Lessons & Carols by Candlelight. True Concord works hard every year to put on a holiday show that will leave you with a warm glow inside. There's going to be the glimmer of candlelight. There's going to be some of the most nostalgia-inducing Christmas tunes around. There's going to be organs and harps. And it's all going to go down in some of the prettiest churches in town. A mid-December meditative moment is probably just what you need to remember what this season is really all about. 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, at Christ the King Episcopal Church, 2800 W. Ina Road. 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 14, at St. Francis in the Valley Episcopal Church, 1902, 600 S. La Canada Drive, Green Valley. 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, at St. Philips in the Hills Episcopal Church, 4440 N. Campbell Ave. 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16, at Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St. 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16, at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 3738 N. Old Sabino Canyon Road. $25 to $40.
Carols of Triumphant Joy! The Arizona Repertory Singers have been performing both classic and new music since 1984, and they've always made sounding great a priority: Their singers, who work as everything from lawyers to engineers to artists, all go through a rigorous audition process. At their holiday show, you'll hear brand new choral music by Thomas Juneau, as well as Jonathan Dove's "Seek him that maketh the seven stars." They'll also be delivering some seasonal faves like "Lo, how a rose e'er blooming" and "What sweeter music" by John Rutter. Let's hear it for some holiday high notes! 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 3738 N. Old Sabino Canyon Road and 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16, at Christ Church United Methodist, 655 N. Craycroft Road. $18 in advance, $20 at the door.
Messiah Symphony. If you think you don't know Handel's Messiah, you're probably at least partially wrong. Because that's where the incredibly famous Hallelujah chorus came from. And hearing this pulse-pounding masterpiece in Arizona's most outstanding acoustical venue is something everyone should experience at least once. Bruce Chamberlain conducts, Kathryn Mueller is soprano, Sarah Barber is alto, Richard Trey Smagur is tenor and Troy Cook is baritone. Last year's performance sold out, so grab your tickets fast! 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16, at Catalina Foothills High School, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive. $22 to $55.
Tucson Boys Chorus Holiday Concert. If you've seen the classic Christmas short film The Snowman, then you know there's an irresistibly Christmasy charm to the sound of a young boy's choral singing. Well, your halls are about to get seriously decked, because this concert is bringing together all of Boys Chorus choirs (Cadet, Training, TowneSingers, Touring, Young Men's Ensemble, Vail Voices, Sahuarita Singers and Northwest Voices) to all perform together. Spend a peaceful afternoon listening to some holiday classics, and maybe even tearing up a little bit. (We won't tell.) 2 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16. UA Crowder Hall, 1017 N Olive Road. $20 premium seating, $15 GA, $8 for kids under 12.
Christmas in America. This touring show full of song, dance and traditional Irish tales is in its 14th year now, so if you were waiting for the run to get past that unlucky Year 13, now's your chance. Sligo fiddler Oisín Mac Diarmada is producing the show, and this year's tour features special guest singer Niamh Farrell, West Kerry singer Séamus Begley and Irish dancing by Samantha Harvey. With names like that, you know the show is authentic! Let these artists and the sounds of the fiddle, flute, uilleann pipes and harp bring you stories about some of Ireland's rich historical traditions this holiday season. 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. Gregory School Auditorium, 3231 N. Craycroft Road. $23 to $25.
Mister Bing's Happy Holidays Supper Club. Let's take a step back to yesteryear for the evening. To a time when dinner came with a side of sophisticated cabaret entertainment. To a time when meals were so artfully composed that they were a part of the performance themselves. This night full of fine dining features vocalists Brian Lavario, Crystal Stark and Katherine Byrnes, as well as a spotlight on show club dancing and performances by magicians Norm Marina and Steve Ehlers. On the menu: a strawberry salad, a choice of tiger prawns or chicken breast, and a white velvet cake with peppermint buttercream. Cocktail dance hour at 5 p.m., dinner at 5:45 and show at 6:45. Sunday, Dec. 16. Hacienda del Sol, 5501 N Hacienda del Sol Road. $39 for show only or $99 for show and dinner (including tax & tip).
