The song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” seems as if it were written especially for the central New Jersey region. After all, its lines “Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore” are appropriate for a region that has deep roots in a variety of traditions and offerings.
That’s especially true this season as New Jersey celebrates its 350th year, established through a royal gift to two British noblemen in 1664 and called New Cesarea or New Jersey. Since that time the area has seen the growth of the Colonial Era, played an important role in the American Revolution, saw advances in agriculture and architecture, benefited from the industrial revolution and Victorian era, and more. So it is only fitting that the celebrations here begin with events that recreate history.
The re-living starts at Howell Farm, a living history site that has been a farm since the 1730s and reaches back to provide area residents of all ages the opportunity to experience an old-fashioned holiday season.
Saturday, December 6, is the annual Christmas on the Farm. On that day the farm promises that “Saint Nick, his elves, and a jingling sleigh loaded with cookies, coal, and holiday cheer will arrive” at noon. The day features opportunities for children to ride a horse-drawn wagon to find a Christmas tree, help cut with a two-person saw, decorate a tree with old-time ornaments (made of natural objects), and have hot apple cider and cookies. Families can also get in the spirit of giving with the farm’s status as an official drop-off site for Toys for Tots. Visit www.howellfarm.com.
George Washington returns to remind us that the United States has its roots in the holiday season. General Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day, 1776, and the area has been creating a re-enactment of it for more than 62 years.
Here are some of the activities in chronological order:
Washington Crossing the Delaware Re-enactment Dress Rehearsal, Sunday, December 7, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Uniformed re-enactors take over the Pennsylvania side of the river to engage with the community, provide demonstrations, and then test the waters of the river in preparation of the annual Christmas day crossing. Hosted by Washington Crossing Historic Park, the event is a fundraiser to support programs and costs $8 for adults, $4 for children age five to 11, and free for those under age five. Washington Crossing Historic Park, Routes 32 and 532, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. 215-493-4076 or www.ushistory.org/washingtoncrossing/index.htm.
On the other side of the Delaware, at Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville, several events are also available. First is the recreation of the Battle of Trenton in a miniature war-game on Saturday, December 13, at 1 p.m. This battle uses miniature figures, dice, and “Flint & Steel” rules developed by Richard Kane, who will also be managing the game. Visitors can observe or participate as the historic military commanders. Free.
Annual Lantern Walking Tours, Friday, December 19, 7 and 7:30 p.m. This one-of-a-kind regional tradition starts at the Nelson House on the river front and ends at the Johnson Ferry House. In between is a guided tour that gives an on the site account of Washington’s crossing, a look at the ferry boats, the historic woodshop in a stone barn, the Ferry house that saw the historic event, and colonial era refreshment. Adults $10, and children and seniors $5. 609-737-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Christmas Night Crossing, Saturday, December 20, 2 p.m. The program uses diaries and letters of the actual participants to recreate the historic and dramatic moments of the crossing. Resource Interpretive Specialist Clay Craighead leads the program. Free. www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/washcros.html.
The Annual Christmas Day Crossing Reenactment, Thursday, December 25, 1 p.m. The distinctly regional holiday event brings thousands to both sides of the river. Come early and walk through the historic sites at both parks, watch the troops assemble, and watch the Revolutionary forces bring history alive. Free. www.washingtoncrossingpark.org.
Patriots Week, one of the largest Revolutionary War re-enactments anywhere, returns to actual Trenton locales where the war was fought on Friday, December 26, and continues with a series of events that lead up to the annual New Jersey Capital City Philharmonic Orchestra concert at Patriots Theater at the War Memorial Building on Wednesday, December 31.
One of the highlights occurs on Saturday, December 27, with the recreation of the two Battles of Trenton — considered the crucial turning points of the successful American Revolution. The first battle is set for 11 a.m. on Warren Street and the second at 3 p.m. at Mill Hill Park. Both feature period uniforms and weaponry, including booming cannons. Free and open to the public.
Other events during the week include the opportunity to fire replica cannon, puppet theater productions, a program that examines the roles of Black soldiers in the war, a display of Revolutionary War flags, and a presentation by George Washington.
A full schedule of the event produced by the Trenton Downtown Association can be found at www.patriotsweektrenton.com.
