Your guide to festive events taking place throughout the area
By Donna Adinolfe
From theater presentations to concerts, tours and special shopping opportunities, the Princeton area is jam-packed with events that will make the holiday season extra special.
It’s a busy time of year, with gifts to buy, cookies to bake and parties to attend, but there also are lots of things to do throughout the area. So here’s your guide to all the great things you and your family can do at this merry time of year.
Princeton University Orchestra Winter Concert, Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall. Michael Pratt, leads the orchestra in its performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 featuring soprano Katie Buzard, class of 2014. Dec. 4-5, 7:30 p.m. Admission: $15 general, $5 students. www.orchestra.princeton.edu, phone: 609-258-9220.
Westminster Concert Bell Choir: An English Christmas, Bristol Chapel, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, 101 Walnut Lane, Princeton. Light classics and sacred and secular Christmas carols performed on the largest range of handbells in the world. Dec. 6-7, 4 p.m. Admission: $25 adults, $20 students/seniors. www.rider.edu/wcc, phone: 609-921-2662.
“Christmas Tidings” handbell concert, presented by Princeton Theological Seminary in Miller Chapel on the Seminary campus. The concert will feature a selection of pieces relating to the joyful announcement of glad tidings of the Christ child’s birth, from Advent through Christmas and Epiphany. There will be an opportunity for the audience to join in the merry song (no ringing required), Dec. 6, 3 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 609-497-7890. For directions to the seminary, go to www.ptsem.edu.
“Messiah” Sing, Princeton University Chapel Nave, Elm Drive, Princeton. The university Office of Religious Life presents a community sing with organ, strings, and trumpet. Dec. 8, 7:30-9 p.m. Admission: $5; free for students. www.princeton.edu, phone: 609-258-3000.
An Evening of Readings and Carols, Princeton University Chapel, Elm Drive, Princeton. Westminster’s choirs, the New Jersey Youth Chorus and the Solid Brass perform holiday music for choir, organ and brass. Dec. 12, 8 p.m. Admission: $70, $55, $40. www.rider.edu/wcc, phone: 609-921-2662.
Princeton Symphony Orchestra Holiday POPS! Concert, Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University, festive music played by soloists from every section of the orchestra. Conducted by PSO Music Director Rossen Milanov, the concert will feature works by Mendelssohn, Robert Shaw, Paul Dukas, Vivaldi, and Mozart. The Princeton High School Choir will join the orchestra on selected pieces, performing a cappella, and leading the annual carol sing-a-long, an arrangement of traditional favorites by Leroy Anderson, Dec. 13, 4 p.m. Tickets cost $40, $25 students (under 17); princetonsymphony.orgwww.gpyo.org, phone: 609-683-0150.
“Heaven and Earth” holiday concert by The Hopewell Valley Chorus, Unitarian-Universalist Church of Washington Crossing, 268 Washington Crossing-Pennington Road, Titusville. The concert will open “Sunrise Mass” by Ola Gjielo, followed by a program of traditional songs and carols, including “Rise Up, Shepherd,” “Away in a Manger” and John Rutter’s arrangement of the “Star Carol.” An audience sing-along will conclude the concert, Dec. 14, 4 p.m. Admission costs $14, $10 seniors/students; www.hopewellvalleychorus.orgwww.rider.edu/wcc, phone: 609-921-2662.
“The Messiah” presented by McCarter Theatre and the New Jersey Symphony at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University Campus, Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m., $25-$80; www.mccarter.orgwww.rider.edu/wcc, phone: 609-921-2662.
A Bach Christmas, Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University. Princeton Pro Musica performs some of the special music J.S. Bach wrote for Christmas with authentic period orchestra. Dec. 20, 8 p.m. $25-$60. www.princetonpromusica.org, phone: 609-683-5122.
Holiday Open House, Drumthwacket, 344 Stockton Road, Princeton. The N.J. Governor’s Mansion will be decked out in all its holiday finery. Wednesdays, Dec. 3-14, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Admission: Free, registration required. www.drumthwacket.org, phone: 606-683-0057.
Festival of Trees, hosted by the Somerset County 4-H, Ted Blum 4-H Center, 310 Milltown Road, Bridgewater, more than 30 trees with ornaments or crafts for sale or display. Santa Claus will be on duty for family photos and fun, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bucks County Holiday Treefest, Bucks County Visitor Center, 3207 Street Road, Bensalem, Pa. Visitors can vote on their favorite tree. Through Jan. 6, 2015, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily. Admission: Free. www.visitbuckscounty.com, phone: 215-639-0300.
