Your Holiday Season Arts Planner
"Soundcheck: A Holiday Revel." Chamber music group Revel plays a short version of its holiday program including jazz piano trio suites of Claude Bolling, Vivaldi's "Winter" from The Four Seasons, and Piazzolla's "Invierño Porteño" from Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. 7 p.m. Ballet Austin, 501 W. Third St. Free. www.revelmusic.org .
"Sing-It-Yourself Messiah." You know you want to sing along on that Hallelujah chorus. Well, you can. Join the choirs of Chorus Austin and sing-along with Handel's holiday favorite. 4 p.m. St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 8134 Mesa Drive. $16. 719-3300, www.chorusaustin.org .
"A Very Blanton Christmas." University of Texas Butler School of Music faculty violinist Brian Lewis and violist Roger Myers join talented string students to play masterworks of the chamber orchestra repertoire to celebrate the season. 2 p.m. Blanton Museum of Art, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Congress Avenue. Free with museum admission ($5-$9). www.blantonmuseum.org .
Holiday Choral Concert. The combined choirs of UT Butler School of Music's choirs sing a potpourri of sacred and secular holiday music that spans the centuries. 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Bates Recital Hall, Music Building, UT campus. $5-$10. 471-5401, www.music.utexas.edu .
Austin Classical Guitar Society. The community ensembles of the Austin Classical Guitar Society give their free annual holiday recital. Music by Bach, Sor Scarlatti and others will be followed by a guitar orchestra version of Carol of the Bells. 6 p.m. Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway. Free. www.austinclassicalguitar.org .
"Conspirare Christmas.' Five-time Grammy-nominated choir Conspirare is joined by soprano Mela Sarajane Dailey, singer-songwriter Matt Alber and percussionist Tom Burritt for its annual holiday concert that showcases artistic director Craig Hella Johnson's collage blending of music old and new. 8 p.m. Long Center. 701 W. Riverside Drive. $25-$75 ($10 students). www.thelongcenter.org .
Handel's Messiah. Featuring soprano Emily Lockhart, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Findlen, tenor David Stevens and baritone Marcus DeLoach, the Choirs of St. David's Episcopal Church joins the Austin Symphony Orchestra for its tradition holiday concert. André Raphel is the guest conductor. 8 p.m. Riverbend Centre, 4214 Capital of Texas Highway. $15-$35. 476-6064, www.austinsymphony.org .
"A Christmas Sleigh Ride." Austin Handbell Ensemble plays favorite holiday tunes on more than 100 bells and chimes. 7:30 p.m. Oak Hill United Methodist Church, 7815 U.S. 290 West. Free; donations welcome. www.austinhandbells.org .
"The Nutcracker Suite." In a family-friendly show, the offbeat, classically-minded band Invincible Czars play their high-energy version of Tchaikovsky's beloved "Nutcracker Suite." 6:30 p.m. Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd. Free. www.invincibleczars.com .
"This Endris Night." Conspirare Youth Choirs sings its annual holiday concert, named this year after a 15th-century English nativity carol. The program also features "Dancing Day," a cycle of traditional carols by John Rutter. 7:30 p.m. St. Martin's Lutheran Church, 606 W. 15th St. $6-$12 (children younger than 5 free). www.conspirare.org .
"Yule, Britannia! Christmas Music in the British Isles" From Sarum rite chants and Medieval carols to traditional English wassails and Celtic lullabies, Texas Early Music Project plays joyful selections with innovative arrangements for solo voices, small chorus, harps, violin and more. 8 p.m. Dec. 9-10 at First English Lutheran Church, 3001 Whitis Ave. 3 p.m. Dec. 11 at First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Drive. $15-$20 ($5 students at the door only). 371-0099, www.early-music.org .
"The Sounding Joy." Texas Choral Consort sings Holst's "Christmas Day," Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on Christmas Carols," Pachebel's "Magnificat" and premieres "Oh Llama de Amor Viva" by Austin composer Russell Reed. Also on the program are seasonal spirituals and sing-along carols. 7:30 p.m. Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, 7050 Village Center Drive. $15-$20. 372-3233, www.txconsort.org .
Holiday Organ Concert. Virtuoso organists Gerre and Judith Hancock play holiday selections on the three-story tall, 5,315-pipe Visser-Rowland organ. 7:30 p.m. Bates Recital Hall, Music Building, UT campus. $5-$15. 471-5401, www.music.utexas.edu .
"Holiday Favorites with Austin Flair." Austin Civic Orchestra joins with Austin composer Dan Welcher and jazz vocalist Suzi Stern for a family-friendly holiday concert. Welcher will narrate Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," and Stern will sing "White Christmas" and perform an arrangement of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," created exclusively for the Austin Civic Orchestra by her husband, composer and jazz pianist George Oldziey. Also on the program are "A Christmas Festival," Troika from "Lt. Kije Suite," "Christmas at the Movies" and "O Holy Night." 3 p.m. Bates Recital Hall, Music Building, UT campus. $5-$12. 471-5401, www.music.utexas.edu .
