Contrary to what you may see on your television or during your online browsing, there is more to do in the next week than shop for deals on products you may or may not actually need. First, we hope there’s a good meal, during which you can pause between servings to be thankful for the personal blessings you enjoy. (And I promise you do enjoy blessings, even though they can be very difficult to see sometimes.) Then, there’s art and culture, two blessings of our community that give us an extra helping this time of year. Best just loosen your belt and dig in.
FOUNTAIN SQUARE HOLIDAYS
Friday, Nov. 29 | Fifth and Vine streets, Cincinnati, OH 45202
The folks at the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (better known by its nickname, 3CDC) are doing their best to make the heart of Cincinnati a nexus of holiday cheer. That effort launches Friday with a bang – lots and lots of them, actually – along with the ceremonial lighting of the [insert your winter holiday here] tree on the square. It’s effectively an all-day affair that kicks off a monthlong series of festive activities. The specifics include:
- “Light Up the Square” | Live music starts at 6 p.m., the switch to light the tree is flipped at 7:25 p.m., and fireworks follow as soon as Santa arrives.
- Winter Market | The Cincideutsch village has been supplanted by a new market featuring regional artisans, food and other concessions. Check the website for special events each weekend. Keeping in mind my standing motto that change is generally bad, let’s just hope the strudel and glühwein are back. On the plus side, though, the Winter Market runs through Dec. 22.
- Santa at Carew | Bring the kids downtown early to visit Santa in the art deco wonder that is the Carew Tower Arcade. Begins at noon Thursdays-Sundays; check the website for specific end times.
- Ice Rink | It’s open daily through Feb. 2. Check the website for expanded holiday hours. Santa does double duty and joins the crowds on ice from noon-1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 22. And, yes, he can be in two places at once. Because he’s Santa, that’s why.
- Downtown Dazzle | Santa works his physics-defying magic again on Saturday nights through Dec. 21, rappelling down to Fountain Square at 6:30 p.m. to signal the start of a fireworks show.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS
Crafty Supermarket Holiday Show
Saturday, Nov. 30, and Sunday, Dec. 1 | Music Hall Ballroom, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
It’s the 10th year of the Crafty Supermarket, and, to mark the occasion, the annual holiday show has been expanded to two days. In addition to a wide gamut of local, regional and national artists offering their creative, handmade wares, there will be hands-on craft activities, a live DJ and local food. Compared to a day after Thanksgiving sale at a mall, this one is a treat.
‘Allegro non troppo’
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m. | The Mini Microcinema, Garfield Theatre, 1329 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Bruno Bozzetto was just 2 when Disney’s “Fantasia” was released, but he grew up a great admirer of Disney animation – even making his own cartoons as a filmmaker. He’s still with us at age 81, his art more rooted in satire than Disney wholesomeness. His best-known work is “Allegro non troppo,” a 1976 feature-length animated film that, like “Fantasia,” sets a series of vignettes to short classical pieces. There are insightful but funny looks at human nature, a poke at Disney and one that will catch you off guard (because it’s “just a cartoon,” right?) and have you crying in less than five minutes.
Advent Lessons and Carols
Sunday, Dec. 1 | various locations
If you enjoyed a, let’s say, pre-internet childhood, it’s very likely that one of the holiday events you most looked forward to was the live broadcast from King’s College Cambridge of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve. Live programming from the other side of the world may be passé these days, but the charm of the lessons and carols service has spawned clones around the globe, and versions for the first Sunday of Advent. Here are three outstanding choices right here in town, all of them overflowing with great music, and all of them free (these are real services, after all):
- St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption | There isn’t a more perfect setting than the Notre Dame-inspired basilica in Covington. The Bishop’s Choir performs in this tradition that’s more than 30 years old. (3 p.m.; 1140 Madison Ave., Covington, KY 41011; 859-431-2060)
- St. Peter in Chains Cathedral | The Archdiocese of Cincinnati this year celebrates Christmas for the 175th time in its downtown Cincinnati home. The annual Advent concert once again showcases the always beautiful-sounding, fully professional Cathedral Choir. (3 p.m. 325 W. Eighth St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-421-2222)
- Christ Church Cathedral | Downtown Cincinnati’s Episcopal choir shares outstanding pieces from two millennia of sacred music in its Advent offering, including works by Hildegard of Bingen, Orlando di Lasso, Herbert Howells and James MacMillan. (5 p.m.; 318 East Fourth St.; Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-621-1817)
An Evening with Sierra Hull
Saturday, Nov. 30, 8 p.m. | Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
The mandolinist, singer and songwriter Sierra Hull was signed to her first recording deal at age 13. She’s now a veteran at the ripe old age of 28, and her latest album features Bela Fleck and Alison Kraus as guest collaborators. You can hear the bluegrass wonder for yourself in the friendly confines of Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine.
