EVENT: THURSDAY ART PLAY: WINTER WONDERLAND
With the holidays pending and winter weather keeping families with little ones stuck inside, the Contemporary Arts Center invites parents with children ages 3 to 6 and their caregivers to join in on some winter-themed art-making activities during Thursday Art Play. Ice painting, igloo-fort building and indoor snowball fights are just what families need to blow off some steam together (or just help yourself to the complimentary hot chocolate bar). Afterward, you can chill out together at a family-friendly yoga class in the UnMuseum. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Thursday. Free. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, contemporaryartscenter.org.
COMEDY: GABE KEA AND VINCE MORRIS
It’s a good thing these two comics are performing multiple nights at the area’s two main comedy clubs — it would be tough choosing who to see between the two. Gabe Kea is our adopted native son, who came to us via Saint Louis. His father played in the National Hockey League, and while Kea remains a huge fan of the sport — and of the team his dad spent the most time with, The St. Louis Blues — he gravitated toward comedy. These days he discusses the foibles of being a new dad, a homeowner and dealing with his extended family. Vince Morris is from neighboring Columbus, Ohio. His wit and charm engage audiences across the country. He talks about being a father and about being raised by a single dad. Gabe Kea: 8 p.m. Thursday; 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com. Vince Morris: 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday. $17. Funny Bone Liberty, 7518 Bales St., Liberty Township, liberty.funnybone.com.
HOLIDAY: FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS AND LIBATION CELEBRATION
In the dark of winter, it’s time to celebrate light, peace and wine at Skeleton Root. No matter your denomination or seasonal tradition — Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa — mix and mingle with Access, Cincinnati Young Black Professionals, Urban League Young Professionals and other local YPs for a holiday mash-up featuring live music, a dreidel tournament and hearty holiday appetizers including a potato pancake bar, harvest foods, Christmas cookies and other sweet treats. All guests leave with a Christmakwanzakah gift. 7 p.m. Thursday. Free with RSVP. Skeleton Root, 38 W. McMicken Ave., Over-the-Rhine, jypaccess.org.
HOLIDAY: UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER PARTY
Is your ugly holiday sweater a work of art? Prove it at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. Tacky will be taken to new heights on Thursday when guests are invited to don their most hideous apparel to eat, drink and be merry. The Young Professionals’ Choral Collective of Cincinnati will serenade the crowd from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Food and drink will be available for purchase; includes free craft making and admission to Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth. 5-8 p.m. Thursday. Free. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
ONSTAGE: SHEN YUN
Discover a land populated with dragons, phoenixes, emperors, immortals and heroes. “Shen Yun” literally translates to “the beauty of divine beings dancing,” which is exactly what you should expect when Shen Yun 2017 arrives at the Aronoff. The show transports audiences to a paradise known as the Land of the Divine, soaked in magic and splendor — a place we now know as China. Shen Yun was founded in 2006 by practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that claims to be dedicated to reviving Chinese cultural traditions and ethnic and folk dance from a time before the rise of that country’s Communist government. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Tickets start at $67. Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.
MUSIC: ERIKA WENNERSTROM AND FRIENDS
Dayton, Ohio native Erika Wennerstrom is looking to the future. For nearly 15 years, the singer/songwriter/guitarist has kept busy building the career of the band she formed in Cincinnati in the early ’00s, Heartless Bastards. She’s led the band through five widely acclaimed albums (three for Fat Possum Records and a pair for well-distributed Partisan Records), with each successive release raising the band’s profile exponentially. Over the span, Wennerstrom also uprooted Heartless Bastards from Cincinnati and re-headquartered in Austin, Texas, switching the lineup once she relocated (although drummer Dave Colvin and bassist Jesse Ebaugh moved to Texas with her from Ohio and Northern Kentucky, respectively). Erika Wennerstrom and friends play Woodward Theater Friday. Click here for tickets/more info.
EATS: FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES
La Vigilia di Natale, or simply La Vigilia, is the traditional Italian-American Feast of Seven Fishes celebrated on Christmas Eve. It’s a literal feast of seven seafood dishes and a fast from red meat until Christmas Day — a vigil to wait for the birth of little baby Jesus. And at the Presidents Room downtown, La Vigilia also happens to be an excellent and indulgent wine dinner, featuring seven seafood courses prepared by chef Jeremy Luers, paired with Italian wines hand-picked by the crew at WineCraft. It’s a big family-style dinner with free-flowing vino and live carolers. RSVP to [email protected]. 6 p.m. carolers; 7 p.m. dinner Friday. $95 per person. The Presidents Room, 812 Race St., Downtown, thepresidentsrm.com.
HOLIDAY: THE SNOWMAN WITH THE POPS
The Snowman receives some extra Christmas magic courtesy of the Cincinnati Pops. The orchestra performs Howard Blake’s score live as the classic animated special screens in high definition on stage. The wordless film tells the story of a boy and a snowman who comes to life at the stroke of midnight. A motorbike ride, a snowman party and a meeting with Father Christmas ensue. 7:30 p.m. Friday. $15-$20. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.
ONSTAGE: CINDERELLA: AFTER EVER AFTER
There’s a very clever production onstage at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati for the holidays. Cinderellawas such a big hit in 2015 that a sequel was created for this year: It’s the story of what happens after the happy ending of the familiar fairy tale. Things aren’t perfect as everyone tries to tell Cinderella and her prince what kind of wedding they should have. There are lots of amusing twists and turns before things settle down and straighten out. They’ll be happy, but on their own terms. A talented cast keeps this production fun for kids and the adults who bring them. Through Dec. 30 (No performances Dec. 24-25). $44 adults; $25 students; $18 children. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, ensemblecincinnati.com.
HOLIDAY: CHRISTMAS TOWN AT THE CREATION MUSEUM
Let there be lights! Regardless of your religious beliefs, one thing is certain: the Creation Museum’s expansive botanical garden is really pretty, especially in the glow of hundreds of holiday lights. The free display includes a live nativity scene (maybe with a zorse or zonkey from the petting zoo?), camel rides, a zip line, roaming Bible characters and a $6.99 Christmas dinner at Noah’s Café. Through Dec. 30. Free admission. The Creation Museum, 2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg, Ky., creationmuseum.org/christmas.
What are you doing Christmas Eve? Not hanging out with a bunch of Christians around a glowing tree? Why not mix and mingle without the jingle at Mount Adams Pavilion for Latkapalooza, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and Mayerson JCC’s annual YP party, featuring drink specials, raffle prizes and fun with friends old and new. Skip the Chinese food and sweatpants and dance instead. (However, if you do want Chinese food and comfortwear, Rockdale Temple is doing both starting at 6 p.m.) 8:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday. Free admission. Mount Adams Pavilion, 949 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, jewishcincinnati.org.
HOLIDAY: KWANZAA AT THE FREEDOM CENTER
The Freedom Center hosts a celebration of Kwanzaa and its seven principles: unity, determination, collective works, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Learn more about the Pan-African holiday and how to celebrate it with family and the community. Kwanzaa kicks off every year on Dec. 26 and continues through Jan. 1. 6-9 p.m. Monday. Free. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 E. Freedom Way, Downtown, freedomcenter.org.