Panto Star Force

Nov. 21–Dec. 30 | Stages Repertory Theatre

Panto is that British thing where the performers throw out the fourth wall for a participatory theater experience perfect for the holidays. On tap at Stages? A totally-not-Star-Wars production about "Jed, a farm boy from the planet Cypress, joins forces with a zany band of space rebels, robots, and furry bartenders." Lightswords at the ready, folks.

Tickets from $25. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Pkwy. 713-527-0123. More info and tickets at stagestheatre.com.

The Nutcracker

Nov. 23–Dec. 29 | Wortham Center

Stanton Welch's lavish production of this holiday classic returns to the Wortham for the first time in two years, and you won't want to miss the dazzling special effects (such as the scene where the Christmas tree grows to encompass the stage) or the costumes (including our personal favorite, the children in bee costumes that look like corn chips come alive).

Tickets from $30. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Ave. 713-523-6300. More info and tickets at houstonballet.org.

Tudors to Windsors

Thru Jan. 27 | Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

It's not a new exhibit, but an all-encompassing survey of centuries of British royal portraiture seems like a perfect escape from the challenges of spending a weekend cooped up with one's extended family. 

Tickets from $18. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St. 713-639-7300. More info and tickets at mfah.org.

Small Business Saturday at Brazos Bookstore

Nov. 24 | Brazos Bookstore

Assuming you haven't lost an eye and/or your life savings fighting for a TV at Best Buy on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday exists to share the retail love with the little guys. We recommend heading to Brazos for special discounts, free tote bags, author signings, and a special Southside Espresso pop-up. 

Free. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet St. 713-523-0701. More info at brazosbookstore.com.

Hawk Walk

Nov. 24 | Houston Arboretum

Our love for the Houston Arboretum is absolutely no secret, but the concept of a "Hawk Walk" takes it over the top. Basically, this is a guided opportunity to marvel at nature's hottest birds, including owls, vultures, falcons, and, yes, those fearsome hawks. Maybe you'll spot Houston's own equivalent of the hot duck?

Tickets from $30. Houston Arboretum, 4501 Woodway Dr. 713-681-8433. More info and tickets at houstonarboretum.org.

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