Ho, Ho, ShowsSeason of Light. The Flandrau Planetarium is one of the best places in Tucson to be filled with a sparkly sense of wonder, and Christmas is one of the best times of year to do that same thing. This annual show is a celebration of the history of the holidays, the marvels of our solar system and the sense of rebirth that comes with the Winter Solstice. Narrated by Noah Adams of NPR and featuring a light show set to holiday music, it’s a star-studded way to get into the holiday spirit. Begins Monday, Dec. 11. 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, with 7 p.m. shows Fridays and 8 p.m. shows Saturdays. No shows Dec. 18 through Dec. 20. Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium 1601 E University Blvd. Call to reserve tickets at 520-621-4516.
The Russian Grand Ballet Presents the Nutcracker. There’s something about Russian dancers that just makes them seem like they mean business. Like they were specifically designed to be doing ballet. Don’t believe us? You don’t have to go any further than Congress Street to see some of Russia’s finest dancers perform. 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12 and Wednesday, Dec. 13 Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. $41 to $77.
68th Annual Winterhaven Festival of Lights. Celebrate many holidays with many lights at one of Tucson’s most magical events, which, incidentally, has been going on for many more years than most festivals of this kind in the country. Experience the neighborhood’s gift to the community on a hayride wagon, a trolley limo, a decked-out party bike or on foot. If driving is more your style, attend Drive Through Night on Dec. 26 and, if you celebrate Christmas, beat the day-after-the-holiday blues. The festival is free, but attendees are encouraged to bring a donation to the Community Food Bank. Most needed items: cereal and canned varieties of the following: meat, tomato products, veggies and fruit. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 through Tuesday, Dec. 26. Winterhaven Neighborhood, with entrances on Ft. Lowell, Tucson, Country Club and Prince. Free.
Mister Bing’s the Supper Club Experience. Hacienda Del Sol’s night of classic entertainment and scrumptious food is back, this month with international entertainers Crystal Stark, Annemarie Rosano and Brian Levario. Khris Dodge and the Music Makers, show club dancing, and magicians Norm Marini and Steve Ehlers are also on the docket. The menu has everything from strawberry salad to your choice of tiger prawns or chicken breast to white velvet cake with peppermint buttercream. Mister Bing’s come through once again. 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, 5501 N. Hacienda Del Sol Road. $75 plus tax/gratuity.
Holiday PartiesVictorian Christmas Ball. The Seven Pipers Tucson Scottish Society is giving everyone a chance to put on their finest Christmas kilts or fanciest Victorian vests for this period celebration full of dancing, fun and food. The official dress is costume from 1840 to 1890, but you can just dress Scottish or dress formally if you’d like. Society members will be teaching lessons in traditional Scottish dance throughout the night. 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. First United Methodist Church, 915 Fourth St. $15.
Holiday Party & Tree Celebration. Are you one of those people who put your Christmas tree up on November 1, and now you’re feeling ready to put it up again? Head over the the merry Madaras Gallery to celebrate their tree going up, with food, drink and holiday decorations. Carolers will also be present to really maximize Christmas cheer levels. Ho ho go to the gallery! 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7. Madaras Gallery, 3035 N. Swan Road. Free.
Sing-le BellsSound of Winter. The Tucson Girls Chorus, directed by Marcela Molina and assistant directed by Chris Fresolone, invite you to their annual Christmas show. The chorus has been introducing young girls and young women to choral singing techniques for over 30 years, and attending events like these supports choral education programs. 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. $15 to $18 adults, $8 kids 3 to 10, free for kids 2 and under.
Blue Suede Christmas starring Scot Bruce. Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Elvis is the King. One of the most widely recognized Elvis performers in the country is coming to Green Valley to get you “All Shook Up." If you’ve had it with the "Burnin’ Love" weather in Tucson, get in the spirit with hits like “Blue Christmas” and “Santa Bring my Baby Back.” And, Christmas aside, you’ll basically be seeing Elvis live, and that’s an opportunity none of us should take lightly. 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7. Green Valley Recreation Performing Arts, 1070 Calle de las Casitas. $30 members, $33 guests, $38 GA.
