With one week to go before Christmas, it's no surprise that the landscape is dominated by holiday-related events. What may be a surprise, though, is that the two biggest ones have little, if anything, to do with the holidays; they're just great entertainment that people can enjoy any time of the year.
Below are the best options for your precious free time Thursday through Sunday. Don't like what you see? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.
Thursday, December 18
Free screening of How the Grinch Stole Christmas
No, this isn't the classic Chuck Jones cartoon that's been a holiday staple since the '60s, but rather the so-so feature version from 2000 starring Jim Carrey and directed by Ron Howard. Still, the timelessness of Dr. Seuss' story comes through despite Carrey's antics, and you can't argue with free. The screening takes place at Marine Square in Fair Park.
Once the Musical
The film version of Once passed most people by when it was released in 2007, taking in less than $10 million. But when the film's anthem "Falling Slowly" subsequently won the Oscar for Best Song, the story got renewed life. It was adapted into this stage version, which won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical. The national tour stays at Winspear Opera House through December 28.
Friday, December 19
2014 Local Honey Holiday Mix
Lakewood Theater will no longer be an event venue starting in January 2015, as its new owners want to change it into several restaurants. Consequently, this holiday show by Dallas band Local Honey is one of the last chances to enjoy the Lakewood in its current incarnation. The all-star band performs original arrangements in a set that includes everything from big-band swing and bluegrass to alt-pop and rocked-up classical pieces.
Texas Ballet Theater presents The Nutty Nutcracker
Texas Ballet Theater is in the midst of presenting its annual Nutcracker production at Bass Performance Hall, but the performance on Friday night is a bit out of the norm. Dubbed The Nutty Nutcracker, it allows the ballet troupe to let loose and parody the story using pop culture and current events. Parents beware: This version is not as family-friendly as the original.
Saturday, December 20
The Polyphonic Spree 12th Annual Holiday Extravaganza
It's a big weekend for the Lakewood Theater, as it also plays host one last time to Polyphonic Spree's annual Holiday Extravaganza. This is another star-studded affair that usually features the Spree performing two separate sets, one holiday-themed and one from their vast catalog, which includes their 2014 album, Psychphonic.
Cedric the Entertainer in concert
Cedric the Entertainer has been one of the biggest comedians in the world for the past 20 years, killing it in movies, on TV and in his stand-up career, which included a stint with the "Kings of Comedy." Fresh off a hilarious cameo in the stellar Chris Rock movie Top Five, Cedric will entertain the masses at Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie.
Sunday, December 21
Turtle Creek Chorale presents Jangled
Most of the other big area arts groups have unveiled their holiday events already, and now Turtle Creek Chorale gets their chance to chime in. This show, running Thursday through Sunday at Dallas City Performance Hall, is a traditional take on a holiday concert, featuring songs you know and love. The matinee performance on Saturday will include a sing-along and a visit from Santa Claus.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents The Christmas Attic Live
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra has done a lot in their long career, but they've never played their sophomore album, The Christmas Attic, live in its entirety. They'll rectify that oversight with this concert at American Airlines Center, which will feature one of their most popular songs, "Christmas Canon."