One of the gathering places that provide an opportunity to review American, British, and Hessian forces is the Old Barracks Museum at 101 Barrack Street, where free parking is available in the small lot next to the museum as well as the lot next to the War Memorial. The battles are free to the public, and entrance onto the museum grounds is $5 per person (children 5 and under are free).
The Old Barracks continues the revolution with the “To Princeton with Peale” living history event, Friday, January 2, 10 a.m. to noon at the Old Barracks. The program includes the opportunity to meet Captain Charles Wilson Peale’s company the day before they set off to fight the Battle of Princeton, witness military drills, see 18th century trades demonstrations, take a walking tour of the Battles of Trenton, and hear a bonfire-side reading of Thomas Paine’s “The American Crisis.” $8 (adults), $6 (students/seniors), and free (active military and children under 6). The Old Barracks Museum, 101 Barrack Street, Trenton. 609-396-1776 or www.barracks.org.
and House Tours
Historic houses once again are decked out with artistry and history. The Morven Festival of Trees continues to Sunday, January 4. The annual event in the home of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence features “trees artfully decorated by local businesses, garden clubs, and nonprofit organizations.”
This year’s trees were created by the Arts Council of Princeton, The Farmhouse Store, D&R Greenway Land Trust, Barbara L. Mulea, McCarter Theater Center, Contemporary Garden Club, Keris Tree Farm & Christmas Shop, Dogwood Garden Club, and Stony Brook Garden Club of Princeton.
Festival of Trees is open to the public during regular museum hours. No reservations are required. No formal tours of the museum are given, but docents are available to answer any questions. Admission is from $5 to $6 or $15 per family of three or more. Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton. 609-924-8144, morven.org.
Holly Nights at Pennsbury Manor, Thursday and Friday, December 4 and 5, 6 to 9 p.m. The recreated 1683 summer home of William Penn continues its annual Holly Nights and uses candles, luminaries, and bonfires to recreate the era. Pennsbury Manor, 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road, Morrisville. $6 to $12. 215-946-0400 or www.pennsburymanor.org/event/holly-nights-2.
Christmas at the Kuser Farm Mansion in Hamilton returns with Winter Wonderland and 20-minute tours of the late Victorian mansion on Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6, 6 to 9 p.m. Special events include the tree lighting on Friday, December 5, 7:30 p.m.; a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Sunday, December 14, noon to 3 p.m.; and Christmas at the Mansion with 45-minute tours of a Victorian-era Christmas set for Sunday, December 7, 5 to 9 p.m.; Wednesday, December 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, December 10 through 12, 6 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, December 13, 5 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, December 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free.
And don’t miss the Jersey Valley Model Railroad Tours, set for Friday through Sunday, December 5 through 7, 6 to 9 p.m.; Wednesday, December 10, 6 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, December 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free. Call or E-mail Patti Krzywulak, program coordinator at PKrzywulak@hamiltonnj.com. Kuser Mansion, 390 Newkirk Avenue, Hamilton. 609-890-3630 or www.hamiltonnj.com.
Mill Hill Holiday House Tour’s 48th Anniversary Saturday, December 6, noon to 5 p.m. Organized by the Old Mill Hill Society and the residents of Mill Hill, this year’s tour includes between 15 and 20 mainly Victorian-era homes that will be opened to celebrate this year’s theme, “City Sidewalks Dressed in Holiday Style.” The tour begins at Artworks, located at 19 Everett Alley and South Stockton Street. Advance tickets ($15) are available for purchase online and on the day of the tour ($20) from Tour Central at Artworks. 609-815-1359.
Christmas in Roebling celebration, the museum has arranged for several private homes in the village of Roebling, one of the most intact company towns left in America, to be opened to the public on Saturday, December 13, from noon to 5 p.m.. The tour includes decorated houses and the recently restored Roebling Auditorium. The tour is not suggested for children under 12. Light refreshments will be served. On the day of tour tickets may be purchased at the Roebling Museum or the Roebling Auditorium located at 7th Avenue and Main Street. roeblingmuseum.org.
Ellarslie Victorian Room Christmas, through Friday, January 9, at the Trenton City Museum, Ellarslie, in Cadwalader Park, Trenton. The room was designed by Candis Mirande of Tailored Interiors in Yardley, Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Free. www.ellarslie.org.
