Happening Holidays

Out-of-the-ordinary ways to celebrate the season



Every year, it’s the same. This time of year rolls around, and everything is all hallelujahs, dancing mouse kings, and bells ringing to signal an angel getting its wings. While we love holiday classics—and they’re classics for a reason—we know that they’re not for everybody. Worry not, those of you who are looking for something new to do this month. The county’s cultural institutions have tapped their reserves of creativity, and no matter what type of celebration you’re looking for, chances are you can find it without falling back on the usual crop of holiday fare. We have a few suggestions.

For Those Who Prefer Halloween to Christmas
People often forget that A Christmas Carol is one of the best ghost stories of all time. But if you love Christmas/Halloween mash-ups, like The Nightmare Before Christmas, and want to see the Dickens tale become even more ghastly, the Westchester Broadway Theatre has a new show just for you. A Sleepy Hollow Christmas Carol, adapted by Jean-Paul Richard, weaves together A Christmas Carol and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In it, Scrooge, played by Mamaroneck’s John Treacy Egan, is visited by Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle, and the Headless Horseman. The show runs from December 1 to December 26.

For Music Fans Tired of Handel
This month, the Tarrytown Music Hall is your go-to place for unusual holiday music. Festivities start early, on December 2, with Cherish the Ladies’ “A Celtic Christmas.” No fa-la-las here: the all-female band will perform traditional Irish seasonal songs. Then, on December 8, the a cappella troupe Rockapella will perform A Rockapella Holiday. With shows like Glee and The Sing-Off, a cappella singing is all the rage now—but this group’s been at it for 20 years, so they’re veterans at spreading good tidings with only the power of their vocals. Finally, “The Twelve Days of Christmas” may have 11 pipers piping, but the Music Hall can bring you five. Luckily, they’re the five members of Canadian Brass, who offer their Canadian Brass Christmas Concert on December 17.

For Interfaith Families and Friends
How annoying is it to try and find holiday entertainment that honors multiple cultures? Very few outlets exist outside of holiday celebrations that are mostly Christmas with a token song tossed off for Hanukkah or winter in general. The White Plains Performing Arts Center comes to your rescue December 2 to 19 with That Time of the Year, the Westchester premiere of a show that had a brief Off-Broadway run. The revue, written by Westchester residents, features all original music, and covers Christmas and Hanukkah equally. Then, if you’re willing to head up to Pawling, New York, on December 17, the Season of Light concert features four musicians—Terry Leonino, Greg Artzner, Kim Harris, and Reggie Harris—performing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and solstice songs, so all bases are covered.

For Those Seeking an Alternative to The Nutcracker
If you want to see The Nutcracker, you can easily find six different productions between Westchester and Fairfield Counties. (Just consult our “What, Where, and When” calendar of events for details.) But if you’re a dance fan and want to celebrate the season through dance without the pas de deux from the Sugar Plum Fairy, it’s much harder to find a performance to suit your needs. That is, until the Sleepy Hollow Performing Artists brings its Winter in NYC to the Irvington Town Hall Theater December 17 to 19. The artists dance and sing their way through Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center, uptown, the Village, and other New York neighborhoods and their specific seasonal pleasures.

For a Party Imported from the Other Side of the World
The Pelham Arts Center celebrates Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, on December 5. Visitors can take part in a variety of activities, such as watching an Indian classical dance performance or getting a henna tattoo. This event will be especially refreshing for those who are cash-strapped from holiday shopping: it’s totally free as part of ArtsWestchester’s Free Arts Weekend.

To Wish Your Loved Ones Feliz Navidad, Prospero Año y Felicidad
Even the staunchest Scrooges have to crack a smile when they hear José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.” And, there’s no better way to hear the song than from the man himself. To mark the 40th anniversary of “Feliz Navidad,” José Feliciano will perform at the Ridgefield Playhouse on December 5. Just try to leave without having that song stuck in your head.

(Above): Rockapella gives the gift of song.