This Week in New Haven (December 11 – 17)

Homemade gingerbread house and christmas cakes Homemade gingerbread house and christmas cakes
Christmas Eve Luminarias in Santa Fe Christmas Eve Luminarias in Santa Fe

B etween and in-between maker projects, pajama parties and scary movies, the holiday season shifts into an even higher gear.

Monday, December 11
You can find live jam bands or improvisational jazz shows pretty much any time. But an Organ Improv Showcase, featuring Institute of Sacred Music students using Trinity Church’s organ at 4 p.m., comes but twice (I think) a year.

Tuesday, December 12
“Experience the magic of the holidays as Brass”—a chamber quintet of local professional brass players—“fills the air with festive classics at our annual Sounds of the Season concert” starting at 5:15 p.m. inside Yale’s Beinecke Library. The opener is reportedly Handsome Dan, on hand for a meet-and-greet starting at 4:45.

From 6 to 7:30 in Ives Main Library’s Tinker Lab, you can make your own holiday chocolate mold using a thermoforming machine.

Speaking of making things, MakeHaven offers two beginner-friendly workshops tonight. First, from 6 to 8, is a chance to craft an “LED light snowflake or star” topper for your tree. Second, from 7 to 9, is a chance to design, cut, grind, foil and solder your own stained-glass artwork.

Still speaking of making things, the Open Mic Surgery poetry series has published a book “featuring 20 amazing poets and 48 pages.” To celebrate, they’re throwing a 6:30 release party at Volume Two, a.k.a. Never Ending Books. “Come and hear us read from the book,” “pick up a copy of your own” and “have folks sign your books! There will be food and drink and just, like, non-stop fun.”

Wednesday, December 13
At 5 p.m., District New Haven hosts a Holiday Sip & Shop “featuring 20 incredible vendors, a 360 Photo Booth for memorable moments, indoor corn hole for some friendly competition, a lively DJ to keep the atmosphere festive, and more.”

Also at 5, a Chanukah Celebration at Milford’s Connecticut Post Mall includes building a giant communal LEGO menorah; a lighting of a menorah that I assume isn’t made of LEGOs; and the enjoyment of “music, donuts, Chanukah gelt, balloon twisting, crafts and more!”

From 6 to 9, an annual Gingerbread Night at Amarante’s Sea Cliff promises food and an open wine (and soft drinks) bar while you decorate your own gingerbread house.

At 8 p.m. at Cafe Nine, “bring your food, new clothing, and monetary donations” for a Hip Hop for the Homeless show featuring performances by Nico Fuego, Ricky Swift, The 50X50s, Jules Baxter, FLOWlikeWATER, Mandy Moorehol, DJ Mo Niklz and Joey Batts & Sketch tha cataclysm.

Thursday, December 14
Two Chanukah concerts mark the holiday’s eighth and final night. At 6 p.m. in Branford’s Blackstone Library, trio Simply Tsfat, “hailing from the northern Galilee city of Tsfat,” bring “a vibrant musical blend of powerful lyrics and soulful tunes in the Chassidic mystical tradition. Refreshments will be served, and a menorah lighting will take place outside on the library terrace following the concert.”

At 7 at Best Video in Hamden, Nu Haven Kapelye, “Southern New England’s largest, sassiest, and saxiest Klezmer ensemble,” promises “joyous, foot-tapping, tuchus-shaking arrangements of Klezmer and Yiddish music from Eastern Europe and other locales.”

Friday, December 15
A weekend of performances of the New Haven Ballet’s annual presentation of The Nutcracker opens at 7 p.m. “This wonderful classic, set to music by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, tells the story of the Von Stahlbaum family as they celebrate the holidays with a festive party, and brings to life a dream young Clara Von Stahlbaum experiences after the party ends.”

Also at 7, Elvis impersonator Rob “E” performs “the hits and Christmas music” of The King during a Christmas in the Cabaret show at West Haven’s Pub 34. Karaoke is also reportedly in the mix.

