Deck the halls, light the menorah, and strike up the mariachi band as we present our selective guide to this season's celebrations in the North Bay
By Paula Harris
FACE IT ONCE AND FOR ALL. There's really no point in equating Yuletide with suicide. You may do your damnedest to ignore it, but the dizzying, manic, sheer-out-of-control holiday season is waiting just around the twinkly lighted corner to getcha once again. But hold on to your reindeer--the path to holiday bliss need not rely solely on eggnog and Advil. Take time out to experience some of the sights and sounds of holiday arts happening around the area. Take a holiday outing or two and make a seasonal memory that will warmly linger on till this time next year (or, who knows, maybe even beyond!). Below are some suggestions for the biggest, baddest, bawdiest--and just plain best--holiday events in the North Bay.
Parties & Gatherings
Holiday Victorian Tea Flex those pinkies. Got a hankering for buttery scones, dainty sandwiches, and steamy leafy brew in china cups? The Woman's Club of Petaluma will be transformed into an elegant setting for a genuine high tea, with costumed servers and much more as the Museum Association sponsors this annual delectable holiday tradition. Tea will be served at three seatings on Dec. 3, at 1, 3, and 5 p.m. 518 B St., Petaluma. $25. 707/778-4398.
Bob Burke's Christmas Party Forestville's Bob Burke continues to teach us all a bit about the spirit of human kindness. He's founder of a 27-year-old program that offers free year-round support groups and fun events for children with cancer and other serious illnesses in Sonoma County. Revenues for the program come from donations made during events such as Burke's annual Christmas Party. This year's party, hosted by the Gonnella Family, will be held at the Union Hotel Restaurant in Occidental and will feature a spaghetti plate supper, Christmas music from local schools, and appearances by surprise guests. Dec. 6, 5 to 9 p.m. Free, but donations appreciated. 707/887-2222.
Bird Count Dinner Here's a new slant on the holiday bird. It's the annual Point Reyes Christmas Bird Count Dinner--a definitive census of the status, trends, and distribution of the 200-plus species wintering in the Point Reyes area. At this compilation dinner participants will tally the species seen and generally enjoy the bird highlight of the season. Dec. 16 at 5 p.m. Dance Palace, Fifth and B streets, Point Reyes Station. Call to register for the dinner. No charge to just attend. 415/663-1075.
Downtown Santa Parade It's wild. It's wonderful. And it's got everything from stunt skaters to costumed dogs. Santa Rosa's 17th annual Downtown Santa Parade is always a don't-miss spectacle of creative whimsy. This year, the course will be even longer to include Fifth Street. Starting at 10 a.m. on Nov. 18, at Fourth and E streets, the parade will proceed west on Fourth to B Street and then east on Fifth Street across Mendocino Avenue, and on to Courthouse Square, where a full day of activities, including a Community Tree Lighting Ceremony, is planned. 707/284-2300.
Parade of Lights Carols, candles--and 100,000 pounds of real snow for sledding are the high points of downtown San Rafael's Parade of Lights. On Nov. 24, snow sledding from noon to 4 p.m. will be followed by a visit from Santa at 5:30--then more sledding from 6:30 to 8 p.m. And then there'll be more sledding on Nov. 25 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Downtown San Rafael. Free. 415/457-2266.
Santa & Mrs. Claus in Petaluma Christmas' most popular couple take full advantage of Petaluma's river access. The Jolly Man and his Missus give old Rudolph and his buddies a break and come to Petaluma via water. This year, they'll arrive on the deck of their usual all-decked-out tugboat at high noon on Nov. 25. After coming ashore at the Turning Basin at 1 p.m., the happy couple will take a ride through downtown Petaluma aboard an antique horse-drawn sleigh joined by a parade of other antique horse-drawn vehicles. 707/769-0429.
Holiday Parade Santa will be on hand for some chats and photo ops during the Napa Holiday Parade. Watch the floats or march along. This year's theme is Season of Joy. Nov. 25 at 11 a.m. in downtown Napa. 707/257-0322.
