Holiday festivals, Ween, Rennie Harris’ Pure Movement, ‘The Nutcracker,’ and more in this week’s ‘Things To Do’

Dec. 8 - 11: Ween in Philly, ‘A Christmas Carol’ in N.J., and Winterthur’s Candlelight Concert in Delaware are among weekend highlights in the area.

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Gene Ween (left) and Dean Ween of Ween performs at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Manchester, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Gene Ween (left) and Dean Ween of Ween performs at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Manchester, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Local boys made good, the duo Ween, is in town and they’re ready to rock for two nights at the Met Philadelphia. Marsha Ambrosius, another artist with Philadelphia ties, heads to the Keswick Theater with fellow powerhouse vocalist Keke Wyatt. And, as to be expected this time of year, both “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol” are onstage – and holiday festivals are happening both in and outside of the city.

Arts & Culture | Kid-Friendly | Holiday-themed | Outdoors | Music | New Jersey | Delaware

Arts & Culture

Rennie Harris PureMovement: Rome & Jewels

(Courtesy of Rennie Harris)
  • When: Friday, Dec. 9, 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2 p.m., 8 p.m.
  • Where: Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St. 
  • How much: $37 and up

Philly native and choreographer Dr. Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris celebrates the 30th anniversary of Puremovement by returning to one of his classic works “Rome & Jewels.” The contemporary take on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “West Side Story” is the longest-running piece of touring street dance work in American history, earning three Bessie Awards and four Black Theater Alvin Ailey Awards. Harris is an artist-in-residence at Penn Live Arts this semester, teaching a master class and doing community outreach. Friday’s performance of “Rome & Jewels” includes a 7 p.m. pre-show talk with executive and artistic director Christopher Gruits and members of the cast.

After the Return

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  • When: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m
  • Where: African American Museum of Philadelphia, 701 Arch St. 
  • How much: $10 – $14

The African American Museum in Philadelphia hosts a short film program “After the Return” with “African.American.” director Morgen Whiteman, the filmmaker-in-residence for the CR8:BLK Film Art Residency in Ghana. Whiteman and CR8-BLK founder Rebekah A. Ofori-Frimpong will also show documentary-short “Adowa” and host a post-screening art exchange and panel discussion.

Philadelphia Rare Book Fair

  • When: Friday, Dec. 9, 11 a.m. – Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Where: Trinity Memorial Church, 2212 Spruce St. 
  • How much: Free, ticketed opening reception Thursday, $50

Need to add to your personal library or looking for a special holiday gift for a bibliophile? The Philadelphia Rare Book Fair brings more than 20 booksellers to the area with unique and hard-to-find books, autographs, and ephemera. Fine Book Fairs was established earlier this year to promote touring book sales to interested collectors and new, younger audiences. The free sale runs Friday and Saturday with a ticketed opening reception on Thursday that includes early access. On Saturday between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., appraisers will be on hand to evaluate books brought in by the public.

Mary Poppins

Quintessence Theater Group presents a contemporary take on “Mary Poppins” based on “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes’ musical adaptation of the British character made famous by P.L. Travers. Sunday’s matinee performance will be followed by a post-show discussion,“The Collective Authorship of Mary Poppins” with Dr. Christen Mandracchia, senior lecturer at the University of the Arts, and Daniel Ciba, director of education.


The Nutcracker

George Balanchine’s classic ballet “The Nutcracker” is a perennial holiday attraction around the world. The Philadelphia Ballet’s production features an early school matinee performance on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 11 a.m., and a sensory-friendly performance on Monday, Dec. 26.

Children’s Holiday Spectacular

(Philadelphia Orchestra/Matthew Hall)

The Philadelphia Orchestra is all about the kids. It’s hosting a Children’s Holiday Spectacular that includes sing-alongs, special guests, and Santa. Tristan Rais-Sherman is the conductor, who’ll be supervising selections from Wasson’s “Festival Fanfare for Christmas,” Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” and Bass’ “The Night Before Christmas.” Charlotte Blake Alston will narrate and there’s a performance by the Rock School for Dance Education.

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Brunch with the Grinch

He’s a mean one! But, the Grinch will be hosting a holiday brunch this Saturday. Mr. Grinch will oversee ornament decorating, pose for selfies, and appear with some other surprise characters. If you want a professionally posed photo, that’ll cost you extra… because that’s just how it goes in Who-ville.


 Science After Hours:  Flannel and Frost

  • Where: Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St. 
  • When: Friday, Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
  • How much: $40 in advance, $45 at the door

If a cozy night out with friends is on the weekend to-do, a good place to be is the Franklin Institute. It’s hosting Science After Hours: Flannel and Frost. Attendees will get the run of the place including, the roofdeck (weather permitting), performances from Magdaliz and her Latin Ensemble Crisol, the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, and Chief Astronomer and storyteller Derek Pitts.

