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jane refrain

austenHad your fill of Nutcrackers? A winsome alternative this holiday is “Christmas at Pemberly” running through December 23 at the Marin Theater Company in Mill Valley. It’s a sequel to “Pride and Prejudice”, Jane Austen’s novel that keeps on giving birth to more novels, musicals and zombie versions. The plot focuses on the romantic travails of Mary, the youngest of the Bennet sisters. (She was the music nerd). Tickets $10-44.

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drop dead gorgeous

piedmont-lightsIt seems like every square inch of the Bay Area is lit up this holiday, including some of the least likely places. Who would have expected a dazzling light show in a cemetery but that it exactly what is happening now in Piedmont. The historic Mountain View Cemetery turns on its 10th annual Circle of Lights every day through New Year’s from 5-9pm. Their display includes illuminated carriages, penguins, sleighs, snowmen, skates and a train full of toys. Free.

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on your toes

dancealongThis holiday you too (or your grandkids) can perform on stage in public in the Nutcracker. It’s the 31st annual Dance-Along Nutcracker where participation is encouraged – with or without tutus. Playing twice this Saturday and Sunday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Absolutely zero experience required. Sponsored by the SF Lesbian Gay Freedom Band.Tickets $18-30.

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stairway to heaven

graceMt. Davidson may be the City’s highest peak but starting this Sunday you can get closer to heaven atop plutocratic Nob Hill. The latest Grace Cathedral Artist in Residence program has installed “Jacob’s Ladder”, a luminous path of 50 foot high LED lights, with shadowy figures ascending and descending it, rising from this earth to a more spiritual destination. Open daily from 8 to 6.

 

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o what fun

light-boatEvery town around has its giant Christmas tree and well-stuffed sleigh. The next three weekends promise a very San Francisco display of holiday illumination. There will be lighted boat, yacht, barge parades in the East Bay’s Mariner Village on the 3rd, in Sausalito on the 10th (with fireworks) and Fisherman’s Wharf on the 16th. Check their websites for best viewing areas.

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festival of lights

lightsNo, not Channukah. This festival runs through New Year’s. It’s five free tours, one on bikes,that visit various dazzling light exhibits across the City. In galleries like Trillian+ Dodi in Hayes Valley and Anima in Mission Bay and public spaces like Yerba Buena, SFO and the Civic Center, there are well over a dozen of these gleaming spectaculars. A lot of credit for this retinal renaissance goes to Leo Villareal’s Bay Bridge nightly, and thankfully permanent, light show.

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buon natali

italy-christomasThis is the season when every town, practically every neighborhood, in the Bay Area has a fair stocked with gifts of lovingly made local crafts. Something a little different is happening all day this Saturday and Sunday at Fort Mason. Sponsored by the too often unsung Museo Italo Americano, the Mercantino di Natali is an all-Italian holiday market with over 20 different imported vendors, live music, a raffle, author signings and apperitifs. Free.

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hog heaven

pork-chopsOn a chilly winter night with your faux fire lighting up your fireplace, dinner should be as rich and hearty as you can make it. From the caterers at SF’s Parties That Cook here’s a knock-out recipe for molasses cured pork chops with caramelized pears and persimmons. How many calories? Don’t ask.

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quick bite

thiebaudThe next time you’re caught in the funeral cortege of traffic on Highway 80 inching to or from Sacramento, take a break at exit 71 to the new Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis. Like SFMoma it’s basically focused on late 20th century art, here devoted to the colony of art professors working in the neighborhood. I could have done with fewer Arneson toilets and more Thiebaud landscapes and portraits but it’s a fresh airy white space worth a stop. Free, at least for now,

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punjabi party

indian-danceHave you noticed that South Asians know how to party? This Saturday you can join in at Public Works in the City for a Non-Stop Bhangra, billed as an “”epic Indian dance party“. Don’t know the moves. The evening begins at 9 with a traditional Punjabi dance lesson. A performance by professionals follows that then hours of live music and your chance to show your newly discovered moves. $15.

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