Stay busy this December with these fun events

This month, artists, authors, business owners and locals are ushering in a new winter wonderland, full of events and activities for a night out.
A&E Guide: Events to do in December
Madison Ballet's ‘Nutcracker' returns to Overture Center.

This December, artists, authors, business owners and locals are ushering in a new winter wonderland, full of events and activities for a night out.

Editor’s Note: Some of these events require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Be sure to check the requirements before attending.

UJAMAA Holiday Markets
For two weekends, Madisonians will have a chance to shop at some of their favorite Black-owned small businesses as the Ujamaa Business Network hosts Holiday Markets. Some of the Black-owned businesses that will be represented at the Holiday Markets include Fabulous Jems by Dorothy Reed, Macmade Delights by Catina McAllister, Earthly Temptation by Sarah Branch, and many more. Dec. 11-12, 18-19, UW South Madison Partnership Space

Zoo Lights
Lights beam with color at Henry Vilas Zoo for its annual “Zoo Lights” show, a great outdoor festivity to enjoy just in time before the gray winter slush hits. This year is going to get a little brighter — with nearly 1,000,000 bulbs lit. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until 5:30-8:30 p.m., Dec. 30, Henry Vilas Zoo

Festive Fridays at Wollersheim
The winery, distillery and bistro will be open into the evening for three Fridays in December — each Friday will have a different theme featuring gifts and entertainment. The themes include Local Liberations which features a new Eagle White wine; Old World Christmas which will incorporate French and European traditions; and Wisconsin Winter Wonderland which spotlights hot spiced wine. Dec. 3, 10, 17, 12-8 p.m., Wollersheim Winery

Rap Ferreria
Rap Ferreria is coming back to Madison for a free show at Union South, after originally performing at the venue under the name “milo” in 2014. Since then, Ferreria has worked with artists like Busdriver, Open Mike Eagle and Kenny Segal, and has founded his own record label based out of his record store, Soulfolks Records in Nashville, Tennessee. Dec. 3, 8-10 p.m.,Union South

Kanopy: Winter Fantasia
Head to the Overture Center to see dancers bring Scandinavian folklore to life for this year’s “Winter Fantasia,” a show that brings together two stories from “Once Upon a Winters Eve” and the “Norse Tree of Life.” The program also features a Kanopy original performance of “Winter in the City,” a modern spin off of Leonard Bernstein’s musical “On the Town.” Dec. 3-5, Overture Center for the Arts, Promenade Hall

A Madison Symphony Christmas
Madison Symphony Orchestra, which has more than 300 artists, is performing a show with Christmas carols and songs as old as time. Conducting the event is John DeMain along with Director Beverly Taylor, Mount Zion Gospel Choir Directors Leotha and Tamera Stanley, Madison Youth Choirs Artistic Director Michael Ross. Elizabeth Cabellero will sing soprano and Nmon Ford tenor. Dec. 3-5, Overture Hall, 201 State St.

All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914
Four Seasons Theatre sold out its show back in 2019, but it’s ready to deliver another grand performance. It’s been described by The New York Times as a “beautiful musical recounting of a World War I cease-fire of gifts, poetry, and melody.” Dec. 3-5, Overture Center for the Arts, The Playhouse

Dane County Holiday Farmers’ Market
As the temperature drops, the Dane County Farmers’ Market moves indoors for their annual Holiday Market. More than 60 vendors are signed up to sell products during the month of December, with plenty of fresh produce to round out your holiday meals. Dec. 4 and 18, 7 a.m.-12 p.m., Monona Terrace

The Christmas Bar Crawl
This bar crawl requires a toy or $10 donation to Toys for Tots before you’re allowed into the festivities. The crawl has eight vendors open before an afterparty at Wando’s kicks off. Dec. 4, 4 p.m.-2 a.m., downtown Madison

Run Santa Run
The first step for any race usually involves a little preparation, but this event asks you to think a little more outside of the box — dress up as Santa, elf or polar bear. It’s time to pull out all the stops, and by that we mean keep running, but get out the hats and stockings for this 5K. After you get all your steps in, join in for a post-race party. Dec. 5, 3:10-4:30 p.m., Capitol Square

Crafty Fair
First created in 2009 by Rosy Hawbaker, The Crafty Fair’s mission is to bring a different kind of craft show experience. The fair offers handmade items from artists across Wisconsin, as a way to support local artists, feel great about purchases and meet the people who create them. Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 214 Waubesa St. and 149 Waubesa St., Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 214 Waubesa St.

Free Gift Wrap Day
Holiday shopping is well underway, and with that comes the stress of gift wrapping. Take a breather and head to the Soap Opera to get some gift wrap before it’s too late. Free, 10 a.m., Dec. 6, The Soap Opera, 319 State St.

Jason Mraz with Toca Rivera, Live & Acoustic
Fans are making a beeline for the Orpheum this December to see two-time Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Jason Mraz perform. In his famous song “I’m Yours” he sings, “I won’t hesitate no more,” and neither will we: tickets are still available for purchase.
$40 – $90.50, 6:30 p.m. doors open, 8:00 p.m. show starts, Dec. 8, The Orpheum Theater, 216 State St.

