Ready, set, celebrate.
One hallmark of the season in the Fresno area is that events with a holiday theme tend to get bunched up in the first two weekends of December. If you wanted, you could turn yourself into a Christmas marathoner, going almost non-stop with concerts, plays and events. Here’s a selective look at some of the possibilities.
Riders In The Sky’s tour that stops 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Tower Theatre is “Christmas the Cowboy Way.”
That’s the name of the concert, and also a fitting description of what you’ll hear from the Western music/comedy troupe. The band coined the phrase “the cowboy way” in the late 1970 and it remains the essence of how the band operates — like a Gene Autry, Roy Rogers revival.
With Riders in the Sky, fans get some yodeling with the Christmas carols. The band will play its holiday originals (song like “Riding Home On Christmas Eve,” “Deck The Bunkhouse Walls” and “The Last Christmas Medley You’ll Ever Need To Hear”) plus classics like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The audience will be asked to sing along. Tickets for the show are $35-$45. Details: (559) 485-9050, www.towertheatrefresno.com
Other holiday music highlights:
• Local musicians will gather for the9th Annual Jurassic Christmas Jam,
Saturday, Dec. 6 at Fulton 55. The benefit supports education and research for Shprintzen-Goldberg syndrome, a rare connective tissue disease. Tickets are $10-$15. Details: (559) 412-7400,
•New Rock 104.1’s company Christmas party,
Tuesday, Dec. 9 at Fulton 55, will feature performances from the popular ’90s rock band Bush, plus hip indie acts Meg Myers and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. If you don’t have tickets, you may be out of luck. The show is sold out. The station has been giving away tickets away on air. Details:www.newrock1041.fm
• You probably won’t hear any Christmas carols atFresno Holiday Jam,
which is being billed as the last big concert of 2014. You will hear hip-hop from Wiz Khalifa, T-Pain and E-40. The show is Dec. 12 Selland Arena. Tickets are $38 to $118. Details: (800) 745-3000,www.ticketmaster.com
• Pete White’s aptly named holiday tour,“Peter White Christmas,”
has played the Tower Theatre annually for many years. The smooth jazz guitarist returns Dec. 19 with saxophonist Mindi Abair and trumpet player Rick Braun. Tickets are $56-$71. Details: (559) 485-9050,www.towertheatrefresno.com
•“How the Grouch Stole Christmas”
— the annual indie hip-hop tour extravaganza from Oakland rapper The Grouch — stops Dec. 20 at Strummer’s. Tickets are $20 and all ages. Details: (559) 485-5356,www.strummersclub.com
The Fresno Philharmonic celebrates the season 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, with its annual holiday pops concert. Guest conductor Larry Blank takes the stage with guest vocalists Christina Saffran, Damon Kirsche and the Fresno Community Chorus Master Chorale under the direction of Anna Hamre.
Tradition is the name of the game at this concert, with “Sleighride,” Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, traditional carols and other music of the season. Blank, a three-time Tony-nominated orchestrator known for his Broadway orchestrations for “Catch Me If You Can,” “White Christmas” and “The Drowsy Chaperone,” will lead the orchestra in his arrangements of “Santa Baby,” “Let it Snow” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
Tickets are $15-$79. Details: www.fresnophil.org, (559) 261-0600.
Another major choral event: The San Joaquin Chorale will perform with almost 150 singers accompanied by a brass quintet and percussion in its annual Christmas concert 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at Shaghoian Hall. A central part of the program will be Kevin Memley’s “Magnificat,” a piece originally commissioned and premiered by Hamre at Fresno State.
The concert will also include a variety of familiar Christmas pieces including “Sleigh Bells,” written for the Canadian Brass, and audience-participation traditional Christmas carols.
The Chorale has been holding a Christmas concert for more than 35 years. Tickets are $15 general, $10 students and seniors. Details: www.fresno.edu/christmasconcert.
Other concert highlights:
• The chamber groupMusica Viva
performs “Advent Preparation: Music and Meditations” in four concerts this weekend: in Visalia (St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5); in Porterville (Porterville College, 7 p.m Saturday, Dec. 6); in Fresno (Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7); and in Kingsburg (Holy Family Church, 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7). Admission is free. Details: (559) 392-1425.
• The annualTuba Christmas
celebration at Manchester Center typically draws amateur and professional tuba players for a booming introduction to the season. The concert features traditional Christmas carols. It will be held noon Saturday, Dec. 6.
