Holiday roundup: Merry events abound throughout the tri-states


PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative


PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

The holiday season is officially underway.

While it might be tempting to stay in and binge Hallmark movies and traditional holiday classics, an assortment of family-friendly happenings can be found across the tri-states to help you settle into the holiday spirit and count down to Christmas.

Here are a few highlights. Be sure to check venues in advance for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols.

Reflections in the Park

Times/dates: 5-10 p.m. through Sunday, Jan. 2.

Site: Louis Murphy Park, Dubuque.

Cost: $12 at the gate, $10 in advance. Tickets are available at Dubuque Bank & Trust Locations or by visiting hillcrestfamilyservices.thundertix.com/events/192616.

What to expect: The annual tradition hosted as a fundraiser for Hillcrest Family Services features Louis Murphy Park lit up with an assortment of lighted displays.

Nativities of the World

Times/dates: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 9.

Site: Sinsinawa (Wis.) Mound, 585 County Road Z.

Cost: Free.

What to expect: Sinsinawa Art Gallery will feature handcrafted nativities on display from around the world.

“Miracle on 34th Street”

Times/dates: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3-4; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.

Site: The Grand Opera House, 135 W. Eighth St.

Cost: $15 for youth, $23 for adults. Tickets are available at the Grand Opera House box office, by calling 563-588-1305 or by visiting thegrandoperahouse.com.

What to expect: The holiday classic presented by Dubuque’s Grand Opera House is based on the beloved movie of the same name. Kris Kringle, an old man in a retirement home, gets a job working as Santa for Macy’s. He unleashes waves of goodwill, which find him in a court competency hearing. He claims to be the real Santa, but can he convince doubters, including a little girl longing to find something to believe in?

The John Erikson Jazz Trio Christmas Concert

Time/dates: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3

Site: DeSoto House Hotel, 230 S. Main St., Galena, Ill.

Cost: $20, with cash bar and appetizer trays available. Reservations are recommended by calling 815-777-0090.

What to expect: The Chicago-based jazz group will return to Galena for its annual presentation of holiday music.

Novelty Iron Works Holiday Vendor Show

Time/date: 4-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3.

Site: Millwork Ballroom and Event Center, 333 E. 10th St.

Cost: Free.

What to expect: In addition to local vendors, there will be a kids craft area, and food and drink specials.

Christmas at Heritage Center

Time/date: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3.

Site: University of Dubuque Heritage Center, John and Alice Butler Hall.

Cost: Starting at $14 for the general public; starting at $9 for UD alumni, parents of current UD students, military and veterans; first ticket free for for UD faculty and staff, with additional tickets starting at $9; first ticket free for UD students, with additional tickets starting at $5. Ticket prices increase by $5 at midnight the day of the event. Tickets are available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 90 minutes prior to events at the Farber Box Office, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque, 2255 Bennett St.; by calling 563-585-SHOW; or by visiting www.dbq.edu/heritagecenter.

What to expect: The concert will open with an organ rendition of “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” It will feature the UD Concert Choir, UD Treble Choir and UD Chamber Singers, as well as the UD Concert Band, performing Christmas music, such as “Away in a Manger,” “In Dulci Jubilo (Good Christian Friends, Rejoice),” “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “I Wonder as I Wander.” The performance will culminate in the debut of a commissioned piece, “Gloria,” highlighting UD’s choirs, concert band and pipe organ. A reception will take place following the concert, with complimentary refreshments and holiday favorites performed by the UD Jazz Ensemble. The concert will be broadcast on KDTH (AM 1370) from 11 p.m. to midnight Christmas Eve and from 1 to 2 p.m. Christmas Day. In the event of inclement weather, a snow date is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4.

Victorian Home for the Holidays

Times/dates: 1-7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 3-4 and 10-11.

Site: Villa Louis Historic Site, 521 N. Villa Louis Road, Prairie du Chien, Wis.

Cost: $15 for ages 13 and older, $8 for ages 5-12, free for those younger than 5. Wisconsin Historical Society members receive a 10% discount. Advance registration is required. Tickets are available at villalouis.wisconsinhistory.org.

What to expect: Villa Louis, one of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s historic sites and museums and a National Historic Landmark, will be adorned with decorations from the 1890s, with tours every five minutes. Information from the Dousman family archives and Prairie du Chien newspapers provide context for exploring holiday traditions through the lens of the Villa Louis household. In the dining room, the table will be set for a midnight New Year’s supper that took place in 1893. In the kitchen, the Dousman family cook will reveal her plans for Christmas dinner, the New Year’s gala and the specialty cooking that goes on in between. The formal parlor, staged for Christmas morning, will showcase an elaborately decorated tree amid the mansion’s best furnishings and accessories. At 4 p.m. each Saturday of the event, a presentation celebrating the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Villa Louis mansion, co-hosted with the Friends of the Villa Louis, will be held in the Fur Trade Building. The presentation is open to event attendees for no additional cost. To reserve a seat, call 608-264-4848.

