Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

The Nutcracker, Merriment at the Mütter, Ugly Sweater Crawl and more things to do in Philadelphia Dec. 8 to 14

What you should be doing in the city from Dec. 8 to 14.

Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet perform George Balanchine’s Christmas favorite, “The Nutcracker.”
Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet perform George Balanchine’s Christmas favorite, “The Nutcracker.”Read moreAlexander Iziliaev


The Nutcracker

Like every good holiday show, The Nutcracker only gets better with repeat viewing. The magic never fades, and it's always fun to see new dancers in the roles, particularly the adorable children. — Ellen Dunkel

7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 12 and 5 p.m. Sunday, at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets, $35 to $149, 215-893-1999,


Running of the Santas

Take to the streets in your Santa gear for Philly's Running of the Santas, a huge party and pub-crawl with live music and drink specials. This year, there will be parties at the Electric Factory and the Field House, so you won't have to travel far for the festivities no matter where you are.  — Bethany Ao

11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, at the Electric Factory, Seventh and Willow Streets, 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the Field House, 12th and Filbert Streets. $15.

Philadelphia Ugly Sweater Crawl

Christmas is still weeks away, but it is never too early to break out those ugly Christmas sweaters. Wear your tackiest sweater and join in Philly's largest Christmas party, a bar-crawl spread among eight of the city's best downtown bars. Your ugly sweater might even be prize-worthy, so bring your best. Bring canned goods to donate and trade them in for raffle tickets — two courtside Sixers tickets are up for grabs.  — Thea Applebaum Licht

Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Howl at the Moon Philadelphia, 258 South 15th Street. $20.


Afro-Village Craft & Gift Market

Do some holiday shopping and support local black businesses and crafters at the Afro-Village Market. Offering clothes, candles, jewelry, coffee, tea and more, this market gives you the chance to back the Philadelphia community while you pick up crafts and art made by small business owners from the area. Bring your kids and roast marshmallows, drink hot cocoa, and warm up at a bonfire nearby.  — T.A.L.

3 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Franny Lou's Porch, 2400 Coral St. 215-739-2357,

Parade of Lights

See boats sparkle with holiday lights on the Delaware River during the Independence Seaport Museum's Parade of Lights this Saturday. The museum will also hold a workshop with Santa, where kids can decorate homemade ornaments and take home a gingerbread boat.  —B.A.

5:30 p.m. Saturday, at the Independence Seaport Museum, Walnut Street and Christopher Columbus Boulevard, admission is $12 for kids, $16 for adults, 215-413-8655,

Frankford Hall

Fishtown’s favorite beer garden is hosting Santa himself this weekend! Visitors can sip complimentary hot chocolate, pick up goody bags from Santa’s helpers, and enjoy live music from The Lara & Joe Show.  — B.A.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, at Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave., free admission, 215-634-3338,

Merriment at the Mütter

If you like your holiday merriment with a side of morbidity, Philly's own Mütter Museum has you covered. The museum will be open until 6 p.m., giving you ample time to tour the standing exhibitions (which include artifacts from medical history dating back to the 1880s, a skull collection, and a series of slides taken from Albert Einstein's brain), and to take part in seasonal cookie decorating and ornament making. Stick around for a tree lighting in the Benjamin Rush Medicinal Garden adjacent to the museum at 6:10 p.m. — T.A.L.

3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 19 S. 22nd St. Museum. Adults $18; seniors $16; students $13; 5 and under free. 215-560-8564,


Final Week: Philadelphia Assembled

This year, artist Jeanne van Heeswijk enlisted a small army of local collaborators — artists, storytellers, gardeners, healers, activists, and residents — to create projects representing communities throughout the city. The exhibition pulls them all together in five "atmospheres" that reflect opportunities and challenges for the city and its people. — Thomas Hine

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Perelman Building, Pennsylvania and Fairmount Avenues, pay what you can through Dec. 10, (215) 763-8100,


Hanukkah Wonderland

The Please Touch Museum is holding a Hanukkah celebration, where kids can learn how to play Dreidel, draw holiday cards, and make Hanukkah foods. The party will end with an interactive concert in Hamilton Hall. — B.A.

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Please Touch Museum, 4231 Avenue of the Republic. $19. 215-581-3181,

A Very Furry Christmas

Kids can meet Santa, sing and dance along to three special Christmas shows, ride the Furry Express through the Twiddlebugs' Gingerbread Cookie Factory, and play Christmas-themed games. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friends, Clarice and Bumble, will also be available for photos. — B.A.

1 to 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sesame Place, 100 Sesame Rd., Langhorne. $32 ages 2 and up. 215-702-3566,


Fifth House Ensemble and Jason Vieaux

The Chicago new-music group will perform a new guitar concerto by Dan Visconti, artistic adviser for Astral Artists, to be performed by Vieaux. Living Language is “inspired by the special scales, expressive ornaments, and playing techniques of indigenous music from across the globe,” according to Visconti, whose music can be funky and soulful, and often rather songful. — Peter Dobrin

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, downstairs at World Cafe Live, 31st and Walnut Streets, $20 to $30, 215-222-1400,

Angel Olsen

Indie folk-rock singer Angel Olsen is performing at Union Transfer on Tuesday, a month after she released Phases, a critically acclaimed collection of B-sides, covers and demos. Expect an intensely personal show elevated by Olsen's unique, soaring vocals. — B.A.