memorialhallotr.com or 513-977-8838
CCJO: ‘The Sound of Music’
Sunday, Dec. 1, 2 p.m. | First Unitarian Church, 536 Linton St., Cincinnati, OH 45219
I’m more open to “Die Hard” being a Christmas movie than to “My Favorite Things” being a Christmas song. As a wholesome piece of Americana, though, “The Sound of Music” certainly qualifies for holiday-near performances. That’s the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra’s story, at least, and who are we to argue? Especially when the Phil DeGreg Trio joins forces with the Cincinnati Youth Choir on music from the Tony-winning show that made into an Oscar-winning film. It’s all part of the Jazz @ First series. With Christmas cookies at intermission, you’ll love it as much as whiskers on kittens and warm woolen mittens.
cincinnatijazz.org or 513-280-8181
‘A Christmas Carol’
Opens Wednesday, Nov. 29 | Marx Theater, Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Bruce Cromer has made a holiday career of “A Christmas Carol.” He’s taken part in the Playhouse’s productions since 1997. (You might not remember, tied to the role of Scrooge as he now is, that Cromer started as Bob Cratchit.) The annual Christmas present to local theater audiences – and, based on the size of the cast, to the region’s actors, too – launches officially Friday and runs through Dec. 29. The adaptation of the Dickens classic is lavish, impressive and perennially close to sold out, so jump on it now. As of this writing, a few seats also remain for Wednesday’s special preview performance.
cincyplay.com or 513-421-3888
Art After Dark: ‘Girl Power’
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 5 p.m. | Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202
We tout this CAM series as fun parties on their own (you know the drill – live music, food, cocktails, etc.), but this time we’ll recommend it particularly for the perquisite free admission to the museum’s current exhibitions. There are three of them: “Women Breaking Boundaries,” “Treasures of the Spanish World” and “The Levee: A Photographer in the American South.” Three exhibitions after hours with a cocktail? Sign me up, you say. Just remember that, because of Thanksgiving, this edition of Art After Dark is Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, not the typical Friday.
cincinnatiartmuseum.org or 513-721-2787 (ARTS)
Three exhibitions bid us farewell this weekend. Get a peek while you can.
“Fearful Symmetry” | Taft Museum of Art, 316 Pike St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; 513-241-0343
Cut paper, cast glass, ash and salt mingle with video projections, sound, light and shadow in the work of Cincinnati-based artist Alice Pixley Young. Her work, riffing on the William Blake poem (“Tyger, tyger, burning bright/In the forests of the night”), invokes 19th-century landscape traditions. Through Sunday, Dec. 1.
“Golden Ticket” | Clifton Cultural Arts Center, 2728 Vine St., Cincinnati, OH 45219; 513-497-2860
It’s the 10th year for the ’s Golden Ticket juried exhibition, an annual showcase of artists living or working within a 25-mile radius of the CCAC. This year’s jurors selected works by 37 artists. Through Saturday, Nov. 30, at CCAC@Short Vine Gallery.
“Two Hundred Years of Curation” | Reed Gallery, College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, University of Cincinnati, 2600 Clifton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45221; 513-556-2839
This exhibition celebrates the University of Cincinnati’s bicentennial with objects, artifacts, documents and artworks collected from five university archives. Through Sunday, Dec. 1.