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Traditions have to start somewhere

These annual events make winter celebration simple

Like it or not, Thanksgiving is over and the holiday season is in full swing. But before you say “Bah, humbug” to all the celebrating, try out the theater shows and the parades and the holiday displays and the activities. Some are free, some aren’t; but hey, start a tradition with a roommate or a group of friends. This season does come only once a year, so take advantage of everything the Twin Cities have to offer.

“A Christmas Carol”
WHEN: Through Dec. 24
WHERE: Guthrie Theater, 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis
TICKETS: $20-$55; (612) 377-2224.

Charles Dickens’ classic tale of a miser who learns the true meaning of Christmas has played on the Guthrie stage for the past 30 years, and it has become a tradition for many in the area. This is the last year the show will be performed in the Guthrie’s original space, adjacent to the Walker Art Center.

“The Nutcracker!”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16 through 18.
WHERE: E.M. Pearson Theatre, 312 Hamline Ave. N., St. Paul
TICKETS: $12-$25; (763) 545-1333.

Ethnic Dance Theatre puts a new spin on this ballet’s characters. There’s an Austrian music box, an Appalachian clogger and dancers with Egyptian canes and Mexican masks.

“Black Nativity ” A Celebration of Family, A Celebration for the Soul… Testify!”
WHEN: Wednesdays through Sundays through Dec. 24
WHERE: Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul
TICKETS: call for information; (651) 224-3180

Seven shows have been added to the run of “Black Nativity,” a show full of powerful gospel renditions of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night.”

Marshall Field’s eighth-floor display
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 31
WHERE: 700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
TICKETS: free; (612) 375-2200

The eighth floor of the Nicollet Mall Marshall Field’s has been transformed into an animated fairy tale land. This year, guests walk through the story of “Cinderella.” Everyone can enjoy it, but if you feel too cool to go by yourself, borrow a little kid and go under the pretense of “babysitting.” Next year, the store will be a Macy’s, and who knows whether it’ll put on the dazzling show that Marshall Field’s and Dayton’s made famous.

“TCF Holidazzle Parade”
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sunday through Dec. 23.
WHERE: Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis

Thousands of volunteers chip in to make this parade a staple of the holiday season. A dozen floats, choirs, marching bands and 250 animated characters bedecked with lights are sure to provide plenty of entertainment in the half-hour parade.

Make sure to bring nonperishable food or cash donations. Volunteers walk the parade route to gather supplies for the Emergency Food Shelf Network.

But you don’t have to go just for the parade. Wander through the skyway system to see window displays, go to dinner, catch a movie or a show, or go shopping. If the weather gets to you, head to an area coffee shop for some hot chocolate.

The Joffrey’s “Nutcracker”
WHEN: 1 and 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Northrop Auditorium
TICKETS: $36-$66; (612) 624-2345.

Yes, the tickets are expensive, but the Joffrey Ballet hasn’t been here since the mid-1990s. It’s the ballet’s golden anniversary, so celebrate 50 years and the holiday season in grand style.

This Victorian-style production of “The Nutcracker,” which took Robert Joffrey 15 years to create, features dancers from the Twin Cities and the Metropolitan Boys Choir.

Ice-skating at the Depot
WHEN: Check www.thedepotmin for details
WHERE: The Depot, 300 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
TICKETS: (612) 339-2253

OK, OK, this isn’t specific to the holiday season. But get a group together and head downtown for some good old-fashioned ice-skating. Never ice-skated before? Who cares? It’s got to be safer than sliding down a hill on a stolen UDS tray.

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