While Madison is still digging itself out of one of the bigger blizzards in memory, the sun is out, days are about to get longer, school is starting its holiday break, and winter vacations have started, all making for a prime weekend of merrymaking.
The fun starts Friday night with a series of end-of-civilization-themed parties inspired by the Mayan calendar, including the Apocalypse Party, The Party for the End of the World, The End of the World Moustache Bash, the End of the World Party, a Gods and Goddesses Party, the Winter Carnival and Apocalypsmas Party, and the End of the World Rock-a-Thon. Whew! Hopefully the city will still be standing come morning.
A more traditional lineup of seasonal revelry rounds out the rest of the weekend. The festivities include: the Winter Solstice Celebration at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center; productions of A Christmas Carol and The Gift of the Magi; The Nutcracker and Nutty Nut by Madison Ballet; a Holiday Cabaret Celebration, the Destroy All Xmas concert, and A Christmas Salsa Saturday show; and, more live music from the Gerri DiMaggio Trio, Waylan St. Palan & the Magic Elves, and Art Paul Schlosser.
And that's not all! The calendar also includes: the German and Austrian Print, 1890-1925 exhibition at the Chazen, Greg Conniff's - 30 - at the Watrous Gallery, and the Structural Films installation at MMoCA; a production of Tales for Another Millenium; the year-end live broadcast of Whad'Ya Know?; Kids in the Rotunda with Kiddyoke; a Wisconsin Innocence Project benefit concert and Revolverica: A Rock 'n' Roll Triple Feature; and, more live music from Soul Low, the Tony Castañeda Latin Jazz Superband, DJ Trichrome, Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble, Narrow Vines, and Bi-Polar Bear.
NOTEWORTHY: First crossword puzzle published in New York World, 1913.
Chazen Museum of Art, through March 3
This exhibition spotlights a period of radical experimentation that transformed the visual art world.
Watrous Gallery in the Overture Center, through Dec. 23
The Madison photographer presents a retrospective exhibition called - 30 -, featuring black-and-white images that find beauty in places where you don't normally expect it. Conniff aims his camera at landscapes where wildness intersects with the built environment.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, New Media Gallery, through Dec. 30 There's still a little time left to check out MMoCA's exhibition of minimalist, experimental films that go under the name "Structural." Trafficking in mathematical systems, they explore the filmmaking medium itself -- in other words, don't expect a plot. Included are works by Kurt Kren, Larry Gottheim and Madison's own J.J. Murphy.
The Nature Center invites families to celebrate the solstice with a nature hike, crafts, a bonfire and seasonal treats.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7 pm. Also Saturday & Sunday (2:30 & 7 pm), Dec. 22 & 23
Children's Theater of Madison mounts its magical adaptation of the Dickens classic, with James Ridge of American Players Theatre reprising his very human portrayal of the miser Scrooge. (See Theater.)
Brink Lounge, 7 pm
Start your weekend on a smooth note with a holiday jazz concert featuring local chanteuse DiMaggio.
Froth House, 7 pm. Also Saturday, Dec. 22, 7 pm
Stuff your stocking with tuneful treats by more than a half-dozen performers, including Sandy Andersen and Julia McConahay.
American Players Theatre's Touchstone Theatre, Spring Green, 7:30 pm. Also Thursday (7 pm) & Saturday (3 & 7 pm), Dec. 20 & 22
APT presents its charming original musical version of O. Henry's story, in which a financially strapped couple display selfless generosity toward one another.
Broom Street Theater, 8 pm. Also Thursday & Saturday, Dec. 20 & 22, 8 pm
A man arrives in heaven only to find it empty in the final installment of Brian Wild's Millennium trilogy.
Rigby, 8 pm
Hit one of the evening's first parties dedicated to Dec. 21, 2012, the day the Mayans predicted the world would collapse. Music and videos will explore ominous themes as a tarot-card reader tries to glimpse a less menacing future. Proceeds will benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
See how many of the seven deadly sins disco divas VO5 and sonorous sexpots Freddy Griffith & the Sex Circus can work into their acts at this celebration of lust. The dress code is "apocalypse sexy," a perfect excuse to use up Halloween leftovers like fake blood and mangled angel wings.
Club Tavern, Middleton, 8 pm
Corey Hart, Sally Grundy and Thomas Kivi & Sarah Pray will share their musical talents at this fundraiser for the UW Law School's efforts to help inmates who may have been wrongly convicted.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
What do muttonchops have to do with the apocalypse? Find out at this party, and enjoy video highlights on TheDailyPage.com the day after. With Steez and the Mustache.
