In case the weather didn't tip you off that winter is nigh, this weekend is when the holiday events really start to kick into high gear around Dallas-Fort Worth, including two annual traditions and a musical based on a popular holiday movie. And don't forget our last CultureMap Social of the year, something that has become somewhat of a tradition itself.
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, November 20
This is your last chance of the year to hang with the cool kids; indulge in a Cointreau Rickey or two; and take home some great swag courtesy of places like Chocolate Secrets, Kendra Scott and NorthPark Center. This social is moving uptown to ilume Park, so make sure to bring your A-game.
Elf the Musical
Elf has become one of those classic holiday movies, alongside A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life. Now you can also enjoy the musical based on the movie, which plays at Bass Performance Hall through Sunday, for the first time in the area since it premiered on Broadway in 2010.
Amy Schumer in concert
Comedian Amy Schumer has been riding high of late thanks to the success of her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer, and various other high-profile roles. But when she comes to Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie, she gets back to the down-and-dirty business of stand-up comedy, in which she talks about relationships, sex and more on her Back Door tour.
Friday, November 21
Dallas Film Society presents the Art of Film: Marisa Tomei
The Dallas Film Society had a little bit of a hiccup with its Art of Film event this year, as original guest Toni Collette had to drop out due to filmmaking conflicts. But they've arguably upgraded with replacement Marisa Tomei, who's been nominated for an Oscar three times and won once. She speaks with film critic Elvis Mitchell at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Jackopierce in concert
Since they celebrated their 25th anniversary last year, Jackopierce has been close to inescapable locally, playing a string of events. This concert is a little more intimate, as it's taking place at McDavid Studio inside Bass Performance Hall, because Elf is taking over the big room. But smaller shows are often better, and attendees for this one are likely in for a treat.
Leon Russell in concert with Zack King Band
Prior to 2010, you could be forgiven if you didn't know who Leon Russell was. Although he was a prolific and well-respected songwriter, his heyday had come many years before. But thanks to a collaboration with Elton John, Russell has been as popular as ever the past four years. He comes to Granada Theater in support of his first new album since 2006, the appropriately titled Life Journey. He is joined by opening act the Zack King Band.
Saturday, November 22
2014 Trains at NorthPark
There are few holiday traditions more ingrained in Dallas culture than the Trains at NorthPark. Now celebrating its 16th year at NorthPark Center and 27th year overall, the exhibit features more than 1,600 feet of tracks taking model trains around famous landmarks from across the country, including Dallas, New York, D.C. and more. The exhibit is on display through January 4, 2015.
Rhett Miller in concert with The Wind & the Wave, The O's, and Prophets and Outlaws
It's always fun to see Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller in concert, with or without his bandmates, but when it's for a good cause, it makes you feel even better. This is the eighth straight year Miller has headlined the Cystic Fibrosis Concert Series at the Granada, and this year he's bringing along The Wind & the Wave, The O's, and Prophets and Outlaws for a night of fundraising and great music.
Sunday, November 23
Trinity River Vision presents Panther Island Ice
The recent cold temperatures have gotten many people in the mood for ice skating, and Fort Worth delivers with Panther Island Ice, Fort Worth's only outdoor ice rink. Located at Coyote Drive-In, the rink is open every day — including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day — through January 19, 2015.
Dallas City Lights 2014 (Note: City Lights was moved from Saturday to Sunday because of inclement weather)
The annual City Lights event at both Main Street Garden and Pegasus Plaza in downtown Dallas is your opportunity to kick off the holiday season in earnest. It features a variety of activities along Main Street, including performances by arts groups, the arrival of Santa Claus and, of course, the lighting of the Christmas tree.
ATTPAC Sunset Screenings: Raging Bull
Memorable performances from Robert De Niro have been few and far between in recent years, so AT&T Performing Arts Center is giving us an opportunity to revisit one of his best roles ever. His Oscar-winning turn as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, which screens for free at Annette Strauss Square, reminds you that De Niro is capable of much more than he usually shows nowadays.