Sounds of the Season
One doesn’t have to wait to hear “the bells on Christmas morn,” as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem celebrates, because the Westminster Concert Bell Choir is performing three concerts back to back in early December. On Friday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m., the choir will be at Grounds For Sculpture. Then the group, under the direction of Kathleen Ebling Shaw, returns to Bristol Chapel on the Westminster Choir College Campus in Princeton for concerts on Saturday, December 6, 4 p.m., and Sunday, December 7, 4 p.m. $20 to $25. 609-921-2662.
Princeton University Glee Club and University Concert Jazz ensemble present Wynton Marsalis’ “Abyssinian 200 — A Gospel Celebration,” Sunday, December 7, at 5 p.m., at Richardson Auditorium. The 2008 was created for the Abyssinian Baptist Church’s 200th anniversary and combines sacred from several traditions and secular American music. Also performed will be an advent music program that includes music by contemporary composers Roderick Williams and Arvo Part as well as Giles Swayne’s “Magnificat,” based upon melodies that the composer collected in Senegal in the 1980s. $15. www.princetongleeclub.com.
Bravura Philharmonic presents “A Joyous Holiday Gathering,” Sunday, December 7, 7:30 p.m., at Princeton Alliance Church, 20 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro. The program includes Strauss’s “Emperor Waltz,” Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Christmas Eve Suite,” and Handel’s “Messiah,” featuring a chorus conducted by VOICES choral director Lyn Ransom. The concert also includes a community Christmas Carol sing-along with orchestra. $12 to $15. 609-790-9779 or www.bravuraphil.org.
Boheme Opera of New Jersey (BONJ) presents its third Grounds For Sculpture holiday concert event on Friday, December 12, at 126 Sculptors Way, Hamilton. The featured program is “Memories of Bygone Years: A Good Ole-Fashioned Holiday in Carol and Song,” at 7 p.m. BONJ managing director and accomplished pianist Sandra Milstein-Pucciatti provides the accompaniment. A holiday sing-along will close the program. Also featured in the offerings is the Delphi Carolers, a costumed a cappella quartet. Cost for the event is $6 with entry to GFS after 6 p.m., $15 park admission before 6 p.m. 609-586-0616 or www.groundsforsculpture.org.
Capital Singers of Trenton performs “Winter Songs” on Sunday, December 7, at 4 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church, 343 South Broad Street, Trenton. $15 to $20. 609-620-0160 or www.capitalsingers.org
Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s “Holiday POPS!” concert returns to Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton campus on Saturday, December 13, at 4 p.m. Rossen Milanov conducts a program of wintertime favorites and a festive community sing-along, $25 to $40. 609-497-0020 or princetonsymphony.org.
New Jersey Capital Philharmonic, under the conduction of Daniel Spaulding, presents its Classical Christmas Concert, Sunday, December 14, 3 p.m., Patriots Theater, War Memorial. The event features nationally known opera tenor Benjamin Bliss and the Princeton Girlchoir under the direction of Lynnel Joy Jenkins, in a program that includes Rimsky-Korsakov’s polonaise from “Christmas Eve Suite,” Franck’s “Panis Angelicus,” Vaughan Williams’ “Greensleeves”(What Child Is This?), Adam’s “Cantique de Noel,” Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and “Mille Cherubini in Coro,” Silvestri’s suite from “Polar Express,” “White Christmas” and other Christmas classics. $25 to $65. www.capitalphilharmonic.org.
The Princeton Singers presents its annual “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” Saturday, December 13, at 6 p.m., Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street, Princeton. Artistic director Steven Sametz conducts narrator-actor Christopher Coucill to recreate the Welsh country Christmas captured in voice and poetic image by poet Dylan Thomas. The event is recommended for ages 10 and over, and tickets range from $10 to $25. www.princetonsingers.org, email@example.com, 866-846-7464.
American Boychoir’s “Home for the Holidays.” The globetrotting choir returns to the Princeton area for its annual presentation, Sunday, December 14, from 4 to 6 p.m., in Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall, Princeton. $25 to $40. www.americanboychoir.org, 609-258-9220, or www.princeton.edu/utickets.