8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Union Transfer, 11th and Spring Garden Streets, $22 to $24, 215-232-2100,

Jerry Douglas

Whether you're Paul Simon, Garth Brooks or Elvis Costello, if you need a dobro player, you ask Jerry Douglas. The 14-time Grammy winner claims to have appeared on more than 2,000 recordings, including long-term stints with Alison Krauss, J.D. Crowe, and the Earls of Leicester. As a bandleader, Douglas loves collaboration and cross-pollination: The recent, Grammy-nominated What If  brings some jazz layers to the bluegrass bedrock, but also has room for covers of Tom Waits' "2:19" and the psych-rock standard "Hey Joe." His early show at the intimate Kennett Flash is sold out, but at press time the late show wasn't. —  Steve Klinge

Friday at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at the Kennett Flash, 102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square. Early show sold out; $35-$40 for the late show. 484-732-8295,

ReBirth Brass Band

Lucky for us, New Orleans' Rebirth Brass Band are getting in the habit of making annual December swings through the Philadelphia area. This year, the band founded by sousaphonist Phillip Frazier in the 1980s whose very name became synonymous with the Crescent City revival after Hurricane Katrina, are holding down two nights at Underground Arts.  This quote from Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist Flea has a touch of hyperbole but captures the excitement of seeing group at their best: "Hard as hell, free as a ray of light, there is not a band on earth that is better. Stunning." — Dan DeLuca

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St. $18.75-$25. 215-627-1332

Strand Of Oaks

For the last three years running, Philadelphia rocker Tim Showalter, a.k.a. Strand Of Oaks, has moved down from the midsize venues he normally plays to do a weekend's worth of intimate shows at the cozy Boot and Saddle on South Broad Street. This year, the heavily tattooed heart-on-his-sleeve singer and guitarist who released Hard Love in February is taking requests during his three-night stand. Go to his Twitter feed at @StrandOfOaks and follow the link to influence the set list. The openers, all of note, are Lehigh Valley-born folk singer Shannon Moser on Friday; guitarist John Dyer Baizley of Germantown metal band Baroness on Saturday; and Hemming, the stage name of singer Candice Martello, on Sunday. — D.D.

8:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Boot and Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St. Friday and Saturday sold out; $18 on Sunday. 267-639-4528.,

Hiss Golden Messenger

The titles on Hiss Golden Messenger's Hallelujah Anyhow allude to band leader MC Taylor's folk-rock heroes, specifically Van Morrison (circa Tupelo Honey) and Bob Dylan (circa Desire): "Domino (Time Will Tell)," "Caledonia, My Love," "Harder Rain," "Gulfport, You've Been On My Mind." The equally superb successor to last year's Heart Like a Levee is full of rolling celebrations of hope in the face of adversity: they seek to shuffle off this era's moral turmoil with comforting, communal music. "If you carry the good news, show me; / I've been looking for a song down among us," Taylor sings in the thumping, harmonica-laced "Lost Out in the Darkness," but he knows that that the songs on Hallelujah Anyhow themselves carry good news. — S.K.

8 p.m. Saturday, World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St. $17. 215-222-1400,

Wolf Alice

North London quartet Wolf Alice's Brit-rock profile has been steadily rising since the release of its 2015 debut album My Love Is Cool. Last year, the band fronted by Ellie Rowsell were the subjects of On The Road, the partly fictionalized rockumentary by 24 Hour Party People director Michael Winterbottom, This year, they're back with Visions Of A Life, a rugged collection that, along with bands like Nashville's Bully, puts its faith in slid-song construction as it reaches back to the 1990s grunge era for inspiration. — D.D.

8 p.m. Saturday with Polyplastic, Trocadero, 1003 Arch St. $20-$25. 215-922-6888,

“Dear Philadelphia”

After spending October performing tales of motherhood and survival, My Father's Daughter, at NYC's Club Theatre at La MaMa, guileless Philadelphia poet Ursula Rucker and atmospheric guitarist Tim Motzer return home to co-craft a moody, electronic love letter to the City of Brotherly Love's present-day changes in gentrification and beyond. Motivated by local composer-percussionist Doug Hirlinger (a Motzer label stalwart who appears on many 1K recordings), and joined by fellow jazz-bos John Swana (valve trombone) and M'Balia Singely (lyricist), the drummer-driven, currently skeletal "Dear Philadelphia" tone poem is part of the Kimmel's Jazz Residency program with its final, staged performance occurring next spring. Watch this one blossom. — A.D. Amorosi

8 p.m. Saturday, SEI Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St. Free with reservation.

Horton Heat

The tour is billed as Horton's Holiday Hayride. But what this show really is a feast of rock 'n' roll — emphasis on the roll. The Reverend Horton Heat (a.k.a. Jim Heath) and his band out of Texas are just the icing on a fantastic bill that also includes two roots-rock stalwarts out of Southern California — Big Sandy and the Blasters.  All three have been around for quite a while, and all continue to offer undeniable testimony to the timeless vitality of their vintage sounds. — Nick Cristiano

With Big Sandy and the Blasters, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Ardmore Music Hall, 23 Lancaster Ave. Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 day of show, $35 reserved