Planning on relaxing after the holidays? That's lame. You should be practicing your downward dog with cats, playing in the snow at the Arizona Science Center, or brushing up on your spells for the Yule Ball at The Van Buren. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times' calendar.
People across history and cultures have used the sun to mark time for ages, taking special note of each year’s shortest and longest day. The longest night, called the Winter Solstice, is celebrated far and wide. Some people flock to Stonehenge and other ancient sites to partake in related rituals, but you might have trouble getting there by Uber.
Your best bet is jumping on the light rail to visit the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 North Central Avenue, where they don’t skimp on the solstice activities. They’re happening from 4 to 11 p.m. on Thursday, December 21. Doors open at 3:30 p.m., and admission is $5.
The Center’s Winter Solstice lineup will include live music, poetry, and crafts. Food and drinks (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic) will be available for purchase. Visit the Irish Cultural Center website. Lynn Trimble
When Jake Early creates art through a serigraph process, he often draws on emotions he’s felt while traveling through Arizona. His newest series of desert-focused work, “Printed Desert,” will show at Practical Art, 5070 North Central Avenue, through Sunday, December 31.
Early tries to draw attention to objects and places that are often overlooked. His latest pieces showcase various desert cactuses, the shadows they cast, and their varying shapes and colors. The exhibition is free to the public and open during the shop/gallery’s business hours, which run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 602-264-1414 or see the Practical Art website. Laura Latzko
Crazy for smooth tunes, warm breezes, and cocktails on the Lido Deck? Head over to Crescent Ballroom and hop on the Sunset Cruise. DJs Justin Graham, Dana Armstrong, Brandon McMahon, and TK Nicholson have the easy listening hits that will truly float your boat.
“Expect to see palm trees, cruise wear, rattan items, and old video footage of hang gliding, windsurfing, ’70s wine commercials, and more,” describes Armstrong. “Exploring this music genre is an excursion of its own. It’s like a never-ending goldmine of glorious but under-recognized music and awesome album covers.”
Wind down from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 21, at 308 North Second Avenue. This is a free event. For more information, visit the Crescent Ballroom website. Jason Keil
You know the phrase “less is more”? Shelly Sazdanoff’s exhibition at the Shortcut Gallery is the perfect example.
Sazdanoff utilizes everyday materials, like linen and concrete, that are woven together to create a three-dimensional texture across her canvas. Her minimalist, mixed-media work aims to create a tangible balance of fluidity and contrast.
Check out Sazdanoff’s pieces at the opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, December 22, at 5538 North Seventh Street, #120. For more information, visit the Phoenix General website. Lindsay Roberts
After graduating from Arizona School for the Arts, David Hallberg went on to become a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre in New York City. Hallberg was the first American to be named a principal dancer with Russia’s renowned Bolshoi Ballet, and he’s a guest artist this season with the Royal Opera House in London.
Hallberg grew up in Phoenix, where he began formal ballet training in his early teens. You can hear him talk about his many adventures, in dance and beyond, when he comes to Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road, at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 22. The event is co-presented by Ballet Arizona.
Hallberg will be discussing his new memoir, titled A Body of Work: Dancing to the Edge and Back, in conversation with Ib Andersen, artistic director for Ballet Arizona. For $28, you get two tickets and a copy of Hallberg’s book. Visit the Changing Hands website. Lynn Trimble
Those who can distinguish between wizards and Muggles, this is the holiday party for you. The Yule Ball re-creates the event from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in which Potter and his magical pals got gussied up to dance and toss back Butterbeer. That signature drink is on this evening’s special menu, along with others like Polyjuice Potion and Unforgiveable Curse shots.
Waiting for a chance to slip into your magical robes? Good — because it’s a costume party, with a contest for those who really want to do it up. While you’re feeling competitive, show off your Harry Potter knowledge, as the fun includes rounds of trivia. Order of the Phoenix performs live music and a special guest DJ will keep the Great Hall rocking.
This Hogwarts-inspired happening starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 22, at The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street. Admission is $10 for 18 and older. See details at the Van Buren website. Amy Young
A Christmas Carol
For decades, Charles Dickens traveled from town to town, performing A Christmas Carol for enthusiastic audiences. (As in a good bedtime story, he did all the voices.) Dickens’ fame as an author meshed nicely with contemporaneous widespread illiteracy — a little something for everyone.