A Southwest Nutcracker. Even the most die-hard Nutcracker fans have got to admit that the ballet sure gets put on a lot. Of course, there's a reason for that: It's a fantastic ballet that people love. But it's also what makes the Tucson Regional Ballet's take on the show so refreshing. The show takes place in Tucson in the 1800s! We're talking coyotes, rattlesnakes and a full cavalry. Professionally designed sets, gorgeous costumes, live music by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and (obviously) impressive dancing make this a show you don't want to miss. The fact that there's a character called the Prickly Pear Fairy means it's a show you really can't miss in good conscience. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16. Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave. $26 to $38.
A Come Unity Sing. If you've never heard of The Little Chapel of All Nations, it's a delightful concept. It's a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization founded 60 years ago by a Tucson writer and feminist named Ada Peirce McCormick. It exists to give your soul a break from the craziness of everyday life, and to help you find your way to your own beliefs. At their come-unity/community sing events, all are welcome to come together and sing: old songs, new songs, some the size of your head. You don't need an instrument, any singing experience or to stay for the whole event. But if you just need a break, this might be the event for you. Come enjoy some snacks and make some light. 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. Little Chapel of All Nations Library, 1401 E. First St. Free.
For The Kids
Fill the Streetcar With Toys. Ramon's Miracle on 31st Street, the local grassroots charity that provides holiday kindness and cheer to disadvantaged children in the Tucson area, has its 48th annual Christmas celebration coming up. They're expecting more than 15,000 children to attend the celebration, and the idea is for them each to leave with a new toy in hand. The Regional Transportation Authority is trying to collect 1,200 toys, filling the streetcar up with tokens of goodwill. You're probably out Christmas shopping anyway, so, while you're at it, just bring a new, unwrapped toy over to the streetcar, just west of Fourth Avenue on Eighth Street downtown. The easy curbside drop-off is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but you can also stick around to see Santa, performances by local school music groups and a life-size pink Barbie jeep.
Holiday Express at the Historic Depot. There's something inexplicably Christmas-y about trains. Maybe it's because both Christmas and trains make us feel nostalgic for simpler times. Maybe it's because "There's a train here" rhymes with "There's a reindeer." Maybe it's just because of The Polar Express. Anyway, head over to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum for their 14th annual holiday event. Take a picture with Santa, write a letter to him with more detail about exactly what you want, and sing some holiday music. Plus, an arts and crafts show, a live reading of The Polar Express, and chances to check out the museum exhibits and gift show. You can even climb into the cab of steam Locomotive 1673! 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. Historic AMTRAK Tucson Train Depot, 400 N. Toole Ave. Free.
Holiday Puppet Show: Fun Frosty & Friends. If there's anything more kid-friendly than the spirit of the whole holiday season, it's puppet shows! Dreams will come true for holiday-loving little ones when they get to see this show featuring Frosty, Santa, the Grinch, reindeers and elves. Midtown Mercantile Merchants and The Junk Society #138 are hosting this event, which will feature refreshments for the body as well as the puppet show, which many consider a type of refreshment for the soul. Call 777-7275 to reserve a spot. 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. Midtown Mercantile Merchants, 4443 E. Speedway Blvd. Free.
OV Friday FUNDays at the Children's Museum. Sure, it's the winter season, and the holiday season. But it's also that year-round season of "the time of year where we need to find something fun to do with the kids." Luckily, the Children's Museum Oro Valley is hosting Friday morning and afternoon events with special guests through Jan. 4. This week, the UA Museum of Art Sprouts Program, a story time and art-making event, is on deck to keep little ones entertained! And stay tuned for the other Friday events, for which times vary: a holiday party, a face painting and a presentation by the Planetary Science Institute. 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14. Oro Valley Children's Museum, 11015 N. Oracle Road. $6, or free for infants younger than 1.
Out of This World
Holiday Planetarium Shows at Flandrau. If you're like us, the holiday season really has a way of getting you in the mood for some laser light shows. Flandrau's annual family favorite, "Season of Light" explores the many festivals of light (hello, Christmas and Hanukah!) that surround the Winter Solstice with the spirit of renewal. A chance to learn about the origin of today's Christmas customs, how the darkest days of winter have inspired people throughout history to start light festivals, and how this all connects back to astronomy will be set to holiday music and narration by Noah Adams of NPR. The new "Holiday Magic" laser light music show will leave you all singing and smiling as well. "Season of Light" shows at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 6 p.m. on Fridays, 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. "Holiday Magic" shows at 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, 7 p.m. on Fridays, 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 4 p.m. on Sundays. Through Jan. 6. Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium, 1601 E. University Blvd. $16 adults, $12 kids 4 to 17/senior/military/college students.
