1. “THE NUTCRACKER”
Danced to Tchaikovsky’s sprightly musical score, Canton Ballet’s colorful family favorite returns for its 24th consecutive year at the Palace Theatre, with lavish sets and costumes, fairies, Russian dancers, mice, toy soldiers, a towering Christmas tree and more. Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 13 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 14 at 2 p.m.Tickets are $8-$22. (330) 455-6880 or visit www.cantonballet.com. Ballet Theatre of Ohio will also present its lush production of “The Nutcracker” at the Akron Civic Theatre. Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 6 at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.Tickets are $18-$40. (330) 253-2488.
2. LIGHT UP DOWNTOWN
A free, family-friendly kickoff to the holiday season will happen in downtown Canton on Dec. 4 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The centerpiece is a mainstage show at 6 p.m. with singing Santa and fireworks. Businesses up and down Market Avenue will have entertainers, refreshments and giveaways. Among the many performing groups will be the Candy Apple Dancers, Players Guild, Malone Chamber Choir, Jackson High School Jacks ’N Jills and the Jeff Poulos Band. Carolers and costumed characters will stroll the street.There will be free roasted chestnuts and hot chocolate, horsedrawn wagon rides, and goodie bags to the first 2,500 children younger than 12. The event is sponsored by the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce. For more details, visit www.lightupdowntown.com.
3. CANTON SYMPHONY HOLIDAY CONCERTS
There’s nothing like hearing familiar Christmas songs — “Sleigh Ride,” “We Three Kings,” “Little Drummer Boy” — performed by a lush full orchestra. Gerhardt Zimmermann will conduct the Canton Symphony in a pair of holiday programs at Umstattd Hall, each one also showcasing area high-school choruses, about 200 voices strong. The Dec. 13 concert features the GlenOak, Jackson and McKinley choirs at 8 p.m. The Dec. 14 concert features the Hoover and Perry choirs at 3 p.m. Tickets are $8 to $24 for adults. (330) 452-2094 or visit www.cantonsymphony.org.
4. DECK THE HALL
Stan Hywet Hall, Akron’s majestic 65-room Tudor Revival mansion, is elaborately decorated for the Christmas season and open for guided tours. Also featured is a display of more than 40 Nativity scenes. Outdoors, the grounds and gardens are a holiday wonderland of lights. Holiday shopping is available at the Carriage House Museum Store, and the cafe has hot chocolate, cookies and other goodies. There will be live music on Sundays and Tuesdays. Nov. 28-Dec. 28. 5-8 p.m. 714 N. Portage Path. $14. (330) 315-3287 or visit www.stanhywet.org.
5. HOLIDAY LIGHTS
Take the family on a drive through two Stark County parks offering colorful lighting displays for the Christmas season.The Wonderland of Lights is entering its fifth year at Silver Park at 2930 S. Union Ave. in Alliance. Hours are dusk to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and dusk to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, through Jan. 1. There is a per-car fee. Free holiday light displays are offered at Stadium Park in Canton. Blossom Music Center, at 1145 W. Steels Corners Rd. in Cuyahoga Falls, is presenting its third annual Holiday Lighting Festival, a colorful 2-mile drive-through with 42 major scenes, through Jan. 4.The festival is open Thursday to Sunday through Dec. 17, then daily operation begins. Hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.The festival is closed Dec. 25 and 31. Admission is $12 per carload or $10 with a discount coupon available at Marc’s stores. For more details, visit www.blossomholidaylighting.com.
6. “WINTER WONDERLAND”
Voices of Canton Inc. (VOCI) will present “Winter Wonderland,” a light and festive evening of holiday music, fun and dinner, Dec. 12 and 13 in the Great Court of the Cultural Center for the Arts. Built around a running dialogue about Christmas by a little girl and her grandmother, the show includes Christmas favorites sung by the VOCI chorus and soloists, the Canton Children’s Chorus, Bel’Voci bell choir and choral groups the Perry High Pipers (Friday) and the Washington High Washingtonians (Saturday), with piano accompaniment and arrangements by Steve Dallas. Seating is from 6 to 6:30 p.m. for the dinner-show production, which includes music during the buffet meal.There will be a cash bar.Tickets, $35 including dinner, can be ordered at (330) 455-1000.
7. RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
Direct from New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, this holiday extravaganza features the world-famous Rockettes, a Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, panoramic New York at Christmas, a living Nativity scene and Santa flying above the crowd. Dec. 4-28. State Theatre. Tickets are $29.50-$79.50. (866) 546-1353 or visit www.playhousesquare.org.
8. A CHRISTMAS CAROL
How do you freshen up a holiday production that has been running for 26 years? For the 27th edition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the Players Guild is using a new script that features Dickens as narrator, a new actor as Scrooge (Joe Martuccio), and a cast that includes black actors.“We’re trying to get back to Dickens’ original story,” artistic director Josh Erichsen says. “While keeping in mind the spectacle of the show, we’re trying to make it very relevant to today.” Dec. 5 through 21. 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Cultural Center for the Arts, Canton.Tickets are $20 for adults; $15 for 17 and younger. (330) 453-7617 or visit www.playersguildtheatre.com.
9. ESPECIALLY FOR KIDS
Christmas in Candy Cane Lane, presented by Voices of Canton, is a festive holiday party with entertainment from Peppermint Patty, Minstrel Beth, Janice the Juggling Jester, the Canton Children’s Chorus and other costumed characters; audience participation and sweet treats. Dec. 6. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Great Court, Cultural Center for the Arts. $5. (330) 455-1000. Breakfast with Santa at Akron’s Carousel Dinner Theatre includes a hearty breakfast (French toast, hot chocolate, eggs and sausage), reindeer antler hats, a visit from Santa and a stage show, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Dec. 6, 13 and 20. 9 a.m.Tickets are $14 for children, $18 for adults. (800) 362-4100 or visit www.carouseldinnertheatre.org. Snack with Santa at the Akron Zoo offers kids a chance to feed the penguins, decorate Christmas cookies, create a holiday craft and have their picture taken with Santa. Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21. 9:30-11 a.m.Tickets are $18 for adults, $25 for children. (330) 375-2575 or visit www.akronzoo.org.
10. CHRISTMAS STORY HOUSE MUSEUM
Ralphie’s house from the 1983 movie favorite “A Christmas Story” — at 3159 W. 11th St. in Cleveland — has been restored and is available for touring along with a museum and gift shop across the street. Original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film are on display as well as rare behind-the-scenes photos. Visitors can see the toys from Higbee’s display window, Randy’s snowsuit and zeppelin, the chalkboard from Miss Shields’ classroom and the family car. The gift shop sells the movie’s famed leg lamp. Tickets are $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.50 for ages 7 to 12 and free for 6 and younger. (216) 298-4919 or visit www.achristmasstoryhouse.com. The Cleveland Play House will present a stage version of “A Christmas Story” from Nov. 28-Dec. 21. For details, visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com.