Choral music from the 18th century and a community carol sing-a-long will be performed by Mostly Motets at Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania on Sunday, December 14, 2 p.m. The group is made up of 11 singers and includes former or current members of Princeton Pro Musica or performers with the Princeton Opera Association, the Westminster Choir, and the Pearson Ensemble. The group’s repertoire includes a range of secular and sacred music, dating from the 1200s to today. Most works are sung a cappella. Tickets are $25 to $45 and are available through online or at the Visitor Center front desk. www.washingtoncrossingpark.org/events.
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will be a presence in the area with two events. First up is “A Take 6 Holiday with the NJSO,” at the State Theater in New Brunswick. The program features Take 6, a 10-time Grammy Award-winning vocal sextet that brings a fusion of R&B, gospel, and pop to program of Christmas favorites. Sunday, December 14, at State Theater in New Brunswick, $20 to $88. The Orchestra invites patrons to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots. State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. 732-246-7469 or www.statetheatrenj.org.
Then NJSO presents Handel’s “Messiah,” at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University, on Friday, December 19, at 7:30 p.m. Music director Jacques Lacombe conducts and guest performers include soprano Nathalie Paulin, mezzo-soprano Mireille Lebel, tenor Isaiah Bell, bass Gordon Bintner, and the Montclair State University Singers. The concert is presented in collaboration with McCarter Theater. Tickets start at $25. www.njsymphony.org/events/detail/handels-messiah.
VOICES — the 50 member area chorus under the direction of Lyn Ransom — presents two regional “Christmastide” holiday concerts that present a program of French and English carols, spirituals, Daniel Pinkham’s “Christmas Cantata,” and more, and features organ, brass quartet, and a handbell accompaniment. The first is set for Princeton United Methodist Church, Nassau Street and Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton, Tuesday, December 16, 7:30 p.m. The other is at Hopewell Presbyterian Church, 80 West Broad Street, Hopewell, on Saturday, December 20, 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 (advance) or $25 (at the door), $10 for children and students. 609-637-9383 or www.VOICESChorale.org.
Princeton Pro Musica is making a change this year and instead of its annual “Messiah” is presenting “A Bach Christmas: Magnificat and Christmas Oratorio,” performed with period-instrument orchestra Saturday, December 20, at 8 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University. The event celebrates the organization’s 36th season of presenting choral masterworks through a mixture of auditioned volunteer singers and trained professionals. Tickets range from $25-$65. 609-683-5122 or princetonpromusica.secure.force.com/ticket.
New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus presents “Masters of Good Cheer,” Sunday, December 21, 4 p.m., at the Princeton United Methodist Church, Nassau Street and Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton, the concert includes holiday songs by masters of classical and contemporary music, including “Ave Maria,” “Still, Still, Still,” “Christmas Time is Here,” and “Jingle Bells,” $15 to $20, in advance, $25 at the door. 732-579-8449 or www.njgmc.org.
The Handbell Choir at Princeton United Methodist Church presents its “Longest Night Service,” on Monday, December 22, at 7:30 p.m. The event, held on the solstice, is in part a service to those who have lost loved ones or are dealing with personal issues and are searching for an alternative way to participate in the season. The gathering is free and open to anyone. 609-924-2613 or www.princetonumc.org.
Princeton University Chapel
Princeton University Chapel continues to provide holiday musical offerings in its historic Collegiate Gothic atmosphere with several events, most free. First on Wednesday, December 3, at 8 p.m., is the Harp Extravaganza, featuring the harp students of Elaine Christy. On Sunday, December 7, at 2:30 p.m., chapel choir director Penna Rose conducts an advent concert titled “And My Spirit Rejoices . . . Music of the Season.”
On Monday, December 8, at 7:30 p.m., Rose leads one of the area’s most beloved participatory traditions: the annual Messiah Community Sing, with organ, strings and trumpet. Participants can bring a score or borrow one at the door. General admission is $5, but free for students. And on Wednesday, December 10, 7:30 p.m., there is the Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols, featuring readings and music by the Chapel Choir, Glee Club, and a cappella groups. www.princeton.edu/religiouslife/chapel.
