31 Things to Do This December: A Dickens Christmas Fair, Drag Queens on Ice, the Lego Art Exhibit and More

Familiar favorites like The Velveteen Rabbit and Holiday POPS concert are back in person plus Camelot on stage, a new exhibition at the DeYoung and a pizza party on Christmas Day.

Featured: The Marin History Museum at the Boyd Gate House

Reopened November 13 Boyd Gate House After seven years away, the Marin History Museum moved back into its long-running home in downtown San Rafael. Major renovations meant upgrades to plumbing and electrical systems; a new roof; and repairs to the Gothic Revival-Style house’s intricate molding, chandeliers, fireplaces and winding staircases. Known for its collection of 200,000 images, 25,000-plus artifacts and research library, the museum reopens with Great Heights. Including 18 black and white photographs from the Ed Brady/Aero Photography Collection taken between 1955–1965, the exhibit documents Marin’s significant growth and development during the Elvis era. “On behalf of our board, I wish to state how pleased we are to reoccupy this very special place and return to our former home,” says Gary T. Ragghianti, board vice president of the Marin History Museum. “The Gate House is such an important part of the history of San Rafael, and the Marin History Museum is the keeper of so many treasures recounting and depicting the rich history of this remarkably beautiful County.” 

Dec 1 Dust Specks on the Sea  

Contemporary sculpture from the French Caribbean and Haiti made by 27 different artists represents colonial history and trauma as well as the artists’ personal relationships to heritage and a desire to look beyond their cultural backgrounds for inspiration and ideas. 

Dec 2 Drag Queens on Ice

drag ice skating rink

Featuring world-class skater Denali of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 13) and other fierce queens and kings, the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Squarehosts one event of many this season.

Dec 3 Sonoma Seaweed Foraging

Wear rain boots to join resident seaweed expert Heidi Herrmann as she leads a low tide foray to score ocean lettuce, discuss their sustainable goodness and learn how to prepare them for eating.

Dec 4 Winter Open Studios

The ICB Building in Sausalito, home of many local artist studios, throws open its doors to the public in a return to its annual showcase of local art, through December 5.

Dec 5 Carols by Candlelight

Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco kicks off its 10th anniversary season with a performance of Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols performed in full with harpist Meredith Clark, as well as other carols at San Francisco’s Old First Presbyterian Church.

Dec 6 SFFILM Awards Night

Help support artist education and development programs and celebrate winners Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jane Campion, Reinaldo Marcus Green and Oscar Isaac at a cocktail reception and dinner at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Dec 7 The Velveteen Rabbit

Based on the beloved children’s classic book by Margery Williams with a musical score by Benjamin Britten, the dance brings storybook characters to life, through December 12. 

Dec 8 Eurydice

Eurydice

The “Live from the Met” series is back at the Lark Theater with Matthew Aucoin’s interpretation of an ancient Greek myth about the wife of Orpheus, live on the 4th and rebroadcast on the 8th. 

Dec 9 Broadway Holiday Spectacular

Director and choreographer Matthew Steffens reimagined holiday favorites to build a program larded with show-stopping dance numbers, Broadway show tunes and modern twists on cherished songs, presented at the Belos Cavalos equestrian estate through December 12. 

Dec 10 The Art of Banksy

the art of banksy
Photo courtesy of The Art of Banksy Starvox Exhibits

Sourced from private collections, works that would otherwise stay hidden in private homes or warehouses are featured and include many of the artist’s most recognizable images — “Flower Thrower,” “Rude Copper” and “Girl With Balloon” — among others, through January 3, 2022. 

Dec 11 The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Experience the wonder of Victorian Christmas via multiple tableaux from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol along with two stages of continuous live music, dance and comedy, plus ale, food and cider, all designed for enjoying from your car or virtually, through December 19. 

Dec 12 Home for the Holidays

home for the holidays

Featuring Merola graduates and other opera singers, a program of arias from well-known operas, operetta, and musical theater are sung as well as beloved holiday songs in a digital event.

Dec 13 When Words Fail, Music Speaks

KQED arts and culture reporter, Chloe Veltman hosts an evening of story and song, including live performance by singer Meklit Hadero and the Kronos Quartet, to discuss the power of song to heal, unify and knit communities together. 

Dec 14 Holiday POPS Concert

The Marin Symphony Orchestra celebrates the holidays with songs of the season, with soprano Dee Donasco at the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium

Dec 15 Creativity Explored Holiday Art Pop-Up

Supporting neurodiverse and disabled Bay Area artists, a local studio-based collective  set up a storefront at the San Francisco Ferry Building with original drawings, paintings, prints, ceramics, tapestries, and one-of-a-kind fashions plus wrapping paper, greetings cards and more, through December 18. 

