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Christmas lights, Santa comes to town 16 other ways to spend your weekend, Nov. 25-27

MOVIES Creepy Puppet Films The invaluable Secret Cinema wonders: Why, if puppets are so delightful in person, do they become so unsettling on film? Among the offerings: 1961's Hansel and Gretel, by stop-motion genius Ray Harryhausen; a 1940s Puppetoon by George Pal; Art Clokey's 19

City Hall tree lighting is on Saturday.
City Hall tree lighting is on Saturday.Read moreTOM GRALISH


» READ MORE: Creepy Puppet Films

The invaluable Secret Cinema wonders: Why, if puppets are so delightful in person, do they become so unsettling on film? Among the offerings: 1961's Hansel and Gretel, by stop-motion genius Ray Harryhausen; a 1940s Puppetoon by George Pal; Art Clokey's 1957 Hot Rod Granny, starring the immortal Gumby; and 1948's Pirro and the Scale, in which the marionette clown teaches the last lesson on weight and measures you'll ever want to hear. - Michael Harrington

8 p.m. Saturday, The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St., $8.

» READ MORE: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The best way to recover from that tryptophan hangover? May we suggest Spam, Spam, Spam? Spend Black Friday weekend with the Black Knight, the Trojan Rabbit, and the Legendary Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh. - M.H.

2 and 9:20 p.m. Friday, 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, at the Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge St, Phoenixville. $9; $7 seniors and students, 610-917-1228.


» READ MORE: Turkey Trot Surf Contest

Just because it's almost Christmas (and, yeesh, winter) there's no reason to give up on beach dreams and big waves. This competition covers all ages and abilities from 13 and younger to 31 and older, men, women. Hey, the surf's always up. - M.H.

9 a.m. Saturday, Seventh Street Beach, Ocean City. $10 for competitors. Free for observers.


» READ MORE: An American in Paris

With music by George Gershwin and choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, this 2015 musical tells of the artistic and romantic adventures of a U.S. soldier turned painter in a post-WWII City of Light. - M.H.

8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets, $25-$115, 215-893-1999.


» READ MORE: Black Friday Comedy Marathon

The jokes are 24/7 for this 40-hour blitz featuring stand-ups, improv ensembles, experimental performances, and musical comedians - 139 acts in all, so you know you'll get a chuckle out of something. - M.H.

9 a.m. Friday through 1 a.m. Sunday, the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St. $10.

» READ MORE: Dom Irrera

The local great comes home for Thanksgiving for a stand at Helium. It's important to remember that laughing burns calories and giggling at Irrera is considerably more pleasant than hitting the gym. -Molly Eichel

7:30 & 10 p.m. Friday & Saturday, Helium Comedy Club, 2031 Sansom St., $27-$35, 215-496-9001.


"Odd Squad Live"

The TV team of math-whiz agents presents an interactive adventure needing your help to decipher and unravel clues - with the world at stake! Perfect for ages 4 to 8. - M.H.

6:30 p.m. Friday, 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St. $20-$50, 215-893-1999.

» READ MORE: Wild Wizarding Weekend

Learn about the real animals that inspired wizards (yep, there's an owl) and fantastic beast-seekers, play a Bunny and Broomsticks game, make a magical wand, and take home a dragon's egg. - M.H.

10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at the Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. $15.95; $12.95 seniors and students; $11.95 ages 3 to 12. 215-299-1000.

» READ MORE: Jan Brett

The children's book author and illustrator (and baker) reads from her latest, Gingerbread Christmas, in which Gingerbread Baby and clan take in a holiday festival - but when the crowd catches wind, a merry chase ensues. - M.H.

5 p.m. Sunday, Wegmans, 100 Applied Bank Blvd., Glen Mills. Free, 484-785-9900.

» READ MORE: A Christmas Carol

Bah humbug! Dickens' classic gets a kid-friendly makeover this time around. Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future in a show that spans only an hour, so the little ones don't get too fidgety. - M.E.

Saturday-Dec. 23, Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St. $14.50-$16.50, 215-574-3550.

» READ MORE: Spot Your Spot with Santa

This season, One Liberty Observation Deck is inviting children 57 floors up to meet Santa, share their wish lists, and use the 360-degree views and zoomable viewfinders to show Santa exactly where to drop off their presents this year. - Erin Moran

11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 18, One Liberty Observation Deck, 1650 Market St. Children free with purchase of $19 adult ticket, 215-561-DECK.