As befits a choir school, Westminster Choir College will be raising voices high in a number of events:
Westminster Community Orchestra presents holiday favorites and a community sing-a-long on December 17, 8 p.m. Bristol Chapel, 101 Walnut Lane, Princeton. Ruth Ochs conducts. Free-will donations.
Westminster Community Chorus: Holiday Concert, featuring Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” as well as holiday favorites, including “Infant Holy,” “O Holy Night,’ “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Love Came Down at Christmas,” Friday and Saturday, December 19 and 20, 8 p.m. Bristol Chapel101 Walnut Lane. $10 to $15. 609-921-2663 or www.rider.edu.
Princeton Theological Seminary
The Princeton Theological Seminary will also present a holiday handbell concert, “Christmas Tidings,” on Saturday, December 6, at 3 p.m. in Miller Chapel on the Seminary campus. The free event is performed by the Princeton Ringers, Princeton Seminary and Princeton University students, spouses, staff, graduates of both institutions, and friends from churches across the community. It is under the direction of Rachel Barker, an alumna of Westminster Choir College and general director of the Princeton Opera Alliance.
Princeton Theological Seminary is also set to present three musical services of carols from around the world on Wednesday, December 10, at 3:30, 6:30, and 8:30 p.m. in Miller Chapel. This is the 14th year of what has become an annual Christmas tradition that includes readings, choral anthems, and congregational carols led by the Princeton Seminary Choir and international students and staff of the Seminary. After each identical service, everyone is invited to carol by candlelight outside of the chapel on the Seminary quadrangle. The event is free and open to the public. 609-497-7890 or www.ptsem.edu.
The Mercer County Community College music students are on cue to present two free winter concerts. First up is the MCCC Choir on Tuesday, December 9, at 7 p.m. Directed by Timothy Smith, the group performs “Christmas Cometh Caroling,” which includes a variety of works by Bach, Alfred Burt, Christina Rossetti, Gustav Holst, and others.
The MCCC Jazz Band, under the direction of music professor Bill Corvino, takes the stage on Wednesday, December 10, 8 p.m. The program includes works of Herbie Hancock and Thelonius Monk. Both performances take place in Kelsey Theater on Mercer’s West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. 609-570-3753.
The Irish Tenors Wright-Kearns-Tynan headline as “The Premiere Irish Holiday Celebration Tour” takes the stage of the State Theater in New Brunswick on Saturday, December 6, at 8 p.m. The tenors are Finbar Wright, Anthony Kearns, and Ronan Tynan, collectively The Irish Tenors, are classically trained singers who have performed in leading concert halls across the world and will present a holiday flavored concert that mixes Irish culture and seasonal favorites. $32 to $97.
A Seraphic Fire’s “Christmas Carols by Candlelight” appears on Sunday, December 7, 3 p.m. The Grammy Awards nominated group is under the artistic direction of Patrick Dupre Quigley and presents a repertoire that ranges from Gregorian chant to commissioned works. $27 to $52.
The Canadian Brass arrives on Wednesday, December 10, 8 p.m. with a holiday show featuring songs from their album “Christmas time is Here,” including such favorites as “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” plus brass standards and original works.
Canadian Brass members are founder and tuba “legend” Chuck Daellenbach, Caleb Hudson and Christopher Coletti (trumpets), Achilles Liarmakopoulos (trombone), and Bernhard Scully (horn) $35 to $65. State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. 732-246-7469 or www.statetheatrenj.org.
‘The Nutcracker,” the American Repertory Ballet’s long running performance (51 years!) and a regional staple, returns to area stages to delight audiences, highlight professional dance, and provide newcomers their first taste of the stage. The beloved holiday-themed ballet comes to Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, 1 Memorial Drive, on Saturday, December 6, at 1 and 4:30 p.m. $10 to $45. 877-987-6487 or www.nj.gov/state/memorial/index.html.
The run concludes with a live orchestra at the State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, on Friday, December 19, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 20, 1 and 4:30 p.m., and Sunday December 21, 1 and 4:30 p.m. Tickets $32 to $67. www.statetheatrenj.org/nutcracker, 732-246-7469, or www.americanrepertoryballet.org.