Meteor Mania! There sure has been a lot of asteroid talk in Tucson lately, what with OSIRIS-REx's arrival at Bennu earlier this month (and seriously, what an incredible time to be alive). In that spirit, let's watch the Geminids meteor shower, one of the only major meteor showers that originates from a family of asteroids instead of a comet. (Meteoroids are basically pebbles compared to asteroids, and they become meteors, or shooting stars, when they enter the Earth's atmosphere and vaporize.) This shower usually peaks around Dec. 13-14, and is thought to be intensifying every year, with as many as 120 to 160 visible meteors per hour. Holy moly! Bring warm clothing, and prepare to stay up late. 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 13 to Friday, Dec. 14. Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center. $50 adults, $47 kids 8 to 16, or $5 more to reserve over the phone. Free for Tohono O'odham tribal members. Not recommended for kids 7 and under.
Mercado Holiday Bazaar. If you've been holding out on your holiday shopping because you want to get your loved ones something really, really good this year, it's time to head over to the Mercado District, where they'll have plenty of goods that are really, really good. More than 60 makers, artists and collectors will be around at this family-friendly holiday shopping event, so you'll have an array of options. And, hey, while you're there, you might just spot the perfect item to reward yourself for getting some holiday shopping done. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, and Saturday, Dec. 15. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16. Mercado District, 100 S. Avenida del Convento.
Fun in General
24th Annual Parade of Lights & Festival Downtown. It's hard not to be in the holiday spirit when you spend the day buying gifts for loved ones and visiting local restaurants and museums, only to cap it off with a parade of floats, twinkly light-adorned Baile Folklorico dancers, marching mariachis and parading pups. So if you're still not in the holiday spirit by mid-December, this is just what the doctor ordered. (If you are in the holiday spirit, it is still just what the doctor ordered). Over in Jacome Plaza, there's going to be live entertainment, tons of food and even snow! Magic all around. And Pima Community College is sponsoring free Tucson Streetcar rides all day long! Festival in the plaza begins at 3 p.m. and parade beings at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. Parade starts at the intersection of Church Avenue and Alameda Street and winds through downtown. Free.
Christmas Tree Ornaments in the Garden. One of the coolest and most underrated things about nature is that it's constantly supplying us with art. And we don't just mean the inspiration to make art, because nature is so beautiful (though that's of course true, too). We mean literally supplying us with the supplies to make art. For example, at this event at Mission Garden, you'll be making ornaments out of materials like dried devil's claw pods, okra pods and painted dipper gourds. What a perfect gift for a nature lover, and a lovely addition to any tree! 9 a.m. to noon. Saturday, Dec. 15. Mission Gardens, 946 W Mission Lane. Free.
Facing Work. Need a break from the holiday hustle and bustle? Maybe a little bit of the excessive commercialism? If you haven't swung by the Arizona History Museum yet to check out artist Kim Nicolini's exhibit highlighting the stories and lives of the people behind cash registers yet, now's your chance. Nicolini combines creative art, living people and archival photos to tell a rarely heard story about the people who—in many ways and for many years—have shaped Tucson into exactly what it is today. There's hardly a time where those working behind store counters could use more empathy from their customers, after all. Exhibit is open through Feb. 16, 2019, at the Arizona History Museum, 949 E. Second St. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 student adults, $4 youth 7 to 17. Free for kids 6 and under, veterans and museum members.
Southern Arizona Senior Pride Book Club. You know what? We're less than two weeks away from Christmas, and while you might not have vacation from work quite yet, you deserve to do a little something you enjoy each day until you make it to the holiday break. How about reading a book—or even less demanding, a graphic novel? And then, how about discussing it with some of Tucson's LGBTQ seniors? At this meeting, they'll discuss Alison Bechdel's graphic novel/memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. The book, based on Bechdel's life and relationship with her father, explores topics ranging from sexuality and suicide to dysfunctional family life and the importance of literature. Bechdel spent seven years creating it! You'll love spending an hour and a half discussing it. 2 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19. Ward 3 Council Office conference room, 1510 E. Grant Road. Free.