Festival of Trees, Morven Museum and Garden, 55 Stockton St., Princeton. The museum’s galleries are adorned with trees decorated by local businesses, garden clubs, and non-profit organizations. Through Jan. 4, 2015, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; noon to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Admission: $6; $5 for seniors, $15 per family of three or more; free for Friends of Morven. www.morven.orgTheater
A Christmas Carol, McCarter Theatre Center, Matthews Theatre Auditorium, 91 University Place, Princeton. Ebenezer Scrooge finds the meaning of Christmas with visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Dec. 5-28, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday; 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission: Ticket prices start at $20. www.mccarter.orgbcptheater.org or call 215-862-2121.
’Twas the Night Before Christmas…, Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor. The Kelsey Players bring Clement Moore’s poem to life in this musical children’s production. Dec. 5-7, 7 p.m., Friday; 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m., Saturday and 2 and 4 p.m., Sunday. Admission: $12 adults; $10 seniors, students and children. www.kelseyatmccc.org, phone: 609-570-3333.
“The Nutcracker” Performed by Roxey Ballet at The College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing, Dec. 5, 1 p.m., Dec. 6-7, 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$50; www.roxeyballet.org.
The Nutcracker performed by the American Repertory Ballet featuring Tchaikovsky’s score and more than 100 performers, professional and international dancers of the ARB and students from the Princeton Ballet School. Area performances are at: Patriots Theatre at the War Memorial, 1 Memorial Drive, Trenton, Dec. 6, 1, 4:30 p.m. State Theatre, 15 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 20-21, 1, 4:30 p.m. (State Theatre performances feature live orchestra and choir). For tickets and information, go to www.americanrepertoryballet.org.
Jazzy Nutcracker, Monroe Performing Arts Center. Set in the 1960s, the Lustig Dance Theatre production is an updated version of the holiday classic. Dec. 12, 7 p.m., Dec. 13, 1 and 4:30 p.m. Admission: $30 adults, $22 seniors, $15, student $15, $10 children. lustigdancetheatre.org, phone: 732-246-7300.
“El Sueno: A Cultural Celebration,” Kelsey Theatre on the campus of Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor. Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre performs its version of ‘The Nutcracker’ set to live music with dancers performing gypsy flamenco, dances from various Latin American cultures. Dec. 13, 2 p.m., 7 p.m. Tickets cost $18, $16, $14 students/children; www.kelseytheatre.netwww.kelseytheatre.netwww.princetonyouthballet.orgOther Events
Arts Council of Princeton Holiday Workshops, Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon St., Princeton. Workshops are led by artist-instructors, participants will finish workshops with knowledge and hand-crafted art pieces that can be given as gifts. Workshops being offered are: Simple Soldered Gemstone Ring, Dec. 6; Chinese Brush Painting: Autumn Flowers, Dec. 6; Celebration Garland, Dec. 6; Flower power: Mixed Media Bouquet for ages 4-6 and 7-10, Dec. 6, 13; Felting for the Holidays, Dec. 13; Illuminated Letters, Dec. 13, Telling Stories in Clay, Dec. 13, 20. For information, costs and to register, go to www.artscouncilofprinceton.org or call 609-924-8777.
Sauce for the Goose Holiday Art Sale, hosted by the Arts Council of Princeton at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon St., Princeton. Showcased are works by regional artists, artisans, and crafters featuring a mix of fine art and crafts, including paintings, drawings, functional and decorative ceramics, and more, Dec. 5-20. Opening reception will be held Dec. 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m. and will feature a performance by the American Boychoir School. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, go to www.artscouncilofprinceton.org or call 609-924-8777.
The Township of Florence Christmas Tree Lighting, Florence Township Municipal Complex, 711 Broad St., Florence, Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit, and the Florence Township Memorial High School Band will perform holiday tunes. Treats will be provided for the children, Dec. 5, 7 p.m.
Holiday Pamper Party, Hopewell Train Station, 2 Railroad Place, Hopewell. Shopping, refreshments and holiday cheer designed to provide some relaxation with vendors Mary Kay, Stampin’ Up!, Partylite and chair massages and nail polishes and Reiki. Dec. 6, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free; treatments cost $10, reservations required. www.hopewellpamperparty 609-333-8593.
William Trent House Museum Open House and Greens Sale, The William Trent House Museum, 15 Market St., Trenton, Dec. 6, 12:30-5 p.m. www.williamtrenthouse.org.