» READ MORE: Santa comes to Franklin Square

Check out the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show at Franklin Square, and greet the fat man in red, who will welcome in the holiday season Friday. - M.E.

5 p.m. Friday, Franklin Square, 200 Sixth St., 215- 629-4026.

» READ MORE: The Holiday Garden Railway

A holiday-decorated train on a quarter mile track rides throughout Morris Arboretum in this holiday classic that's a must for any tots who love the idea of riding the rails. While the garden railway officially opens Friday, the grand opening takes place on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. -M.E.

Starts Friday, Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Ave., $17 (adults), $9 (kids), 215-247-5777.


Philly Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration

City Hall gets a holiday makeover. If you're coming to Christmas Village on Saturday, plan your visit to coordinate with this festive occasion, when the 38-foot tree, paying tribute to all things Philadelphia, gets turned on. Expect entertainment and holiday giveaways. - M.E.

4-6 p.m. Saturday (lighting at 5:30 p.m.), City Hall, 1401 JFK Blvd. Free.


» READ MORE: Franklin Flea Holiday Market

Kick off your holiday shopping with the upcycled and retro wares at the Franklin Flea, a market that has become a welcome regular on the Philly scene. This weekend's shopping spree is one of four that will happen through Dec. 17, so don't fret if you can't get make this weekend. - M.E.

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 801 Market St. Free.

» READ MORE: Weavers Way Mercantile

This holiday-shopping spot is a must if you have any environmentally conscious people on your holiday gift list. Think home accessories and kitchen supplies that are good for the Earth, as well as local art from by potters, woodworkers, and blacksmiths. - M.E.

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday through Dec. 31, the Garage, 542 Carpenter Lane, 215-843-2350.


» READ MORE: The Districts

Lancaster County-born, Philadelphia-based, fiercely rocking band The Districts are in the midst of recording sessions here and in Los Angeles for the follow-up to their 2015 Fat Possum Records release, A Flourish and a Spoil. The Rob Grote-fronted foursome thrives in a live setting, and they're on a short holiday-season tour to try out new material, as well as cuts from Flourish and 2012's Telephone in small venues on the East Coast. The tour kicks off with three sold-out shows in Fishtown, with different, worthy local openers each night. Sunday's show is all-ages. - Dan DeLuca

With Kississippi and Albert Bagman (9 p.m. Friday) Tangiers and The Dove & the Wolf (9 p.m. Saturday), and Mumbr (7 p.m. Sunday), Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. Sold out, 215-739-9684.

» READ MORE: Richard Shindell

Singer-songwriter Shindell, who divides his time between New York and Argentina, is back on the East Coast to plug his latest album, Careless, his first batch of all-new material since 2009. Joined by guitarist Marc Shulman and percussionist Joe Bonadio, Shindell will showcase his underrated electric-guitar skills, which are front-and-center on the new CD. Touching on themes that delve into spiritual realms, Careless reflects the New Jersey native's talent for incisive, detailed songwriting about flawed, wholly human characters. - Nicole Pensiero

8 p.m. Friday, Tin Angel, 20 S. Second St. $25, 215-928-0770.

A$AP Ferg

The New York-born A$AP Ferg mixes trap and EDM on his second album, Always Strive and Prosper, that enlists Missy Elliot, Skrillex, Chris Brown, and Ty Dolla $ign. But A$AP Ferg shines live onstage without the other star wattage behind him. - M.E. 

With Playboi Carti and Rob $tone, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Theatre of the Living Arts, 334 South St. $27.

» READ MORE: Donovan

Once known as the "British Dylan" - until mean old Bob disavowed that notion in the Don't Look Back documentary - Donovan often ran counterpoint to that American's brand of hard poetic folk, with a gauzy sound and lyrical mien just perfect for the time's changing ring toward psychedelia. Now, 50 years after his own British invasion with "Sunshine Superman," "Mellow Yellow," and the twisted "Season of the Witch," Donovan hits up the Keswick to celebrate his inner ooze. - A.D. Amorosi

8 p.m. Thursday, Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside. $52.50-$82.50, 215-572-7650.