TSO’s Messiah. Are the holidays really the holidays without a performance of one of the OG holiday bangers? We don’t think so. The Tucson Symphony orchestra, conducted by Bruce Chamberlain, will be joined by soprano Teresa Wakim, alto Misty Bermudez, tenor Matthew Chellis, baritone Marcus DeLoach and the TSO chorus to bring you one of the most Christmasy, powerful and popular works in the history of choral literature. Hallelujah! 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Catalina Foothills High School, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive. $22 to $75.
The LoBros Christmas Concert. Known for their the classical/Latin jazz/funk rock combo that they call “Caliente Classical Crossover,” the LoBros are coming to Monterey Court with some serious Christmas vibes. They’ve got Christmas songs, they’ve got Santana covers, they’ve got Earth Wind and Fire tributes and, of course, they’ve got their signature CCC. They’ll be joined by special guest singer Diana Olivares. 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Monterey Court, 505 W. Miracle Mile, 85705. $8.
Patranato Christmas at San Xavier. It’s now been more than 21 years since Linda Rondstadt headlined the first concert at the mission to kick of the holiday season in Tucson. Since then, the concerts have only grown and become more beloved. The Sons of Orpheus and the Tucson Arizona Boys chorus perform to raise funds for Patronato, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring and preserving Mission San Xavier. 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, Wednesday, Dec. 13 and Thursday, Dec. 14. Tickets are still available for a 6 p.m. showing on Tuesday, Dec. 12 as well. Patronato San Xavier, 525 N. Bonita Ave. $100 or $125.
ShopDesert Gift Boutique. Here’s another chance to get some holiday shopping done! With more than 120 vendors selling everything from jewelry to books to lipstick to juice, you’re sure to finally find something for that hard-to-shop-for family member you’ve been struggling to find a gift for. And don’t worry, there will be lots of food to keep you fueled on your holiday shopping brigade. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8 and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Pantano Christian Church, 1755 S. Houghton Road. Free.
Mercado Flea Market. This vintage-only extravaganza is back for the fourth month in the parking lot across from Mercado San Augustin. About 40 local vendors will be selling antique, vintage, collectible and hand-me-down goods to you so that you can get your Christmas shopping done, or so that you can treat yourself to something neat. It’s free to get in, it’s free to park, and you’re free to peruse and purchase to your heart’s content! 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Mercado San Augustin, 100 S. Agenda del Convento. Free entry.
Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair. Get on your Santa and scurry on downtown for this big, beautiful, biannual blast. This food-filled, entertainment-packed, local merchant-stuffed event is nearly 50 years old, and brings more than half a million people to the heart of the city every year. Amidst all of the holiday hubbub, it’s a great way to step back and remember how lucky we are to live in a city like Tucson. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8 to Sunday, Dec. 10. Historic Fourth Avenue, 434 E. Ninth St. Free.
Meet SantaSanta Claus is Coming to Little Anthony’s Diner. No one can say it quite like Buddy the Elf. “SANTA! Oh my god! Santa’s coming! I know him! I KNOW HIM.” If you know Santa too, then this is a great chance to catch up with him, and if you don’t, then now’s your chance to finally meet him! Bring a can of food for the Community Food Bank and receive a free pic with the man in red himself! 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 23 (except for Sunday, Dec. 10, when the times are 6:30 to 8:30). Little Anthony’s Diner, 7010 E. Broadway. Free.
Zoo Lights 2017. There’s not much that this event doesn’t have. For starters, Santa himself will be there, beneath falling snow and surrounded by thousands of twinkling lights. Then there’s live music, carousel rides, light displays and animal-themed light sculptures. AND there’s s’mores, cinnamon rolls and hot cocoa (with or without alcohol—your pick). And you get a buck off from Dec. 7 to Dec. 19 if you bring donations for the Humane Society, Tucson A List or the Community Food Bank. 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7 through Saturday, Dec. 23, with encore nights Dec. 26 through Dec. 30 (Santa won’t be there for those because a man needs to rest after Christmas Eve.) Reid Park Zoo, 3400 Zoo Court. $10 adults, $6 kids 2 to 14, free for kids under 2, and $2 off for members.