Pioneer Christmas What could be bawdier than popcorn stringing and candle dipping? Get into the Wild West spirit and step back in time at a Pioneer Christmas at the Old Bale Mill. String cranberries, trim the tree, decorate gingerbread cookies, and warble old-fashioned Christmas carols to the accompaniment of mandolin and fiddle. Bring the whole family for a stroll through the 1850s. Dec. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, located halfway between St. Helena and Calistoga on Hwy. 29. $5 for adults, $2 for children. 707/942-5707.
Give Santa a Call If you can't get within knee's distance of the big guy in person, at least you can call him on your cell phone. One thing about that Santa Claus: he sure knows how to listen. He's even made himself available for a little long-distance yakking on Dec. 5 6, 6 to 8 p.m. On those nights only, the North Pole can be reached by calling 707/763-6051.
Santa's Castle Join Christmas characters from Santa's workshop plus toy soldiers, holiday jugglers, and balloon artists. Dec. 16, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vintage 1870, 6525 Washington St., Yountville. 707/944-2451.
'Tis the Season for Crafts Do your seasonal bit to protect the Russian River from pollution. The Russian River Watershed Protection Committee sponsors the 19th annual Christmas Crafts Fair on two weekends, with a myriad of crafts and homemade gifts, plus live music by guitarist Keith Richman and jazz combo Gary Digman and friends. Nov. 11-12 and 24-26, noon to 4 p.m. Santa Rosa Veterans Auditorium, 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa. Proceeds benefit the RRWPC. $1.50 for general admission; children under 12 get in free. 707/896-0054.
Holiday Fair Sick of shopping frenzy at the malls? The 28th annual Gifts 'n' Tyme holiday fair in Napa has 82 booths crammed with arts and crafts that will make great gifts. Find everything from wind chimes and stained glass to baked goods and sweatshirts. Food will be available. Nov. 17-19. Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Napa Valley Exposition, Chardonnay Hall, 575 Third St. ,Napa. Free. 707/255-0902.
More Crafts The 24th annual Spirit of Christmas Crafts Faire is the largest holiday gift show in the North Bay, with handmade goodies to delight even the pickiest person on your Christmas list. Minstrels and carolers will be there to spread musical cheer to frazzled holiday shoppers. The fair is open three weekends: Nov. 24-26, and Dec. 1-3 and 8-10. Fridays, noon to 9 p.m.; and Saturdays-Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $4 for adults and $2 for seniors and children ages 6 to 12. Fridays are half price for all. 707/575-9355.
Dickens Fair Pick out some unique handcrafted gifts while being immersed in seasonal good cheer. A Dickens of a Holiday Crafts Fair will warm your heart with music, song, crafts, and even roving minstrels. Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Finley Community Center, 2060 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa. Free. 707/543-3737.
Tinsel & Lights
Festival of Trees The Napa Valley Symphony League's eighth annual Festival of Trees promises sparkles, glitter, and colorful ornaments of all kinds as designers and individuals create tabletop trees to be admired and then raffled. Nov. 19 at the Silverado Country Club and Resort, 1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa. Other events include a dinner dance and auction on Nov. 18, and a children's fashion show and ice cream social on Nov. 19. Proceeds benefit the Napa Valley Symphony. For times and other details, call 707/255-2700.
Yountville Festival of Lights Kickoff events for the monthlong Festival of Lights celebration will be a street fair with food, wine, strolling musicians, an ice-art championship, and other entertainment on Nov. 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., along Washington Street in Yountville. At 5 p.m., the always dramatic tree and town lighting extravaganza will set the entire town aglow with thousands of lights. Free. 707/944-0904.
Light Up a Life This annual tree lighting--sponsored by Hospice of Petaluma--has become a major focal point of the community over the years, as hundreds gather to cheer on the lighting of the enormous Christmas trees in the old downtown. On Dec. 1, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Petaluma Boulevard North and B Street, celebrants will light candles, sing songs, and remember the departed ones who've brought joy and light into their lives. For details or to sponsor a tree light in the name of a loved one, call 707/778-6242.
