A whole season of celebration is seemingly packed into this one weekend, with the Atwood-Winnebago Winter Festival, Caroling at the Cave, the MSO Christmas Spectacular, the Fair Trade Holiday Festival and the Madison Hours Holiday Trade Fair, the Dance Wisconsin production of Nutcracker Fantasy and a Madison Theatre Guild radio play of A Christmas Carol, and the Saturnalia Festival. The calendar also includes: the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery grand opening; Sesame Street Live and productions of The Spitfire Grill, The Dying Gaul, and The Emperor's New Clothes; a new program by Li-Chiao Ping Dance; a book reading by Dave Zirin; the Cadillac Joe Memorial Winter Fest benefit concert; and, more live music from Pert' Near Sandstone, Sexy Ester & the Pretty Mama Sisters, Family Force 5, Hot Buttered Rum, Englishman, Jim Schwall, and the Doomtree crew.
NOTEWORTHY: 17.3-inch snowfall buries Madison, 1990.
BIRTHDAYS: Grandfather of metal Ozzy Osbourne, 1948.
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery grand opening
300 N. Orchard St., through Dec. 11
The UW's gleaming new public-private research facility opens with nine days of festivities and talks. See here for coverage and a schedule.
Atwood-Winnebago Winter Festival
Winnebago Street and Atwood Avenue, 5-9 pm
Businesses up and down picturesque Winnebago and Atwood streets feature special events, from door prizes to live music to free samples.
Caroling at the Cave
Cave of the Mounds, Blue Mounds, 7 pm. Also Saturday (1, 3 & 4:30 pm) & Sunday (1 & 3 pm), Dec. 4 & 5
Unique acoustics make caves wonderful performance spaces. Witness the science of sound as the Barneveld High School choir, MadFusion and the greenTONE a cappella ensemble perform holiday carols in Cave of the Mounds to raise money for charity. Santa, gifts and snacks will also be on hand for those with a yen for yuletide fun.
Sesame Street Live
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 7 pm. also Saturday (10:30 am & 2 pm) & Sunday (1 & 4:30 pm), Dec. 4 & 5
Public television's much-loved characters hit the big stage with a show called "Elmo's Healthy Heroes." The program promotes exercise and better eating, and if anyone can make that entertaining, it's these people.
Li Chiao-Ping Dance
Overture Center's Promenade Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (2 & 7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Dec. 4 & 5
UW dance professor Li presents "The Knotcracker," a family-friendly program of all-new choreography about a young girl trying to solve a puzzle.
Madison Symphony Orchestra
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (8 pm) & Sunday (2:30 pm), Dec. 4 & 5
Music director John DeMain conducts as the big group performs its annual Christmas Spectacular. The star is soprano Angela Brown, famous for her performance as Aida at the Metropolitan Opera. She is joined by the Madison Symphony Chorus, Madison Symphony Youth Choir and Mt. Zion Gospel Choir.
The Spitfire Grill
Bartell Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday, Dec. 4, 7:30 pm
Based on the 1996 film, this musical by Wisconsinites Fred Alley and James Valcq is about a parolee who ends up in a small Dairy State town. New York critics went nuts for the show -- presented here by Four Seasons Theatre with Madison Theatre Guild -- when it opened in the Big Apple 10 years ago.
The Dying Gaul
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm) & Saturday (8 pm), Dec. 2 & 4
In this StageQ production of Craig Lucas' unsettling 1998 play, a gay Hollywood screenwriter has an affair with a bisexual producer, whose wife does something really, really mean. You may recall the 2005 film version, which starred Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard and Campbell Scott.
Cadillac Joe Memorial Winter Fest
Majestic Theatre, 8:30 pm
Honor the memory of beloved local blues and jazz organist "Cadillac" Joe Anderson, who passed away from a rare form of cancer last year, by enjoying tunes by his son's band, Aaron Williams & the Hoodoo, a CD-release performance by Beth Kille and sets by the Jimmys and Kati May. Proceeds will benefit the Lymphoma & Leukemia Society.
