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Weekend Possibilities | The Nutcracker, Another Nutcracker, Christmas Festivals and Strange Days Chili Cookoff

The NutCracker's Snow Queen poses for the camera. KC Ballet's "The Nutcracker" opens this weekend at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts (Contributed | KC Ballet)
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It’s officially that time of the year.

The latest Thanksgiving in recent memory has finally passed. The Plaza and Mayor Quinton Lucas’ tree are lit. Kansas City is ready for phase two of the holiday season — the one with a dedicated song.

Friday, Dec. 6

4 – 10 p.m. Powell Gardens’ (1609 US-50, Kingsville) Festival of Lights is sure to bring an evening of holiday cheer with its dazzling mile-long walk through an illuminated ”‘Heartland Harvest Garden.” Festival goers can expect visits from Santa, plus roving carolers on select evenings, along with plenty of children’s activities, treats and hot drinks, crafts in Santa’s workshop and more. Adult tickets are $12, youth tickets (5-12) are $5. 

6 – 10 p.m. Parkville is getting into the spirit with its annual Christmas on the River celebration in downtown’s Pocket Park (8880 Clark Ave.). The evening features a full slate of music on the main stage, photos with Santa, hayrides, holiday shopping, dining and a fireworks finale. The family friendly event is free, though attendees are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for the Park University Pirate Pantry. 

I large apple made out of Christmas lights sits in the garden.
Stroll through the festive Powell Gardens during its Festival of Lights. (Contributed | Powell Gardens)

7:30 p.m. Ring in the holiday season with Kansas City Ballet’s annual tradition, The Nutcracker, during its opening weekend. Praised to be “positively oozing charm” by the Washington Post, the story of Clara, the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy is brought to life in elegant choreography by Devon Carney with music from the Kansas City Symphony in the beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (1601 Broadway Blvd.). Tickets start at $34. The Nutcracker runs through December 24. 

Saturday, Dec. 7

11 a.m. If you’re looking for a Saturday morning activity outside of the house, bring the whole family to Hands-on History at the National World War I Museum and Memorial (2 Memorial Drive). The program invites kids of all ages to see and handle select WWI artifacts up close. Admission to the event is free. Meet near the Paul Sunderland Bridge.

1 p.m. The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (4420 Warwick Blvd.) is opening its doors for a screening of Disney’s Moana as part of its Movie in the Museum series. Guests of all ages are invited to snack on popcorn and create artwork of their own, inspired by similarities in exploration, culture and identity drawn between “Moana” and the museum’s “Hew Locke: Here’s the Thing” exhibit. The event is free.

3 and 8 p.m. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is back at Sprint Center (1407 Grand Blvd.) as the calendar flips to December. Playing music that the Washington Post describes as “Pink Floyd meets Yes and the Who at Radio City Music Hall,” the progressive rock group is set to wow the 19,000-seat arena with two shows. There’s a matinee starting at 3 p.m., followed by an 8 p.m. performance. Tickets are still available to both shows and start at $40.

3 – 9 p.m. The first annual Sleigh the Beat holiday dance competition is set for Saturday afternoon at the Boys and Girls Club of America in Kansas City, Kansas (1420 Troup Ave.). The competition invites cheer, dance and majorette groups of all kinds to bring their best moves and get down to a local Kansas City DJ, whether its hip hop, jazz, Christmas themed, or another category. Tickets are $10. 

Sunday, Dec. 8

2 p.m. Strange Days Brewing Co. (316 Oak St.) is inviting local foodies to put their recipes to the test at the inaugural Strange Days Chili Cookoff to raise money for LevelUp Kids Inc. You can sign your team up for $20 while spots are open. If you’d rather just eat the chilli and perhaps have a few cold ones, bowls or flights of chili are available for $5. Chili tasting and voting will go until the end of the Chiefs-Patriots game or until the goods run out. 

2 – 3:30 p.m. VidaDance Company and Kansas City Aerial Arts are putting a new spin on The Nutcracker with Cracked! A Reimagined Kansas City Nutcracker all weekend long at The City Stage Theater (30 West Pershing Road). The dance and aerial performance takes Clara on a journey through Kansas City, where she’ll meet Christopher Elbow Chocolate, The Roasterie Coffee and the Cherry Mash Fairy, while ballet, hip hop and tap dancing to jazz tunes out of the 18th & Vine District. Tickets start at $10.

Cracked! – a local spin on The Nutcracker – comes to City Stage Theater this weekend only. (Contributed | Cracked!)

5 p.m. Get ready to giggle along with the ladies from Pretty. Funny. at Laughing All the Way — a night of comedy sketches and improv at the Westport Coffeehouse Theater (4010 Pennsylvania Ave.). Can’t make it Sunday? There’s a show at the same time, same place on Saturday evening. Tickets are $20, the show is 18+.

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