Morning with Santa, Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton St., Princeton. Bring the children (or grown-ups) in your life to whisper their Christmas wishes to Santa. Families will enjoy holiday crafts, cookies and milk, and Festival of Trees in the museum. Parents — don’t forget your cameras, Dec. 6, 10-11:30 a.m. Registration is required and space is limited for this popular event. Suggested donation is $10 per family. Sign up by emailing Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas Festival at St. Peter Lutheran Church, corner of Routes 518 and 579, Hopewell. Festivities include a cookie and candy sale, children’s games in the Nursery School, a variety of vendors, themed baskets, attic treasures, a Prayer Request table, Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Complimentary lunch served, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Proceeds benefit the St. Peter Nursery School.
Second Calvary Baptist Church’s Christmas Bazaar, 69 Columbia Ave., Hopewell, homemade crafts, homemade baked goods by Rachel, Avon & Fuller brush products by Sophia, and Mary Kay products by Carol along with centerpieces and wreaths by Joi. There will be eat-in or take-out made-to-order sandwiches and homemade soups, Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 609-466-0862.
Trinity Church St. Nicholas Bazaar, Trinity Church, 33 Mercer St., Princeton, features handmade gingerbread houses, live boxwood topiaries, swags and balsam wreaths from Maine, a cookie walk, bake sale, the Trinity Treasures silent auction, handmade Christmas crafts and children’s activities, Dec. 6, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 609-924-2277 or visit trinityprinceton.org.
The Hopewell Museum’s Christmas Tea, Hopewell Borough, 28 E. Broad St., this year’s theme will be “Remembering Pearl Harbor,” Dec. 7, 1-4 p.m. 609-466-0103.
Crosswicks Community Association Christmas Tree Lighting, Crosswicks Community House, Chesterfield. Kick off the holiday season with hot cocoa, cookies and caroling provided by the Girl Scouts. Watch as the community tree is lit, and the Union Fire Company escorts Santa for his visit with the children, Dec. 7, 6 p.m. For more information, go to www.crosswickscommunityhouse.org.
St. Nicholas Day Dinner on Sunday, Saint Nicholas Parish in Roebling, menu will include homemade chicken soup, salad, stuffed cabbage, pierogis, noodles and cabbage and ham. Also included will be bread, coffee and dessert, Dec. 7, 12:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20, $7 children under 12. Call 609-499-3309 or 609-298-4096 to reserve a seat.
Hopewell Township Parks and Recreation Department Tree Lighting Ceremony, front lawn of the township Municipal Building, Route 546 and Scotch Road. The lights of the Community Tree will be lit by honored guests and there will be musical performances by the Central High School singing group, “Con Brio,” and the “Treble Makers” from Bear Tavern Elementary School, Dec. 8, 6 p.m. For more information, call 609-737-3753.
Reindeer Lane Gift Shop at Hopewell Railroad Station. Shopping environment for children to shop with assistance from “reindeer helpers.” Children should bring list and money in a labeled envelope. Parents will wait at the “Freight Shed” and have light refreshments. There also will be holiday singing, Santa’s arrival and photos. Dec. 12, 4-8 p.m. For more information, email ReindeerLane.Hopewell@gmail.com.
Breakfast With Santa, Somerset County Vocational & Technical School cafeteria, 14 Vogt Drive, Bridgewater, featuring a performance by the SCVTHS Tap Company, crafts for children, nail and face painting, gifts and a visit with Santa, Dec. 13, seatings at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Admission costs $10, $5 children. Proceeds to benefit the SCVTHS SkillsUSA student organization. For reservations, email SKILLSUSA@scvts.net or call 908-526-8900 ext. 7161. When making a reservation, please provide your name, telephone number, number of adults and children attending and your preferred seating time.
Candlelight Tours at Rockingham, George Washington’s final wartime headquarters in 1783, Laurel Avenue/Kingston-Rocky Hill Road (Route 603) between Route 518 in Rocky Hill and Route 27 in Kingston, Dec. 14, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations are required. Suggested donation is $8. For reservations, call 609-683-7136.
Palmer Square Chanukah Celebration, Palmer Square North Plaza, on Hulfish Street in front of Mediterra restaurant, Ceremony will be followed by music and refreshments in the Nassau Inn’s senior room, Dec. 18, 5-6 p.m. For more information, go to www.palmersquare.com.
The Christmas Night Crossing, a lecture by Clay Craighead, Visitors Center, Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville. Using diaries and letters of the participants, Washington Crossing State Park’s Resource Interpretive Specialist Clay Craighead will give a lecture on the significance of the Christmas Night Crossing and the Battle of Trenton, Dec. 20, 2 p.m. For more information, go to 609-737-0623.