by Sue Cannon
Oh Boy…here it comes! There’s no denying this, we’re in the thick of it now. Christmas and Hanukah are here – they’re just a few short days away. And New Year’s Eve is just around the corner! Hopefully, you’ve gotten the majority of the shopping done (unless you’re a procrastinator like myself); and you’re on to bigger and better things – like having cocktails with friends and colleagues at the holiday party, making cookies and enjoying a cup of cocoa surrounded by family, spending a few quiet evenings by the fire as you wrap presents and sip a hot toddy, and finalizing those New Year’s plans.
To help make the best of these last few weeks, we share this list of Holiday Happenings. Looking through it you’ll discover a multitude of events that you’ll want to fit in this year. There’s still time to catch A Christmas Carol at Geva Theatre, to have Breakfast with Santa at the Zoo, to take a magical train ride on the Polar Express, to be part of an old-fashioned holiday at the Genesee Country Museum, to enjoy the Holiday Pops concert with the Rochester Philharmonic.
Make a list of the ones that you just can’t miss…and yes, check it twice. We’ve even included a glimpse of the major New Year’s Eve events planned this year. Of course, you’ll want to scour the advertisements in this issue also, to see what your favorite club/pub/restaurant has in store for the big might.
These are the good times, bring on the magic!
• The Holiday Fiction Used Book Sale is being held in the Atrium of the Bausch & Lomb Public Library, 115 South Avenue. A variety of hard cover fiction is on sale with prices ranging from 25 cents to $1. Call (585) 428-8322.
• The delightful tale of redemption, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, is being staged once agin this year at Geva Theatre Center, 75 Woodbury Blvd. Under the direction of Mark Cuddy, this production, featuring music and lyrics by Gregg Coffin, returns by popular demand. The entire family will love it! (Children under age five are not permitted in the theatre, however.) Call (585) 232-GEVA for tickets.
•The gift shop at the Wayne County Arts Center, 108 W. Miller Street in Newark NY is open from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, offering unique handcrafted gifts and cards as well as gift certificates good for classes. Shopping @Wayne Co. Arts features many items under $20. Call (315) 331-4593.
•The RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium, at 657 East Avenue, offers the holiday classic, Holiday Laser, right through the New Year. The program features holiday songs choreographed with colorful laser light against the starry background of the Planetarium dome. Musical selections include Vivaldi’s “Winter,” favorites by Mannheim Steamroller and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and other seasonal favorites. Call (585) 271-1880.
12/14 – 12/18:
•A Gala Holiday Pops Concert will be presented in Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs Street. The concert features conductor Jeff Tyzik leading the RPO in a festival collection of holiday favorites. A special performance is scheduled for the 14th at 7:30 p.m., benefiting the Monroe Community Hospital Foundation, and the show on the 15th benefits Rochester Rotary charity programs. Call (585) 760-6029.
12/14 – 12/18 & 12/20 – 12/23:
•Rochester Christian Church Ministries at 3177 Lyell Road in Gates hosts Christmas at RCCM, open to the entire community. The church campus offers four attractions to explore, “Miracle” – a 3D film presented on a moving platform complete with snow, wind and scent effects, “Journey Through Bethlehem” – with a live nativity and live animals, “Raffadali’s Great Adventure” – a children’s attraction starring Raffadali the Donkey and “The Christmas Processional” – a Christmas Eve traditional re-telling of the Christmas story in song, narration and light. Call (585) 247-4444 for further information.
•A new Hochstein tradition, the Holiday Prism Concert, will feature light-hearted performances by Hochstein School of Music faculty in their Performance Hall at 50 N. Plymouth Ave. Call (585) 454-4596.
• The Lovin’ Cup in Park Point near RIT hosts Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-o featuring holiday music by the Grammy-nominated jazz drummer. See our Coming To Town section for details; and call (585) 271-3354.
12/16 & 12/17:
•Bush Mango Drum and Dance presents its annual holiday performance, “Waking D’mba,” at 34 Elton Street. Choreographed by Colleeen Hendrick, the performance tells the story of a West African village overcome by famine and drought and then rejuvenated by a benevolent deity known as D’mba. This will be their first production since Master Drummer and Dancer, Kerfala “Fana” Bangoura – a native of Guinea – joined the company as musical Director. Call (585) 235-3960.