Xmas Bulb Memorial Hospice and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital also hold "light up a life" celebrations. Dec. 3 at 6 p.m., Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, 1165 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa; and Dec. 10 at 6 p.m., Oakmont Medical Building, 6575 Oakmont Drive, Oakmont. $10 will light a bulb at either tree.
Illuminight There will be free hot chocolate and cookies and a variety of entertainment at Napa's downtown Illuminight tree lighting event. Santa will be on hand for some pre-Christmas consultations--and shops will be open late! Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. in front of City Hall, between First and Second streets. 707/257-0322.
Flotilla on Parade Here's a wintry watery Christmas parade: dozens of festively lit and decorated boats will be on display in the Petaluma River Turning Basin. The local yacht clubs sponsoring this event invite individual boaters to join in this holiday parade on water. Visitors can view the brightly adorned boats all evening at the Turning Basin (Petaluma Boulevard North and B streets, behind the Great Petaluma Mill), and Santa will arrive aboard the Bonnie Lass. The event sets sail on Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. 707/765-6750.
Community Christmas What's Christmas without a festive tractor parade? Calistoga has this and more during the Calistoga Community Christmas Bazaar and Parade Celebration on Dec. 2. The fun starts at 9 a.m. with an old-fashioned crafts bazaar in the fairgrounds at 1439 N. Oak St. The decorated tractors roll down Lincoln Avenue from 6 to 7 p.m., to be followed by a tree lighting with carols and refreshments at the Washington Street Community Center. 707/942-6333.
City of Lights Tooling around Petaluma to ooh and ah at lavishly decorated homes and business has become quite a seasonal tradition. The City of Lights self-guided driving tour runs Dec. 829. This year's theme, "Snowman's Jubilee," is sure to produce some stunningly bright sensational creations. To heck with the electricity bill! Call for a map. 707/769-0429.
Holiday in Carneros Looking for a relatively inexpensive way to make merry and help a good cause? Seventeen Carneros wineries will take part in this wine district's 14th annual open-house event. Each winery will provide a special way to welcome the holidays. Look for food and wine pairings, live entertainment, and more. Weekend of Nov. 1819 at participating wineries. Proceeds go to community development programs. $10. 800/654-WINE.
Christmas Parlor Tour The Victorian homes of Petaluma are famous for their beauty, their awesome seasonal decorations--and their sheer size. Normally, we only get to gawk from the street--but four of these homes, plus the Petaluma Museum, will be opening their doors this year for Petaluma's annual Heritage Homes Christmas Parlor Tour. Dec. 3, 6 to 9 p.m. Do wear soft-soled shoes to protect the floors--and do stay out of the closets! $10. 707/769-0429.
Candlelight Tour Wander through historic Victorian homes, mingle with costumed docents and strolling carolers, and partake of chocolate delights and more during Napa Landmarks 12th annual Holiday Candlelight Tour. Dec. 9, 3 to 8 p.m., in the Fuller Park and Napa Abajo historic districts in Old Town Napa. $22 in advance; $25 on the day of the event. 707/255-1836.
All That Glitters Geoffrey Chaucer & Co. present "a medieval musical dinner theatre experience" offering a nice holiday lesson about the results of trying to acquire instant wealth. Nov. 24Dec. 17. Larkspur Cafe Theater, 500 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur. $40$45. 415/924-6107.
Fiesta Navidad A Mexican Christmas fiesta comes to the Marin Center, complete with music from the mariachi group Los Camperos de Nati, colorful regional dances from Ballet Olin, a roping exhibition, and Spanish carols. Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. Marin Veterans Auditorium, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $30, $26, and $22. 415/472-3500.
Patrick Ball The acclaimed storyteller and Celtic harpist brings seasonal music and tales to the Marin Center for a holiday celebration. Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. Showcase Theater. Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Ticket prices TBA. 415/472-3500.
