1. "The Mutt-Cracker (Sweet!)"
4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, with additional 4:30 p.m. show Jan. 1, through Jan. 5. $15-$37. The Vortex, 2307 Manor Road. vortexrep.org
Rescue dogs? Juggling? A talking macaw? You know what that means: Circus Chickendog returns to the Vortex for its holiday spectacular featuring furry friends. This year’s production — based on "The Nutcracker" and about a girl, Clara Marie, exploring the magical world of Doglandia — stars five talented rescue dogs, a talking scarlet macaw and their handler, Darren Peterson. The guest stars of this year’s show are the Famiglia Gentile, the famous foot-juggling family.
2. "It’s a Wonderful Life: Classic Radiocast" at the Driskill Hotel
5 p.m. Dec. 22. $30-$45. 604 Brazos St. penfoldtheatre.org
The final performance of Penfold Theatre’s "It’s a Wonderful Life" production won’t be located at its usual Round Rock locale but, instead, at the festively decorated Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. It’s a fitting setting for the heartwarming holiday show. Penfold’s production draws audience members back in time to 1946 as members of the KPNF radio station are assembling for a live radio performance of "It’s a Wonderful Life."
3. A Magical, Musical, Merry Holiday Dinner at Chez Zee American Bistro
6:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 23. $24.95-$74.95. 5406 Balcones Drive. facebook.com/events/2514262558844489
There’s a lot going on in this holiday feast two days before Christmas. Magician Brad Henderson will perform his one-of-a-kind magic. Plus, the soulful Pamela Hart will sing Christmas carols, and even Santa Claus will take time out of his busy schedule to take photos in the big Chez Zee chair. The main event is a four-course meal, featuring communal seating and wine pairings, that includes dish options for the kids.
4. Will Taylor’s Christmas Eve Austin Music Tour
5 p.m. Dec. 24. $25-$30. Multiple locations. willtaylorstringsattached.com
A longtime Austin presence with his Strings Attached project, violinist Taylor has combined a potluck-dinner concert with a club-crawl crasher for this unusual event. It starts at Nicholas Dawson Neighborhood Park, 604 W. Gibson St., with a performance by Taylor, Leeann Atherton and Stephen Zirkel. Then Taylor leads an evening on the town that’ll include stops at the Saxon Pub and Cosmic Coffee & Beer. — Peter Blackstock
5. Snow Much Fun on Congress
2 to 10 p.m. Dec. 25. Free. Edge Rooftop & Bar at the JW Marriott, 110 E. Second St. eventbrite.com/e/snow-much-fun-on-congress-tickets-84827869441
Wishing for a winter wonderland in the middle of Texas? How about a white Christmas? You can have them both on the final day of Edge Rooftop & Bar’s Snow Much Fun on Congress pop-up, featuring a snow machine that will go off every hour on the hour. There will also be live holiday music, s’mores and themed cocktails such as Santa’s Cider and Frosty’s Old Fashioned. RSVPs are on a first-come, first-served basis.
6. Zilker Brewing’s Annual Elfie Sunshine Launch
11 a.m. Dec. 27. Free. 1701 E. Sixth St. zilkerbeer.com
The East Austin brewery’s imperial coffee milk stout with cocoa nibs releases just after Christmas every year. Zilker makes different variations each time by changing the coffee, the barrels the beer is aged in and the way it's served. (This year’s coffee is sourced from the local Spokesman.) Try versions including the Horchata Coffee Milk Stout at the launch. Limited retro coffee mugs will be available as well.
7. "Lush Life" with the Austin Symphony Orchestra
8 p.m. Dec. 28-29. $30-$55. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. austinsymphony.org/events/lush-life
Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn collaborated on some of the most beloved jazz standards of all time, including "Take the A Train," "Satin Doll" and the legendary Ellington and Strayhorn adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s "Nutcracker Suite." This orchestra-centered concert features both Ellington hits and the elegant and sophisticated music of Strayhorn that will be sung by versatile tenor Bernard Holcomb.