Stage versions of the story have been around even longer. This year, as Dickens did, Arizona Broadway Theatre hits the road, transporting Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens’ epic musical mounting from Peoria to downtown Phoenix through Thursday, December 28. The feeling’s traditional, despite zazzy effects, tap dancing, and chorus girls. Chuck would approve.
Tickets are $38 to $73 for performances at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. Showtime on Friday, December 22, is 7 p.m. Visit the Herberger Theater website or call 602-252-8497. Julie Peterson
If you’re a cat person, interacting with the furry creatures can be a great way to unwind. At La Gattara Cat Lounge and Boutique, 1301 East University, #136, you can practice yoga in the same room with 20 adoptable cats and kittens. Lauren Doyle from Bodhi Building will lead you through different poses on the mat before reading from The Tao of Meow, a story of wisdom told from a cat’s point of view.
Caturday Yoga class starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 23. It runs for 75 minutes and costs $15 per person. For more information, call 480-717-8056 or go to the La Gattara website. Laura Latzko
Spielraum 122: Art Meets Industry
Couple the German words for play (spiel) and room (raum), and you’ve got the name for the newest exhibition at the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center: “Spielraum 122: Art Meets Industry.” It’s a playful take on porcelain’s complex composition, historical uses, and cultural relevance. You probably associate porcelain with your grandmother’s china cabinet. But the five artists in this exhibition see porcelain’s broader possibilities.
Visit the Brickyard, 699 South Mill Avenue in Tempe, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 23, to see how these artists pushed the boundaries of the medium during time spent at a porcelain factory in Triptis, Germany. One was inspired by hubcaps, and another by ocean life. The free exhibition continues through February 3, 2018. See the ASU Art Museum website. Lynn Trimble
Go, Dog. Go!
P.D. Eastman was not Dr. Seuss. The two served together in the Army’s film unit, and Eastman’s fun, simple books for little kids are published under the Cat in the Hat’s umbrella, so people who are confused about the whole thing should be cut some slack.
Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go! is the gripping tale of six pooches who can’t sit still, are obsessed with vehicles, and really just want to party. There’s also a dog who’s quite picky about hats. The closing performance of Childsplay’s production of the rollicking stage version starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 23, at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway. It’s meant for audiences 3 and older. Tickets are $15 to $26 at the Childsplay website or 480-350-2822. Julie Peterson
Rhymes With Equality
You Racist, Sexist, Bigot is a film directed by Matty Steinkamp and Pita Juarez, host of the podcast Mira Listen. It features stories of Americans overcoming discrimination. Rhymes With Equality is a benefit event for the documentary, which will make its way around the festival circuit next year. Poet and performer Melissa Dunmore of Mujeres del Sol will host a night of poetry from Yovani Flores and Rashaad Thomas and young poets from the School of Hip-Hop Phoenix. Additionally, The Stakes will perform, and they plan to debut the video for their latest single, “Prophecy.”
The event starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 23, at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. Admission is $10. For more information, visit the Valley Bar website. Jason Keil
Obscura Dance Night Winter is Glamorous (WIG) Party
Get your wigs, kids, because after a hiatus, the Obscura Dance Night Winter is Glamorous (WIG) Party is back.
Rips Ales & Cocktails, 3045 North 16th Street, will host the hairpiece-themed party. DJ Court will soundtrack the evening with synthpop, Britpop,New Wave, and indie. In the spirit of holiday giving, there will be ticket giveaways for upcoming concerts like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Real Estate, and STFKR.
The 21-and-up event will kick off at 8:30 p.m. and run until 2 a.m. on Saturday, December 23. There is no cover charge before 9 p.m., and it’s $5 after. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts
Arizona Cardinals v. New York Giants
There’s nothing more American than football and cheeseburgers. And when it comes to the NFL, if the Dallas Cowboys are the Big Mac, then the New York Giants are the Whopper, as enduring and iconic a team as any the league has to offer. So when first-time head coach Ben McAdoo benched the team’s most respected member, quarterback Eli Manning, in favor of mercurial and unproven backup Geno Smith, he caused quite a stir in the national sports community.
