50 events to celebrate the holiday season

Your December A&E guide
50 events to celebrate the holiday season
Madison Ballet returns with the performances of beloved holiday class "The Nutcracker" December 8-26.

Comedy

Chicago’s comedy troupe The Second City brings its “Dysfunctional Holiday Revue” to the Overture Center for the Arts, complete with skits and jokes about Christmas movie classics and chaotic holiday family dinners that may be eerily familar. Dec. 1

Dance

Li Chiao-Ping Dance combines choreography, theater and multimedia for “Dolce Stil Novo,” which references Dante’s “Inferno.” Dec. 1

Reading

Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator Jan Brett, known for her beautifully illustrated children’s books, visits the Madison Public Library for a cozy reading of “The Snowy Nap.” Dec. 1

Music

Prepared to be treated like a king/queen at the 85th Tudor Holiday Dinner Concert in Memorial Union’s Great Hall. Mingle and clink glasses to the music of the Philharmonic Chorus of Madison before enjoying a traditional Old English dinner. Dec. 1

Comedy

Sal Vulcano, star of the truTV comedy “Impractical Jokers,” will give you ideas with which to torture your friends when he appears at the Comedy Club on State. Special guest Sean Patton. Dec. 1

Theater

Rock out to classic hits with the “Rock of Ages: Middle School Edition” — an hour-long, age-appropriate version of the Broadway musical, choreographed and performed by young performers at the Bartell Theatre. Dec. 1

Special Event

At Madison’s 22nd annual Fair Trade Holiday Festival at the Monona Terrace, one will find goods crafted by marginalized people in developing countries. Making purchases there will support individual craftspeople and advance transparency in business. Get a unique gift knowing you’re giving back to a maker across the world. Dec. 1

Art

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art’s newest exhibit “This is Life” displays mixed-media collages by Nathaniel Mary Quinn. The artist pulls together magazine and newspaper clippings to create images of people in his life. Opens Dec. 1

Special Event

Celebrate an Old World Christmas at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle. Tour recreations of early immigrant homes, take photos with a Victorian Santa and ride a jingling horse-drawn carriage. Dec. 1-2

Music

Jazz and hip hop fusion comes to The Brink Lounge with local spoken word poet Rob Dz and the New Breed jazz band joining forces. Dec. 2

Music

Six out seven University of Wisconsin-Madison choirs (Choral, Concert, Madrigal Singers, University Chorus, women’s Chorus and Masters Singers) will perform choral arrangements and invite the audience to sing-along at two winter concerts on Sunday at Luther Memorial Church. Dec. 2
Music

While the flowers are not in bloom at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the grounds will give life to a Holiday Concert Series every Sunday afternoon in December. The first concert on Dec. 2 will feature the acoustic strains of Mark Lint’s Dry Folk. On subsequent Sundays, MaR & PS — Matt and Rissel and the Peguero Sisters — will platy latin jazz and funk (Dec. 9); young violinists from Suzuki Strings of Madison (Dec. 16); Folk singer Tom Kastle (Dec. 23); and traditional Celtic folk duo The Twa Dogs (Dec. 30). Sundays, Dec. 2-30

Theater

Edgewood College theater professor Susan Nanning-Sorenson wrote and directed the department’s production “Nowhere for Polar Bear,” the story of a lone polar bear who searches for the solution to global warming. Dec. 4

Reading

At the Barrymore Theatre, local historian and writer Stu Levitan reads from his new book “Madison in the Sixties” after an introduction from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. Dec. 5

Music

Smooth-voiced indie pop singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson known for hits “Be OK” and “The Way I Am” — brings her trio to the Orpheum Theater as part of her “Songs for the Season” tour. Dec. 6

Theater

“Green Day’s American Idiot,” the musical inspired by the album by the punk-pop band by the same name, will interest musical theater and rock fans alike. The story of three friends searching for better lives takes some turns along the way. Dec. 6-8

Theater

At the historic Nathaniel Dean House, Shadow FX Theatre presents “Old World Christmas in a Victorian Parlor with one play combining selections from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “Gift of the Magi” among other holiday scripts. Dec. 6-8

Comedy

After a long comedy career marked with stints on “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and numerous other comedy shows, Dana Gould stops by Comedy Club on State for a special appearance of his seasoned knee-slapping humor. Dec. 6-8

Comedy

Madison’s Lucid Dreaming Sketch Comedy troupe joins forces with Texas-based improv team Be Kind to Strangers for an evening of fast-paced, hilarious sketches in the dairy state for their show “United By Cows.” Dec. 6-8

Theater

The flamboyant crooning of Florence Foster Jenkins comes back to life at the Four Seasons Theatre in a fantasia of her life, “Souvenirs.” American Players Theater regular and Madison native Sarah Day takes on the role of Lady Florence. Dec. 6-16

Music

For the sixth year in a row, Wintersong brings together local indie acoustic musicians at the Barrymore Theatre for an evening of music and to raise money for the Second Harvest food bank. Dec. 7

Music

The Majestic Theatre’s inaugural “Silent Night: A Winter Silent Disco” allows attendees to choose between top 40 hits and techno music played by live DJs through headphones. Dance with others while immersed in a solo musical world. Dec. 7

Music

Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra presents their 10th production of “Messiah,” Handel’s renowned holiday oratorio featuring the Festival Choir of Madison for a classical wintertime extravaganza. Dec. 7

Comedy

Manitowoc Minute’s Charlie Berens rolls through Memorial Union with his Midwest accent, ya know, and Emmy-winning comedy, pulling from his viral video series. Dec. 7

