Things to Do in Dallas For Christmas, New Year’s and the Rest of Our Holiday Break

Most of you, anyway.

In approximately eight hours, I’m jettisoning myself into a land of cookies and gift wrap, and as much as I enjoy you all, I will not be returning for a good long while. But in my heart these past few days, I have been thinking of you and your wants and desires. The result is a round-up of things do with all this free time you’ll have before and after the presents are unwrapped. Happy Holidays, everyone, and Happy New Year.

Look, a very select portion of the population actually believes the world is ending at some point today, so this whole list could be moot. But because I’m known amongst friends and colleagues as a hopeless optimist, we’ll journey on as if the sun weren’t a star that will eventually implode. There are many parties to celebrate our extinction/survival, such as Hopocalypse, at Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House. They’re tapping a bunch of boozey IPAs, hence the hop reference, including a new beer from Deep Ellum Brewing Company called Darkest Hour. Fitting. There are also shot specials, if you must, and live music.

Another option is Mayan Apocalypse Night at the Granada, appropriately featuring the band This Will Destroy You, and Green Bandana Group’s End of the World Party and Beer Pong Tournament in Fair Park. Because that’s what my vaporized self is going to miss most.

The Nutty Nutcracker. The Texas Ballet Theater does this every year, but like plenty of good things, it’s a one-time wacky deal. The artists have a little fun at their own expense, spoofing the ballet they produce every season. It’s rated PG-13, so note that before bringing the kids. Bass Hall.

The Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza. The season just wouldn’t be the same without Tim DeLaughter and his merry band. This year’s all-ages show includes the Contemporary Cello Quartet, Dallas Zoo Animal Adventures, Syncopated Ladies, and Gustafer Yellowgold. The Polyphonic Spree will perform both a rock set and a holiday set. The Lakewood Theater.

After that, I’d boogie next door to the Arcade Bar for a nightcap and some late-night karaoke. Last time I was there, a woman sang “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in operatic soprano.

Naughty & Nice: A Very Turtle Christmas. A holiday special in the tradition of Judy Garland, but with a Turtle Creek Chorale spin. It’s an evening of song, story, and dance that promises an escape from the NyQuil-esque effect of hearing “Silent Night” for the zillionth time. Dec. 20-23, Dallas City Performance Hall.

A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens’ classic tale of greed and redemption comes back to the stage again this year, courtesy of the Dallas Theater Center. Directed again by Joel Ferrell, who ably steered last year’s production away from the usual sap and sentimentality, the cast will regale us with the story of how old Ebenezer Scrooge’s heart of stone softens as he’s led through his past, present, and future. Read the FrontRow review here, but be warned: this is the last year to see it in the Kalita Humphreys Theater before the DTC presents an all-new version designed for the Wyly. Dec. 21-23, Kalita Humphreys Theater.

I hope Santa was nice.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa. Enjoy your Chinese food and your movies. Hands up if you still haven’t seen The Hobbit.

Happy Boxing Day, y’all. The Blue Man Group is here. It’s so hard for me to talk about this group without mentioning Arrested Development. Or saying something like, “I just blue myself.” Thank goodness 2013 means more Tobias Fünke. Anyway, the long-running group performs with whatever props they deem necessary, combining music, video, and comedy. Dec. 26-30, Winspear Opera House.

The Nasher Sculpture Center opened two new exhibits last week: Sculpture In So Many Words: Text Pieces 1960-75 and Rediscoveries: Modes of Making Modern Sculpture. The winter break is a perfect opportunity to check those out, plus Eva Rothschild‘s  Sightings exhibit that’s eaten the front entryway of the museum. (Note: the Nasher is closed Christmas Day and Mondays, but otherwise, you should be good barring any sort of snowpocalypse.)

Forbidden Broadway. This snarky musical revue, which originated off-Broadway some time ago, pokes fun at the Great White Way. Beloved songs are rewritten, the costumes are ridiculous, and performers deliver devastating impersonations of theater’s best-known characters. You don’t need to be a Broadway devotee to get the jokes, either. Dec. 27-30, Wyly Theatre. 

Robert Earl Keen. It’s almost impossible to live in Texas and not see country singer Robert Earl Keen at some point. He’s a legend, and visits these parts frequently. You have no excuse not to go see him. Listen for our favorites, “Feelin’ Good Again” and “I’m Comin’ Home,” as well as everyone’s favorite, “The Road Goes on Forever.” House of Blues. 

Festivus of Lights. The folks behind Living Plaza stage a Seinfeld-inspired evening with a “Festivus for the Rest of Us” theme that encourages the airing of grievances. Drop by at any time during the day to put your grievance from the past year into the Bowl of Grievances, then come back right before 6 p.m. for the Airing Ceremony (there will be food trucks). There’s also a twist on the Festivus “feats of strength” involving a papier-mâché dumbbell, a choir performance, and a lighting ceremony to wrap up the night.  Dallas City Hall.