Dec 16 Jackie Greene

The former lead guitarist of The Black Crows, known for soulful piano ballads as much as he is for bluesy guitar, brings his unique combo of Americana and roots music to Mill Valley, through December 19. 

Dec 17 The Mother Hips

The Bay Area rock and country band that released “Live at the Great American Music Hall” in 2019 returns to that storied location to celebrate 30 years of playing together, through December 19. 

Dec 18 Jules Tavernier and the Elem Pomo

deyoung

A focus on the artist’s masterwork Dance in a Subterranean Roundhouse at Clear Lake (1878) are presented alongside historic and contemporary Pomo basketry and regalia from the Elem Pomo Indian Colony, adding a multiplicity of voices and perspectives to the paintings and photographs.  The exhibition opens today. 

Dec 19 Camelot

camelot

Today is the last day to find out what happens when Guenevere falls in love with a young Lancelot. The Arthurian legend is explored through song, as the idealistic Arthur sees his morale tested when Guenevere falls for Lancelot and the fate of the kingdom hangs in the balance. 

Dec 20 Reveil

nathalie Seaver

Featuring artisits Nathalie Seaver, Leslie Sheryll, Michael Garlington  and Natalia Bertotti, an exhibition at Collectors’ Photography Gallery in Corte Madera leans into the deeper meaning of transition with images that transcend boundaries and illuminate larger issues related to gender, agency, and identity. transition, a crossing from one state to another.

Dec 21 Living Worlds

This is the premiere of the first planetarium show produced in-house by the Academy’s visualization studio since 2018’s Expedition Reef. It’s an exploration of the ways life has transformed Earth’s surface and atmosphere over billions of years, and a journey through the cosmos in search of life in our solar system and beyond, through 2022. 

Dec 22 Double Trouble 

maria moondance

Enrique Chagoya’s satirical creations and his partner Kara Maria’s canvases are part of a combined show that explores themes of immigration, ecological collapse and power conflicts between humans and the natural world, through January 2, 2022.

Dec 23 Bridges and Walls

Today is the last day to see MarinMOCA Artist in Residence Orin Carpenter’s exhibition which asks the viewer: “Did you build a wall or a bridge today, and why?”

Dec 24 Holigays Are Here…Again

san francisco gay chorus
Photo courtesy of Joan Bowlen

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus returns with a signature holiday treat and its rendition of songs including “Little Drummer Boy,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and “Los Pesces en el Rio” with a final performance of the season at the Castro Theatre. 

Dec 25 Christmas at Creekside

Celebrate the birth of a Jewish baby with an Italian pizza and American beer at a San Anselmo restaurant that enriches its pizza dough with Marin yeasts.

Dec 26 Nocturne-X

nocturne x

A new program from local arts nonprofit Grey Area invites visitors into a multisensory journey of a massive alien forest of extraterrestrial flora that responds to touch, sound and movement, each in its own unique way, through January 15, 2022. 

Dec 27 Below the Lighthouse

The first solo exhibition in the U.S. of the work of New York-based artists Zakkubalan, aka Neo S. Sora and Albert Tholen, features their 2017 collaboration with composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, async – volume – , a 24-channel video installation that serves as a portrait of the composer and his creative process, and new work created in response to San Francisco’s David Ireland House, through February 19, 2022. 

Dec 28 The Art of the Brick

Walk beside a 20-foot-long T-Rex dinosaur skeleton, come face-to-face with a giant skull or marvel at a sculpture of a man ripping his chest open with thousands of yellow – you guessed it – LEGO bricks cascading from his chest in an all-things LEGO exhibition from contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya.

Dec 29 Unstable Presence

unstable presence

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s large-scale, participatory works use little more than air, water, sound and light, plus a smidge of technology, to highlight the relationship between physical presence and the natural and technological spaces we inhabit, through March 6. 

Dec 30 Faux New Year’s Eve

Rancho Nicasio brings back its traditional night before New Year’s with jamming tunes from Zydeco Flames. 

Dec 31   Bubbles & BItes 

harmon rooftop bar

The Rooftop at Harmon Guest House pairs four sparkling wines and dishes such as oysters, crab cakes and brie quince crostini at a fresh air party to say goodbye to 2021 and ring in the more auspiciously numbered 2022.


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Christina Mueller

Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.