Pic Hits for the week

Poinsettia Festival: The tenth annual celebration of flower power begins at 6 p.m. Friday with a tree-lighting ceremony, and continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Gardener's World, 3401 East Baseline. Highlights include caroling, sleigh and hay rides, design seminars and a poinsettia market featuring about 25,000 of the seasonal favorites. Admission is free; proceeds from flower sales benefit Youth at Risk's scholarship program. For details call 437-0700.

Nutcracker: Ballet Etudes has opened its season with Tchaikovsky's seasonal classic. Final performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. Tickets are $9 and $12, available at the scene and Ticketmaster. Call 786-2682.

december 2
Electric Light Parade: The ninth annual procession, part of APS Fiesta of Light (see Events listing), is one of Phoenix's most beautiful events. The caravan of lighted floats and folks inluminous costumes starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Central and Missouri, traveling south on Central to Thomas. Prizes are awarded to the most ingenious entries. Viewing is free. For details about the Electric Light Parade Run, see Sports listing. For general information, call 534-3378.

Chris Claremont: The longtime writer of Marvel Comics' wildly popular X-Men comic book stops at the All About Books and Comics location at Christown Mall, 19th Avenue and Bethany Home, on Saturday to stump for his new DC Comics series, Sovereign Seven. Claremont will discuss and sign copies of the new work from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is a donation earmarked for Central Arizona Shelter Services, Inc. For details call 277-0757.

Las Posadas: West Valley Fine Arts Council hosts this all-day festival honoring the Hispanic celebration of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter (posadas). Highlights include a tree-lighting ceremony and entertainment by Mariachi LosHalcones, LaFuerza, and Ballet Folklorico de Santa Maria. The fest starts at 11:45 a.m. Saturday and continues 'til 8 p.m. in the area surrounding the intersection of Central and Western avenues in Avondale; an ecumenical prayer service precedes at10:30 a.m. at nearby St. John Vianney Church, 539 East La Pasada Boulevard in Goodyear. Admission to both events is free. Call 935-6384.

december 3
International Christmas XV: The annual holiday show, held in conjunction with APS Fiesta of Light (see Events listing), starts Sunday at Bank One Center Concourse, 201 North Central. The highlight of the free event, as always, is the display of live Eldarica pines decorated in the traditional styles of Japan, Iceland, Serbia, Sweden and 38 other nations. ICXV also features an exhibition of wooden Santa carvings by Joseph Cabeen, the Nativity collection of Bill Wilbur and a doll show by Arizona Doll and Toy Museum. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (including Christmas Day), through December 29. Choral concerts are planned atnoon Monday through December 20; see Music listing for the schedule. For more information, call 221-1005.

Caio Pagano: The Brazilian pianist performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street, continuing the venue's "Evenings With Steinway" series. The program includes the prelude to Villa-Lobos' "Bachianas Brasileiras"; Bach's Toccata in Eminor, BWV 914; Beethoven's Sonata No.31 in A-flat major, Opus 110; and Brahms' Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Opus 5. Tickets are $9, available at the center and all Ticketmaster locations. Call 994-2787 or 784-4444.

Ballet Arizona: The state's official troupe continues its tenth season with a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday at La Sala, located in University Center Building on Arizona State University West campus, 4701 West Thunderbird in Glendale. The program includes "Meistens Mozart," "g major," "Calcium Night Light," "Young Green/Fresh Grass" and "Trio for the End of Time." Tickets are $10, $8 for seniors, $5 for students, available at the scene and Dillard's. Call 543-2787 or 678-2222.

Son Volt: Jay Farrar, leader of the defunct Uncle Tupelo, heads up the new roots-rock outfit. Touring in support of its debut, Trace, Son Volt performs at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Rockin' Horse, 7000 East Indian School in Scottsdale. Tickets are available at the scene and Ticketmaster. For details call 949-0992 or 784-4444.

december 4
St. Lawrence String Quartet: The Canadian ensemble, comprising violinists Geoff Nuttall and Barry Shiffman, violist Lesley Robertson and cellist Marina Hoover, has pocketed numerous honors since its formation in 1989, including an invitation by Isaac Stern to play at the White House. The group performs Beethoven's String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Opus 18; Schumann's String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Opus 41; and Sir Ernest MacMillan's "Two Sketches," a work based on French-Canadian airs, at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Sundial Auditorium, 103rd Avenue and Boswell in Sun City. Tickets are $12, $1 for students. Call 972-0478.

december 5
ZooLights: Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park, is garbed in its usual technicolor dreamcoat of lights--600,000 strong--during this glorious annual event, which starts Tuesday. The after-hours fun continues from 6to 9 nightly (except Christmas Eve), through January 27. New this year: "The Enchanted Forest," including the Santalike "Mountain Father," costumed characters, nature workshops and more. Coming in January: Super ZooLights, featuring a football-themed sound-and-light display. Special admission is $4, $3.50 for members, free for kids age 3 and under; discount tickets are available at Fry's stores. Call 273-1341, extension 7810.

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