Enjoy a weekend of all-ages events

Dec. 8—It's the season of giving and that starts with a bevy of local events to enjoy solo or with loved ones.


"The Nutcracker": Enjoy the talent of Bakersfield dancers at Civic Dance Center's annual holiday tradition featuring a live orchestra, which is led by Stephen Penner.

Performances will be 7:30 p.m. Friday, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Mechanics Bank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave.

Admission is $50, $28 for students, and $15 for children under 6. Visit civicdancecenter.com/the-nutcracker for tickets.

Bako Market: Get ready to shop at the outdoor market, which is nearing its one-year anniversary.

Dozens of local vendors will bring their wares and food vendors will keep you fed at the event held at Centennial Plaza outside Mechanics Bank Arena, 1001 Truxtun Ave.

Shop your heart out from 4:30 to 8 p.m.

If you can't make this event, engage in some last-minute shopping at the last market of the year from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 17.

Let's all go to the movies: Sometimes getting out of the house is as simple as heading to the movie theater.

Enjoy the heartwarming tale of the magic of filmmaking in Steven Spielberg's "The Fabelmans," which is playing exclusively at Maya Cinemas, 1000 California Ave. The film, starring Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and breakout star Gabriel LaBelle, is already generating Oscar buzz.

The theater is also showing holiday hits "Elf" and "The Polar Express" and "I Heard the Bells," the true story behind the Christmas carol and its author, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

"Violent Night," the R-rated action film about Santa (David Harbour) taking on mercenaries, is showing at Maya, along with AMC Bakersfield 6 (4200 California Ave.), Reading Cinemas Valley Plaza with IMAX (2000 Wible Road), Studio Movie Grill (2733 Calloway Drive) and Regal Edwards Bakersfield (9000 Ming Ave. Suite G).

All theaters are also showing "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," in case you haven't taken the family to see it yet.

Also note that "Snowman," playing exclusively at Regal, is not a holiday offering but rather a Punjabi action drama about a serial killer.

Holiday Lights at CALM: Enjoy more than 3 million lights in an elaborate drive-thru display designed by Lightasmic!

Note that weekends are the busiest time for the annual event so arrive as early as possible.

The drive-thru is held daily from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 31 (closed Christmas Day).

Entrance for the show is off Lake Ming Road. Pick up some treats from the Teen Challenge concession before you follow the signs down the road.

Cost is $30 per vehicle, with advance tickets (highly recommended) available at calmzoo.org. CALM members save 20 percent (use code CALMMEMBER2022) and active military and veterans save 10 percent (use code MILITARY2022). Guests must show CALM Membership card or military ID card at entrance for the discount.

Bakersfield Christmas Town: Organizer Mike Ross and his team went big this year, moving the annual walk-thru and drive-thru events to a new home at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

Stay warm in the car driving through the light show or bundle up the kids to play in the outdoor activities area with Santa's cozy cottage, the Holly Jolly Train Ride, the 100-foot Jingle Bell Sledding Hill, Frosty's Play Area with bounce house, laser tag arena, outdoor skate rink and more.

Hours are 5:30 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays at Kern County Fairgrounds, 1142 S. P St. Event is drive-thru only from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 24 and 25

Admission for walk-thru is $30, $25 for seniors and children for walk-thru on weekends and Dec. 19-22; $20 for on Dec. 12-15 and 26-29. Vehicle drive-thru is $30 Friday through Sunday and $25 Monday through Thursday.

Visit christmastown.net for tickets or purchase at the gate.

"Miracle on 34th Street": Believe in miracles with this musical based on the popular 1947 film running now at Ovation Theatre, 1622 19th St.

Showtimes this week are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Sunday's matinee is sold out). The show runs through Dec. 18

Admission is $40, $35 for seniors (55 and older) and veterans, $20 for students with ID; tickets available at theovationtheatre.com or by calling 661-489-4601.

"The Gifts of the Magi": Author O. Henry's short stories inspired this musical that explores the true meaning of Christmas.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday at Stars Playhouse, 2756 Mosasco St.

