30 Ways to Get Into the Spirit
From neighborhood strolls to seasonal concerts to live reindeer on the Avenue, when it comes to holiday time, there's no place like home
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The Nutcracker, SUNY Purchase
The Purchase Dance Company lights up the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College with its twentieth annual production of this classic tale. The Nutcracker is a spectacular multigenerational treat that features about 140 children from the community, including eleven kids from Greenwich and Riverside. This year, Greenwich residents Grace Mertz and Sophia Tarbell-Arnaboldi, along with Coco Marriott from Rye, will perform the role of Clara. “Participating in the Purchase College Nutcracker gives children the unique opportunity to learn from distinguished faculty and guest choreographers and experience the excitement of performing alongside our super-talented dance majors in the Performing Arts Center’s 1,372-seat concert hall,” says Wallie Wolfgruber, director of the School of the Arts Conservatory of Dance. “This is truly an immeasurably valuable experience for them. I hope many Westchester and Fairfield families will come see their performances and share in the joy of the holiday season.”
Dates: December 13, 7:30 p.m.; December 14, 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; December 15, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Place: The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, 753 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, New York
Information & tickets: 914-251-6200 (box office), artscenter.org; $30 to $55 (parking fee included)
The Nutcracker, Stamford Center for the Arts (The Palace Theatre)
“We couldn’t conceive of a season of full-length ballets without the annual The Nutcracker at Stamford Center for the Arts,” says Brett Raphael, artistic director of the Connecticut Ballet. Two casts of principal dancers from American Ballet Theatre will be performing this year, plus local stars in the making. “The Greenwich young people who are participating are adorable, talented and pumped up with energy,” enthuses Raphael. A meet-and-greet with the principal dancers will take place following each performance in the Palace Theatre lobby.
Dates & Times: December 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 2 p.m.
Place: Palace Theatre, 61 Atlantic Street, Stamford
Information & tickets: 203-325-4466, scalive.org; $25 to $60; connecticutballet.com
The Nutcracker, Greenwich Ballet Academy
Greenwich Ballet Academy’s fifth annual The Nutcracker promises a wonderful performance by Artistic Director Yuri Vodolaga’s highly dedicated dancers. Seventy-one students will participate, with Amanda Kraus (Mount Kisco) as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Maria Jose Esquivel (Stamford) as the Snow Queen, Aiden Buss (Old Greenwich) as the Prince and Elisabeth Beyer (Rye) as Clara. Special guest Jon Tavares of the Pennsylvania Ballet will portray the Cavalier and Snow King. Former Sugar Plum Fairy Katherine Higgins of Wilton is now in her first year as a company member of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Greenwich Ballet Academy, a nonprofit organization, prepares young talent for careers in professional ballet but welcomes all devoted students of classical ballet.
Dates & Times: December 7 at 3 p.m., December 8 at 2 p.m.
Place: Greenwich High School, 10 Hillside Road
Information & tickets: 914-305-4377, greenwichballetacademy.org, $25 to $60
Fun at the Fair
Christmas on Round Hill
This holiday fair originated in the 1920s, when women gathered to knit, quilt and make various handcrafted items to sell at the fair. The Round Hill Crafts Studio revived this aspect of the fair in recent years. “It’s such an ongoing tradition that pulls the backcountry community together at holiday time,” says Suzy Simpson, who has been involved in the fair for two decades. This year’s handmade gifts include original hand-painted board games, frames and mirrors, as well as simulated antique Japanese Negoro Nuri lacquered pieces. Kids will love photos with Santa in his sleigh, crafts, and train rides on the Round Hill Express. “A clever former sexton built the train using a tractor engine,” says master crafter Alice O’Gorman. “It lasted thirty-five years and was refurbished a few years ago.” Enjoy early shopping, festive drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the preview party.
Dates & Times: Preview party on December 6, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. (call for reservations). Fair on December 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; magic shows at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Place: Round Hill Community House, 397 Round Hill Road
Information: 203-869-1091, roundhillcommunitychurch.org
Home Sweet Home
HSTG Holiday House Tour
The Historical Society’s twenty-eighth annual Holiday House Tour features five unique Greenwich homes: a Normand-inspired guest cottage, a post-Civil War jewel (don’t miss the barn addition, showcasing American scrimshaw and hot rod collections), a 1930s Georgian, a Hamptons-style seaside home and a Gustavian-style Federal-era home. The tour is part of Antiquarius, a fifty-six-year tradition that also includes the Greenwich Antiques Show, art/design events and a holiday boutique. A limited number of premier parking passes will be available; holders may drive and park near the houses, rather than ride the shuttle bus.
Date & Time: December 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Information & tickets: 203-869-6899, ext. 10, greenwichhistory.org; $100 per person; $400 for premier parking pass; Meli-Melo box lunches $25, available for pickup at Christ Church Parish Hall from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Advance ticket and lunch purchase required.
Bush-Holley Candlelight Tour
Since 1987, the candlelight tour of the circa-1730 Bush-Holley House has been taking visitors back to a time of simpler Christmases. The tour features costumed interpreters, period holiday decorations and “candle” lighting throughout Greenwich’s only National Historic Landmark. Enjoy live music, crafts and holiday treats in the Vanderbilt Education Center. “There’s nothing like a historic house in candlelight,” says Barbara Freeman, former program coordinator. “It glows. It touches everybody.” Tours begin at the Storehouse Gallery.
Date & Time: December 15, 5 to 7 p.m.
Place: Greenwich Historical Society Storehouse Gallery and Bush-Holley House, 39 Strickland Road, Cos Cob
Information & tickets: 203-869-6899, ext. 10, greenwichhistory.org; members $10, nonmembers $15; reservations not required
Bells Will Be Ringing
Threads and Treads Jingle Bell Jog
This is a great tradition for anyone looking to burn off Christmas cookie calories. Runners (and speed walkers), age seven to seventy-five, came out for the Jingle Bell Jog last year. “We started this tradition in the late ’80s, when the running boom was in full swing,” says Mickey Yardis, owner of Threads and Treads. “It’s a low-key community gathering and a jolly time. It’s also good for burning off some holiday stress.” The store provides jingle bells, long-sleeve T’s and post-race refreshments to several hundred participants who aren’t afraid to race through the crisp winter air. The Jingle Bell Jog has never been cancelled; if roads are icy, Mickey calls the highway division and they graciously run a spreader around the three-mile course.
Date & Time: December 8, 9 a.m.
Place: Starting and finishing at Peabody Garage, 23 Church Street
Information & tickets: 203-661-0142, threadsandtreads.com; $20 adults, $10 kids