Music

Waltz into the holiday spirit with Madison Bach Musicians’ 8th Annual Baroque Holiday Concert, an ensemble of voices and string instruments taking audiences back to the 16th through 18th centuries. Dec. 8

Music

Grammy award-winning singer Jason Mraz is joined by Toca Rivera, his percussionist and backup singer, at the Orpheum for the Madison stop of their joint “Live In Stereo” tour. Dec. 8

Music

Famed Wisconsin author and voice of the Eaux Claires festival Michael Perry, along with his band the Long Beds, stop by the Stoughton Opera House rto play the “folk-twang” tracks off their third album. Dec. 8

Music

Prenicia Clifton, a world-renowned opera singer, brings hope along with stunning vocals to her holiday music spectacular guaranteed to be “a night of elegance.” Dec. 8

Music

Get funky at the Majestic’s “A Funky Christmas” featuring local eight-piece soul band Don’t Mess With Cupid playing tribute to James Brown and Otis Redding. Dec. 8

Music

Classical duo Christian-Pierre La Marca (on cello) and Lise de la Salle (on piano), explore musical interminglings between France and Moscow in their repertoire of various renowned composers, played by these world-known musicians on the UW campus. Dec. 8

Dance

Students of UW-Madison’s Dance Department wind down their semester with the Kloepper Student Concert at Lathrop Hall, a showcase featuring works choreographed and performed by budding artists. Dec. 8 & 9

Music

Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra‘s dedicated small groups play chamber music recitals at Oakwood West and Capital Lakes, showing off the young locals’ woodwind, strings and piano skills. Dec. 8, 13 & 15

Reading

Three Wisconsin authors — Jerry Apps, Kathleen Ernst and Marnie Mamminga — come together for a panel at the Wisconsin Historical Museum to discuss he focus of their writing: life, landscape and the history of the Midwest. Dec. 9

Music

Madison Youth Choirs welcome Tony Memmel, a singer-songwriter with no left hand or forearm who taught himself to play guitar, for a fitting winter performance called “Resilience,” performing songs about tackling personal challenges. Dec. 8-9

Theater

The Children’s Theater of Madison’s holiday tradition “A Christmas Carol” returns with everyone’s favorite grouch Ebenezer Scrooge, portrayed by American Players Theater’s David Daniel, for the company’s biggest show of the year. Dec. 8-23

Dance

The classic holiday performance “The Nutcracker” returns with 150 Madison Ballet dancers, live music from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, a massive Christmas tree and snow flurries. Dec. 8-26

Music

Stoughton Festival Choir and City Band invite the community to gather in the holiday spirit with a carol sing-along and traditional performance in the town’s historic opera house. Dec. 9

Music

Ladies Rock Camp coaches local women, 19 years old and up, to rock out. Their weekend camp ends with a performance showcase, featuring their new-found rockstar personas. Dec. 7-9

Special Event

Gett nique, locally-made stocking stuffers at the Merry Makers’ Market holiday gift fair, complete with a kids ornament making corner, live music, items from ceramics to soaps. Held at The Brink Lounge, where you can also sit down for food and drinks. Dec. 9

Art

Overture Center’s Winter Exhibition Cycle launches this month, including painted stones and canvases, as well as an exhibit made from various materials, such as paper pulp. All three new shows will be displayed through March. Opens Dec. 11

Theater

Stage actors play Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they search for a Christmas tree and the true holiday spirit, taking scenes and music straight from the beloved cartoon holiday special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” at the Orpheum Theater. Dec. 11

Music

Country crooner Riley Green headlines and Madison’s Beth Kille Band opens the Majestic Theatre show which is a funraiser fort he U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive. Dec. 12

Special Event

Madison Opera promises an evening of merriment, accompanied by seasonal food and holiday drinks, at its annual “Wassail, Wassail!” party to support the opera’s educational programs. Dec. 13

Dance

Combine a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale and ballet and you get Central Midwest Ballet’s dreamy performance of “The Little Matchstick Girl.” Dec. 14-16

Special Event

Fasten your neck ties and zip up your cocktail dresses for Madison’s classiest annual holiday party: the Mad Men Holiday Soiree. Local musicians play 1960s-era music at the Majestic-hosted vintage costume ball with inspiration drawn from the hit TV show. Dec. 15

Music

Discover upcoming local musicians at the Madison Area Music Awards’ Breakthrough Artist Competition, a battle of the bands judged by a panel of seasoned performers, with a headlining spot at the MAMAs award ceremony as the grand prize. Dec. 16

Theater

Written by local playwright Nick Schweitzer, “Star Wars: The Panto Strikes Back” at the Bartell Theatre promises to deliver a gallaxy worth of corny jokes and fun twists on the classic films for audiences of all ages — the more immature, the better. Dec. 21-23 & 27-30

Special Event

Keep your kids’ boredom at bay by taking them to the Madison Children’s Museum during Winter Wonder Week for ornament making, live music, yoga and more. Dec. 26-31

Special Event

Send 2018 off right on News Year’s Eve at the Monona Terrace for Madison Family Eve, a night of juggling, a magic show and a balloon drop — all ending in time for parents to have a few hours of their own fun. Dec. 31

Theater

For Ball Drop Blitz at the Bartell Theatre, writers, directors and actors meet on Dec. 30, pick names and challenges at random, and have 24 hours to create a show and bring it to life on stage, just before midnight. Dec. 31

Sammy Gibbons is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.

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