Winter's Gifts: Family," with the San José Chamber Orchestra.

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 1140 Cowper St., Palo Alto.

When: Saturday, Dec. 16, 8 p.m.

Cost: General admission: $35; senior admission: $25; student/alumni: $10.

More information: The Choral Project.


PACO Holiday Extravaganza with Anderson & Roe

What: The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra will perform its annual holiday show with special guests piano duo Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, plus dancers from Pacific Ballet Academy.

Where: Smithwick Theater, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills.

When: Saturday, Dec. 16, at 3 p.m.

More information: PACO.


The Gryphon Carolers

What: The Gryphon Carolers, a 30-voice ensemble founded at Palo Alto's Gryphon Stringed Instruments, will perform their 36th-annual holiday concert.

Where: Canada College Theater, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd., Redwood City.

When: Sunday Dec. 17, at 6:30 p.m.

More information: Gryphon Carollers.


Schola Cantorum's holiday concerts

What: Schola Cantorum Silicon Valley will present two holiday concerts with sing-along opportunities: "Warmest Christmas Traditions" (a selection of favorite carols) and "51st Annual Messiah Sing."

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Sunday Dec. 17, at 3 p.m. ("Warmest Christmas Traditions") and Monday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. ("Messiah Sing").

More information: Schola Cantorum.


Kitka's 'Wintersongs'

What: Kitka, the women's Eastern European music vocal ensemble, will perform its annual concert of winter songs, featuring selections from its new seasonal album "Evening Star."

Where: St. Bede's, 2650 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park; Filoli, 6 Cañada Road, Woodside.

When: Sunday, Dec. 10, at 4 p.m. (Menlo Park) and Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 5 p.m. (Woodside).

More information: Kitka.



'It's a Wonderful Nutcracker'

What: The professional company Menlowe Ballet and students from its ballet school, Menlo Park Academy of Dance, are performing their third annual "It's a Wonderful Nutcracker," which blends Tchaikovsky's ballet with Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." New this year: some nods to today's political climate, plus a shorter, "sensory-friendly" version on Sunday, Dec. 10, especially appropriate for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Where: Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton.

When: Dec. 8-10 and 15-17.

More information: Menlowe Ballet.


'The Christmas Ballet'

What: The 2017 edition of Smuin's "The Christmas Ballet" features several new works choreographed by company dancers.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Dec. 6-10.

More information: Smuin.


''Twas the Night Before Christmas'

What: Dancers Repertory Theatre is once again staging "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," a colorful spectacle featuring a cast of 90 adults and children acting out Clement C. Moore's poem of the same name.

Where: Woodside High School Performing Arts Center, 199 Churchill Ave., Woodside.

When: Sunday, Dec. 3, 9 and 10.

More information: Dancers Rep.


More 'Nutcrackers'

What: More local dance groups offering versions of the holiday ballet include Ballet America, HaoExpression, Ramon Moreno School of Ballet, Western Ballet and Ballet Theatre with The Tribe and Poise'n.



Photos with Santa

What: Santa Claus will be at Stanford Shopping Center daily through Christmas Eve to take photos with children.

Where: Center Pavilion, 660 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto.

When: Through Sunday, Dec. 24. (A special breakfast with Santa will take place on Dec. 2.)

More information: Photos with Santa.


Tree-lighting Ceremony

What: The City of Palo Alto's annual celebration of the lighting of its 60-foot-tall tree with bands, choirs and art activities. Hot drinks and treats available.

Where: Lytton Plaza (University Avenue at Emerson Street), downtown Palo Alto.

When: Friday, Dec. 1, 5:30 - 7 p.m.

More information: 650-463-4900; search for the event details.


Holiday Train

The Caltrain Holiday Train, a festively lit locomotive that collects toys for kids (presented by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation) will be rolling into select Peninsula stations for 20-minute stops. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate.

Where: Various Caltrain stations (see online)

When: Dec. 2-3, station-stop times vary

Info: Holiday Train.


Ernie's Trains

What: An elaborate, five-track model train display started by the late Ernie Bianco and continued by his son John draws visitors to a block of the Monta Loma neighborhood lined with farolito lights and holiday decorations.

Where: 2387 Adele Ave., Mountain View

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, from Thanksgiving through Sunday, Dec. 24 (weather permitting).