Pert' Near Sandstone
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Old-time string-band music is the bread and butter of this Minneapolis six-piece, who've been featured on A Prairie Home Companion and sometimes give lessons in clog dancing, the foot-stomping frolic that adds a percussive twist to traditional banjo and fiddle music. With Sweetgrass.
Sexy Ester & the Pretty Mama Sisters
Frequency, 9:30 pm
Cut a rug to this local group's classic pop-rock, or just let loose and sing along to Lyndsay Evans' vivacious vocals as the band releases its debut EP, Hubba Bubba (see review). With the Choons, the Nod and Molehill.
NOTEWORTHY: Chicago cops gun down Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, 1969.
BIRTHDAYS: Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei, 1964; actress-megamodel Tyra Banks, 1973.
Fair Trade Holiday Festival
Monona Terrace, 9 am-4 pm
Attention, holiday shoppers: Still no need to panic. You can pick up socially conscious art and crafts from Bali, Guatemala and all points in between at this confab, brought to you by Community Action on Latin America.
Madison Hours Holiday Trade Fair
High Noon Saloon, 10 am-2 pm
If you'd like to keep your holiday-shopping bucks in the community, visit this daytime expo at one of downtown's coolest nightspots, featuring vendors purveying locally made food, beauty products, clothes, crafts and other goodies.
Dance Wisconsin: Nutcracker Fantasy
Wisconsin Union Theater, 2 & 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Dec. 5, 2 pm
The holiday arts season is in full swing, which brings us to this impressive production by the local troupe for young dancers. The performance features guest artists from American Ballet Theatre.
Rainbow Bookstore, 2 pm
Everyone's go-to sports lefty talks up his new book, Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love. Zirin is sports editor for The Nation.
A Christmas Carol
Bartell Theatre, 3 pm
Madison Theatre Guild presents Dickens' classic story in the form of a radio play first broadcast in 1938 by Orson Welles. Radio drama is the theater of the mind, they say, so staged radio drama must be the theater of... the theater.
The Emperor's New Clothes
Overture Center's Playhouse, 7 pm. Also Barrymore Theatre, Sunday, Dec. 5, 6 pm
Kids ages 8-15 star in this locally roving show by Playtime Productions Children's Theatre, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story.
Family Force 5
Barrymore Theatre, 7 pm
The Barrymore will rock like a Hot Topic this weekend as the creators of "Love Addict" crunk it up with the crowd. With Forever the Sickest Kids, Secondhand Serenade and Shorelines End.
Hot Buttered Rum
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
The San Francisco-area "newgrass" five-piece stops in Madison often. Given our constantly renewing population of jam-band and progressive-bluegrass enthusiasts, that makes sense. The Lee Boys open.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
This bearded folk-pop upstart and his two-man band have been opening for some big indie names lately, including Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Clem Snide and Vandaveer. Come check out their live show and their debut EP, Taxidermy, to see if they belong in the next class of unlikely idols. With Matt Duncan and Jeremiah Nelson.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Local blog Dane101.com is welcoming winter with same formula that's made their Freakin' Halloweekend event a success: lots of beer and oodles of tribute bands. See if tunes by local tributes to the Black Crowes, Pretenders, Pixies and Prince seem winter-fresh or stale as your month-old Halloween candy.
NOTEWORTHY: American Federation of Labor merges with Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1955.
BIRTHDAYS: British ski-jumping sensation Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, 1963; comedian-actress Margaret Cho, 1968.
Harmony Bar, 6:30 pm
Schwall is a master of the electric guitar, and he's steeped in the blues. Expect him to play like there's a hellhound on his trail as he unveils a new album, Short Stories.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
Hip-hop your heart out, Madison: The entire Doomtree crew -- P.O.S. Dessa, Sims, Cecil Otter, Mike Mictlan, Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger -- is taking over the High Noon this Sunday. While there probably won't be any soft-rock gems from Gayngs, P.O.S.'s much-hyped side project with members of Bon Iver and Solid Gold, there will be plenty of hard-hitting lyrics, beautiful beats and even a club banger or two (see Tour Stop).