"A Christmas Sleigh Ride." Austin Handbell Ensemble plays favorite holiday tunes on more than 100 bells and chimes. 7:30 p.m. St. Austin Catholic Church, 2026 Guadalupe St. Free; donations welcome. www.austinhandbells.org .
Austin Symphony Orchestra's "Holiday Sing-Along." Time for you to sing with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. Guest conductor Carlton Dillard leads the orchestra and chorus in familiar holiday songs in which the audience can join in. 8 p.m. Free, but tickets required. Riverbend Centre, 4214 Capital of Texas Highway. 476-6064, www.austinsymphony.org .
"A Jubilant Christmas." The Williamson County Symphony Orchestra performs a holiday concert. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Leander High School Performing Arts Center, 3301 S. Bagdad Road, Leander. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at St. William Catholic Church, 620 Round Rock West Drive. www.williamsoncountysymphonyorchestra.org .
Handel's "Messiah." Ensemble VIII performs a historically attentive version of Handel's Baroque masterpiece with a small chorus and ensemble of period instruments. 7:30 p.m. St. Louis Catholic Church, 7601 Burnet Road. $20-$45. www.ensembleVIII.org .
"On A Winter's Eve." The collective ensembles of Chorus Austin perform Britten's ‘A Ceremony of Carols' and John Rutter's Joy to the World along with seasonal repertoire. 7 p.m. Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, 7050 Village Center Drive. $16-$21. 719-3300, www.chorusaustin.org .
"Celtic Christmas at the Cathedral." The Celtic Cultural Center of Texas presents an evening of contemporary and classic holiday Irish and Scottish traditional music with featured vocalists Brett Barnes, Danny Johnson and Stephanie Prewitt and bodhrán player Máirtín de Cógáin. 7:30 p.m. St. Mary Cathedral, 203 W. 10th St. $25. www.celticchristmasaustin.com .
"The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller." The Grammy Award-winning founder of Mannheim Steamroller, Chip Davis, fronts a multimedia Christmas show. 7:30 p.m. Dell Hall, Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. $42-$87. www.thelongcenter.org .
Theater and dance
THROUGH DEC. 10
"A Christmas Cactus." This offbeat Christmas comedy follows a private investigator named Cactus as she tries to solve odd mysteries in a small town. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 10. Way Off Broadway Community Players, Building 4, 11880 W. FM 2243, Leander. $15-$20. www.wobcp.org .
THROUGH DEC. 17
"La Pastorela: A Shepherd's Story." Austin Latino Theater Alliance presents a contemporary Austin version of the traditional yuletide play that has been performed in Latino communities since the late 16th century when Spanish priests first introduced it to the Americas. "La Pastorela" follows the magical story of the shepherds' journey to Bethlehem and the obstacles they meet along the way. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays through Dec. 17. Mexican-American Cultural Center, 600 River St. $10-$15. 241-9799, www.lapastorela.com .
"Christmas is on the Air." In this original Vaudeville-style comedy, the goofy crew at fledgling small town television station WSPR gets ready for its big Christmas broadcast. 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 17. Salado Silver Spur Theater, 108 Royal St., Salado. $8-$15. 254-947-3456, www.saladosilverspur.com .
THROUGH DEC. 18
"A Christmas Carol." Award-winning actress and storyteller Bernadette Nason performs more than 30 characters in Charles Dickens' own abridged version of "A Christmas Carol" in this one-woman tour de force show. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. City Theatre, 3823 Airport Blvd., $15-$20. www.bernadettenason.com .
THROUGH DEC. 22
"A Christmas Carol, The Musical." Dickens' Christmas classic gets the full Broadway treatment in this musical adaptation of the 1970 hit film musical, "Scrooge." Show continues through Dec. 22 Palace Theatre, 810 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown. $10-$24. 512-869-7469. www.georgetownpalace.com .
THROUGH JAN. 8
David Sedaris' "The Santaland Diaries." The inimitable Austin actor Martin Burke returns to his singular performance as "Little Elf," the sardonic, out-of-work writer who reluctantly takes a job herding children through Macy's Santaland display. Based on David Sedaris' popular radio essay. $40-$45. Shows continues through Jan. 8. Whisenhunt Stage, Zach Theatre, 1510 Toomey Road. www.zachtheatre.org .
"A John Waters Christmas." In rapid-fire naughty talk, the legendary filmmaker indulges his passion for subverting Christmas niceness, telling tales of his desire to remake all his own offbeat films into seasonal children's classics, of his penchant for giving naughty Christmas gifts and of his love of holiday horror stories. 8 p.m. Friday. Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave. $30-$50. 474-1221. www.austintheatre.org .
"It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play." The all-American classic Christmas movie gets new life as a 1940s style live radio play. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 17. Gaslight Baker Theater, 216 S. Main St., Lockhart, $12. 512-376-5653, www.gaslightbakertheatre.org .
"It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play." Penfold Theatrer Company uses a coffee house in the historic section of downtown Round Rock for its production of the live radio play version of the Frank Capra movie. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Show continues through Dec. 17. Friar Tuck's Pantry, 204 E. Main St., Round Rock. $18-$20. www.penfoldtheatre.org .
