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stuart mclean

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for December 21 to 23

Friday, December 21

A Christmas Carol is on stage at the National Arts Centre.

Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale is brought to life with the National Arts Centre‘s annual production of A Christmas CarolNow in its 10th year, this solo show has grown to become  a Christmas tradition in the nation’s capital. Starring John D. Huston and featuring the haunting music of Ottawa folk trio Finest Kind, this is a show you won’t want to miss.

Theatre legend Colm Wilkinson stops by Centrepointe Theatre for two full hours of music and storytelling. Broadway, Christmas and Beyond will feature theatre classics such as “Music of the Night,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” and “Somewhere,” as well as Wilkinson’s signature song, “Bring Him Home.” A seven-piece band and two female vocalists joins Wilkinson on stage.

Canadian Brass returns to the NAC with a spectacular display of holiday showmanship. Easily identified by their trademark tuxes and tennis shoes, the five-piece ensemble is the perfect blend of music, spontaneity, and humour. Together with the NACO, they will treat audiences to a string of Christmas favourites, including “O Holy Night,” “White Christmas,” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.”

Saturday, December 22

Stuart McLean brings his storytelling prowess to Ottawa.

Beloved Canadian storyteller Stuart McLean returns to Ottawa for a two-night engagement at the NAC. The Vinyl Cafe 2012 Christmas Tour will include two brand new stories, Christmas music from The Vinylettes, and a special performance by Vancouver singer-songwriter Reid Jamieson. The tour will also celebrate McLean’s latest release, a four-CD collection of favourite holiday stories.

Ottawa’s own Jim Bryson returns to the national capital region for his Annual Holiday Show at Wakefield’s Black Sheep Inn. This will be Bryson’s first solo gig in a while (he spent the better part of the last year backing fellow local girl Kathleen Edwards), so the folk-rock musician plans to go big. Not only will be be joined by special guests Rueben Degroot and Kelly Sloan, he also plans to unveil a special holiday EP.

Now playing at the Museum of Civilization‘s IMAX theatre is Rocky Mountain Express. Awarded “Best Film” and “Best Cinematography” by the 2012 Giant Screen Cinema Association, this film centres on the construction of Canada’s first transcontinental railway. Breathtaking aerial shots and rarely seen archival footage add to this impeccable showing. All aboard!

Sunday, December 23

This weekend is your last chance to see Miracle on 34th Street: The Radio Show.

Have you been meaning to check out The Gladstone‘s production of Miracle on 34th Street: The Radio Show? Well, you’d best act quickly. Today’s matinee performance (slated to begin at 3 p.m.) is the final showing. Plosive Productions takes audiences back to the golden age of radio in this creative re-telling of a holiday classic.

If you have yet to take advantage of the Canadian Museum of Nature‘s seasonal specials, now’s the time. Until Christmas Eve day, kids aged three to 12 can enjoy half-priced admission. While you’re there, be sure to check out the newly renovated Vale Earth Gallery. The now 8,000-square-foot exhibition features interactive games, simulations, and even a Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.

What’s Hot in November Across Canada

Vancouver

It may be November, but it’s starting to look a lot like Christmas. Local stages offer Irving Berlin’s White Christmas: The Musical and It’s a Wonderful Life, both based on popular seasonal movies. Bright Nights in Stanley Park and Lights of Hope each make spirits bright, with thousands of twinkling lights—and money raised going to local charities. Crafts and gifts abound at Circle Craft Christmas Market (held in the Vancouver Convention Centre) and Christmas at Hycroft (held in a stately Edwardian mansion). Old-fashioned traditions are revived during the Burnaby Village Museum Heritage Christmas. And Stuart McLean shares his gently humorous stories in A Vinyl Cafe Christmas.

Ottawa

Savour the best in wine and food from over 200 exhibitors at the Ottawa Wine and Food Show where you can expect to see kitchen demos, tips on presentation and pairings, and more, Nov 6 – 8. Casino du Lac Leamy has recently renovated its theatre and now offers dinner shows, courtesy of a brand new kitchen. This month, check out Eclipse: The Pink Floyd Story (Nov 6 and 7) and Stayin’ Alive: One Night of the Bee Gees (Nov 14).

Calgary

Legendary hard rockers KISS come to the Pengrowth Saddledome on Nov 12. The Demon (Gene Simmons), Starchild (Paul Stanley), Spaceman (Tommy Thayler) and Catman (Eric Singer) present a selection of greatest hits, as well as pyrotechnics and maybe even a guitar bashing. On Nov 29, McMahon Stadium hosts the Canadian Football League’s championship game, the Grey Cup. This showdown between the CFL’s East Division and West Division is always a lively battle.

Halifax

November 21 marks the unofficial kickoff of the Christmas season in Halifax, as the Holiday Parade of Lights wends its way through the downtown. Lasting over an hour, the parade features dozens of festive floats, live music and, of course, a visit from St. Nick himself.

Victoria

Hockey season is heating up in Victoria as the ECHL’s Salmon Kings take aim at this year’s Kelly Cup but hockey fans are also excited about the November 25 appearance of some of the world’s best up-and-comers. The 2009 Subway Super Series brings together some of the finest junior talent from Russia and Canada for a series of games across the country. Here in Victoria, the Russian Junior National Team will take on top skaters from the Western Hockey League. For ticket details call the save-on-Foods Memorial Centre at 250-220-7777 or visit www.selectyourtickets.com.

Toronto

City meets country when the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair rides into Exhibition Place from Nov 6 – 15. This annual tradition features animal attractions, culinary events, musical performances, and, of course, the Royal Horse Show. In addition, two dazzling holiday classics come to the stage. From Nov 13 – 29, the National Ballet of Canada presents their interpretation of fairytale favourite The Sleeping Beauty, and audiences kick up their heels in celebration when the world-famous Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Nov 16 – 18, at the Air Canada Centre.

Whistler

Celebrate food and wine in Olympian style at the annual gourmet get-together, Cornucopia Nov 12 – 15, with multi-course winemakers’ dinners, chefs’ foraging adventures to local farms, high-energy after-parties and a wealth of wine tastings. And even though the 2010 Winter Games are almost here, it’s business as usual on the mountains. Whistler and Blackcomb both open Nov 26 for another spectacular season of skiing and snowboarding.

Winnipeg

From Nov 4 – 8 the Manito Ahbee: A Festival For All Nations celebrates Canada’s Aboriginal culture. Highlights of the festival include an international powwow competition, indigenous market and trade show and the 4th annual Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards. Santa and a parade of more than 70 floats kick off the holiday season Nov 14 during the Power Smart/Jaycees Santa Claus Parade.

Edmonton

On Nov 22 check out Kevin Smith: Silent Bob Speaks Out, to hear a lecture from award-winning screenwriter/director (Clerks, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back).  Smith has amassed a vast fan base for his irreverent and hilarious rants on the absurdity of just about everything. From Nov 10 – 15, experience the Broadway masterpiece A Chorus Line —  a tale of a group of young dancers toe the line on the stage of their dreams. This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical first opened on the Great White Way in 1975 and became its longest-running musical, with 6,137 performances through 1990.

Canadian Rockies

Banff’s Norquay is open on weekends through November until its official grand opening Dec 4; Kananaskis’ Nakiska follows suit with weekend skiing from Nov 7 to Nov 29 until the resort’s opening on Dec 5; Lake Louise Mountain Resort officially opens Nov 6; Sunshine Village Ski Resort’s opening day is Nov 11; and Jasper’s Marmot Basin is gearing up for a great opener on Nov 11. So grab your gear and hit the slopes.