This Weekend: Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas!
‘Polar Express’ at IMAX Theater
The Polar Express continues its ride at the IMAX Theater in Norwalk with a screening on Friday, Dec. 23, at 5 p.m. This G-rated computer-generated adventure is based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. A skeptical young boy takes what becomes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole that turns into a journey of self-discovery. Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump; Cast Away) reunited for this 2004 film with the featured song Believe by Alan Silvestri.
Because it is an hour and 40 minutes long, it’s specially priced: $11.50 for adults; $10.50 for youths (ages 13-17) and seniors (65+); and $9.50 for children 3-12. Admission to the Maritime Aquarium after the movie is not included. This film returns to the IMAX at 5 p.m. daily Dec. 26-Jan. 2. Movie times and prices are subject to change, so call 203-852-0700 ahead or visit maritimeaquarium.org to confirm them.
Bolshoi Nutcracker encore Friday
The young Marie and her prince return for an encore performance by the Bolshoi Ballet of The Nutcracker on Friday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m. as part of the Ridgefield Playhouse’s live in HD series. On screen the holiday classic unfolds in a fairytale setting with Tchaikovsky’s score.
The Bolshoi version features Anna Nikulina as Marie, whose wooden nutcracker doll morphs on Christmas Eve into a handsome, heroic prince, danced by Denis Rodkin. The prince takes Marie on a magical trek that includes a confrontation with the Mouse King and his army.
Tickets are $25, $20 for seniors and members of the Playhouse, at 80 East Ridge Road, and $15 for students. Admission is free for children 18 and under. To order them, call the box office at 203-438-5795 or go online at ridgefieldplayhouse.org.
Aquarium activities Friday, Saturday
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is open 10 to 5 almost every day of the year (except Christmas and Thanksgiving) including Friday, Dec. 23, but on Saturday, Dec. 24, the place closes at 3 p.m. Special events include the current coral reef exhibit and “Sketch and Release,” an activity that lets visitors digitally color ocean sea creatures and then send their handiwork “swimming up” on a giant video wall. The 9- by 32-foot bank of video monitors is near the harbor seals.
Holiday train exhibit runs Saturday
The Wilton Historical Society’s Great Trains Holiday Exhibit: An Interactive Wonderland will run per schedule on Saturday, Dec. 24, from 10 to 3, inside the society’s museum complex at 224 Danbury Road. There are eight different train layouts winding through tiny towns with many different kinds of buildings, tunnels and two working Ferris Wheels. The display is interactive with lots of buttons to push and there are “train engineers” on hand to “talk trains.” There are also plenty of buttons plus Thomas the Tank Engine and a Brio set for hands-on fun in a special train room for the youngest visitors.
Admission is $10 for adults; free for all children and society members. For more information, visit wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257. The train exhibit is also open Tuesday, Dec. 27-Friday, Dec. 30, from 10 to 4.
With Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukah both falling on Saturday, New Canaan's community Christmas caroling and menorah lighting will both take place on God’s Acre green, on the Congregational Church of New Canaan grounds at 23 Park Street in the early evening.
Starting at 5 p.m., for the celebration of the sunset start of Hanukah, clergy will lead prayers and songs at the menorah at the top of the hill across from the church’s entrance.
Then, from 6:30 to 7:30, for the caroling, folks will gather around the new fir tree on the hill. Song lyrics, printed with support from Karl Chevrolet, will be handed out. The lyrics will be available also on a mobile handheld device at NCAdvertiser.com/christmas carols.
The community has gathered at God’s Acre every Christmas Eve for caroling since 1919 — a tradition started by John E. Hersam, who founded the New Canaan Advertiser in 1918, and other members of the Town Band.
Christmas Eve in Old Greenwich
In between morning and early afternoon services on Saturday, Dec. 24, the congregation at First Congregational Church of Greenwich at 108 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, invites others of goodwill and spirit to join them outside by the church’s crèche to serenade passersby on Sound Avenue (across from Binney Park) with traditional Christmas carols. The singing starts at 4 p.m.
The church’s “Once in Royal David’s City” Christmas pageant, with music by The Chancel Choir and Brass, follows at a festive service at 6 p.m. For more information, visit fccog.org.
And coming up…
Community giant menorah lighting ceremonies, hosted by the Schneerson Center of Connecticut (SchneersonCenter.org), will take place Monday, Dec. 26, at Weston Town Center at 4:45 p.m. and Wilton Town Green at 6 p.m.; Tues., Dec. 27, at Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk at 5 p.m. and Compo Acres Shopping Center in Westport at 6 p.m. Free and open to all, the events include live music, latkes, chocolate gelt and dreidels.
Timed for school vacation, outdoor and indoor nature-based activities for children ages 4 through 8 are offered at the Connecticut Audubon Center at Fairfield Dec. 27, 28, 29, from 10 to 2. Website: ctadubon.org/center-at-fairfield.
Westport Library (westportlibrary.org) offers a free family film festival Tuesday-Thursday, Dec. 27-29, with the screenings (The Good Dinosaur, Home, The Secret Life of Pets), all PG rated and at 2 p.m. There are free basic and advanced coding programs for kids, too.
Maritime Aquarium’s “Feeding Time” program on Wed., Dec. 28, takes participants “backstage” before the venues open for the day, starting at 8 a.m. to feed rays, terrapins, seals, sharks, etc., at $50 (adults) and $25 (ages 5-12). Advance registration required; via 203-852-0700, ext. 2206, or at www.maritimeaquarium.org
Sales days on items from bath salts to quilts and more begin Thurs., Dec. 29, from 10 to 2, at Creative Arts Workshop (creativeartsworshop.org) in New Haven.
Pantochino Productions (pantochino.com) brings Broadway’s Marissa Perry to the Milford Center for the Arts in Downtown Milford on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 1 p.m. for a Hairspray musical master class.
Brazilian Girls (“nouveau disco funk with 80s punk feel”) will perform on Thurs., Dec. 29, at 7 p.m., the opening act in Fairfield County Theatre’s concert series on the last three nights of the year in The Warehouse. Website: fairfieldtheatre.org.