Sometimes when people say they want to do something different for the holidays, they mean using colored lights instead of white lights on the tree.

But if you truly want to do something different for the holidays this year, there are options all around Portland.

How different? How does an Elvis impersonator crooning the King’s Christmas hits grab you? Or a party where you can don your ugly holiday sweater with pride?

There are also pet photo sessions with Santa, a burlesque version of “The Nutcracker” and local rock bands doing their revved-up takes on timeless holiday music. 


As a child, Jeff Gilbert dreamed of an Elvis Christmas. Other kids might have wanted an Elvis Presley album, but Gilbert envisioned himself as The King, up there on the stage, singing Christmas songs the way only Elvis could.

So this year, Gilbert, a construction worker and singer for the local band Six String Crush, is getting his wish. He will become E — in a red jumpsuit, no less — for the Elvis Tribute Christmas Show at VENUE Music Bar and Grille in Portland.

Gilbert said he’s been practicing every song he will sing for years, and for a look, he’s decided to go with the circa 1970 Elvis. He’ll do all of Presley’s Christmas favorites — “Blue Christmas,” for example — as well as other popular Elvis tunes, backed by local musicians.

“When it’s all said and done, I want everyone to come have a good time, laugh a lot and share in the holiday spirit,” Gilbert said.

Elvis Tribute Christmas Show. 7 p.m. Sunday. VENUE Music Bar & Grille, 865 Forest Ave., Portland. $10. 899-4350; 


You’ve probably heard of pets sitting with Santa for photos. But have you ever seen it done?

There are plenty of places that do this, especially for charity. One place that is doing it this week is Sooper Dogs, a pet store in Saco. Check out the store’s website ( for some cute and cuddly pictures of Fido and Ruff with Santa.

To get a picture, you’ll need to bring a $10 donation, which will benefit Lucky Pup Rescue and the Biddeford Dog Park. Photos will be taken by McKenney Photography, and you can order more than one if you want.

Saturdays with Santa at Sooper Dogs. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Sooper Dogs, 158 Main St., Saco. 710-2275;


Some people wear ugly holiday sweaters because they think they’re funny. Or because, heaven forbid, they actually think they look good.

This week, you can wear that sweater with Rudolph’s glowing red nose for a good cause.

The Ugly Sweater Party at Pearl, an Old Port lounge, will benefit the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund, which provides toys to needy children. There isn’t an admission fee, but people are encouraged to donate cash to the fund at the party.

There will be a DJ spinning tunes and performances by the burlesque dance company Red Hot & Ladylike (no word yet on whether they will be shedding sweaters). Plus, someone will be picked as the person with the ugliest sweater. What an honor.

Ugly Sweater Party. 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Pearl, 444 Fore St., Portland. Free; donations to the Bruce Roberts Toy Fund encouraged. 210-6555;


In “Nutcracker Burlesque,” the rat king is a frat boy, Clara is grown up, and the holiday party has booze and ensuing hijinks.

Created by the local dance company Vivid Motion about seven years ago, “Nutcracker Burlesque” has become a local tradition. The costumes are sexy, the content is adult, and there is a striptease, but no nudity. This is definitely not the “Nutcracker” to take your 6-year-old daughter to, or any child for that matter.

This year’s producer, Brigitte Paulus, says the strict definition of burlesque is to take something very serious and make fun of it. She and others associated with Vivid Motion had danced in the traditional “Nutcracker” for years until they finally decided to have some fun with it.

All performances are sold out, but there’s still hope for those unable to snag one of the $12 tickets — if tickets are not claimed by five minutes to showtime, they will be released to people on a waiting list. You must be present the night of the show to have your name put on the waiting list. 

“Nutcracker Burlesque.” 8 p.m. Friday to Sunday and 8 p.m. Tuesday to Dec. 23. St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland. $12 (sold out). 775-5568; 


Some people might get offended by a punk version of “Jingle Bells” or distorted electric guitars blaring out “White Christmas.” If you’re one of them, don’t head out to WCYY’s Home for the Holidaze show at the Asylum.

The show has at least 20 confirmed local acts ready to rev up some holiday favorites in their own style, including Holy Boys Danger Club, Amy Allen with Jerks of Grass, The Lucid, Twisted Roots, Marion Grace and The Townies, to name a few.

This annual event is for ages 21 and older. Proceeds benefit Toys for Tots.

WCYY’s Home for the Holidaze. 8 p.m. Friday. Asylum, 121 Center St., Portland. $5/donation. 772-8274;

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]