Miracle on Congress Street. This week, the Tucson Roadrunners Give Back is sponsoring one of the holiest, jolliest events in the downtown area. Santa will be there! Churro popcorn and cookies from HUB Ice Cream Factory will be there! Live retro entertainment, a craft class for kids, and the Roadrunners’ mascot Dusty will be there! You should be there! 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. 260 E. Congress St. Free.
Santa Comes to Trail Dust Town. We used to wonder how Santa could see us when we were sleeping, know when we were awake and know if we’ve been bad or good, but now that we know he can be in so many different places at once, we’re starting to get it. Trail Dust Town is rolling out the red carpet for the big man and his adoring fans by providing a petting zoo, hot cocoa, rides and a performance by the Sahuaro High School Guitar Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra. Bring a donation for Casa de los Niños and enjoy a free Trail Dust Town attraction! 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Trail Dust Town, 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road. Free.
Non-Holiday ActivitiesNet Neutrality Picket Line. If you read last week’s issue, or if you’ve been on the internet lately, then you probably know that net neutrality’s a pretty big deal, and that everyone is pretty upset with Ajit Pai, the former Verizon lawyer who is now head of the FCC. This protest will be held at a Verizon store and make an attempt to show Congress that we’re not letting net neutrality go down without a fight. Remember how much the internet means to you! And also, remember you’re protesting the actions of Verizon executives, not of the employees at the store, so be nice. 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7. Verizon Store, 4405 N. Oracle Road.
Tucson Marathon, Marathon Relay and Half Marathon. Nothing like running 13.1 miles to make you feel all cozy and Christmasy and ready for the sweet embrace of death. Except maybe running 26.2 miles. And now’s your chance! Or, if you like running and it doesn’t make you want to die, then this also might be for you. You can register for these races up until Friday, Dec. 8. There’s lots of information about packet pick-up and transportation on the website, tucsonmarathon.com, but the gist of it is that all three races kick off at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. Racers need to take shuttles (which leave from 4:40 to 5:20) to the starting line, which is on Cody Loop Road off Mount Lemmon Highway. If you haven’t already registered, the fee is $120.
Life Along the River: Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi. The newest exhibit at the Arizona State Museum will use artifacts, maps and the voices of present-day Hopi to share the story of the people who lived near lived along the Little Colorado River near Winslow in the 1300s. Today’s Hopi refer to the villages their ancestors settled in as Homol’ovi, or “place little hills.” The Homol’ovi Research Program’s director, Charles E. Adams, is retiring at the end of the year after 32 years at the museum and 48 years as a professional archaeologist. Opening festivities 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Exhibit preview, panel and discussion 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8. Arizona State Museum, 1013 E. University Blvd. Gallery open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday through June 2019. $5 adults, free for members, those under 17 and Cat Card holders.
MeteorMania! Here come the Geminids! First observed in 1862 (which isn’t long ago at all compared to the first sightings of other meteor showers), the Gemini’s come from this big thing we think is an asteroid called 3200 Phatheon. This makes the Geminids, together with the Quadrantids, the only major meteor showers that don’t come from a comet. Neat! Scientists think this shower gets more intense every year, and 120 to 160 meteors per hour have been spotted under the right conditions. Hooray! 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13 to Thursday, Dec. 14. Meet at the picnic area a mile below the summit of the Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center. $50 adults, $37 kids 8 to 16. Free for tribal members.