Gingerbread house decorating

What: Executive Pastry Chef Eric Keppler teaches parents and their children how to decorate a gingerbread house like a pro during "Quattro's Perfect House."

Where: Quattro at the Four Seasons, 2050 University Ave., East Palo Alto.

When: Sunday, Dec. 10, at 10:30 a.m.

More information: 650-470-2889; Quattros.


Tropical Holiday Family Day

What: Free tropical art-making and performances for participants ages 5 to adult.

Where: Palo Alto Art Center, 1213 Newell Road, Palo Alto.

When: Sunday, Dec. 10, 2 - 4:30 p.m.

More information: PAAC.


Christmas Tree Lane

What: Christmas Tree Lane has been a Palo Alto yuletide tradition since 1940, when homeowners spontaneously decided to decorate two blocks from Embarcadero Road to Seale Avenue with Christmas trees and lights for the community to enjoy.

Where: Fulton Street (off Embarcadero Road) Palo Alto.

When: Lights are displayed 5-11 p.m. nightly for two weeks during the holiday season, starting approximately the week before Christmas.

More information: Christmas Tree Lane.


Hanukkah celebration

What: Hanukkah celebration with free musical performances, arts and crafts for children, face painting, dreidel games, candle lighting and a special Hanukkah puppet show and sing-along.

Where: The Plaza (near Neiman Marcus), Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto.

When: Thursday, Dec. 14, 5:30 - 8 p.m.

More information: PAJCC.


'The North Pole Review'

What: The Fratello Marionettes perform "The North Pole Review." The 30-minute holiday variety show will feature high-kicking antics of the Russian Trepak Dancers, the graceful ice skater Crystal Chandelier and the dazzling acrobatic penguins. There also will be arts and crafts, refreshments and goody bags for children.

Where: Gamble Garden Carriage House, 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto.

When: Sunday, Dec. 17, 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

More information: Tickets available at Gamble Garden or 650-329-1356.



'Madeline's Christmas: A Musical'

What: Madeline and her friends embark on a Christmas adventure in this musical adapted from Ludwig Bemelmans' book.

Where: Main stage, Palo Alto Children's Theatre,1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

When: Nov. 30 - Dec. 17.

More information: "Madeline."


'The Millionth Production of a Christmas Carol'

What: The Pear presents James Kopp's satirical story of a small Northern California theater company struggling to pay the bills and begrudgingly putting on a production of the Dickens Christmas classic.

Where: Pear Theatre, 1110 La Avenida St., Mountain View

When: Nov. 30 - Dec. 17.

More information: Pear Theatre.


'Selected Shorts'

What: Kirsten Vangsness leads a cast of actors, including Tate Donovan and Christina Pickles, telling holiday tales by notable writers.

Where: Bing Concert Hall, 327 Lasuen St., Stanford

When: Sunday, Dec. 10, at 2:30 p.m.

More information: Stanford Live.


'The Santaland Diaries'

What: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents the staged version of David Sedaris' humorous essay "The Santaland Diaries," about his short tenure as a Macy's elf.

Where: Lohman Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills.

When: Dec. 5-23.

More information: TheatreWorks.


'A Very Merry Dorktale'

What: Dorktale Storytime will present a comedic, fast-paced take on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" for families.

Where: Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway St., Redwood City.

When: Dec. 15 and 17.

More information: DragonTheatre.


'The 1940's Radio Hour'

What: Los Altos Stage Company presents the musical story of a radio station preparing its holiday broadcast for overseas soldiers in 1942.

Where: 97 Hillview Ave., Los Altos.

When: Nov. 30-Dec. 23.

More information: LASC.


'Oy Humbug!'

What: Theatrical burlesque company Curtains Cabaret presents a saucy variety show celebrating "the winter holidays that Christmas forgot."

Where: Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway St., Redwood City.

When: Sunday, Dec. 24, at 7:30 p.m.

More information: Oy Humbug.

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Like this comment
Posted by Ann Crichton
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2017 at 7:43 am

Don't forget the wonderful Peninsula Women's Chorus - their concert is on December 15th at Mission Santa Clara and on the 16th at St. Mark's in Palo Alto.

This is a local, award-winning women's choir performing high-quality classical and contemporary music in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Celebrate the holidays with a treat. For more information - Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by Arnie
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 25, 2017 at 8:11 am

[Post removed.]

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Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

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