• TheFresno Grand Opera’s
traditional “Christmas at Van Ness” concert, 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, includes the Fresno Grand Opera Chorus and soloists. Tickets are $32.50. Details:www.fresnograndopera.org
, (559) 442-5699.
• TheBach Children’s Choir
joins theFresno Community Concert Band
for “Hometown Holidays” 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, at the Shaghoian Hall. The program includes “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Midnight Sleighride” and “Canadian Brass Christmas Suite.” The 3 p.m. performance is sold out. Tickets for the 7 p.m. performance are $10. Details:www.fresnocommunityband.org
presents his annual holiday season concert 4 p.m. Dec. 13, at the Westside Seventh-day Adventist Church. Admission is free. Details: (559) 233-3648.
• The2nd Street Brass,
featuring acclaimed tuba player Gabriel Sears, performs two shows for Three Rivers Performing Arts: 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers; and 5 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Main Street Theater in Visalia. $12, children and accompanying adult free. Details:www.threeriversperformingarts.org
• Looking for a Christmas concert close to Christmas? TheClovis Community Band
obliges with “Holiday Hoopla” 2:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at Shaghoian Hall. Admission is free.
It’s Christmas time for history buffs.
Fresno’s Meux Home (built in 1889) and Kearney Mansion (built in 1903) are offering turn-of-the-century holiday experiences.
Kearney Mansion — the five-structure estate located in the midst of the 230-acre Kearney Park — will run hourly guided tours from 1-3 p.m. Dec. 5-7, Dec. 12-13, Dec. 19-21 and Dec. 27-28, plus an open-hour reception (with holiday music and treats) 1 p.m. Dec. 14. Tickets are $6-$10. Details: (559) 441-0862 or www.valleyhistory.org.
The Meux Home — the two-story Victorian home at R and Tulare streets in downtown — will be decorated to portatray the characteristics of each member of the Meux family. There’s a Christmas tree in every room. Tours of the home are noon to 3 p.m. weekends through December. Admission is $3-$5. The museum will host a special $35 Christmas “Tea-luncheon” 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6. Details: (559) 233-8007, www.meux.mus.ca.us/index.html
Other event highlights:
•Fresno Chaffee Zoo
gets in the holiday spirit with “Zoo Lights.” The annual event, which turns the zoo into a twinkling wonderland of holiday music, hot cocoa and Santa Claus, runs 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 5-7, Dec. 12-14, Dec. 19-23 and Dec. 26-30. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children. Details: (559) 498-5910,www.fresnochaffeezoo.org
• Fresno’sTower District
hosts three weekends of holiday fun, with carolers (from Sunnyside and Roosevelt high schools) Santa Claus (outside the Tower Theatre) and free pedicab tours of the neighborhood. Details: (559) 497-8362,www.towerdistrict.org
• TheDowntown Fresno Christmas Parade
celebrates its 85th year. The Candy Cane and Christmas Carol-themed parade starts at 11 a.m. Dec. 14 at Merced Street on the Fulton Mall. Details: (559) 490-9966,www.downtownfresno.org
• For 89 years, the city of Sanger has hosted an annual trek to theNation’s Christmas tree
. The city runs chartered buses to the tree starting at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 14. Bus reservations are $40-$66 and happening now. Details: (559) 875-4575,www.sanger.org
With the song “New Deal for Christmas,” the musical “Annie” has become a holiday favorite. In the new Children’s Musical Theaterworks production of “Annie Jr.,” you’ll hear such classic tunes as “It’s the Hard Knock Life” and “Maybe.” The show is double cast, which means you’d potentially be able to see two Annies (Maya Sosa and Allie Jeschien) belt out “Tomorrow” at different performances.
The show runs Dec. 5-14. Tickets are $14-$22 adults, $10 children. Details: www.cmtworks.com, (559) 442-3140.
Other theater/dance highlights:
• Here are not one but two versions of“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”
to entice holiday theater-goers. The Tollberry Community Theatre production continues through Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Sierra High School Presentation Center in Tollhouse. Tickets are $8, $5 students and seniors. Details: (559) 855-2686. And the Good Company Players’ long-run version of “Christmas Pageant” plays through Dec. 21 at the 2nd Space Theatre. Tickets are $18, $15 students and seniors. Details:www.gcplayers.com
, (559) 266-0660.
• For many people, Christmas isn’t real until they see“The Nutcracker.”
The Central California Ballet version runs 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and 2 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Saroyan Theatre. You can even meet the Sugar Plum Fairy at a special Sugar Plum Party after the Sunday matinee. Tickets are $32.25-$52.25. Details:www.ticketmaster.com
, (559) 855-2686.