4th Annual Fishtown Freeze and Winter Wonderland

  • Where: Various venues, Fillmore Philadelphia, 29 E. Allen St.
  • When: noon – 10 p.m.
  • How much: Free, pay as you go

Ice may not be in the forecast, but it’s on the horizon at the fourth annual Fishtown Freeze and Winter Wonderland. More than 20 ice sculptures will be displayed around the neighborhood. Live sculpting will also take place at three different venues in the area. Local spirits company Union Forge Vodka’s Vodka Crawl serves up specialty cocktails at selected local bars. Arts & crafts activities are set up for kids, at Frankford Hall, and at 5 p.m., the parking lot at the Fillmore Philly transforms into a party with DJ Nate G, ice bonfires, and gifts for kids.


UCitySquare Holiday Fest

  • Where: The Lawn, 3701 Filbert St. 
  • When: Friday, Dec. 9, 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • How much: Free, pay as you go

West Philadelphia’s University City Square is hosting a two-day Holiday Festthat includes music, food, and even an ice-skating rink. DJ Stevie Coachella hosts holiday karaoke Friday and Chaddsford Winery sponsors a wine garden. On Saturday, there are performances by Ginger Coyle, Studio Wednesdays, and Jahwala, rotating DJs, and a popup rink with fake ‘snow’.


Holiday Frost Fair

  • Where: Pottsgrove Manor, 100 W. King St. 
  • When: Sunday, Dec. 11, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • How much: Suggested donation, $2

Montco’s Holiday Frost Fair goes back in time to provide a unique take on festival activities. Set at historic Pottsgrove Manor, the fest recreates an 18th-century winter market complete with historic games, songs, and an outdoor oven that bakes gingerbread. In addition, attendees will have access to the museum to learn more about ironmaster John Potts, who founded Pottstown.


Havertown Holiday Festival

Havertown’s inaugural Holiday Festival incorporates elements of Christmas, Hanukkah, and the winter season. Expect costumed characters, food trucks, a holiday-themed marketplace, an ice sculpture demonstration, plus arts & crafts activities for children. Violinist David Matthew Brown, the Haverford Dance Company, The Havertones, and Lucas Beltran & Band will perform. Both a menorah and a Christmas tree lighting are planned.


The Crossing Reenactment

  • Where: Washington Crossing Historic Park, 1112 River Rd., Washington Crossing, Pa.
  • When: Sunday, Dec. 11, Sunday, Dec. 25
  • How much: Adults, $8 children 5-11, $4, children 5 and under, free  Family rate (2 adults, 2 children), $20.

When George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776, it didn’t seem like a good idea. They came upon a snowstorm, their backup never arrived, and the dreaded Hessians waited for them on the other side. But as history shows, the Americans somehow united to win the pivotal Battle of Trenton, and ultimately the Revolutionary War. During “The Crossing Reenactment” the heroic moment will be recreated on Saturday, and on Christmas Day, along with other Colonial-era demonstrations and activities.

Fairmont Park Holiday Bike Ride

A bike ride through the park can be great solo but is even better with a group. Fairmont Park’s Holiday Bike Ride is a guided 6-7 mile tour of East Fairmount Park emphasizing holiday-themed history and locations. It starts at Lloyd Hall and ends at the Philly Christmas Trees market at Lemon Hill Mansion. Pre-and post-ride refreshments will be served. Helmets are required throughout the ride; minors 14 and up must be accompanied by an adult.


Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox: A Very Modern Christmas

Take timeless classics and remix them with a period feel? That’s the assignment Scott Bradlee understood when he created Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox: A Very Modern Christmas. Songs like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” are transformed into 20s hot jazz, 50s doo-wop, and 60s Motown, among other styles. The show is an all-ages event, and draws from the dancers, vocalists, and instrumentalists that have appeared on Bradlee’s 5-million-plus YouTube subscribers.


When Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo met in junior high in New Hope, Pa., they had no idea that three decades later, they’d be the frontmen for an alternative rock band with a cult following. As Gene and Dean Ween, they’ve released nine studio albums. The pair is back home for two nights at the Met Philadelphia.

Marsha Ambrosius & Keke Wyatt: Love and Laughter

R & B vocalists Marsha Ambrosius and Keke Wyatt combine vocal prowess with comedy in the Love & Laughterconcert which also features comedians Teddy Carpenter and Daphnique Springs. Ambrosius, a member of the duo Floetry, is now kicking it solo on her 2018 album, “Nyla” . Wyatt’s “Keke Covers” was released in 2017.

New Jersey

A Christmas Carol

One of several iterations of “A Christmas Carol ” in the area, director Lauren Keating’s adaptation incorporates one of the most diverse casts. She says it reflects the population of Charles Dickens’ London in 1843, which was composed of people from many backgrounds. Ebenezer Scrooge is played by actress Dee Pelletier, which Keating says reflects the choice of the best actor for the role. “We use he/him pronouns, it’s that same classic long jacket, top hat, night shirt, all those classic elements played by the most incredible actor for this role, which happens to be a woman.”


Candlelight Concert

  • Where: Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Del.
  • When: Saturday, Dec. 10, 6 p.m.
  • How much: $15 

Through their association with People-to-People, pianists Olivia Geiser and Noëlle Grüebler traveled from Winterthur, Switzerland to perform a Candlelight Concert. After Evelina Gabrielle du Pont married Jacques-Antoine Bidermann, he named the Winterthur estate after his ancestral home. The program “Winterthur and Music” incorporates music from Winterthur, Switzerland composers, connecting the museum with the city that inspired it.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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