12/16 & 12/18:
•Madrigalia’s annual holiday concert, A Time to Rejoice!, will be performed on the 16th at the Third Presbyterian Church, 4 Meigs Street in Rochester; and again on the 18th at the Downtown Presbyterian Church, 121 N. Fitzhugh Street. David Baskeyfield is featured on organ. Visit www.madrigalia.org for details.
12/16 – 12/18:
•Celebrating a commitment to keeping Christ in Christmas, the St. John Fisher College Passion Players present A Christmas Wonder – recounting the story of the birth of Jesus Christ – using dance, choir, narration, live action tableau and music. The performance will be staged in the Student Life Center at 3690 East Avenue. For full details, see our Theatre Section in this issue; and call (585) 385-8325.
•We’re No Angels will be screened on Dec. 16 & 18; and The Muppet Christmas will be shown on Dec. 17 & 18 at the Dryden Theatre of the George Eastman House, 900 East Avenue, as part of their holiday screenings 2011 series. Call (585) 271-3361.
•Discover the roots of our favorite Christmas traditions through reenactments of Yuletide customs past in the historic village at Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford during their annual holiday event, Yuletide in the Country. For reservations, full details, and to arrange for a light buffet supper, call (585) 538-6822; or visit www.gcv.org.
12/16 – 12/18 & 12/20, 12/21:
•Blackfriars Theatre at 795 East Main St. presents David Jason Kyle in the comedy, The Santaland Diaries. The show is a delightfully thorny tale of working as a Yuletide elf at Macy’s. Please note, however, that the show contains adult language and situations; and parents are strongly cautioned against bringing young children to the production. Call (585) 454-1260.
12/16, 12/17, 12/18, 12/22, 12/23, 12/24 & 12/26:
•Downstairs Cabaret Theatre at 3450 Winton Place offers a special holiday cabaret show, featuring the charismatic entertainer, Cindy Miller, bringing you all the favorite songs of the season. Call (585) 325-4370.
•From 3 to 4 p.m., Hochstein Performance Hall at 50 N. Plymouth Avenue will host the 29th annual Merry Tuba Christmas. Enjoy the sound of more than 100 tubas, sousaphones, baritones and euphoniums playing festive holiday music in this Rochester tradition that began in 1983. Call (585) 428-5990; or 311 in the City of Rochester.
•The 37th annual Letchworth-Silver Lake Christmas Bird Count is an all-day event in the Letchworth Park area, Castile NY. If you are interested in taking part, contact (585) 493-3625 prior to the 17th for a territory assignment.
•At the House of Guitars, 645 Titus Avenue, the Chet Catallo Holiday Concert and Gibson Guitar demonstration is scheduled – free – at noon. The show will also feature Peter Chwazik on bass. Call (585) 544-3500.
•The Little Theatre at 240 East Avenue hosts their annual Breakfast with the Grinch event complete with a buffet breakfast, a visit from the Grinch, and the screening of the Jim Carrey version of the film. (You can choose to just see the film, if you like.) Call (585) 0400 by 12/15 to make a required reservation.
•A Holiday Music Program will be offered at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Avenue, featuring the Fusion Quartet. Call (585) 271-1880.
•The New York debut of Custard the Dragon – a one-act based on the poem by Ogden Nash; along with a musical setting of The Polar Express will be part of the Empire State Lyric Theatre Holiday Family Event being presented in Aquinas Auditorium, 1127 Dewey Avenue. Visit www.empirestatelyrictheatre.com.
•Minett Hall at the Dome Arena, E. Henrietta and Calkins Road, will host a Holiday Roller Skating Party from 6 to 9 p.m. Call (585) 334-4000.
12/17 & 12/18:
•The Finger Lakes Chorale from Finger Lakes Community College will perform “Ring Out Bells” at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 183 N. Main St. in Canandaigua. Call (585) 785-1623 for further details.
