Maine State Ballet performs “The Nutcracker” battle scene with Trevor Seymour as The Nutcracker Prince and Emma Davis as Clara. Photo by C.C. Church and courtesy of Maine State Ballet.

‘Tis the busiest season.

The month of December is jam-packed with pop-up markets and performances, attractions and art shows. Holiday tunes will be performed by a jazz orchestra, a historic organ and drag queens. There are at least four variations on “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and two of the classic ballet “The Nutcracker” at local venues. The Sugar Plum Fairy, Buddy the Elf, Ralphie Parker and the Von Trapp family will all be in town.

It seems too much for even Santa’s elves to get it all done. So the Portland Press Herald strategized a plan so you could fill every day of the month with holiday cheer without missing any of the fun.


Indigo Arts Alliance will run its fourth annual Poppin’ Holiday Pop-Up Shop this year to benefit future programming and artist-in-residence program. The nonprofit is dedicated to the creative cultivation of artists of African descent. The shop will be open at 60 Cove St. in Portland from Nov. 30 through Dec. 3 and Dec. 7-10 from noon to 7 p.m. Festivities will also include a poetry reading, an open mic night and live performances from local musicians. See Indigo Arts Alliance on Facebook or Instagram for more detailed information.

Other pop-up sales in Portland this weekend include the Winter Holidays Art Fair by the Union of Maine Visual Artists at 600 Congress St. (Dec. 1-3,, the 2023 Holiday Sale at the Maine College of Art & Design (Dec. 1-2,, Art on the Hill at the East End Community School (Dec. 1-3,, the 45th Annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Show by the United Maine Craftsmen at the Italian Heritage Center (Dec. 2-3, and the Maker’s Market at Thompson’s Point (Nov. 26, Dec. 3 and 17,



You think you know the famous story by Charles Dickens. But how did Jacob Marley’s tortured ghost wind up at his former business partner’s bedside on that storied night? “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” is a twist on the Christmas classic on stage at the Theater at Monmouth on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 3. For tickets ($23-30) and more information, visit or call the box office at 207-933-9999.


Travel through the Land of Sweets and meet the Sugar Plum Fairy with the Maine State Ballet’s classic production of “The Nutcracker” at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium. This production is offered two weekends only through Dec. 3. Details are available at or or by calling the PortTix box office at 207-842-0800. Tickets are $28-$82 with discounts available for seniors and children.


Continue (or start) your holiday shopping at the Maine Made Market at Cook’s Corner Mall. The craft show will be located in the mall lobby from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day through Christmas Eve. Vendors will be selling pottery, Alpaca sweaters, sweet treats and more. For more information, visit the Brunswick Downtown Association at or call 207-729-4439.



Acclaimed swing and jazz band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will perform holiday classics and original songs during this one-night Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party at 7:30 p.m. at the Strand Theatre in Rockland. Tickets are $65 for general admission and more information is available at or 207-594-0070.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will bring a “Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party” to the Strand Theatre in Rockland on Dec. 5. Photo by Sean O’Leary.


Snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes. Brown paper packages tied up with strings. If these are a few of your favorite things, you can see “The Sound of Music” presented by Ogunquit Playhouse at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Wednesdays through Sundays through Dec. 17. Visit or call 207-646-5511 for more information.


Fenix Theatre, a professional theater company in Portland devoted to Shakespeare and other classics, will again present “12th Night: A Holiday Musical” at Stevens Square Community Center this year. The classic comedy is interspersed with more than 25 holiday songs performed by local actors and a live band. The family-friendly show has performances from Thursday to Sunday from Dec. 7-17. The company operates on a pay-what-you-can model with a suggested donation of $20 per person or $40 per family. More details can be found online at or at 207-615-4020.


Fenix Theatre will bring back “12th Night: A Musical,” a classic comedy interspersed with holiday songs. Photo by Michelle Handley.


The Public Theatre in Lewiston will present its own adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” written by co-artistic director Christopher Schario. In this version, a modern-day boy reads the Dickens classic with skepticism and then finds himself in the story. Tickets cost between $15 and $30. For more information, visit or call 207-782-3200.


The Wabanaki Winter Market at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine Orono is the largest holiday gathering of Wabanaki artists in New England. Visitors will have the chance to purchase one-of-a-kind pieces of all kinds directly from the artists, including members of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance who have received national awards. Programming will also include demonstrations, storytelling, traditional music, drumming and dancing. The Hudson Museum will also be open to guests. A schedule of events, a list of participating artists and more information can be found at The museum’s phone number is 207-581-1904.


