Classic: For pure, unadulterated merriment, these should be on your “nice” list. Zoo Lights, a new event at Henry Vilas Zoo, features stunning light displays throughout the zoo. If you love lights but would rather stay in your car, there’s always the longstanding Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park. Onstage, there’s Madison Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker, running December 10-26, or Children’s Theater of Madison’s annual production of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol, Dec.10-23. Both of these performances are at the Overture Center.
Crafty: It wouldn’t be December without holiday arts and crafts fairs. There are many to choose from, including the annual Fair Trade Holiday Festival at the Monona Terrace Dec. 3, which focuses on fair-trade artisan food, clothing and arts from around the world. Aldo Leopold Nature Center hosts its Holiday Bazaar Dec. 4 with more than 30 local vendors and a silent auction benefiting children’s educational programing at the center. And on Dec. 11, Plan B hosts Merry Madness V, an indie art show curated by the Bohemian Bauble, where you can wander around drinking a bloody mary and munching on treats from Slide Food Cart while searching for that perfect handmade gift.
Quirky: If you have a love/hate relationship with the holidays, or just want to get loud and laugh, you’ve got some options. There’s the annual holiday headbanger “Destroy All Christmas” at the Frequency on Dec. 16 with Droids Attack and House of Lud. Not into getting your face melted? Get weird at the Barrymore Theatre Dec.16 with one of our nation’s finest weirdos. A John Waters Christmas is sure to be every bit as heartwarming and hilarious as any Christmas conversation with your drunk uncle.
Editor's Note: Destroy All Christmas was rescheduled from Dec. 10.