“The Charitable Sisterhood Christmas Spectacular”

Times/dates: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 3-4, 10-11 and 17-18; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, 12 and 19; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9 and 16; 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11.

Site: Bell Tower Theater, 2728 Asbury Road.

Cost: $11 for early bird performances Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 3-4; $22 for other performances. Tickets are available at the Bell Tower Theater box office or by calling 563-588-3377.

What to expect: The Bell Tower Theater presents a comedy about the Charitable Sisterhood, who are preparing for the Second Trinity Church’s annual Christmas Spectacular. When the baby Jesus figure from the nativity scene disappears, the sisterhood has trouble staying focused knowing there’s a criminal on the loose. Sisterhood leader Bea is certain the culprit is her longtime rival, Lucille Orton, from the strict First Salvation Church. The sisterhood decides they need help to solve the mystery. Enter honorary sisterhood member and private investigator, Janet.

Holiday Cheer Craft/Vendor Show

Time/date: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4.

Site: Peosta (Iowa) Community Centre, 7896 Burds Road, No. 9646.

Cost: Free.

What to expect: More than 65 local businesses will be on site providing boutique items, homemade crafts, baked treats and desserts, dog supplies, home goods, independent consultants and more. A cash bar will be available, as well as the One Mean Bean coffee truck. Door prizes also will be available.

Winter Holiday Fun Day

Time/date: 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4.

Site: James Kennedy Public Library, 320 First Ave., Dyersville, Iowa.

Cost: Free.

What to expect: Families are invited for a morning of winter and holiday themed activities. Kids can make a gingerbread house and a snowflake craft that can be used as an ornament or window hanger. The library will provide stationery, stickers, stampers and envelopes to write a letter to Santa or a friend. The library’s green screen also will be set up for pictures with a choice of winter or Christmas backgrounds. The picture will be emailed or, if time permits, printed for a memento.

Scuba Santa

Time/date: Noon-1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 4-5.

Site: National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, Port of Dubuque.

Cost: Free, with admission to the museum. Tickets are available by calling 563-557-9545 or by visiting rivermuseum.com.

What to expect: Santa will take a break from his workshop to dive into the Gulf of Mexico Aquarium.

Holiday Tea

Time/date: 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4.

Site: Mathias Ham Historic Site, 2241 Lincoln Ave.

Cost: $20 for adults, $10 for youth. Tickets are available by calling 563-557-9545, ext. 218.

What to expect: An assortment of finger sandwiches, holiday treats and a variety of teas or hot chocolate will be available.

Mathias Ham Historic Site House Tours and Candlelight Tours

Times/dates: Noon-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19 (House Tours); 6 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 and 11 (Candlelight Tours).

Site: Mathias Ham Historic Site, 2241 Lincoln Ave.

Cost: $7.50 for adults, $4 for ages 3-17, free for National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium members for House Tours; $10 for adults, $7 for children and discounts available for members for Candlelight Tours. Tickets are available at the door or by visiting rivermuseum.com/events or the Mathias Ham Historic Site Facebook page. Tickets for Candlelight Tours must be purchased in advance.

What to expect: The house will be decorated in period style, and costumed interpreters will share holiday traditions of the Victorian era. Refreshments and crafts also will be available. Candlelight Tours will highlight the architectural and historical significance of the home.

Dubuque Symphony Orchestra Holiday Family Concert and Holiday Concerts

Times/dates: 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 (holiday family concert); 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5 (holiday concerts).

Site: Five Flags Theater, 405 Main St.

Cost: $12, $22 and $32, plus fees, for the Family Concert; $17 to $77, plus fees, for the Holiday Concerts. Tickets are available at the Five Flags Center box office or Ticketmaster.com.

What to expect: The family concert will feature an abbreviated, kid-friendly program comprised of holiday favorites and sing-alongs presented by vocalist Jennie Wengrovious, the Dubuque Chorale Children’s Choir and members of the Heartland Ballet. Children also are invited to have a free photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus following the concert. The holiday concerts will feature Wengrovious, the Dubuque Chorale and members of the Heartland Ballet.

“For a Blessed Christmas”

Times/dates: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5.

Site: Clarke University, Sacred Heart Chapel.

Cost: $12 for general admission; free for those younger than 18, and Clarke faculty, staff and students.

