An early Thanksgiving means more than a month of arts-related holiday events. Here are 11 of our favorites.


Friday through Dec. 9, Merrill Auditorium, Portland; $20 to $70, (207) 842-0800 or;

This year’s production runs three weekends with Maine State artistic director Linda MacArthur Miele at the helm for her 42nd year and includes three pieces of original choreography by Miele’s protege, George Balanchine. Sisters Adrienne and Rhiannon Pelletier share the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. They grew up in Raymond. Rhiannon is a graduate of St. Joseph’s College and is dancing the role for the sixth year. Adrienne is making her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and has danced the lead role of Clara for the last five years. She teaches at Maine State Ballet and is a recent graduate of Southern Maine Community College.


10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 1, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, 707 Shaker Road, New Gloucester; free, (207) 926-4597 or


The annual Shaker Christmas Fair offers a timely reason to visit America’s only active Shaker community, as well as a (sweet) taste of an authentic and nostalgic holiday tradition. Specialties include Shaker baked goods – wheat bread, beer batter bread, cinnamon-raisin bread, Sister Frances’ famous fruitcakes, fresh-baked herbal biscuits and cookies – and Shaker cooking herbs and herbal teas, pickles, jellies, old-fashioned candy, maple syrup, pickles, cheese, woodenware, furniture, antiques, baskets, knit goods, toys, ornaments, decorated balsam wreaths and such. Proceeds from the White Elephant Room, a second-time sale, benefit local food pantries.

Shaker Village is listed as a National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.


Noon (preview) and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress St., Portland; $10 to $42,

This concert is a favorite because of its sacred solemnity, the angelic sweep of the singers’ voices and majesty of the cathedral. In the chaotic and sometimes stressful times of the holidays, Christmas at the Cathedral offers the antidote of the chance to pause, breathe and reflect. Music director Robert Russell calls this year’s program of choral music familiar and sublime, with Paul Halley’s dynamic “Freedom Trilogy,” Eric Whitacre’s luminous “Lux Aurumque” and a setting with brass and organ of the final movement of Vaughan Williams’ “Hodie” set to John Milton’s poem “Ring Out, Ye Crystal Spheres.” The Portland Brass Quintet and organist Christopher Pelonzi will accompany the ChoralArt Singers.

Hannah Daly, second from left, in the 2003 production of “A Christmas Carol” at Portland Stage. After a 15-year absence, Daly returns this year in the role of Belle.



Dec. 1-24, Portland Stage, 25A Forest Ave., Portland; $40 to $50 with discounts for students and seniors, (207) 774-0465 or

We love this version of “A Christmas Carol” because of its loyalties to the story by Charles Dickens and the careful thoughtfulness that director Anita Stewart pays to the redemption of Scrooge and his story of hope. There are familiar faces on stage this year with actors who have performed various roles over the years, including Sally Wood and Dustin Tucker as the Cratchits. But the best story involves local actress Hannah Daly, who performed in “A Christmas Carol” as a child and dreamed of one day playing the character Belle. She went away to college to study theater and now returns to Portland Stage playing Belle.


7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Merrill Auditorium, Portland; $51 to $91, (207) 842-0800 or

The staying power of Chip Davis and his Mannheim Steamroller project is astounding. The new-age rock group has been making holiday music since 1984 and sustained its popularity with annual Christmas tours that seem to play in every American city every year. The band had developed a loyal following and this year rolls into Portland for one show at Merrill Auditorium featuring classic Christmas songs and a selection of Mannheim Steamroller originals presented with lots of drama, energy and multimedia effects.



Dec. 5-9, St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland; $27 to $45, (207) 835-0895 or

Good Theater’s annual concerts are a salute to the holidays and to Broadway. Each year, artistic director Brian P. Allen brings together a dozen or so singers from Maine with a star from Broadway for a fun concert of show tunes and holiday songs that define a particular decade. This year’s concert is a tribute to the 1980s, with songs from “Les Miserables,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Evita,” as well as lesser-known gems from “Bring Back Birdie” and “Dance a Little Closer,” both notorious flops. The star is Valerie Perri, who played the role of Eva Peron in the national tour of “Evita” in the 1980s and at Maine State Music Theatre in 1985. Allen promises “lots of laughter as well as amazing singing.”


Portland Museum of Art, 6 p.m. Dec. 7; free, (207) 775-6148 or

The Portland Museum of Art flips the switch for the lighting of its century-old Copper Beech tree in the David E. Shaw and Family Sculpture Park along High Street. Portland Poet Laureate Linda Aldrich will recite poems from the season and performers from 317 Main Community Music Center will present seasonal songs. Following the lighting at 6:30 p.m., the museum invites people inside as part the First Friday Art Walk.



7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Merrill Auditorium, Portland, and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22 and 2 p.m. Dec. 23, Westbrook Performing Arts Center; $22 to $75, (207) 842-0800 or

The Victorian Nutcracker, presented in both Portland and Westbrook, tells a version of the classic tale that is set in Victorian-era Portland, with local characters and stage sets that depict Portland landmarks.


Holiday Concert, 7 p.m. Dec. 8, First Parish Church, 180 York St., York; $15 advance, $20 day of show, (207) 363-1886 or

Folk singers and master instrumentalists Harvey Reid and Joyce Andersen have performed holiday concerts across southern Maine and New Hampshire for more than two decades, including 11 years in their hometown of York. They will perform holiday and seasonal music across time at the historic First Parish Church, which towers above the center of town.

Reid is one of Maine’s most accomplished musicians, a former national acoustic guitar and autoharp champion.



7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, Woodfords Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St., Portland; $5,

Hosted by ChoralArt and accompanied by the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, this concert provides the opportunity for people to come together for a festive Messiah sing-along. Singers of all skill levels welcome. Scores will be provided, or people may bring their own. Food donations will be collected at the door, and all food and proceeds will benefit Portland emergency food pantry, Project FEED.


7:30 p.m. Dec. 18, Merrill Auditorium, Portland; $19 to $56, (207) 842-0800, or

Newly installed as municipal organist, James Kennerley performs his first holiday concert on the magnificent Kotzschmar Organ at Merrill Auditorium, continuing a long holiday tradition. He will celebrate the season with holiday classics, traditional carols and modern favorites, and there’s a hint of new organ transcriptions and perhaps a new composition by Kennerley.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes

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