Christmas bells are ringing all December long in Winnipeg. Here are 12 suggestions to keep your spirits high and your heart warm.
1. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet's glittering classic, The Nutcracker is set in a Wellington Crescent mansion. Sugar Plum Fairies are dancing at Centennial Concert Hall Dec. 21-28.
2. One of the most beloved holiday traditions is the annual performances of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol at Dalnavert Museum. This year three people share the performing duties: Ron Robinson on Dec. 7-9, Ian Mozdzen on Dec. 14-16 and Celeste Sansregret on Dec. 21-23. "It's rare to find a tale that reaches all ages and bridges cultures," says Robinson, who has been performing the piece for as long as Santa's beard. As an added treat, guests can tour the historic Dalnavert home and enjoy some carolling by the Pot-Pourri Singers dressed in Victorian costume.
3. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra is really getting into the spirit. They are loading up their sleigh and heading out on a Holiday Express Tour to Steinbach, Beausejour, Virden and Winkler, December 6, 7, 14 and 15. Then on December 17th they join up with the Winnipeg Singers to present Handel's Messiah, an annual tradition.
4. It wouldn't be Christmas without Christmas with the Phil. This year the Winnipeg Philharmonic offers a magnificent holiday concert. No less than four festive Magnificats are on the bill - by Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Part and Stanford. Bring well-tuned vocal chords for the sing-a-long. Dec. 11.
5. The annual celebration called Quinzmas has grown into a huge multi-media extravaganza with lots of original Christmas songs. They've even moved to a bigger venue, the Burton Cummings Theatre. Expect a number of special guests, including House of Doc. The show takes place on December 16. "For me, Quinzmas has become as big a part of Christmas as eggnog and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, says Janice Moeller, CBC producer. "It's a brilliant combination of kitsch, comedy, and carols. I'll never forget how blown away I was when Three Asian Santas walked onstage, fake beards quivering with excitement (and perhaps itchiness), and belted out a very unexpected operatic number that brought the house down. It's a night of musical surprises and festive fun. Don't miss it."
6. Winnipeggers have been coming faithfully to the J.P. Hoe Hoe Hoe Holiday Concert for the last three years. You'll have to get tickets early to this year's shows with special guests Chic Gamine. It's at the Park Theatre Dec. 9 & 10.
7. Spirit's Call Choir is now celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a benefit concert in support of programs for inner city youth. Head to Pantages Playhouse on December 11th at 3:00 p.m.. Larry Updike of Up to Speed is a fan: "The Spirits Call Choir started with a small group of people who thought they couldn't sing. They decided to form a choir and found their voices. Absolutely inspiring!" Spirits Call Choir will be guests on the Radio Noon on CBC's Day for Winnipeg Harvest, Friday, Dec. 9.
8. Winnipeg Singers - Christmas with Brass at Crescent Fort Rouge Dec.4.
9. JUNO award-winning Meaghan Smith will be ringing Christmas bells at the West End Cultural Centre on Dec. 4. She is a huge fan of the holiday season: "There's something about long dark winter nights contrasted with brilliantly sparkling snowy days, or freezing winter air and the comforting heat of an inviting fire. People are thinking of each other, buying gifts for one another or just getting together. It's the traditions, the food, the friends, the family, the lights and the music that I love. I want to be a part of the joy in people's holidays." Check out her sparkling renditions of Silver Bells. Meaghan will be joined by Winnipeg singer Ingrid Gatlin.
10. "Sing!" is the name of the holiday offering by the University of Manitoba Singers. Their forces are bolstered by the University's Women's Chorus and Concert Choir. It takes place Dec. 3 at Westminster United Church. "It's going to be a fantastic showcase of Manitoba talent because we have three choirs from the University of Manitoba. We have a wide variety of classical Christmas pieces and some other more new music-y type pieces," says Ameena Bajer-Koulack who sings in the Women's Chorus.
11. The a cappella choir Renaissance Voices deck the halls of Young United Church with Make We Merry on December 2 and 3. Conductor Derek Morphy makes his final appearances with the group. He couldn't resist programming some favourite selections that he wanted to conduct one more time. Then there's that atmospheric candlelit setting. "Our patrons really love to attend our concert in the more casual café style setting, with mulled wine or cider to sip," he says.
12. The Little Opera Company presents Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti, Dec. 2 - 4 at First Presbyterian Church. It's a tender tale about a crippled boy, Amahl, who gives the baby Jesus his crutch, and then is cured. It stars ten-year-old Anton Dahl Sokalski, who was "surprised and excited" to get the role. "It shows that miracles can happen," says Anton of the play.
Pictured above: Ron Robinson (CBC); Soprano Ashley Klassen with the WSO on tour in Steinbach (Brent Johnson); The Winnipeg Philharmonic (Andrew Sikorsky); Ron Robinson (CBC); Anton Dahl Sokalski as Amahl (Raymond Sokalski),