Tanglewood Marionettes, a nationally touring marionette theater, will bring the fairytale “Hansel and Gretel” to Mayo Street Arts in Portland on Dec. 9 and 10. Handcrafted 30-inch marionettes bring the Brothers Grimm classic to life against the colorful backdrop of a giant storybook. More details and tickets are available at or 207-879-4629. Admission is $15 in advance ($10 for children under 18) and $22 for preferred seating. There is a $3 surcharge at the door and pay-what-you-can tickets are available.


Mayo Street Arts will present “Hansel and Gretel” by Tanglewood Marionettes on Dec. 9 and 10. Photo courtesy of Tanglewood Marionettes.


The Footlights Theatre in Falmouth is leaning into the holiday spirit with 23 days of programming in December, and the schedule includes “The Last Shepard & Tales of the Tenth Ornament” by Mark Duffield on Dec. 9 and Dec. 11. On Christmas Eve, a young reporter is sent to cover the demolition of a small store in Boston and investigate the unexpected death of its owner. It is a night of mysterious events, unforgettable characters and a hopeful message. Tickets are $20. A full schedule of December programs at Footlights, which is also presenting “The Christmas Carol” this month, can be found at or 207-747-5434.


The Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine will celebrate Hannukah with an evening of poetry. Maine Yetzirah poets Anna Wrobel, Sally Bliumis-Dunn and Meghan Sterling will read a selection of their work, followed by discussion and refreshments. This free event will take place Dec. 12 from 7-9 p.m. To register and find more information about other events to mark the season of lights, visit or call 207-772-1959.


Vivid Motion Dance will bring back its annual winter burlesque this year with a sensual retelling of the classic holiday poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” This adults-only show at The Hill Arts is co-directed by Brigitte Paulus and MJ Emerson and runs through Dec. 16. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and pay-what-you-can tickets for a Dec. 7 dress rehearsal are available by emailing For more information on how to see Santa and her sexy reindeer, visit or call 207-558-1979.



The Portland Jazz Orchestra will present its annual holiday show at One Longfellow Square in Portland. The orchestra will be performing “The Nutcracker Suite,” a reinterpretation of the classic composed by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, as well as contemporary holiday big band classics with vocalist Katie Oberholtzer. Tickets are $24.50 for general admission or $136 for premium seating and admission to a “Jazzy Jingle and Mingle” pre-show reception at the Cumberland Club. For more information, visit or call the PortTix box office at 207-842-0800.


Follow young Ralphie Parker on his quest for the Christmas gift of his dreams in a musical adaptation of the movie “A Christmas Story” at Lyric Music Theater in South Portland. The show will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 1-17. Tickets cost $20-$25, and more information is available at or 207-799-1421.


“Magic of Christmas” is back at the Portland Symphony Orchestra for the 44th year. The annual program will feature holiday classics such as “Christmas Time is Here.” The orchestra will be joined by the Magic of Christmas Chorus and other special guests. Shows run from Dec. 8-18 at Merrill Auditorium. The concert will also be offered digitally from Dec. 16 through Jan. 8. For tickets and times, go to or call the PortTix box office at 207-842-0800. Tickets range between $32 and $99 with discounts available for seniors, students and children.


“Magic of Christmas” at the Portland Symphony Orchestra returns for its 44th year. Photo courtesy of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.


Journey through the Candy Cane Forest – or at least to the City Theater in Biddeford – for “Elf The Musical.” Shows are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 1-17. Tickets are $25 to $30. More details are online at or at the box office at 207-282-0849.


“A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas and “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote will be on stage at Footlights Theatre at 1 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. This holiday tradition is in its 10th year at the Falmouth theater. A full schedule of December programs at Footlights, which is also presenting “The Christmas Carol” this month, can be found at or 207-747-5434. Tickets are $20.


Portland municipal organist James Kennerley will lead a Christmas concert for the whole family at the historic Kotzschmar Organ. The show will be at 7 p.m. on Dec. 19 at Merrill Auditorium. More details are available at or the PortTix box office at 207-842-0800. Ticket prices range from $33 to $65 with discounts available for seniors, students and children.



Footlights Theatre in Falmouth will present “The Gifts of Christmas” by Michael J. Tobin on Wednesdays through Sundays from Dec. 1-23. The musical is based on the short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry and is set in Maine in the 1940s. Tickets are $20. A full schedule of December programs at Footlights, which is also presenting “The Christmas Carol” this month, can be found at or 207-747-5434.


