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
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
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