"Charles Dickens Unleashed." ' Charles Dickens' episodic tales of Victorian England provide the kind of a narrative free-for-all that's ripe for some improvisational comedic fun. And in tune with the holiday season, the clever comedy folks at the Hideout offer their original — and ever-changing — version of Dickens with suggestions from the audience. It's "Masterpiece Theater" in madcap form. Family-friendly show at 6 p.m., regular show at 8 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 17. $11. Hideout Theatre, 617 Congress Ave. $13. www.hideouttheater.com .
‘The Nutcracker.' Ballet Austin's ‘The Nutcracker' continues to sparkle. The lavish production, complete with live music from the Austin Symphony Orchestra, features the beloved role of Mother Ginger with a different celebrity starring in each performance. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9-10, Dec. 16-17, Dec. 21-22; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, Dec. 17-18, Dec. 23. Dell Hall, Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. $12-$71. 476-2163, www.balletaustin.org .
"Of Mice & Music: A Jazz Nutcracker." Tapestry Dance Company presents its tap dance adaptation of the classic nutcracker story that's told with an original jazz score based on Tchaikovsky's well-known melodies and played by Austin's own jazz trio Blue J. 7 p.m. Dec. 8-9, Dec. 13-17, 2 p.m. Dec. 11. Boyd Vance Theatre, Carver Museum, 1165 Angelina St. $25. www.tapestry.org .
"Cuento Navideño: Bah Humbug in the Barrio." It's Christmas Eve in a modern, urban Latino community and a selfish businesswoman who has lost touch with her culture gets an unexpected visit from the ghost of her former business partner. From playwright Rupert Reyes comes an all-new, family-friendly bilingual comedy that merges Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with contemporary Latino culture. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Rollins Studio Theatre, Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. $15-$20. www.teatrovivo.org .
"The Nutcracker: The Musical." Tchaikovsky's famous score is modernized with contemporary lyrics in this unique musical version of "The Nutcracker." 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 10 and 15. 2:30 p.m. Dec. 17. Bastrop Opera House, 711 Spring St., Bastrop. $5. 512-321-6283, www.bastropoperahouse.com .
"Austin Children's Nutcracker." The Austin City Ballet presents the holiday ballet danced by young dancers. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9-10, 16-17, 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 10-11, Dec. 17-18. Dougherty Arts Center Theatre, 1110 Barton Springs Road. $17-$22. 496-5987. www.austin-conservatory-arts.com .
"Nutcracker Suite/Ave Maria." Guest soloists from American Ballet Theatre join the youth dancers of River City Ballet. 7 p.m. Dec. 17, 2 p.m. Dec. 18. Hays Country Performing Arts Center, Kyle. $15. (512) 396-8736. www.rivercityballet.org .
Holiday arts markets
THROUGH DEC. 24
Blue Genie Christmas Bazaar. The annual shopping extravaganza hosted by Blue Genie Art Industries features some of the most vibrantly creative jewelry, toys, accessories, clothing and crafts by dozens of local artists. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Marchesa Hall & Theatre, Lincoln Village, 6226 Middle Fiskville Road. Free. www.bluegenieartbazaar.com .
THROUGH JAN. 6
VSA Holiday Art Show. Art made by artists with disabilities includes cards, paintings, mobiles, ornaments, jewelry, candles, home accessories. Noon to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. VSA Gallery, 3701 Guadalupe. Free. www.vsatx.org .
Wild Ideas. Botanical prints and cards, ceramic art, jewelry, paintings and glassware, including silk lamps by Caitlin Hill, paintings by Betty Jameson and photography by Ralph Yznaga. 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. Free. 232-0100 www.wildflower.org .
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
Travis Heights Art Trail. One neighborhood just off South Congress Avenue, 22 locations, several dozen artists. Peruse ceramics, paintings, fiber art, wearable art, jewelry, handmade books and more by artists such as Sam Hurt, Benda Ladd and Lisa Orr. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Various locations in South Austin. Free. www.travisheightsart.com .
Wheatsville Arts Festival. Now in its 27th year, the Wheatsville Arts Festival has actually outgrown the Wheatsville parking lot and is moving a block south. More than 60 artists sell their original works along with live music performances on two stages from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 2905 Guadalupe St. Free. www.wheatsvilleartsfestival.com .
Cherrywood Art Fair. Call it the cool little art fair that could. Now in its 10th year, the Cherrywood Art Fair this year gathers 100 of the region's most creative artisans, jewelry- and handbag-makers, ceramists and artists. All-day live music featuring Sonido Sol, the Boxcar Preachers, Eric Blakely and the Coffee Sergeants, among others. Food by Pie Fixes Everything, Snarky's Moo Bawk Oink and MMMPanadas. And there are kids' activities too. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 10-11. Maplewood Elementary School, 3808 Maplewood Ave. Free. www.cherrywoodartfair.org .
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Now in its 36th year, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is frequently noted nationally as one of the top arts and craft shows. Not only can you find eclectic gift items by more than 100 artists, there's live music every day starting at noon by many of Austin's favorite musicians. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. $8 evenings and weekends, $5 weekdays before 7 p.m. Children younger than 12 are free. 447-1605, www.armadillobazaar.com .