Santa Rosa Symphony The symphony celebrates the holiday season with choral music from both the Christian and the Jewish traditions, featuring the Sonoma County Bach Choir and the Santa Rosa High School Choir performing works by Bach, Bernstein, Villa-Lobos, Copland, and Silvestre Revueltas. Dec. 16 and 18 at 8 p.m.; and Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. Luther Burbank Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $19$39; discounts available. 707/546-8742.
Jazz Greats In their only Bay Area appearance, contemporary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock and saxophonist Wayne Shorter will make a musical pit stop at the Marin Center. This pair of quintessential jazz artists, former members of the Miles Davis Quintet, received critical acclaim for their joint 1998 album 1+1. Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $28 and $35. 415/472-3500.
Harp Festival Here's an event that's sure to mean a plucking good time: it's the 11th annual Festival of the Harps. Relax and forget the horrors of the upcoming holidays as the cascading sounds of Celtic, Paraguayan, Chinese, and classical pedal harps transport you to Nirvana. Nov. 18 at 2:30 and 8 p.m. Spreckels Performing Arts Center, 2409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. $20 for general admission, $17 for seniors and youth. 707/588-3400.
Winter's Grace Acoustical bluegrass and more traditional and reflective seasonal sounds will accompany you on the Winter's Grace Tour, featuring Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozum, and Bruce Molsky. Nov. 25 at 8:30 p.m. Mystic Theater, 21 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. $15. 707/765-6665.
Lee Press-On and the Nails OK, so they're more like Nightmare Before Christmas, but this irrepressible, voodo-tinged swing band provides the perfect break from holiday madness. Dec. 1 at 9 p.m. Mystic Theater, 23 Petaluma Blvd N., Petaluma. $8. 707/765-6665.
The Swallow's Tale The Cinnabar Young Repertory Theater presents an original holiday musical. Based on Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince, The Swallow's Tale features cooking crocodiles, dancing hippos, and singing statues. Dec. 12, 89, and 1516 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 3 and 10 at 2 p.m. Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. $9 for adults, $6 for youth. 707/763-8920.
Winter Concert Get into the musical gifts of the season with a series of Winter 2000 Concerts by the Occidental Community Choir directed by Doug Bowes. Dec. 2 at 8 p.m., and Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., St. Philip Center, Bohemian Hwy., Occidental. Dec. 8 at 8 p.m., Church of the Incarnation, 550 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. Dec. 10 at 4 p.m., Clos Pegase Winery Caves, 1060 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga. $7 in Occidental and Santa Rosa, $10 in Calistoga; children under 18 get in free. 707/542-0204.
Boston Brass Two delightful performances are delivered by the Boston Brass in "Concert for the Holidays." Dec. 3 at 2 and 7 p.m. Lincoln Theater at the California Veterans Home, 100 California Drive, Yountville. $25 for adults, $12.50 for students and children. 707/226-8742.
Cinderella American Family Theatre presents this enchanting, award-winning "Broadway for Kids" musical adaptation of the all-time fairy-tale favorite at the Luther Burbank Center. After the show, meet the characters and take part in the annual LBC tree lighting ceremony in the lobby. Dec. 3 at 12:30 and 3 p.m. LBC, Main Theatre, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $14 for adults, $10 for children. 707/546-3600.
Snoopy on Ice Charles Schulz has passed on, but Snoopy and the gang will continue Sparky's popular holiday tradition. The Redwood Empire Ice Arena presents its holiday show, "It's Christmas Again." The visual feast also stars champion skaters, extravagant costumes, and holiday scenery. Dec. 823, with most shows at 3 and 7 p.m. Redwood Empire Ice Arena, 1667 W. Steele Lane, Santa Rosa. $10$45. 707/546-3385.
