Plano Symphony Orchestra presents "Fiesta!" with Mariachi Vargas

Plano Symphony Orchestra presents "Fiesta!"

Photo courtesy of Javier Vela

Considered the gold standard in mariachi music, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán has thrived for five generations and has become one of the most internationally celebrated ensembles in Mexican music history, boasting the title of “World’s Best Mariachi” since the 1950s and spurring national pride for what is recognized as Mexico’s classic sound.

Photo courtesy of Plano Symphony Orchestra

Plano Symphony Orchestra presents "Hector and Friends"

Plano Symphony Orchestra presents "Hector and Friends"

Taking the stage with a few of his best friends in performance, Maestro Hector Guzman and the Plano Symphony Orchestra’s fifth concert of the season features Mozart’s Overture to Don Giovanni, Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Bloch’s Schelomo: Hebraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra, and de Falla’s The Three Cornered Hat, Suites 1 & 2.

Guest artists will include cellist Christopher Adkins and pianist Jorge Federico Osorio.

Photo courtesy of Fela

Plano Symphony Orchestra presents "Home for the Holidays"

Plano Symphony Orchestra presents "Home for the Holidays"

With over 150 musicians, “Home for the Holidays” includes seasonal favorites for orchestra, vocalist, and chorus, the popular audience sing-along, visitors from the North Pole, humor, and surprises. Joining the Plano Symphony Orchestra will be Fela (Hector Guzman’s niece) and the Plano Civic Chorus. Fela, a singer and actress, came to prominence performing alongside Mexican superstar Alejandro Fernandez. She later led Big Band Jazz de México and starred as Nala in the Mexican production of the hit musical The Lion King.

The performance on December 17 will be at Frisco High School, and the performances on December 18 will be at Christ United Methodist Church in Plano.

Photo by Brandon Todd

These are the 11 best things to do in Dallas this Thanksgiving weekend

Weekend Event Planner

As is always the case the weekend of Thanksgiving, holiday events dominate the landscape across Dallas. There will be lots of lights, Nutcrackers in both dance and concert forms, two theater versions of the Scrooge story, flipping reindeer, two Christmas-themed concerts, and a kids theater production. Two other events aren't explicitly about the holidays, but offer something for both kids and adults.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this long holiday weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Wednesday, November 23

Disney On Ice: Into the Magic
At Disney On Ice: Into the Magic, hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will bring audiences on an expedition across raging seas, snow covered mountains, and the marigold bridge. The action-packed extravaganza features Disney’s Moana, Frozen, Coco, and Beauty and the Beast, along with other beloved Disney characters. There will be multiple performances through Sunday at Credit Union of Texas Event Center in Allen.

Friday, November 25

Holiday lights galore
As always, there will be no shortage of holiday lights to look at in and around Dallas this season. Among the notable displays opening on Friday will be Enchant at Fair Park, featuring millions of lights, an ice skating trail, marketplace, and more; Vitruvian Lights at Vitruvian Park in Addison, where hundreds of trees are wrapped in colorful lights; Lights on the Farm at Heritage Farmstead Museum in Plano, featuring a quarter-mile trail showcasing holiday light creations and animated displays; and Lights on The Lake at Little Elm Park, featuring lights and activities like a Ferris wheel, a carousel, and an ice skating rink. All events will be open through at least December 25.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents The Nutcracker in concert
Maurice Cohn leads the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in selections from Tchaikovsky’s iconic Nutcracker score. The story of The Nutcracker, loosely based on the E.T.A. Hoffmann fantasy, is the story of a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve and wages a battle against the evil Mouse King. Audiences will enjoy the miniature overtures, triumphant marches, Russian, Arabian and Chinese dances, and the Waltz of the Flowers. There will three performances through Sunday at Meyerson Symphony Center.

Cirque du Soleil: Twas the Night Before...
Twas the Night Before…, Cirque du Soleil’s spin on the beloved Christmas tale, is about the wonders of sharing and friendship. The production marks Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show and is a flurry of Christmas cheer, rip-roaring fun with hugely lovable characters that will introduce audiences to the magic of the acrobatic troupe. The production runs through December 11 at Texas Trust CU Theatre at Grand Prairie.

Pocket Sandwich Theatre presents Ebenezer Scrooge
A year after being forced to move from their longtime Dallas location, Pocket Sandwich Theatre returns at a new venue in Carrollton with their traditional Ebenezer Scrooge production. The production is based on the age-old holiday favorite about the miserly Scrooge, who is visited one Christmas Eve by three ghosts intent on helping him change his ways. It runs through December 23.