Roxey Ballet is mounting another version of “The Nutcracker” at Kendall Theater on the campus of the College of New Jersey. “This production is known as the most child-friendly production in the region, and we have lots of exciting enhancements and additions this season. Audiences will see many familiar faces, lots of new faces, and returning alumni from years past,” says Mark Roxey, artistic director of the Lambertville company.
The production includes 150 professional, pre-professional, and local actors and dancers, 200 costumes designed by Alicia Worden and Nilda Roxey, and lighting design by Charlie Jarboe. Performances are Saturday and Sunday, December 6 and 7, at 3 p.m. $15-$50. Kendall Main Stage Theater, the College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing. 609-771-2775.
“The Snow Queen” is change of pace for a company that recently changed its name from DanceVision to the Princeton Youth Ballet. Choreographed by Risa Kaplowitz, the work is based on the Hans Christian Anderson story and another regional tradition. Performances are set for Princeton High School’s Performing Arts Center on Saturday, December 20, and Sunday, December 21, at 4 p.m. Single tickets range from $15 to $25. For information on group sales (over 15 people), contact 609-948-8065 or info@PrincetonYouthBallet.org.
“El Sueno” is another area tradition born from another cultural tradition. Created by the New Jersey Spanish dance company Alborada, “El Sueno” (the Dream) is a “souped-up adaptation” of “The Nutcracker” that uses Gypsy flamenco, Spanish, and Latin American dance styles to enchant. Performances are at the Kelsey Theater at Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor, on Saturday, December 13, 2 and 7 p.m. $14 to $18 adults. 609-570-3333 or www.kelseyatmccc.org.
New Jersey Youth Ballet brings its children-friendly narrated one-hour version of “The Nutcracker” to the Kelsey Theater, at Mercer County Community College, on Friday, December 19, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, December 20, 1 and 4 p.m., and Sunday, December 21, 1 and 4 p.m. Tickets $14 to $16. The Kelsey Theater at MCCC, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor, 609-570-3333 or www.kelseyatmccc.org.
In addition to McCarter Theater’s “A Christmas Carol,” other area professional theaters are providing holiday fare.
Crossroads Theater’s annual “Holiday Jubilee” returns to 7 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick on Thursday, December 11, and continues through Sunday, December 21. The company’s multi-cultural family celebration is celebrating its fifth year and this year’s theme is “wedding bells are ringing!” And kids are admitted free with purchase of an adult ticket. Performances are Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. $3, 732-545-8100 or www.CrossroadsTheaterCompany.org.
Bristol Riverside Theater (BRT), at 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pennsylvania, runs its 2014 Winter Musicale from Thursday, December 11, through Sunday, December 21. The show features a program of carols and classics performed by the BRT Concert Band under the conduction of theater musical director Keith Baker. The Thursday night opening is 7:30 p.m. with shows continuing Wednesday at 2 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. $10-$35. 215-785-0100 or www.brtstage.org.
Bucks County Playhouse presents its holiday offering, “Plaid Tidings,” starting Thursday, December 4, and running through, Sunday, December 28. Taking the guys from the popular music show “Forever Plaid,” this holiday work gets a makeover as do such standards: “Jingle Bells,” “Mele Kalikimaka,” and “The Dreidel Song.” As well as a three-minute version of the Ed Sullivan Show with the Rockettes, the Chipmunks & the Vienna Boys Choir, or the Plaid Caribbean Christmas medley. The show opens on Friday, December 5, at 7 p.m., and includes weeknight shows at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $25. www.bcptheater.org.
Theater for children is also a crucial part of the holiday offerings, and two area companies are offering easy and fun fair for the young ones.
“’Twas the Night Before Christmas” returns to the Kelsey Theater at Mercer County Community College on Friday, December 5, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, December 6, 11 a.m. , 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; and Sunday, December 7, and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Based on Clement Moore’s poem about the arrival of Saint Nick, the show for young theatergoers is performed by the Kelsey Players. $10-$12. Kelsey Theater, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor. 609-570-3333 or www.kelseyatmccc.org.
Off Broadstreet Theater’s Children’s Classic Series presents “Santa’s Nightmare” at the theater at 5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell, on Wednesday through Saturday, December 10 to 13. Weekday shows at 10 a.m., Saturday at 10:30 a.m. $4. 609-466-2766 or www.off-broadstreet.com.