•Youngsters can meet Santa and enjoy caroling and hot cocoa during a Polar Express Train Ride. Trains make a magical round trip journey to the “North Pole” from the Median Railroad Museum, 530 West Avenue in Medina NY, leaving at 4:30, 5:45 and 7 p.m. You can upgrade to a first class fare that includes special seating and a collectible cocoa mug! Call (585) 798-6106 or visit www.railroadmuseum.net.
•The Genesee Valley Orchestra and Chorus will present Handel’s Messiah on the 17th at the Church of the Assumption, 20 East Street in Fairport; on Sunday the 18th at Pinnacle Lutheran Church, 350 Pinnacle Road in Henrietta. Visit www.gvoc.org.
•The Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca Street in Geneva, NY, will give a holiday gift to the community with a Free Movie Weekend. On the 17th, you can catch A Christmas Carol at 2 p.m. and Scrooged at 7 p.m.; and on the 18th, watch The Polar Express at 2 and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at 7. Call (315) 781-5483.
•The New York Museum of Transportation and the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum at 6393 East Rive Road are offering Holly Trolley Rides this season. Visitors ride an authentic 80-year-old electric trolley car, and can visit the museum’s large model railroad which will have five trains running at once! Call (585) 533-1113.
•Youngsters should mark their calendars to have Breakfast With Santa at the Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St. Paul St. They’ll take a ‘sleigh’ ride via golf cart to the Rocky Coast Gallery where a hot buffet will be served. Kids can then say hello to the polar bears and sea lions and chat with Santa – even take home a goodie bag! To make a reservation, call (585) 336-7217. Editor’s Note…Unfortunately, as of press time, word has reached us that this event is fully booked.
•The Flower City Ballet presents its sixth annual holiday performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker at the School of the Arts, 45 Prince Street. The cast includes dancers from our region from age seven to adult including many with professional aspirations and accomplishments. Call (585) 325-2114.
12/17 thru 12/31:
•The historic Edgerton Model Railroad Room at 41 Backus Street celebrates its 60th anniversary with a Holiday Model Train Open House. The layouts, are open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., except on the 18th, 24th, 25th & 26th. Call (585) 428-6769.
•Christmas musical favorites and “devilishly irreverent” comedy await attendees of this year’s Christmas Follies Show, sponsored by the Rochester Theater Organ Society. Organist Tim Schramm will perform popular holiday tunes on the RTOS’ Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ at the Auditorium Center, 885 East Main Street, accompanied by co-host Phyl Contestable as the Reverend Mother and other guest performers. Visit www.rtosonline.org for tickets.
•The Rochester Public Market will be decked out for the holidays during their Holidays at the Market events. They feature more than 100 vendors offering art, crafts, decorations, holiday food and other items for sale. There are even horse-drawn sleigh rides and visits from Santa planned! The Market is located at 280 N. Union St. Call 311 (outside Rochester, 585-428-5990); or visit www.cityofrochester.gov.
•The Italian American Community Center at 150 Frank DiMino Way presents Josh Shapiro in its 2nd annual Christmas Concert complete with a wine reception and additional performances by the IACC Gruppo Folcloristico directed by Paolo Saltarello; and by Liana Gabel. Sal DeSantis serves as DJ. Call (585) 594-8882.
•At the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, 1100 S. Goodman St., a special community Christmas event finds a selection of traditional holiday music being offered to families. Classic Christmas carols will be sung following a bell-ringing, as warm refreshments and cookies are offered. Attendees are welcome to participate in the chorus at the event, titled Bells on the Hill. Call (585) 319-4635.
•A Giant Menorah Lighting Ceremony is planned at Washington Square, Clinton Ave. & Court St.; followed by a Chanukah Party at the Bausch & Lomb Wintergarden with latkes, donuts, dreidels, candy menorah, balloon clowns, hot cocoa, Chanukah gelt, raffles and more. Visit www.chabudrochester.com.
•Jim Brickman’s Christmas Celebration will be performed on at the Auditorium Center, 875 E. Main Street. For details on the seasonal favorite, see our Coming To Town section, and call (800) 745-3000 for tickets.