A Child's Christmas in Wales There are two chances to see this stage adaptation of the immortal poem by Dylan Thomas. The Cinnabar Teen Acting Ensemble presents the piece on Dec. 89 and 15-16 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 and 17 at 2 p.m. at the Polly Klaas Theater, 417 Western Ave., Petaluma. $9 for adults, $6 for youth. 707/763-8920. Or take a holiday trip to a tiny Welsh village when the Sebastopol Center for the Arts presents a reading by Timothy Williams and Susan Bono on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at 425 Morris St., Sebastopol. Free. 707/829-4797.
Holiday Funnies If your seasonal sense of humor is wearing thin, refuel with funnyman David Roche and a few of his buddies. They promise an evening of upbeat, funny, and personal stories about the holiday season. Roche has triumphed over a severe facial disfigurement to be hailed as an extraordinary humorist who uses the healing power of laughter and storytelling to bridge conventional barriers. Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. Dance Palace, Fifth and B streets, Point Reyes Station. $10 for general admission,, $5 for seniors and teens. 415/663-1075.
Chanticleer Christmas Give yourself a gift and wrap yourself in mellifluous wonder. The Chanticleer Men's Chorus performs the kind of music that fills the bill. Their annual Christmas tour of medieval and Renaissance sacred music (along with traditional carols) brings them to Petaluma on Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. St. Vincent Church, Bassett and Liberty streets. $21-$32. 415/392-4400.
Balé Folclórico da Bahía This Brazilian company offers a dazzling mix of music, dance, martial arts, and song. Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Call for prices. 415/472-3500.
Nutcrackers Galore Dancing mice, dazzling costumes, fairy-tale kingdoms--The Nutcracker has it all. Indeed, as far as we can tell, this timeless holiday classic has only one drawback: Nearly every dance company in the North Bay stages a version, so it's tough to decide which one to see. We can't make that decision for you, but here are your options.
As usual, Ballet California offers a jam-packed holiday season. First, meet the characters and view a mini-performance at the company's annual Nutcracker breakfast on Dec. 3, 9:30 a.m. to noon, at the Sonoma County Hilton, 3555 Round Barn Blvd., Santa Rosa. $17 for adults, and $12 for children aged 10 and under. 707/537-0140.
Then it's on to a full performance as Ballet California offers the only Nutcracker in Sonoma County with a full live orchestra, plus guest principals Tina Bohnstedt and Viktor Kabaniaev. Catch the production on Dec. 9 at 2 and 7 p.m., and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. at the Luther Burbank Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $19$22 for adults, $14 for children, students, and seniors. 707/546-3600.
The Petaluma City Ballet and the Petaluma School of Ballet team up to present the city's 14th production of The Nutcracker. Dec. 8 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 9 and 11 at 2 and 8 p.m.; Dec. 10 and 12 at 2 p.m. Sonoma State University, Person Theater, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. $16 for adults, $10 for children. 707/765-2660.
The Marin Ballet presents its 29th seasonal production of the holiday classic, offering the full tale, complete and uncut, followed by a Candy Cane party. Dec. 910 at 1 and 4:30 p.m. Marin Veterans Auditorium, Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Ticket prices TBA. 415/472-3500.
Ballet Story Healdsburg Ballet students perform the full-length story ballet of The Night before Christmas. The characters in Clement B. Moore's story come to life as they dance to the music of Bizet and Tchaikovsky and the opera Faust in this three-act ballet for adults and kids. Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. 311 Monte Vista Ave., Healdsburg. $9.50 in advance, $12 at the door. 707/431-7617.
Flamenco Fiesta Heat up your holidays with some Spanish fire and sunshine at the FlamencoArts dance student recital. Presented by the Immecor Corp., 35 flamenco dancers, singers, and guitarists will perform traditional pieces and new choreographies. Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. Luther Burbank Theater, Merlo Theater, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $10 for adults, $5 for children. 707/544-0909.
Sophie and the Enchanted Toy Shop Marin Dance Theatre's enchanting ballet, created by two award-winning local choreographers, features a cast of 90 characters, including the Snow Prince and Princess, Valentina Ballerina, and the Dancing Bear. Dec. 16 at 1 and 5 p.m. At 3 p.m., between performances, bring your child to the Teddy Bear Tea Party for food, face painting, and a chance to meet the characters. Marin Veterans Auditorium, Marin Civic Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $23 for adults, $12 for children. 415/499-7687.