Cocktails with the Author
Leopold’s Books-Bar-Caffè is hosting a number of events this month — three of which take place next week — with conversations and cocktails with highly esteemed authors. Its first special event is with Jaimie Sherling, author of “Queen to QUEENS: How the Madison Drag Community Saved My Life” Dec. 8. Purchase any one of the store’s books, all of which are organized by country of origin. Another is Dec. 21 for Lindsay Christians’ release party for her book Madison Chefs. Dec. 8, 9, 12, 14, 21, Leopold’s

Mystery Science Theatre
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 LIVE is launching its next comedy production on its Time Bubble tour, which will take you through the film “Making Contact.” Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., Overture Center for the Arts

Carl “Buffalo” Nichols at Bur Oak
See the Milwaukee-based songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Carl “Buffalo” Nichols perform music from his self-titled debut album Fat Possum, the first solo blues signing in nearly two decades. He aims to center Black stories through folks and blues. Tickets $20 at door, $16 in advance, doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m., Dec. 10, Bur Oak, 2262 Winnebago St.

Eastside Winter Market
This market will be a community focused weekend showcasing local artists, businesses, and performers on Madison’s east side. More than 25 vendors from the city will set up at the Garver Feed Mill, while a fundraising concert for Tone Madison will be held Saturday night with three local performers. Dec. 11-12, 12-7 p.m., Garver Feed Mill

Santa & Me Mini Sessions
Get pampered for some socially distant shots with the one-and-only Santa and Mrs. Claus. This holiday season may look different, but photos are a nice way to keep our best memories close to heart. Dec. 11, 9:00 a.m.-12 p.m., Gazebo at Winnequah Park, 1012 Nichols Road, Monona

Circus Nutcracker
Hear a Tschaikovsky song, and you can probably imagine the exact Nutcracker scene — the waltz of the snowflakes or the sugar plum fairy floating around stage. But a circus nutcracker? This unique spin on the traditional ballet production just may surprise you. Watch this family-friendly show as aerial dancers and circus artists take center stage.$20 adults, $12 kids under 12, $5 livestream, 2:30 & 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 (masks and vaccinations required), 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 (masks required), Cycropia Aerial Dance, 5048 Tradewinds Parkway

Ugly Sweater Party at Vintage Spirits & Grill
‘Tis the season to bust out those ugly sweaters! With drink specials all night, you’ll stay warm and get a nice taste of holiday fun. 9 p.m., Dec. 11, Vintage Spirits and Grill, 529 University Ave.

Wisconsin Union Concert Series – December
As part of the Wisconsin Union’s ongoing concert series, renowned violinist Gil Shaham will take the stage to perform three of Bach’s greatest solo violin movements, plus new works from living composers. Shaham will highlight the versatility and variety of a violin with examples of Baroque dances and sonatas, as well as new takes on old concert traditions. 7:30 p.m., Dec. 11, Memorial Union

Holiday Hoopla
Find a variety of knick knacks at the Holiday Hooplah, an event part of the Madison Pop Collective, where local artists and creatives will showcase their vintage clothing, art and work. For those looking to get ahead on holiday shopping, this is the event for you. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Dec. 11, Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive

Garver Feed Mill Holiday Cocktail Class
Ever wanted to impress your guests with fancy holiday specific drinks? Well here is your chance to learn! You’ll work with seasonal ingredients and high-end/local spirits. You’ll go home with recipes, bitters and sweet vermouth so you are ready to recreate cocktails at home. 5 p.m., Dec. 15, 19, Garver Feed Mill

Ugly Sweater Holiday Show
WheelHouse, a bluegrass band from Madison, is putting on an ugly sweater concert at The Bur Oak just in time for Christmas. Featuring fiddle and guitar leads, plus a driving rhythm, WheelHouse brings an energy and attitude unique to themselves. 7 p.m., Dec. 15, The Bur Oak

Madison Night Market
The Madison night market is back for the last time in 2021 for one night in December. All your favorite local vendors will again be set up to bring this unique night shopping experience to you. 4-9 p.m., Dec. 16, State St.

A Very Funkee Joey B. Christmas
Add a little funk to your Christmas this year with a concert from The Funkee Jbeez, The Phat Phunktion Hords, the JB3S and KA-BOOM!BOX at High Noon Saloon. 7 p.m., Dec. 16, High Noon Saloon

Madison Night Market: Holiday Edition
Head to State Street for another Madison night market — holiday edition. All along the downtown area you can find great food, meet locals and enjoy all that this community has to offer to get in the jolly spirit.
4-9 p.m., Dec. 16, downtown Madison

Cider & Apple Brandy Cocktail Class
Have you ever wanted to craft your own cocktail, but not sure where to get started? Now is your chance to learn. Get a ticket for a local master class along with a small cheese plate, a recipes card with directions for how to make cocktails, and 10% off all The Cider Farm products. Owners Deirdre Birmingham and John Biondi will share their tips and tricks. $25, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Dec. 16, The Cider Farm

Holiday Concert Series – Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Live music is fun no matter the time of year. Listen to singer and folk musician Tom Kastle, The Oakwood Chamber Players, jazz artist Gerri DiMaggio, and singer/songwriter and guitarist Mark Croft perform at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. 2-3 p.m., Sundays in December, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 Atwood Ave.

Christmas Bird Count
The Madison chapter of the Feminist Bird Club is holding their annual Christmas Bird Count in Forest Hill Cemetery, which is one of the longest running citizen science projects in the country. The goal is to take a “bird census” to better understand bird populations, especially in the winter. The bird hunters often find woodpeckers, nuthatches, brown creepers, and if they’re really lucky, winter finches. 5:30-9:30 a.m., Dec. 18, Forest Hill Cemetery

The Nutcracker
The Madison Ballet is back with the beloved classic that’s engaged and delighted local audiences for 40 years. This year’s production features all new choreography by outgoing artistic director Sara Stewart Schumann, dancer Yu-Jhe Sun and ballet master Tom Mattingly. As with past years, The Nutcracker will feature community members dancing alongside Madison Ballet members. Dec. 17-26, Overture Center for the Arts

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