The Alley's A Christmas Carol

Thru Dec. 29 | The Alley

In the whirl and bustle that is the final days before Christmas, it might be a good time to go take in a show based on the famed, beloved Charles Dickens classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. Marley is dead to begin with. Know that going in, and settle into the moving story of a man—who has closed himself off to life, love, and warmth—opening his eyes to what he has been missing, getting a chance to turn it all around. 

Tickets start at $39. Go to www.alleytheatre.org for more information. 

The Houston Symphony Presents Handel's Messiah

Friday and Saturday | Jones Hall

When the talented crew of soloists, orchestra members, and the Houston Symphony Chorus reach the part of this choral piece that everyone everywhere has heard at least once in their lives—the Hallelujah Chorus—everyone in the audience will take to their feet and remain standing for the duration of this section of George Frideric Handel's enduring work.

Why? Well, legend has it, it's because King George II, on hearing the exultant music, was so moved that he stood up, and when the king opted to stand everybody had to rise from their seats along with him. It's not entirely clear if this is really how this tradition got started, and if the king was the reason, it's entirely possible that he was just tired of sitting at precisely that point in the music. But since it's more fun to imagine King George II, a monarch who was known for being a decidedly unsentimental man, deeply touched by this magnificent work and showing it in the way a king could comfortably demonstrate emotions in that time, so that's what we're going with.

The rest of the piece is as moving and in places even better than its most famous single track, so go check it out.

Tickets start at $26. Go to www.houstonsymphony.org for more information. 

Elf—The Musical 

Thru Dec. 22 | The Hobby Center

If you loved Will Ferrell's 2003 film iteration of this story, just go ahead and snag some tickets to the joyfully Christmas-y Theatre Under the Stars production. You won’t be able to help enjoying the story of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s gift bag, and grows up at the North Pole. The action really takes off when Buddy realizes that he is not, in fact, an elf, and sets out on a quest to connect with his birth father and figure out his own identity. It’s Christmas-y. It’s cute. And there’s a grown man wearing an elf costume. What more do you need to know? 

Tickets from $50. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby St. More info at thehobbycenter.org. 

The Houston Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Thru Dec. 29 | Wortham Theater Center

For the more traditionally inclined, we suggest this annual favorite tale of Clara, the Nutcracker Prince, the Rat King, and, of course, the wonderfully creepy godfather, Drosselmeyer. Whether you go for the beautiful dancing, the superb music of Tchaikovsky, or to wonder what Clara must have eaten to give her such decidedly weird dreams, you won’t be disappointed. 

 Tickets from $35. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Ave. 713-227-2787. More info and tickets at houstonballet.org.

Zoo Lights

Thru Jan. 12 | Houston Zoo

The name may not sound that impressive, but trust us, Zoo Lights is worth the trek to take in the Houston Zoo’s life-sized LED creatures, the 30-foot-tall Christmas tree, the special Texas-themed light display, and the rest of the stunning decorations. The animals are mostly asleep as people pass by, but the concession stands do sell hot chocolate. Pro-tip: Make your beverage even more festive with peppermint schnapps, and thank us later. 

Tickets from $18.40.   Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Dr. More info at houstonzoo.org.

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