Now that you’ve snapped out of your sugar- and tryptophan-induced comas from the Thanksgiving feast and somehow survived the commercial feeding frenzy of Black Friday, it’s time to prepare for the annual bombardment of good tidings and great cheer otherwise known as The Holiday Season.
You can feel it coming, descending upon us like those funny-looking but terrifying little aliens in Space Invaders, scrabbling faster and faster until it’s suddenly too late.
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But it’s not a bad thing, really – in fact, the season is a pretty special time to step back and enjoy family and friends, and maybe take in a show or two. And this year’s crop of festive events promises to make this December a dazzling one to remember.
Here’s our guide to the best holiday happenings in South Florida:
SANTA’S ENCHANTED FOREST
It’s back! The world’s largest Christmas theme park is a must-see for kids of all ages, with its millions upon millions of dazzling lights, more than 100 rides, festive music, great food, and South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree.
Details: 5 p.m.-midnight daily, running through Jan. 3, at Santa’s Enchanted Forest (Tropical Park), 7900 SW 40th St., Miami; www.santasenchantedforest.com; $30.84, $21.49 for seniors and kids 3-9.
THE TRIAL OF EBENEZER SCROOGE
Clever new script by Mark Brown puts an amusing twist on the Charles Dickens original, as one year after his miraculous transformation, Scrooge is back to his old ways. Ebenezer is now suing Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future for breaking and entering, kidnapping, slander, pain and suffering, attempted murder and intentional infliction of emotional stress. It’s the “Trial of the Century” with hysterical courtroom antics.
Details: Shows Wednesday-Sunday running through Dec. 27; at Actor’s Playhouse, Balcony Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293 or www.actorsplayhouse.org; $35.
THE POLAR EXPRESS
A magical holiday tradition is resurrected as this 60-minute train ride based on the classic children’s story departs the Gold Coast Railroad depot and ventures through the quiet wilderness for a special visit to the North Pole and a meeting with Santa Claus. Guests on board, who are encouraged to wear their PJs, will enjoy warm cocoa and other treats while listening to and reading along with the enchanting story.
Details: Fridays-Sundays through Dec. 27; at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, 12450 SW 152nd St., Miami; www.gcrm.org; $35; VIP tables also available.
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS – THE MUSICAL
The Dr. Seuss classic was a big hit on Broadway, inspiring the New York Times to deem it “100 times better than any bedside story.” Now the tale of the Grinch, whose heart was two sizes too small, and how his plan to steal Christmas from Whoville was thwarted by the townspeople’s utter lack of commercial greed comes to life onstage in South Florida.
Details: 8 p.m. Dec. 15-18, running through Dec. 27, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Au-Rene Theater, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-462-0222 or www.browardcenter.org; $35-$85.
GEORGE BALANCHINE’S THE NUTCRACKER
Miami City Ballet presents one of the only Balanchine productions in the nation, featuring a winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes, magnificent scenery, elaborate costumes and magical music by Tchaikovsky.
Details: Running through Dec. 24, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722 or www.arshtcenter.org; $25-$89.
LIVE LIKE BELLA NIGHTS OF LIGHTS
See the magical Pinecrest Gardens transformed into a holiday wonderland illuminated by thousands of sparkling holiday lights in this event presented by Live Like Bella, a foundation for childhood cancer. Enjoy pictures with Santa every night, plus Christmas music, story telling, mechanical rides, pony rides and much more, plus tasty treats available for purchase.
Details: 6-9 p.m
. through Jan. 2 at Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 SW 57th Ave., Pinecrest; www.pinecrestgardens.org; $5, free for 2 and under.
SANDY HACKETT’S RAT PACK SHOW
Fun and nostalgic musical trip down memory lane pays tribute to the legendary foursome of funny man Joey Bishop, the “King of Cool” Dean Martin, the “Candy Man” Sammy Davis Jr. and, of course, the “Chairman of the Board” Frank Sinatra. Expect famous classics from yesteryear, holiday favorites and hilarious comedy from this infamous group.
Details: 8 p.m. at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale; www.parkerplayhouse.com; $37.50-$57.50.
BROADWAY ON ICE – A SPECIAL HOLIDAY CELEBRATION
Olympic skating champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White join Broadway On Ice – which blends the beauty, grace and artistry of figure skating with the magic of the Broadway musical – for a dazzling production of high jumps, high notes, exquisite costumes, favorite holiday songs and musical classics such as “Singin’ in the Rain,” “I Dreamed a Dream” and “All I Ask of You.”
Details: 8 p.m. Dec. 22, and 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 23, at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Dreyfoos Hall, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-832-7469 or www.kravis.org; $30-$100.
AN IRISH CHRISTMAS
Let this award-winning cast of Irish dancers take you on a journey through Christmas in Ireland with dynamic dancing, traditional singing, authentic music and captivating storytelling for a memorable night that sparkles with festive charm and magic.
Details: 7:30 p.m. at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale; www.parkerplayhouse.com; $23-$43.
MOSCOW BALLET’S GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER
Russian designer Valentin Fedorov’s haunting 3-D backdrops invoke the spirit of Tchaikovsky and pay homage to the snowy forests of his homeland, while puppets dance alongside pirouetting ballerinas around a majestic Christmas tree.
Details: 1 and 5 p.m. at the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; LiveNation.com; $30.75-$128.75.
THE STATE BALLET OF RUSSIA: SWAN LAKE
Full-scale production, set to the music of Tchaikovsky and based on Russian folklore and German legend, features 50 of Russia’s brightest ballet stars telling the romantic tale of a heroic young prince who works to free the beautiful swan maiden from an evil spell.
Details: 3 p.m. at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale; www.parkerplayhouse.com; $31.50-$61.50.
THE TEN TENORS: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
If you thought Three Tenors was impressive, imagine the vocal power of 10! This musical wonder from Down Under is Australia’s premier classical-crossover group, and will put its pitch-perfect harmonies on display with a show filled with classical arias, pop hits, rock anthems and, of course, holiday classics.
Details: 8 p.m. at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale; www.parkerplayhouse.com; $35.50-$55.50.