Songs of the Season
Carols in the Caves This popular event is celebrating its 15th year with performances by multitalented local musician David Auerbach. He will play traditional Christmas music from America and beyond on rare folkloric instruments in the cask-lined caves of local wineries. His vast collection includes the Celtic harp, hammer dulcimer, pan pipes, and the bowed psaltery (an ancestor of the violin). Auerbach plays at the Clos Pegase Winery (1060 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga), Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 26 at 4 p.m.; Schramsberg Vineyards (1400 Schramsberg Road, Calistoga), Dec. 23 at 5 p.m. (Dec. 2 only is a fundraiser for the Jack. L. Davis Napa County Land Preservation fund, $55 includes champagne and hors d'oeuvres); Storybook Mountain Winery (3835 Hwy. 128, Calistoga), Dec. 9 and 10 at 2 p.m.; Folie à Deux Winery (3070 St. Helena Hwy. N., St. Helena), Dec. 1617 at 2 p.m.; and RMS Carneros Alambic (1250 Cuttings Wharf Road, Napa)--not a cave but a setting amid the cognac stills--Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.. Concerts partially benefit Interplast, a medical charity. $33. 925/866-9559.
Dickens Celebration Step back in time when the Falkirk Cultural Center presents a Victorian Holiday Benefit and Dickens Celebration. The evening will spotlight the Choral Singers of Marin, characters in Dickens attire, old-fashioned caroling, and Father Christmas. Dec. 1, 6 to 9 p.m. 1408 Mission Ave., San Rafael. $8 for general admission, $5 for children and Falkirk members. 415/485-3328.
Candlelight Christmas Concert For its annual candlelit concert, the Marin Symphony Chamber is joined by the Chamber Singers and a handbell ensemble. The performance includes a suite of carols. Dec. 23 at 2 and 4:30 p.m. St. Vincent's Chapel, St. Vincent Drive, San Rafael. $25. 415/479-8100.
Carols and Chocolate Warm up for the holidays with Christmas carols, featuring the Old World Carolers, and hot chocolate. Dec. 16, 2 p.m. Napa Valley Museum, 55 Presidents Circle, Yountville. 707/944-0500.
Sing-Along 'Messiah' Though news to some, Handel's Messiah actually does contain more words than just "Alleluia." Even if you don't know them, you can sing them. Join the West Marin Festival Singers and Orchestra, led by Carol Negro, in a sing-along of this glorious choral piece. Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. Dance Palace, Fifth and B streets, Point Reyes Station. $10 for general admission, $8 for seniors and students, $5 for children and youth under 18. 415/663-1075.
There's more warbling at the 20th annual Redwood Empire Sing-Along Messiah. Join the Santa Rosa Symphonic Chorus and Baroque Sinphonia and flex those vocal cords. Dec. 20 at 7:30. Luther Burbank Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $14 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors. 707/38-5050.
'Tis the Season The Choral Singers of Marin will help you catch the spirit of the season and lead you in a rousing burst of caroling. Everyone, even the flat-voiced, can join in! Dec. 17 at 4 p.m. Marin Veterans Auditorium, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. 415/472-3500.
Old Country Christmas Meadowood presents a performance by members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus who will sing a selection of Christmas carols from Europe and the Americas beginning with early Baroque. Dinner in the restaurant precedes the performance. Dec. 17, dinner at 5:50 p.m. and performance at 7:30 p.m. 900 Meadowood Lane, Napa. $130 for dinner, performance, and reception; $65 for performance and reception only. 707/968-3155.
La Posadas Traditional and classical songs are combined to create an interpretation of Old California's culture during Las Posadas. Las Posadas is a holiday ceremony in which local people act out a musical version of the biblical story of Mary and Joseph. The Mother Lode Musical Theatre presents this bilingual concert version of the traditional early California procession of music and dance. Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. Dance Palace, Fifth and B streets, Point Reyes Station. Free. 415/663-1075.
