Madison enjoys another round of seasonal celebrations this weekend, with the Atwood-Winnebago Winter Festival, performances of The Knotcracker by Li Chiao-Ping Dance and the Nutcracker Fantasy by Dance Wisconsin, the "Christmas Spectacular" by the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Fair Trade Holiday Festival, and the Southern Wisconsin Bluegrass Music Association Holiday Party. The calendar also includes: Discover the Dinosaurs; a reading by Fabu; productions of Rent and Clapptrapp: The Sound of Musicals; performances by the UW MadHatters and Candid Concert Opera; the WORT-FM birthday party and a James Brown dance party; and, more live music from Avenged Sevenfold, Lou & Peter Berryman, Kids These Days, Jaill, Santah, Robbie Fulks, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Greensky Bluegrass, Koo Nimo, The Knux, and Walk the Moon.
NOTEWORTHY: U.S. Senate censures Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy, 1954.
Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall, noon-9 pm. Also Saturday (10 am-8 pm) & Sunday (11 am-6 pm), Dec. 3 & 4
It's a shame what happened to the dinosaurs, but families can look back fondly on the era of giant reptiles at this fiesta, which features more than 60 life-size replicas, plus other dino-related attractions.
Winnebago Street and Atwood Avenue, 5-9 pm
Businesses up and down picturesque Winnebago and Atwood streets feature special events, from door prizes to live music to free samples.
Overture Center's Rotunda Stage, 6 pm
Madison's poet laureate concludes her three-year term at the end of the year. Mark the occasion by hearing her read from three books: Poems, Dreams and Roses; In Our Own Tongues; and Journey to Wisconsin: African American Life in Haiku.
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 6:30 pm
The California-based metal band has notched quite a few mainstream successes since its founding in 1999, including hit singles like "Bat Country," "Nightmare" and "Welcome to the Family." With Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
The purveyors of funny folk music present "Santa Claustrophobia." Contrary to what you might think, there is no holiday music. Which is very Berrymans.
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (2 & 7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Dec. 1, 3 & 4
UW dance professor Li presents The Knotcracker, a family-friendly mix of dance and theater about a young girl trying to solve a puzzle.
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Dec. 3 & 4
Music director John DeMain conducts as the big group performs its annual Christmas Spectacular -- a good time for the whole family, plus a nice intro to classical music for the kids. The stars are soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine and bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, and they are joined by Madison Youth Choirs and Mt. Zion Gospel Choir.
Bartell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday & Thursday, Dec. 3 & 8, 7:30 pm
Four Seasons Theatre and Madison Theatre Guild present Jonathan Larson's Puccini-inspired Broadway smash about young bohemians in New York City. If you don't walk up the aisle humming "La Vie Boheme," a cold heart beats inside you.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm) & Saturday (8 pm), Dec. 1 & 3 Earlier this year, StageQ announced it was canceling its holiday show, Scrooge in Rouge. We can only wonder what might have been. Instead, the troupe gives us this non-musical sendup of The Sound of Music, with dialogue based on lyrics from more than 40 musicals. Prizes go to audience members who identify the most lyrics.
Orpheum Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Dec. 3, 8 pm
The men of the campus a cappella group are known for juxtaposing highbrow choral performance with lowbrow Top 40 hits in hilarious ways. Their annual fall concert is a sensation.
UW Union South Sett, 9 pm
A musical cocktail of jazz, blues and funk with a hip-hop chaser, Kids These Days' performances teem with youthful vitality and a deep appreciation for the golden age of 20th-century music. Their debut LP, Traphouse Rock, will be produced by Wilco frontman and fellow Chicagoan Jeff Tweedy. With Fresh Cut Collective.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Rooted in Milwaukee, this trio spike their psych-pop with twee melodies and a bit of twang. Check out tunes from their 2010 release, That's How We Burn, and see what they've got up their sleeve for 2012. With Sleeping in the Aviary and El Valiente.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
Though their name sounds like that of the jolly, portly elf who makes his rounds this time of year, this Chicago-based five-piece deliver indie rock that made its way onto Daytrotter in October. With Jeremiah Nelson.
NOTEWORTHY: 17.3-inch snowfall sets 24-hour Madison record, 1990.
Monona Terrace, 9 am
Attention, holiday shoppers: Still no need to panic. You can pick up socially conscious art and crafts from Rwanda, Nicaragua and all points in between (and Wisconsin) at this confab, brought to you by Community Action on Latin America.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 2 & 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Dec. 4, 2 pm
The holiday arts season is in full swing, which brings us to this impressive production by Dance Wisconsin, the local troupe for young dancers. The performance features guest artists Justin Genna and Nicole Teague from Milwaukee Ballet.
High Noon Saloon, 5 pm
New Orleans Take-Out and Carl's Cakes will bring the snacks, and Jim Schwall Blues Band and Chick Singer Band will provide the tunes to fete the community radio station's 36th birthday.
Oakwood Village's University Woods Auditorium, 6:30 pm
The local group performs music from Rossini's The Barber of Seville. Its MO is concert performances of opera with piano accompaniment, sans sets and costumes. The better to enjoy the singing.
Kiki's House of Righteous Music, 9 pm
A veritable grab bag of musical revelry, Fulks' concerts brim with alt-country gems, hints of rockabilly, covers of Cher songs and improvised arrangements of tunes from his 10-album catalogue.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
DJs Motion Potion and Vinnie Toma honor the Godfather of Soul by spinning danceable hits and deep cuts from his illustrious career.
UW Union South Sett, 10:30 pm
Brooks and his crew brew up contemporary soul music with a punk aesthetic to share messages of social change that double as rug-cutting anthems.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Armed with mandolins, fiddles and upright basses, this quintet of Colorado natives infuses bluegrass music with fiery tempos and lyrics that occasionally inspire fist pumping. With Whitewater Ramble.
NOTEWORTHY: Chicago cops gun down Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, 1969.
UW Music Hall, 3 pm
A leading purveyor of Ghanaian palm-wine music, a relative of highlife that incorporates the sounds of soca and calypso, Nimo will infuse Music Hall with a warmth unheard of in Wisconsin in early December. With Atimevu Drum & Dance Ensemble.
Goodman Community Center, 3 pm
Celebrate Appalachian banjo tunes and local incarnations of Americana with a jam session, potluck and performances by Elm Duo (4 pm), Burie Family (5 pm), Northern Comfort (6 pm), Daylight in the Swamp (7 pm) and Round the Bend (8 pm).
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
This duo of singing, rhyme-slinging brothers have ridden a wave of blogger praise to gigs opening for Common, an appearance on HBO's Entourage, and a recording deal with Interscope. (See Tour Stop.) With Kidz in the Hall and Jordy Towers.
Frequency, 8 pm
This SPIN-lauded, Cincinnati-based quartet fuses art rock and pop with choruses so loud that you can sing whatever you'd like during them, from "Greensleeves" to "99 Bottles of Beer." With Scattered Trees.