Holidays Festivities Guide

See the big picture with our comprehensive guide to the season

Oh holy mother of all seasons, the holidays are already upon us. You may be still lost in the fog of a turkey hangover, but there is no hiding from the fact that every store line in town has instantly doubled in size and your bank account just sprang a leak. And, in case you forgot already, “dibs” have been called on every flat surface in that place you call home by the relatives you invited to share two weeks of cold showers, fatty foods and one grinning electronic Santa singing and dancing “The Twist” 453 times in a row.

Hope is not lost. Take a deep breath and drink in the comforting aroma of your neighbor’s fireplace; throw back a warm shot of Irish whiskey and let the News & Review’s Holiday Festivities Guide fill you with the spirit of the season.

The first thing to do is get out of the house and have someone else do the entertaining for you. Chico State is a great place to start, as the School of the Arts says goodbye to the fall semester in grand style. For the fourth year in a row the SOA and the Department of Music have put together “The Glorious Sounds of the Season!” to benefit the music scholarship program. Three shows, Dec. 12-14 in the Harlen Adams Theatre, will encompass the entire scope of both of the programs, with student, faculty and community members performing more than 25 musical selections.

The centerpiece for the production is the 200-voice Choral Union, which will be doing classics such as “Ave Maria,” and from there the audience, which is surrounded by performers on all sides, will be bombarded with a fast-paced program in “real-life surround sound.” Pianists John Milbauer and Robert Bowman, Paul Friedlander’s doo-wap group, the North State Symphony players, organist David Rothe, guitarist Warren Haskell and many others will play everything from “Silent Night” to excerpts from The Messiah in a far-reaching selection of both traditional and contemporary holiday tunes.

Also happening on campus and around Chico: Sunday, Dec. 7, 2 p.m., Babes in Toyland, American Family Theater’s production of Victor Herbert’s classic adventures in Toyland and the Magic Forest; Thursday, Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m., “Fiesta Navidad,” a concert of Mariachi music and folklórico dancing with Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano telling the story of La Posada, the Mexican folk tale commemorating Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Both shows take place in Laxson Auditorium.

And for those who need a little naughty with their nice, head over to Chico Cabaret’s late-night offering of The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, Dec. 12-14, 19 and 20, 10:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. on Sunday). Rated for “adults only,” this tale of Christmas gone very, very wrong delves into the dark side of Saint Nick and his reindeer cohorts.

Don’t be limited to the confines of Chico, though. Paradise and Oroville have major events planned in the coming weeks. In Oroville you have a further production of Babes in Toyland, this one by the Creative Arts Center at the State Theatre Dec.12-14, 8 p.m. (Sunday, 2 p.m.), and the Oroville Community Chorus at the State as well, with Karen Finley’s chorus singing your favorite festive tunes on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 7, 2 p.m.

Paradise kicks things off with two very classic holiday classics. On Thursday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. is the annual “Sing-a-long Messiah,” directed by Dan Valdez at the Paradise Performing Arts Center. Bring your own sheet music and be part of the show. And also at the Performing Arts Center is Northern California Ballet’s 12th annual production of The Nutcracker, with four performances of this family tradition Dec. 12-14.

But the mellowest offering by far has to be North Valley Productions’ Windham Hill Winter Solstice Tour. Spawned by the immense popularity of the Windham Hill label’s Winter Solstice compilation series, this easy-listening concert promises a quiet evening of soft, floating musical snowflakes, evaporating upon contact with the collective warmth of this chill-fest.

Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman (guitarist, carpenter and composer), pianist Liz Story and African/fusion artist Samite will all be on hand at the Paradise Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Dec. 18, at 6:30 p.m.

During the holidays it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There’s a whole community out there, and connecting with it at various local holiday activities stokes fires that can burn for seasons to come.

Get started Friday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m. Our newly denuded downtown park will provide a plethora of vantage points for the lighting of Chico’s community tree. Join your neighbors in the glow of electricity and sing a song in perfect harmony while you’re at it.

Of course you can’t miss Santa this year. Catch him on a fire truck in the Toys R Us parking lot and at the Frontier Christmas celebration at the Lake Oroville Visitor Center on Dec. 6; at two different “breakfast with Santa” events, one at the CARD office on Dec. 12 and 13 and one at Bellachino’s on Dec. 14; and of course at the Chico Mall throughout the holidays.

For something a little more exotic, there’s the Kwanzaa Celebration put on by the Chico State Pan African Union at the BMU Auditorium on Thursday, Dec. 11, 6 p.m.-midnight. Hip-hop Unity Dancers and Congolese and Senegalese master drummers and dancers will entertain. Or, try the multicultural “Our Town” celebration at the Dorothy Johnson Center that same night, with music and dance performances and a variety of holiday treats and refreshments.

Or simply hit the extensive crafts-faire circuit and gawk at your neighbor’s hand-painted ornaments and holiday-themed sweaters.

If you do nothing else, at least step out long enough to help someone who really has it rough during the holidays. The Salvation Army, the Torres Community Shelter, the Jesus Center and many others are organizing significant efforts to help the needy and the homeless (see sidebar), and if you give a little who knows what might happen. The holiday spirit may just follow you into the new year.