River Choir Keeping the holiday humming, the River Choir performs Sonny Vale's "The Magnificent Maccabe," a modern Hanukkah cantata with a klezmer chamber ensemble, based on Howard Fast's novel My Glorious Brothers. Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Congregation Shomrei Torah Reform, 1717 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa. $6 for adults, $3 for children. 707/869-0516.
Hanukkah Dinner Petaluma's Congregation B'nai Israel holds a Hanukkah dinner (chicken or vegetarian) on Dec. 24 at 7 p.m. Bring your own menorah and candles for a special lighting ceremony. 740 Western Ave., Petaluma. $20 for adults, $10 for kids; and those under 5 or over 90 get to feast for free. 707/762-0340.
Hanukkah Festival The Osher Marin Jewish Community Center hosts a Hanukkah Festival. Dec. 10, noon to 2 p.m. 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. Free admission with donation of an unwrapped toy or nonperishable food item to be donated to those in need. 415/444-8007.
Winter Ritual Celebration They'll be walking in a Wiccan wonderland in Sebastopol, when pagan novelist and spiritual leader Starhawk, joined by Luisah Teish, makes seasonal magic at the 12th annual Winter Ritual and Workshop. The event is a time of reflection and joy, as members of Earth-based spiritual traditions join in dance, song, and storytelling to welcome winter and call back the sun. Dec. 23, 7 to 10 p.m. Community Center, 390 Morris St., Sebastopol. $10$15. 530/272-1106.
Winter Intertribal Powwow Drumming, dancing, and Native American arts and crafts are the highlight of this annual event sponsored by the American Indian Cultural Education Committee. Dec. 2, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Veterans Building, 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa. Free. 707/526-1026 or 707/869-8233.
Holiday Exhibit The Claudia Chapline Gallery presents "A Marin Painter's World of Color," acrylic-on canvas paintings by the late Horst Gottschal, Nov. 10Dec. 31, 3 to 5 p.m. And a holiday celebration of life and art will be held Nov. 12, noon to 3 p.m. 3445 Shoreline Hwy., Stinson Beach. 415/868-2308.
Bow Wow Boutique Hey, they may have decimated the new carpet over the past 12 months, but don't forget Fluffy and Fido when you're stuffing those stockings. The Healdsburg Animal Shelter holds its first Holiday Bazaar with tons of gifts for the animals and the people who love them. Plus, a photographer will be on hand to snap your pet, and a caricature artist will capture your critter's delightful or destructive personality. Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 428 Center St., Healdsburg. 707/431-3386.
Holiday Art The Petaluma Art Collective holds its fourth annual Holiday Art Show and sale. Four studios will display a collection of fine weaving, pottery, paintings, watercolors, jewelry, and mosaics by Bay Area artists. Nov. 1819, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 3820 Bodega Ave., Petaluma. 707/769-8315.
Christmas Antiques Deck the halls with splendors from the past. The Christmas Antique and Collector's Fair comes to the Marin Center. Ferret out Christmas collectibles such as holiday ornaments, antique jewelry, Santa-inspired china glass and silver, and much more. Dec. 2, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Exhibit Hall, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $5. 415/472-3500.
New Year's Eve
First Night The sixth annual First Night--a drug- and alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration that encompasses much of downtown Santa Rosa--again features a myriad of local musicians, performance artists, poets, dancers, and kids' activities. The action begins on Dec. 31 at 4 p.m. Entry badges (available at Copperfield's bookstores) cost $5 in advance, $10 at the gate. 707/579-ARTS.
Standup Comedy Have a funny New Year! The Best of the San Francisco Comedy Competition comes to the Marin Center to ring in the New Year with laughter. Several comedians will perform. Dec. 31 at 9 p.m. Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $25. 415/472-3500.
From the November 16-22, 2000 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.