The Washington Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker opens tonight. Septime Weber’s take on the holiday favorite has a political theme—the hero is George Washington, while the Rat King is King George III. It’s at the Warner Theatre through December 26. Tickets ($31 to $89) are available here.
The Washington Jewish Film Festival, through December 12, opens tonight at the Avalon Theatre with La Rafle, starring Melanie Laurent of Inglourious Basterds. Other films include 2 or 3 Things I Know About Him, a chilling documentary by the son of a Nazi perpetrator, and The Debt, with Helen Mirren as a Mossad agent. Click here to see a schedule and purchase tickets.
Catch Dreamgirls at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts (3500 R St., NW). Proceeds from the musical—in which the entire student body is involved, from acting to theater management—will help raise much-needed funds for the school. Jennifer Holliday, who won a Tony Award for the original Broadway production in the 1980s, is performing at a post-show reception on the Gala Night ($200) December 9. The musical runs through December 18. Tickets ($25 to $35) are available here.
Friday, December 3
The indie rock band the Walkmen, made up of Washington natives, comes home to the 9:30 Club. 8 PM; tickets ($18) are available here.
Starting today, the intersection of Eighth and F streets, Northwest, is transformed into a Downtown Holiday Market. With more than 150 vendors, it’ll be hard not to find the perfect present. Noon to 8 through December 23. For a complete list of vendors and their operating hours, click here.
Tonight also marks the start of ZooLights, in which the National Zoo gets lit up with thousands of animated twinkle lights. Bundle up to enjoy animal habitats made of gingerbread, choral performances, and a train ride for the kids. Free. 6 to 8:30. December 3 through 12, ZooLights is Friday through Sunday; starting December 17, it’s every night except December 24, 25, and 31.
The Washington National Cathedral Choir is teaming up with the Baroque Orchestre for three performances of Handel’s Messiah. Through December 5; times vary. Buy tickets ($25 to $85) here.
Saturday, December 4
It’s the 40th anniversary of Alexandria’s Scottish Christmas Weekend. There’s a heather-and-greens sale, and a Scottish food-and-drink festival (haggis, anyone?) at the George Washington Masonic Memorial. A parade starts today at 11 and brings together members of more than 100 clans and 30,000 spectators. Click here for a full schedule of events.
Also taking place today in Alexandria is the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Each boat is decorated with dazzling lights and creative displays. There are festivities on the docks of the Alexandria waterfront from 4 to 6 and a visit from Santa followed by a parade at 5.
Demitri From Paris, who is credited with bringing house music to France and has created tunes for Chanel, Gaultier, and Playboy, is playing tonight at the U Street Music Hall. 10 PM. Free until 11, $10 after.
Town Dance Boutique is hosting Buddhakwanzaramfestivusxmahanasolstice, which aims to make fun of every holiday and seasonal tradition out there. It features performances and games from the troupe Summer Camp. The show starts at 10, and tickets are $10 at the door.
Sunday, December 5
Celebrate Christmas like they do across the pond with “Christmas in Ireland: An Nollaig in Éirinn,” with the band Danú. The group uses traditional Celtic instruments, such as fiddles and tin whistles. It’s at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Tickets ($26 to $42) are available here.
Merriment in Georgetown features horse-drawn-carriage rides and a performance by the acclaimed kids’ band Milkshake. There’s also a fruitcake-eating contest and a gourmet-hot-chocolate tasting. Many stores are having special sales and discounts on holiday gifts and decorations. The festival takes place at Wisconsin and M streets from 2 to 5. No cover.
Show your holiday spirit at Wolf Trap’s annual Holiday Sing-A-Long, featuring local choirs and the United States Marine Band performing Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs. Free.
Dance and art unite during Dana Tai Soon Burgess and Company’s work America’s Cloud, being performed today at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The contemporary dance piece is inspired by Spencer Finch’s exhibit “My Business, With the Cloud.” Performances at 11:30, 1, and 2:30. Free with gallery admission.