WEEKENDER: Christmas Lights Across Canada, The Story of Holly & Ivy, and a couple non-holiday-themed outings
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WEEKENDER: Christmas Lights Across Canada, The Story of Holly & Ivy, and a couple non-holiday-themed outings

Christmas Lights Across Canada kicks off on Thursday, December 6. Photo courtesy of the National Capital Commission.

The holiday season is about to get a little bit brighter. Although we haven’t seen much snow yet, the National Capital Commission’s Christmas lights program is set to illuminate our city with an array of beautiful colours, starting this Thursday night. Head down to Parliament Hill for the illumination ceremony, which will feature Christmas carols, free hot chocolate, and BeaverTails. As a part of the nation-wide Christmas Lights Across Canada celebration – first launched in 1985 – more than 300,000 brilliant lights will be turned on nightly at over 60 locations, including Confederation Boulevard, Parliament Hill, and Jacques Cartier Park. You won’t be able to miss this spectacle, as it makes evening strolls a little bit more appealing on bitterly cold nights. Thursday, December 6, to Monday, January 7, 4:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily. www.canadascapital.gc.ca/celebrate/christmas-lights.

As Christmas nears, the NAC is chock-full of performances for the holiday season. One such festive event sees the Alberta Ballet – the second largest ballet company in Canada – bring the The Nutcracker to the capital. Choreographed by Edmund Stripe and performed to Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable score, this 19th century story (and holiday classic) is about a young soldier who’s changed into a nutcracker and helped by a young ballerina who falls in love with him. This tale has enchanted people since the first public performance in 1892 and continues to be one of the most extravagant shows ever put on by the Alberta Ballet. The costumes, songs, dance routines, and a pre-show Sugar Plum Party with crafts and treats will make for a dazzling family outing. Wednesday, December 5, to Sunday, December 9. See website for show times. $10-$95. National Arts Centre, Southam Hall, 53 Elgin St., www.nac-cna.ca.

Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre is celebrating the magic of Christmas with this heartwarming story by English writer Rumer Godden. Holly is a toy who wishes for an owner. Mrs. Jones and her husband wish they had a little girl. And an orphan girl named Ivy wishes for a Christmas doll and a place to go for Christmas. Join the fun and watch the tale burst to life as live storytelling and songs fill the theatre. Thursday, December 6, to Sunday, December 9. See website for show times. $10, or $32 for package of four. Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Blvd., www.shenkmanarts.ca.

The Available Light Screening Collective presents three films by Governor General Award-winning filmmaker Barbara Sternberg, who will be in attendance at the event. Since the 1970s, Sternberg’s powerful and evocative films have gained worldwide attention. Her contribution to Canadian film cannot be understated, as she has served on the Ontario Arts Council, helped organized the Experimental Film Congress, and has had her work added to collections in the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada. The films on the bill are C’est la vie (1997), After nature (2008), and In the nature of things (2011). Saturday, December 8, 7:30 p.m. Club SAW, 67 Nicholas St. See the Facebook event here.

Join Juno and Canadian Folk Music Award nominee Craig Cardiff at the nationally renowned Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield. Cardiff has gathered a dedicated following over the years, with a unique style of music and a live performance unlike any you may have seen before. He is known for his uncompromisingly passionate songs, witty stage banter, audience involvement, and undeniable “nice guy” quality. Not only does he write and sing his own songs, but he also uses a loop effect that layers one vocal or guitar part over another. At times, it feels like he has an entire band of Craig Cardiffs on stage with him. Those who attend are at risk of becoming one of his dedicated fans, as his music and persona are all too endearing. Saturday, December 8, 8 p.m. $20 in advance. The Black Sheep Inn, 753 Riverside Dr., Wakefield, www.theblacksheepinn.com.

Struggling to find that special gift for the art lover in your family? Cube Gallery has the answer! The gallery presents its eighth annual Great BIG smalls VIII show, which features 500 smaller works from over 80 artists – some well known and others who are new to the gallery. The original works will range in style and price, and were created by artists from Ottawa, New York City, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, and Saskatchewan. Many of the artists will be in attendance throughout, so come learn more about their art, experiences, and influences in person. For an interactive 360-degree view of the show and a full list of artists, visit the gallery’s website. On until Sunday, December 30. Cube Gallery, 1285 Wellington St. W., www.cubegallery.ca.

Thirteen Strings perform their annual Candlelight with Vivaldi concert on Tuesday, December 11.

Okay, so this event is actually on Tuesday. But think of it as continuing your weekend. For over 35 years, Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra has supported Ottawa’s arts and culture through sophisticated, enthralling performances. The much-anticipated annual candlelight performance of Vivaldi’s classical masterpiece Gloria is always a treat for those in attendance. The riveting voices of soloists Charlotte Corwin (soprano) and Marion Newman (mezzo-soprano) are joined by Ottawa’s Seventeen Voyces. The audience is also encouraged to participate with orchestral performances of Christmas carols (you know, the ones you’ve come to know and love), so be sure to warm up those vocal cords! Tuesday, December 11, 8 p.m. $10-$45. Dominion-Chalmers Church, 355 Cooper St., www.thirteenstrings.ca.