Join a free ChoralArt holiday sing-along at The Portland Conservatory of Music at 12:15 p.m. on Dec. 21. For more information about concerts at the Portland Conservatory of Music, visit or call 207-775-3356. To RSVP for free to the sing-along, visit For a schedule of holiday concerts and sing-alongs with ChoralArt, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the tradition of artistic excellence in choral singing, visit or call 207-828-0043.


Join Capital City Improv for a night of comedy inspired by Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. The Augusta-based improv group will bring the show to The Hill Arts in Portland on Dec. 22. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more details, visit or or call The Hill Arts at 207-347-7177.



Portland Ballet brings its unique show “A Victorian Nutcracker” to the Sanford Performing Arts Center, the Pickard Theater in Brunswick and Portland’s Merrill Auditorium with shows between Dec. 9-23. This retelling sets the first act of the classic ballet in the Victoria Mansion with characters derived from Portland history. Ticket prices vary by venue. For more information, visit

Portland Ballet will bring its unique rendition of “A Victorian Nutcracker” to multiple venues this season. Photo courtesy of Portland Ballet.


Portland Stage has included “A Christmas Carol” in the program for its 50th season. The timeless classic written by Charles Dickens and directed by Michael Dix Thomas runs from Dec. 2-24. Tickets and more information are available at or at the box office at 207-774-0465. Ticket prices range from $20 to $53 with discounts available for seniors and students.


Merry Christmas! Curl up by the fire to watch a holiday movie with a Maine connection. Press Herald film columnist Dennis Perkins compiled a list of options that star a Mainer, is set in Maine or was filmed in the state. “The Preacher’s Wife,” which was released in 1996 and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score, includes a scene with stars Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston ice skating in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park. It is available to stream for free on DirectTV or to rent on platforms such as AppleTV and Amazon Prime. Then there’s the 2018 feel-good film “Holly Star,” filmed and set in Maine. This wintertime rom-com follows an unemployed puppeteer who flees back to her Maine hometown, where she finds her childhood sweetheart and a treasure hunt. It is available to stream for free on Roku or to rent on Amazon Prime and other platforms.



Procrastinate on taking down your own holiday decorations by going to look at the seasonal splendor at the Victoria Mansion in Portland. The landmark will be decked out from Nov. 24 to Jan. 7 and open every day except Monday. More information about admission times and varied ticket prices is available at and 207-772-4841.

A bedroom at the Victoria Mansion in Portland, decorated for the holiday season. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer


The Portland Conservatory of Music will present its Home for the Holidays concerts from Dec. 27-29 to benefit the Maine Jazz Camp. For a list of performers and ticket information, visit or call the PortTix box office at 207-842-0800. Tickets are $12 for children and students and $29 for adults.


Make some time this month or during this quiet final week of the year to visit one of the many galleries hosting seasonal exhibitions.


Among them is Elizabeth Moss Galleries, where there’s a community group show of small works called “Littles” through Jan. 13. In Portland, holiday shows will be up at Dowling Walsh Gallery from Nov. 21 to Feb. 1 and Greenhut Galleries from Nov. 30 through Jan. 27. The Maine Museum of Photographic Arts, also in Portland, will host “Traditional Painting Genres in Photography: A Holiday Exhibition” from Dec. 8 to Jan. 31. In Rockland, Caldbeck Gallery will hold a winter show from Dec. 8 to Jan. 13.

Visit gallery websites for specific dates, addresses and hours of operation.


Let go of 2023 and look ahead to 2024 with the Curbside Queens at City Theater in Biddeford. This traveling drag spectacular will ring in the New Year in style. The party starts at 8 p.m. on Dec. 29. More details are available online at or 207-282-0849. Tickets are $25.


A group of artists will tell the story of their lives through drumming and dancing during “Tales of Bells and Drums” at Merrill Auditorium on Dec. 30 at 6 p.m. General admission tickets are pay-what-you-can pricing with a minimum of $15. Orchestra seats are $35. For more information, visit or call the PortTix box office at 207-842-0800.


Who needs fireworks when you can see Gardens Aglow? The Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens in Boothbay will again light up the night with more than 750,000 LED bulbs. This annual display is open Thursdays through Sundays plus select dates through Dec. 31. For varied ticket prices, visit or call (207) 633-8000.

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