MC Chris. No, he ain’t your average rapper. He’s more like a nerdy comic-book kid, who also adds cartoon voiceovers to Adult Swim and pen tunes for Kevin Smith podcasts. His witty, skillfully executed hooks and disarming high register make him the Frank Zappa of rap. In “Pizza Butt” he dreams of putting “DiGiorno’s in porno,” over a trashy Peaches synth beat. His humor is randy and silly not insulting and pejorative. It’s music to inspire stop-motion experiments with your trusty Star Wars action figures, or to help you through rainy-day house cleaning after Friday night’s sex-in-every-room, Xanax-enhanced house party. Yes, the Beasties are mos def a key influence (“Brass Monkey,” natch). Bust out the Adidas track suit and imagine you too are a “mercenary adversary sorcerer surfer.” Thursday, Dec. 7, 191 Toole. Doors: 7 p.m. $14-$16, All ages.—B.S. Eliot
The Tony Furtado Band. Never underestimate or devalue the precise power and blinky beauty of the banjo. Back in ’87, many said Tony Furtado—who’s played with everyone from Bela Fleck to Gregg Allman to Earl Scruggs—was America’s best banjoist. Then he but the banjo aside and focused on his vocals, slide guitar and songwriting. In short, the dude is really something now, full of the kind of wisdom that comes from eyes-wide living and deep musicianship. But that’s not even why we should go see him and his five-piece band play. The latest studio record, The Bell, is moody and personal, bolstered by Furtado’s best songwriting across his well-decorated, dozen-album career. More, he’s returned primarily to banjo and songs like “Astoria” are equal parts anthem and mood, with enough high-wire tension to grace a John Wick soundtrack. A tender call-and-response between Furtado’s gentle vocals and his understated-yet-virtuosic clawhammer makes “Tired Lion” sound like gratitude. These are the relentlessly rhythmic (and hypnotic), dulcet tones that result from letting a banjo lead the band. Smooth and skilled like Acoustic Alchemy, the songs promise to gain depth, tension and drama live. With Hank Erwin on Friday, Dec. 8. Courtyard Stage, Monterey Court, 505 W. Miracle Mile. 7 p.m. $15 advance, $18 at door. brownpapertickets.com.—B.S. Eliot
Boosie Badazz. Dude’s the real deal. Hailing from Louisiana and recently freed from five-year prison stint but, “On parole, still can’t get me not to ride with my pistol.” His nasally, rat-a-tat staccato flow is below-the-belt nasty, and his relentless gangsta aggression and unchill vocal tone will have you longing laid-back trap. “I dance on a niggaz head—can you hear the rhythm? All my enemies dead, that’s just how I’m livin’.” But Boosie is as prolific as he is profane, so once you’re hooked, there’s lots of cranial gangbangin’ to go around. Whether big guns or big choad, Boos and his crew are packing. Tuesday, Dec. 12 at Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Doors at 7 p.m. $30-$35. All ages.—B.S. Eliot
L.A. Guns. Tracii Guns is a guitar hero and singer Phil Lewis is a rock star of the classic variety, and, like the model set forth by Jagger/Richards, Johansen/Thunders, and Robinson/Robinson, the two forever-fighting, back-together leaders of Hollywood’s L.A. Guns were never as good apart as they are working together. That alone makes them pretty damn rock ’n’ roll in the traditional sense. And Lewis came up in the UK, the punk and glam years—he was way more Mott the Hoople and The Faces than Judas Priest and Ronald Reagan, like every other ersatz “glam” band out of Hollywood who got signed to major labels in late 1980s. L.A. Guns were better than all of that, despite some shitty stuff they made that matched the times. They hit greatness, too: History has shown that their near-giant single “It’s Over Now” is the best rock ’n’ roll song from that Sunset Strip era. Hell, it belongs in the Top 100 list of the best ever rock songs out of America. It betters anything by Guns N’ Roses, by a long way. The tune hits on all levels, mixing Duane Allman sway with Faces strut and heart. A sweet and perfect rock ’n’ roll distillation and smart acknowledgement of what came before. If L.A. Guns called it quits (again) tomorrow, they could go to the grave happy. Rare Tucson show with Push, Scare Card, and The Jack on Saturday, Dec. 9. Club XS, 5851 E. Speedway. Doors at 7 p.m. $20. All ages.—B.S. Eliot