Not surprisingly, when the Giants visit Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium, 1 Cardinals Drive, on at 2:25 p.m. on Sunday, December 24, Eli will be on the field and Coach Ben will be on the bench — make that the couch. Tickets are $18 and up. Visit the Cardinals website or call 623-433-7101 for details. Rob Kroehler
Scrooge in Rouge
Stage comedy teems with meta-situations in which characters who are actors (keep up, here) must go on in place of other actors (that is, characters) who’ve fallen ill and/or died or something. “Unplanned” cross-dressing and quick changes fail humorously (on purpose — keep up, here). Other shows showcase the virtuosity of players who officially depict 50 people each.
For the second year now, Mesa Encore Theatre presents Scrooge in Rouge, a rowdy English-music-hall homage in which three plucky actor-characters suddenly have to portray everybody in A Christmas Carol. The humor’s naughty, the songs are astonishing, and it’s partly inspired by real-life male impersonator Vesta Tilley. Sunday, December 24’s showtime is 2:30 p.m. at MET’s Black Box, 933 East Main Street. For tickets, $15, visit the Mesa Encore Theatre website or call 480-834-9500. Julie Peterson
Wind down the festivities of the day with a nap — and then get ready to get wound up all over again at TechMas. Hosted by the Society for Musical Esotericism, the event will include a jam-packed schedule of sonic entertainment from a combination of live electronic music acts and DJs. The Tempe dive that’s as known for its shows as it is for its cheap drinks gets lit, with knob-twisting and button-pushing from local acts including Terminal 11 and Carlos Sandoval. Issa, Beast Infection, and JSA are a few of the DJs.
Beats begin at 8 p.m. on Monday, December 25, at the Palo Verde Lounge, 1015 West Broadway Road in Tempe. Admission to the 21-and-over event is free. See details at the Facebook event page. Amy Young
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
The holidays are here, and they’re the perfect time to see the film that turned the Son of God’s story on its head. The controversial and hilarious Monty Python’s Life of Brian follows what happened to the guy who was born in the manger next to Jesus. Brian is continually mistaken for the son of Mary and Joseph in this satire by the British comedy troupe. It was prohibited throughout Europe upon its initial release, which caused it to be described as “so funny, it was banned in Norway!”
Get saved on Monday, December 25 at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. Screening times haven’t been announced as of this writing. For more information, visit the FilmBar website. Jason Keil
During the Arizona Science Center’s sixth annual Snow Week, 75 tons of snow will cover Heritage and Science Park, 115 North Sixth Street. Besides throwing snowballs and building snowmen, you can also take part in activities such as a Chewbacca roar contest, a Death Star explosion, a New Year’s Eve ball drop, movie screenings of Frozen and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and carpool karaoke at the Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington Street.
Snow Week runs from Tuesday, December 26, to Sunday, December 31. Playing in the snow is free, and activities at the science center are included in the price of admission, which is $18 for adults, $13 for children 3 to 17, and free for those 2 and younger. For more information, call 602-716-2000 or go the Arizona Science Center website. Laura Latzko
There are too many damn Wildcats in college sports. Sure, most of them belong to colleges that probably aren’t real. But all told, there are around 20 Wildcats in the country and a handful of them have highly visible sports programs.
So in case there was any confusion, and there likely was, this year’s Cactus Bowl features the Kansas State Wildcats and the UCLA Bruins. To be fair, there are around 10 Bruins mascots in collegiate sports, it’s just that no one cares about the others. But hey, at least the bowl, which features eligible teams from the Pac 12 and the Big 12, doesn’t have any Eagles or Bulldogs to contend with.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Chase Field, 401 East Jefferson Street, on Tuesday, December 26. Tickets are $10 and up. Visit the Fiesta Bowl website or call 602-514-8400 for details. Rob Kroehler
It kind of sucks when you get to the end of a book and want to talk about it, but no one you know has peeped it yet. That’s what book clubs are for. Hosted by Barbara VanDenburgh, the First Draft Book Club is a monthly event where you can get chatty about a different book each time. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong is this month’s selection. The fictional novel finds main character Ruth honestly and humorously examining life at 30. The bookstore serves beer and wine, with happy hour prices running the duration of the event. Drink and discuss at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 27, at Changing Hands, 300 West Camelback Road. Admission is free. Call 602-274-0067 or visit the Changing Hands website. Amy Young