'Twas the month of December and all through the counties, dance troupes were rehearsing their Claras and mousies. I'll stop right there. In dance circles, December means one thing: Nutcracker time! There are a few festive versions of the classic ballet coming to magical life this month and we're shining our spotlight on one this week as well as on a special holiday adaptation of the classic poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, featuring (wait for it) a dancing pumpkin spice latte.
First on the bill is North Coast Dance's The Nutcracker returning to the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. and Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. ($25, $12). This ballet has everything: Dancing candy, magical fairies, pompous rats, Tchaikovsky.
Next is Trillium Dance School's annual winter production, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. at the Eureka High School Auditorium ($12-$15 reserved, $10-$13 general). This original holiday ballet has soloists and small group pieces featuring dancing ornaments, pirates, elves, a sassy gingerbread cookie, peppermints, lemon drops, hot cocoa and more. I'm putting on the holiday pounds just reading the cast list.
Ugly Sweater Run 2016
Arcata Wonder & Light 2016
There's something transcendent about a small town decked out in its holiday best, with carolers a-wassailing and brass bands root-a-toot-tooting on street corners as smiling folks window shop and sip hot cocoa. Every year, Humboldt's hometown jewel, the Victorian village of Ferndale, transforms into a type of Bedford Falls, delighting all of us with its timelessness and good cheer. If it's a wonderful holiday life you want this weekend, head to the little town over the bridge.
Hospitality Night Open House on Friday, Dec. 2 sees Main Street merchants staying open late (until 9 p.m.), allowing you to leisurely browse for that perfect gift — and enjoy free beverages and treats.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, the big man himself, Santa Claus, arrives on Main Street at 10:30 a.m. to greet kids of all ages (free). Also on Saturday, the Ferndale Community Choir performs its 47th annual Christmas Celebration in Song at 7:30 p.m. at the Ferndale Community Church (free), with encore performances at Ferndale's Church of the Assumption on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. (free), and at Christ Episcopal Church in Eureka on Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. (free).
The festivities continue on Sunday, Dec. 4 with the Portuguese Linguiça and Beans Dinner at the Portuguese Hall from 4 to 7 p.m. ($12, $6 kids 6-12). Stay for Sunday's main event, the Christmas Tree Lighting at 5:30 p.m. (free), a chance to gather and enjoy live music, cookies and cocoa as the enormous spruce at the end of Main Street lights up the night and everyone's faces.
— Kali Cozyris
It's the holiday season and you know what that means. The rowdy revelers at the Arcata Playhouse have added an extra shot to their nog and extra merry into Merry Christmas with their annual holiday productions. Always lively, original and hilarious, the shows provide the fun, laughter and merriment that we need now more than ever. And so it is with the Playhouse's latest production Jack and the Holiday Beans, a "family fun musical romp for the holidays," playing Thursdays through Saturdays, Dec. 1 through 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. ($12, $10 students/Playhouse members, $8 kids 12 and under).
Gather up the family for this madcap take on the fairy tale favorite where Jack sells his beloved cow for beans. And all your local favorites are in this one: James Peck, Amy Tetzlaff, Sarah Peters, Alyssa Hughlett, David Ferney, Kit Mann, Jaqueline Dandeneau and the Blue Lake Community Choir. There'll be special guests nightly, including No Limits Dance, Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir, Sam McNeill's Academy Fiddlers, Tisha Sloan, Bandamonium, Dell'Arte Students, Shoshanna and more.
Performed in English pantomime style with campy characters, wild costumes and audience participation, the show carries on the Playhouse tradition of entertaining the whole family with humor and heart. Written by the cast and directed by James Peck with lighting by David Ferney, set by Lush Newton and live music by Tim Randles, Jack and the Holiday Beans is sure to raise your holiday spirits sky-high and keep 'em there for a while.
— Kali Cozyris
On Thanksgiving, before you gather to bow your head with your family and give thanks, slip down to the seaside to send blessings to those who work on the sea. Every year, community members gather in Trinidad to offer prayers and well wishes for a bountiful and safe fishing season. Put on by a group of commercial fishermen's wives and loved ones for the last 21 years, the Trinidad Blessing of the Fleet takes place Thursday, Nov. 24 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Trinidad Town Hall(free).
The Greater Trinidad Chamber of Commerce invites all to join the family-friendly community event, which features a traditional Native American blessing to the four directions given by Axel Lindgren III and his family, followed by a non-denominational blessing from Pastor Allison Berry from the Church of the Joyful Healer.
Entertaining the crowd are the Redwood Ramblers with their lively covers of classic country songs, and keeping folks warm and sated, the Trinidad Rancheria provides fresh coffee, hot chocolate and snacks. Don't miss Trinidad School's fourth grade students' pictures of fishing boats and poems hanging along the fence at Trinidad Bay Bed and Breakfast. Each year, one picture is chosen as the following year's event poster. This year's event will be held in Trinidad Town Hall due to the weather.
— Kali Cozyris
They're here. Faster than they came last year, it seems, the holidays are back. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas, those seasonal siblings, are at our door with casseroles and kids in tow, ready or not. Thankfully, Old Town's got its tinsel together. The picturesque assemblage of shops and restaurants ushers in the most wonderful time of the year with events to get you into the holiday spirit.
On Thursday, Nov. 24, make a withdrawal from the old calorie bank before the big meal at the Turkey Trot, a 3-mile walk/run through Old Town starting at 9 a.m. at the Gazebo; late registration at 7:30 a.m. at Old Town Coffee & Chocolates ($10, $20 with shirt).
Santa swings into town via fire truck on Friday, Nov. 25 for photo ops with the tiny tots from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Gazebo (free).
On Saturday, Nov. 26, leave the Big Box craziness behind and make local businesses your target. Small Business Saturday, the kinder, gentler shopping experience, takes place all day throughout Old Town and downtown. DJ KEv plays holiday music at the Gazebo from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and Santa's back from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Also on Saturday, bundle up for the Snowball Drop, a human-made blizzard with hundreds of snowballs (ping pong balls good for discounts, gifts and/or giveaways at local businesses), gently floating down to waiting shoppers after being shot out of a "snowball cannon" at 11:30 a.m. sharp – at the Gazebo (free).
— Kali Cozyris
Thanksgiving is a week away, and if you haven't started already, it's time to prepare. No, I don't mean putting on your suit of armor and heading to WinCo for skillful cart maneuvering and last-can-of-green-beans battling (it's a thing). I'm talking about getting your body in shape for gluttony's biggest day. Your stomach's not going to stretch itself. Thankfully, there are a couple of events to prime you for all the prime rib, turkey, ham, rolls, potatoes, casseroles and pie in your near future.
First is Taste of the Holidays on Thursday, Nov. 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Arcata Community Center ($30). Eat and mingle at this popular kick-off to the holiday season hosted by Rotary Club of Arcata Sunrise. Sink your teeth into some of Humboldt's finest offerings from local food-producers like Cypress Grove Cheese, Los Bagels, Tomaso's, North Coast Co-Op, Bless my Soul Café, Blackberry Bramble, Ramones, Wildberries and more.
Next up is the Manila Community Thanksgiving Dinner, Saturday, Nov. 19 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Manila Community Center (free). Consider it a delicious dress(ing) rehearsal for your own family gathering or a chance to eat, drink and not discuss politics with fellow community members — without the hassle of cooking and cleaning. Although volunteering to help feed others at another event is a great way to pay it forward.
— Kali Cozyris