What to expect: Celebrate the season of Advent with violin soloist Ann Duchow, of Dubuque, and Clarke University ensembles in a portrayal of the Christmas story told through musical and Biblical narrative.

Holiday Painting Class

Time/date: 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7.

Site: Sinsinawa (Wis.) Mound, 585 County Road Z.

Cost: $35. The registration deadline is Friday, Dec. 3, by calling 608-748-4411 or by visiting www.sinsinawa.org/moundcenter.

What to expect: Sarah Barnes, artist and owner of Create It Art Studio in Dubuque, will guide participants in painting a Santa on canvas. All skill levels are welcome. Materials will be provided.

“Dark Side of the Yule,” with Classical Blast

Time/date: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10.

Site: Turner Hall, 115 S. Bench St., Galena, Ill.

Cost: $20 in advance and $25 at the door for adults; $10 for ages 16 and younger. Tickets are available by calling 708-386-0285 or by visiting classicalblast.com.

What to expect: Classical Blast melds classic rock and Christmas music in this concert experience. Beverages will be served by the Galena Brewing Co.

Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows and Christkindlemarkt

Time/date: 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 (Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows), 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 (Christkindlemarkt).

Sites: Galena (Ill.) Main Street (Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows); Fulton Brewery, 601 S. Prospect St. (Christkindlemarkt).

Cost: Free for the Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows, $10 for Christkindlemarkt.

What to expect: More than 5,000 candlelit luminaries will line streets, steps and sidewalks. Storefront windows will come alive with holiday inspired animation, as businesses offer extended hours. The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Art and Design also will present a Christmas festival and European-styled market. Proceeds will support Galena City Beautiful’s charitable and restoration projects.

Gingerbread Baking

Time/date: 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11.

Site: Mathias Ham Historic Site, 2241 Lincoln Ave.

Cost: $25 for adults, $15 for youth. Tickets are available by visiting rivermuseum.com/events or the Mathias Ham Historic Site Facebook page.

What to expect: Attendees of all ages will learn how to make gingerbread.

Neil Berg’s “Broadway Holiday”

Time/date: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11.

Site: University of Dubuque Heritage Center, John and Alice Butler Hall.

Cost: Starting at $29 for the general public, $24 for UD affiliates. Tickets are available at the Farber Box Office and by visiting www.dubuqueartscouncil.com.

What to expect: In cooperation with the University of Dubuque Heritage Center, the Dubuque Arts Council will host Berg and Dubuque native Rita Harvey in the musical revue of Broadway history, including holiday tunes and hits from the musicals “My Fair Lady,” “South Pacific,” “West Side Story,” “Chicago,” “Jersey Boys” and “Wicked.”

Madrigal Christmas Dinner

Time/date: 6 p.m. doors open, with a Renaissance fair-styled wassail toast; 7 p.m. dinner Saturday, Dec. 11.

Site: Dubuque Senior High School, 1800 Clarke Drive.

Cost: $30. Tickets must be purchased in advance by visiting dubuque.seatyourself.biz.

What to expect: Presented annually by Dubuque Senior High School, the concert features performances by the school’s choral and instrumental ensembles, accompanied by a traditional madrigal feast.

“The Nutcracker Ballet”

Times/dates: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 11, 17 and 18; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12 and 19.

Site: The Grand Opera House, 135 W. Eighth St. Streaming access also will be available.

Cost: $15 for youth, $23 for adults for in-person performances; $15 for a single household, $25 for multiple household for streaming access. Tickets are available at the Grand Opera House box office, by calling 563-588-1305 or by visiting thegrandoperahouse.com.

What to expect: The Dubuque City Youth Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker Ballet” is an annual tradition. Dancers will share the journey of Clara meeting her Nutcracker and the adventures they have through a world of mice and fairies.

“At Christmas,” with Sara Evans

Time/date: Friday, Dec. 17.

Site: Five Flags Center, 405 Main St.

Cost: $40-$86, plus fees. Tickets are available at the Five Flags Center box office or by visiting TicketMaster.com.

What to expect: The platinum-selling country artist will bring her Christmas tour to the Dubuque venue.

“Who’s Holiday!”

Times/dates: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, Dec. 22-23, and Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 25-26.

Site: The Grand Opera House, 135 W. Eighth St.

Cost: $15. Tickets are available at the Grand Opera House box office, by calling 563-588-1305 or by visiting thegrandoperahouse.com.

What to expect: The adult comedy tells the story of Cindy Lou Who, as she recalls the Christmas Eve she met the Grinch and the twisted turn of events her life has taken now that she’s all grown up.

Megan Gloss writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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