Segredo, 9 pm
You may think there's an earthquake when DJ Teknicolor rattles the floorboards with his bass-heavy jams, which have opened shows for Dillon Francis and Ana Sia.
Inferno, 9 pm
The Inferno will brace for end times with rock 'n' rollers, burlesque dancers and other objects of worship. Bands on the bill include 4 Aspirin Morning, Tiny Riots, Kill Junior and Tiger Clutch.
Dragonfly Lounge, 9 pm
These Milwaukee indie rockers will join three Madison acts -- Noxroy, Pushmi-Pullyu and William Z. Villain -- for the first show of the Lost City Music Series (see Music).
Cardinal Bar, 9 pm
Percussion phenom Castañeda adds guitarist Louka Patenaude, flutist Nic Cowles and timbales player Meraj Mehta to his Latin-jazz sextet to form a big, bold and downright jolly superband. With Son Contrabando and DJ Ken Horn.
Frequency, 9 pm
Venice Gas House Trolley will mark the Frequency's end-of-the-world celebrations with poetry-laced jams. With Metabaque, Fibonacci, Tonal Caravan and Soundless.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
Three legendary Madison bands -- Killdozer, Tar Babies and Appliances SFB -- will merge to form a rock 'n' roll monolith. Then the Gomers will unveil their new album, Gomerica, and perform the Beatles' Revolver in 3D surround sound.
Crystal Corner Bar, 10 pm
Droids Attack will slay the spirit of holiday excess at this loud, ferocious concert with the Garza and the United Teachers of Music.
Alchemy Cafe, 10 pm
Ward off apocalypse-induced anxiety with a cold brewski and some chilled-out reggae.
Mr. Robert's, 10 pm
See if you can get Sky Road Fly, Benevolent Elephant or the Vipers to play Europe's "The Final Countdown" at this apocalypse-themed show.
NOTEWORTHY: U.S. military's Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy repealed, 2010.
UW Music Hall, 9:30 am
Michael Feldman's Madison-based, nationally syndicated radio program features a "Live Holiday Party," with humorist Calvin Trillin, polka accordionist, karaoke and laughs galore.
Overture Center Rotunda, 9:30 & 11 am & 1 pm
The Gomers are legendary for their Gomeroke shows, which allow clubgoers to sing karaoke with an expert live band. But why should adults have all the fun? This free program features Kiddyoke, geared toward pint-sized crooners who can carry a tune (and even some who can't).
Overture Hall, 2 pm. Also Monday, Dec. 24, 1 pm
The troupe's annual Nutcracker offers all the traditional pleasures: fabulous dancing, extravagant sets and Tchaikovsky's gorgeous score, performed live by members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Artistic director W. Earle Smith's Balanchine-influenced choreography is lush and romantic. (See Dance.)
Overture Hall, 7:30 pm
Along with its traditional Nutcracker, Madison Ballet offers an irreverent take on the ballet with this slapstick spoof. Expect a touch of adult, Wisconsin-centric humor as Clara encounters a cast of unexpected characters on her journey, including local celebrities.
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Nabori, a 10-piece salsa ensemble from Milwaukee, will make the stage sizzle with Latin dance music as guests swivel, dip and twirl. With DJ Rumba.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Like Superman, the Hometown Sweethearts have a bizarro alter ego. The difference is that theirs only appears at Christmastime, in the form of Waylan St. Palan & the Magic Elves. This year, their sleigh will be filled with copies of their cheeky new album, Coming for Christmas. With Neil M.F. Diamond.
Inferno, 9 pm
The end-of-the-world revelry continues with this ode to sensory overload featuring lasers, glowsticks and go-go dancers, plus rave-tastic music from DJs Stomper, Manny Fresh, Elektik, BlessTheAM and MSP.
Tempest Oyster Bar, 9:30 pm
Get to know the original Django -- gypsy-jazz guitar great Django Reinhardt -- before Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained hits movie theaters on Christmas. This local group specializes in Reinhardt-inspired songs, as well as Parisian waltzes and traditional Latin music.
Frequency, 10 pm
These Twin Cities piano-rockers will blaze through their debut EP, Growth. With Baristacide and Wall of Funk.
NOTEWORTHY: Federal Reserve created to stabilize U.S. financial system, 1913.
Ground Zero, 4 pm
Warm, fuzzy feelings are in the forecast for Sunday, when one of Madison's most beloved buskers will play a Christmas concert at one of Willy Street's coziest coffee shops.
Frequency, 9 pm
Former Madisonians Gabe Karter and Andy Kaufman will perform songs from their new LP, When Ledge Is Home. With the Half.