•The House of Guitars at 645 Titus Avenue hosts the Costello Students Holiday Concert & Performance at 7 p.m. For details on this free event, call (585) 544-3500.
•It’s just not Christmas without it! It’s A Wonderful Life will be shown at the Dryden Theatre of the George Eastman House, 900 East Avenue, at 8 p.m. Call (585) 271-3361.
•A talk by Assistant Attorney General Hillel Deutsch on the military aspect of the Chaunukah miracle will be the featured event at the Chanukah Shabbat Dinner held at the Keissler Family Chad Center, 1037 Winton Road South. Visit www.chabadrochester.com.
•The RMSC Players will offer The Night Before Christmas, a different, fun approach to the traditional tale of “silent night,” in the RMS Bausch Auditorium, 657 East Avenue. Call (585) 271-1880.
•Water Street Music Hall, at 204 N. Water St., hosts the Annual Chet Catallo & The Cats Christmas Party featuring music by Rochester’s home-grown jazz great, Chet Catallo. See our Coming to Town section for details and call (585) 325-5600.
12/26 – 01/01:
•The Rochester Kwanzaa Coalition provides seven days of African/African American culture during the Annual Kwanzaa Celebration. Among the scheduled activities are Umoja (Unity) on the 26th at 728 University Avenue; Kujichagulia (self-determination) at the MAG, 500 University Avenue on Dec. 27; Ujia (Collective World and Responsibility) on Dec. 28th at the North St. Recreation Center, 700 North Street; Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) on the 29th at Wheatley Library, 33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way; Nia (Purpose) on the 30th at the RMSC, 657 East Avenue; and Kuumba (Creativity) on the 31st at The Party House, 1142 East Main Street . Events are free, and times and details can be found at (585) 234-KWAN.
12/27 – 12/30:
• Youngsters can explore hands-on activities with local scientists, naturalists, and engineers during Holiday Science & Technology Days at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Avenue. Call (585) 271-1880.
A SNEAK PEEK AT NEW YEAR’S EVENTS
City of Rochester…
The party starts at 7 p.m. at the Riverside Convention Center complete with plenty of family fun. At 10 p.m., the City plans a spectacular fireworks show outside, overlooking the Main Street Bridge. Call (585) 428-5990.
The Fair & Expo Center, Henrietta…
The Family New Year’s Eve Party runs from 6 to 10 p.m. with activities for all ages planned – even roller skating! Call (585) 359-2540.
Last Night Perry 2011, an alcohol-free, family event, runs from 5 p.m. to midnight at Perry Elementary School; while at the Perry High School, Sports Night Perry is held with swimming, mini-golf, an obstacle course and more. The combined event features plenty of entertainment for the kids, ‘tweens & teens and adults. Call (585) 237-5375.
George Eastman House…
The Dryden Theatre hosts a double bill – with The Thin Man being shown at 7 p.m., followed at 9 p.m. by After The Thin Man. Call (585) 271-3361.
The Rochester Museum & Science Center…
At 1 & 2 p.m., “La Befana: An Epiphany Eve Legend from Italy” will be performed in Bausch Auditorium. Call (585) 271-1880.
The Italian American Center…
Celebrate New Year’s Italian Style – with hors d’oeuvres, dinner, an open bar, champagne, a continental breakfast, hats, noisemakers, entertainment and more. Call (585) 594-8882.
Geva Theatre Center….
Two shows are planned by the Geva Comedy Improv group – at 7:30 & 10:30 p.m. – in the Nextstage theatre. There will be a champagne toast at the late show, and a midnight dance party! Call (585) 232-GEVA.
The annual performance by the popular political satire improv group, The Capital Steps, is scheduled; with two shows – 6:30 & 10 p.m. Call (585) 389-2170.
Two performances are being offered of the musical, Tom Foolery – at 7 & 10 p.m. Call (585) 454-1260.
The Jewish Community Center…
CenterStage at the JCC has two productions scheduled – Hollywood Sings is planned at 6 p.m., featuring songs from the American Cinema; and I Do, I Do! will be staged at 9 p.m. Call (585) 461-2000.