Performances run through Dec. 18.

Admission is $25, $15 for students. Visit bmtstars.com for tickets.

Stars Playhouse is also holding a canned food drive and is accepting donations now through Dec. 23.


Fifth annual Ugly Sweater Bash: Local band The Akoustiks is again doing some good this holiday season with its annual event in support of mental health.

Working with sponsor Sage Psychiatric Services, the event will help bring awareness, and provide information and resources for attendees.

Performances on Saturday include The Akoustiks, Ballet Folklorico Huaztecalli, Bakersfield College Jazz Combo and Tonight We Are.

The evening will also include special guest Erin Woo of Old Town Yoga, food, vendors, raffles and, of course, an ugly sweater contest.

Get ready for some fun from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Crusader Brewing, 5880 District Blvd.

Admission is $20 and $10 for children and seniors. Attendees can also reserve a table for an additional $15.

Reserve a table for $15 additional cost to general admission.

Feliz Skavidad: Enjoy a holiday dance party with Mento Buru.

The party band will perform from its "East Bakersfield Christmas" EP as well as bring other fan favorites.

DJ Mikey and Valley Fever, playing soulful holiday hits, will hit the stage during the evening as well.

The all-ages show starts at 6 p.m. at Temblor Brewing Co., 3200 Buck Owens Blvd.

Admission is $5. Call 661-489-4855 for more information.

North of the River Christmas Parade: The Grinch will takes over to celebrate "Grinchmas" at the annual parade that runs along southbound North Chester Avenue between China Grade Loop and East Norris Road.

The fun starts at 10 a.m., but for those who can't attend the parade in person, it will be livestreamed for the first time ever on North of the River Recreation and Park District's Facebook page (facebook.com/NORfun). The video will remain up on the page for those unable to catch the stream live.

"Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn": Enjoy a catalog of song-and-dance numbers with this show at Stars Theatre Restaurant, 1931 Chester Ave.

Friday's and Sunday's shows are sold out but limited tickets are available for Saturday's performance. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m., followed by the show at 7:30 p.m.

Performances continue weekends through Dec. 18.

Admission is $75, $47 show only; $55, $27 show-only for students. The Steinert Suite VIP Box is $100 per ticket ($70 show-only). Visit bmtstars.com for tickets.

Stars is also holding a canned food drive and is accepting donations now through Dec. 23.

Next week

Gaslight Holiday Extravaganza: This weekend's shows are sold out for "How the Elves Save Christmas" but if you can make a midweek performance, tickets are still available for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Visit themelodrama.com for an updated schedule.

Performances continue through Dec. 22 at Gaslight Melodrama, 12748 Jomani Drive

Admission is $29, $27 for seniors, military and children 12 and under.

Visit themelodrama.com or call 661-587-3377 for tickets and more information.

"SpongeBob The Musical": Sometimes the kids (or you) are worn out on holiday fare and looking for some other fun. The Empty Space will take you to Bikini Bottom for some laughs under the sea for this musical inspired by the Nickelodeon animated series.

This weekend's shows are sold out so plan ahead for the musical's four remaining performances:7:30 p.m. Dec. 15, 16 and 17, and 2 p.m. Dec. 18.

Admission is $20-$25 for preferred seating, $15-$20 for students and seniors or $50 for VIP, which includes front-row seating for one and SpongeBob Party Pack with Bikini Bottomless bellinis (or bottomless nonalcoholic drink), popcorn, candy, water and party favors.

Visit esonline.org for tickets.

Before and after the show, shop for gifts for you or loved ones at the Sunken Ship Holiday Boutique.

Jesus Fidel and Kristina Saldaña, the theater's co-artistic director and financial director, respectively, organized all the items for the shop including jewelry, purses, candy, stocking stuffers, vintage items, and more, much of it aquatic-themed.

There are also SpongeBob stocking stuffers, with play packs, keychains, pineapple drink cups with candy and more, and Christmas items.

This is the last show at the current location (706 Oak St.) before the theater moves to its new home in the southwest.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.