Back at New Haven’s Trinity Church, the annual Christmas Concert performed by the church’s Choirs of Men & Boys and Adults & Girls, as well as guest group the A Cappella Singers, starts at 7:30.

Also at 7:30, “A Sliver of Light” at Hamden’s Whitneyville Cultural Commons offers “original music, improvisations and words in celebration of the winter solstice.”

Saturday, December 16
From 9:30 to noon, a special Christmastime edition of Best Video’s Saturday Morning Cartoons series sounds awesome, if you’re of a certain age. “Just like when you were a kid, wake up early on Saturday morning, come to Best Video, grab a bowl of Frosted Flakes, watch some Smurfs and Thundarr the Barbarian in your pajamas (optional), and relive the days when Saturday mornings were a kid’s most anticipated time of the week… You can bring a kid or just show up and be a kid again. Original Nintendo Entertainment System games and very unhealthy cereal and Pop-Tarts will be served along with a big ol’ slice of nostalgia. And coffee. Lots of coffee.”

A 10-to-2 volunteer knotweed- and trash-clearing session based out of East Rock Park’s Trowbridge Environmental Center also includes entertainment—in the form of an 11 a.m. environmental magic show by Cyril the Sorcerer—and “snacks and hot beverages.”

Back at Hamden’s Whitneyville Cultural Commons, a holiday bazaar from noon to 4 convenes 40 local vendors offering food (including “treats”), crafts, clothing, candles, art, decor and more.

From 1 to 3, Jazzy’s Cabaret and the Urban Professionals Network host a family- and pajamas-friendly brunch with Santa, promising a “scrumptious breakfast” and an “enchanting atmosphere” with holiday music, story time and Santa photo ops.

At 1 p.m., the next installment of the Fair Haven Library’s Classic Cinema series features the sci-fi horror classic Aliens (1986), the rare sequel to be considered even better than its equally classic predecessor. “Popcorn and soda are on us!” organizers say.

Edgerton Park’s annual Winter Solstice Luminary Walk runs from 5 to 9 p.m. “Celebrate the return of longer days”—starting next week—“and stroll the illuminated paths of Edgerton Park. We’ll have music performances, light sculptures, beverages and merriment. Handmade lanterns for sale designed by ACES Educational Center for the Arts students. Don’t miss the lantern parade at 7pm led by the Hillhouse High School Marching Band.”

Seymour’s Strand Theater hosts a triple-feature screening of Italian director Lucio Fulci’s brain-challenging and stomach-turning “Gates of Hell” horror trilogy: City of the Living Dead (1980), The Beyond (1981) and The House by the Cemetery (1981).

Deck the Hulls XII is “New Haven’s very own punk rock Christmas spectacular. $10 suggested donation with all proceeds going to the Connecticut Food Share. Bad Santa will be posted up on his motorcycle for holiday pictures. Live performances by the Stumblebum Brass Band and, of course, the Hulls.”

Sunday, December 17
At Anthony’s Ocean View, “Brunch with Santa!” seatings at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. offer breakfast, pasta, carving, dessert and “children’s” stations alongside photos with Santa, who will be giving an early Christmas present to every child.

At 3 p.m., following a satellite performance in Madison yesterday, the New Haven Symphony returns to Woolsey Hall for its annual yuletide performance of Handel’s Messiah, joining with “the ethereal voices” of Christ Church Choir.

From 4 to 7, Stony Creek Brewery in Branford hosts a Jingle Jam featuring “a live Santa Claus, specialty cocktails (including eggnog of course!), and live music featuring Timmy Maia,” with “ugly sweaters and holiday attire encouraged!”

Written by Dan Mims. Image 1, featuring Trinity Church’s Choir of Men & Boys in 2014, photographed by Dan Mims. Image 3, sourced from, features Nu Haven Kapelye. Readers are encouraged to verify times, locations, prices and other details before attending events.

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Dan has worked for a couple of major media companies, but he likes Daily Nutmeg best. As DN’s editor, he writes, photographs, edits and otherwise shepherds ideas into fully realized feature stories.

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