Armed Forces Bowl. This annual post-season bowl game honors the five branches of the military with on-field ceremonies, a pre-game concert, and the Great American Patriot Award that’s given to a service member. Plus, there’s the football game itself, which is about as American as it gets (our version of it, anyway). Rice University faces off against the Air Force Academy. Stick around afterward for the free, family-friendly Adventure Area, which offers games, prizes, interactive displays, and more. Gates open early, but kickoff is at 10:45 am. Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

Lights All Night. The best and brightest in electronic dance music descend on Dallas for the craziest New Year’s party basically ever (even bigger than last year, since it starts a two full days early). We’re talking three stages and three straight days of heart-pounding, sweat-inducing beats from Tiesto, Bassnectar, Diplo, Ghostland Observatory, Calvin Harris, and many more. Need proof of the insanity? Check out our photos from last year’s fest. Dec. 29-31, Fair Park.

Amadeus and Costumed Masquerade. Amadeus, Milos Foreman’s 1984 Oscar-winner, tells the incredible life story of Mozart in a series of flashbacks, revealing the human side of the legendary composer. This special screening (also happening on Friday night with a string performance from DSO’s Young Strings) doubles as a masquerade, in which guests are encouraged to come in costume or at least a mask. Texas Theatre.

Trey Songz With Miguel. Trey Songz has come a long way since his debut single “Gotta Make It” in 2005. As something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, Songz has in fact “made it” in the music industry as a mainstay on the R&B charts. Songz has since made us dance to his radio hit “Bottoms Up,” toured with the likes of Usher and Jay-Z, and was just recently cast as the lead role in the 2013 3D remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, something the world truly needs. Fellow crooner Miguel supports. Verizon Theatre.

A toast!

New Year’s Eve With the DSO. Come celebrate the end of 2012 with a concert featuring the original party music: waltzes and polkas. Guests will hear light classics, well-known overtures, and plenty of hits from Johann Strauss, all played by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and guest violin soloist Chee-Yun Kim. Meyerson Symphony Center.

New Year’s Eve: A Night In Vienna.The British say start as you mean to go on. So if we’re planning to start 2013 with an elegant evening of Strauss waltzes and Viennese classics, we’re hoping that means a year-long hiatus from all our incredibly inelegant habits, such as tripping up escalators and awkwardly asking people at bars if they frequent the establishment often. Opera fans will especially enjoy special guest soloist Ava Pine. Bass Hall.

New Year’s Eve with Sarah Jaffe. Take it easy, enjoy yourself (responsibly, of course), and spend the evening listening to former Dentonite Sarah Jaffe ring in 2013. The Kessler Theater.

Jim Brickman’s New Year’s Eve. Smooth operator Jim Brickman cozies up to his piano for a concert of his holiday and romantic hits. What better way to inspire your midnight smooch? Winspear Opera House.

Dallas’ Best New Year’s Eve Party. Back in July, we told you about the Green Bandana Group, a hyperactive bunch of planners and doers, and their latest community-building enterprise, #popUPdallas. As part of that, they’ve thrown a party every Friday night leading up to 2013, with a couple of bonus bashes on days that are not Friday. This is one of them. The price is a little steeper than previous parties, but the open bar, three bands, and two DJs should make it worth it. Red Arrow Contemporary Gallery. 

Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights. The Granada’s annual New Year’s Eve bash. Granada Theater.

The Shape of Things To Come: New Year’s Eve Spectacular. The 81-year-old Texas Theatre is your time machine back to the golden days of yesteryear. Dress your best, from whatever decade your heart desires, and enjoy live music from Tearist and Yesterday’s Gold, performances from Danielle Georgiou Dance Group, and special effects by Lars Larson and LZX Industries. Loveable oddball George Quartz plays host to the magical evening, making the entertainment possibilities truly endless. The night will wrap up with a traditional Champagne toast to commemorate the end of 2012. Texas Theatre.

New Year’s Five Mile. Maybe you plan to party hard to commemorate the end of 2012, and the only productive thing you have on the agenda for the morning after is mixing the leftover bubbly with OJ. But it’s a brand-new year, which might just mean a healthier lifestyle. So do whatever you need to do to get yourself to this fun run through a particularly scenic part of town. If you’re really on top of things and register before race day, you’re guaranteed a limited-edition long-sleeve event tee. White Rock Lake.

Heart of Dallas Bowl. The college postseason bowl game formerly known as the TicketCity Bowl (formerly known as the Dallas Football Classic) has yet another new name and a new charitable bent. The game, which this year matches up Purdue against Oklahoma State, is put on by the nonprofit Heart of Dallas, with a mission to “leverage the power of sports and entertainment to fuel bold social change.” Cotton Bowl.

For the full, exhaustive calendar list, go right here.

 Compiled with help from web intern Iris Zubair.