Dallas Theater Center presents A Christmas Carol
Dallas Theater Center presents their annual production of A Christmas Carol, a delightfully reimagined take on Dickens’ enduring classic. Three spirits have come to visit the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge to take him on a fantastic journey through Christmases past, present, and future. But will it be enough to save Scrooge’s soul? The production runs through December 24 at Wyly Theatre.

Texas Ballet Theater presents The Nutcracker
Featuring dazzling choreography and exquisite sets, The Nutcracker celebrates the season with enchantment, snowflakes, and sweets. Texas Ballet Theater presents the most magical Christmas tradition of the season as Clara and her Nutcracker Prince battle an army of mice and travel through a winter wonderland to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Kingdom of Sweets. The production runs through December 4 at Winspear Opera House.

Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox: A Very Postmodern Christmas
New York City pianist Scott Bradlee created Postmodern Jukebox to remake the pop hits of today into the classic sounds of the legends of yesterday. The group has grown to become a pop culture mainstay in its own right, introducing audiences to many of the world’s greatest singers, dancers, and instrumentalists. The concert will be at Majestic Theatre.

Saturday, November 26

Cara Mia Theatre presents Crystal City 1969
Inspired by a little-known event in Texas history, Crystal City 1969 is based on the true story of Mexican-American students in south Texas who walked out of their school and into civil rights history. Crystal City became an example of American democracy at its best. The production runs through December 18 at Latino Cultural Center.

Sunday, November 27

Dallas Children's Theater presents Harry Connick, Jr.’s The Happy Elf
From Grammy-winning musician Harry Connick, Jr, The Happy Elf is a jazz musical that will get audiences in the holiday spirit. Eubie is, much to the exhaustion of his coworkers, an elf of unparalleled and endless energy looking to get a spot on Santa’s coveted sleigh team. When his unstoppably sunny spirit comes into contact with the miserable town of Bluesville, where every single child is on the naughty list, he’s in for the shock of a lifetime. Will his relentless positive attitude be enough to turn this gloomy place around, or has the happiest elf in the North Pole finally met his match? The production runs through December 23 at Rosewood Center for Family Arts.

For King + Country in concert
Christian pop duo For King + Country has been one of the most successful bands in the genre over the past decade, with all of their albums reaching the top five on the Christian charts, and two going to No. 1, including their latest, What Are We Waiting For? This concert may feature some of their biggest hits, but it will also have a holiday theme as it's part of their A Drummer Boy Christmas tour, named for their 2020 Christmas album.

Photo by Brandon Todd

Cirque du Soleil: Twas the Night Before... will start at Texas Trust CU Theatre at Grand Prairie on November 25.

Photo by Vladimir Kevorkov

These are the 13 best things to do in Dallas this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

In this, the weekend before Thanksgiving, the holidays are in full effect in and around Dallas, with multiple seasonal events taking place. Other choices include showcases for violinists of different ilks, a popular food writer, a famous comedian, a local dance production, two national concert tours, and a symphonic celebration of Broadway.

Photo by Vladimir Kevorkov
Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle opens at Lighthouse Dallas on November 19.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Thursday, November 17

The Trains at NorthPark
The Trains at NorthPark is the largest miniature train exhibit in Texas, featuring more than 750 railcars. Visitors to the exhibit will experience watching the trains circle 1,600 feet of tracks rolling from coast to coast on a whimsical journey across the United States. The trains travel from the fall foliage of New England to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge with stops along the way in New York, Arizona, Colorado, and more. The exhibit will be on display at NorthPark Center through January 6.

The DIFFA Wreath Collection
At the DIFFA Dallas Wreath Collection, top designers from across the world create one-of-a-kind holiday wreaths in a one-night-only silent auction benefiting the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. The fundraiser takes place at The Empire Room.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents Nicola Benedetti
The innate musicianship and spirited presence of Nicola Benedetti makes her one of the most sought-after violinists today. At this concert, she will perform the U.S. premiere of James MacMillan's Violin Concerto No. 2. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, led by Fabio Luisi, will also perform Bruckner's Symphony No. 4. There will be three performances through Saturday at Meyerson Symphony Center.

DMA Arts & Letters Live: An Evening with Nigella Lawson
Food writer, journalist, and TV cook Nigella Lawson is the bestselling author of 12 books, influencing a generation with her expressive and evocative writing and sumptuous recipes. In support of her latest book, Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, and Stories, DMA Arts & Letters Live will present an evening with Lawson as she shares the rhythms and rituals of life spent in the kitchen and reflects on how the process of cooking, eating, and repeating embodies the story of her life. The event takes place at Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts in Richardson.

Lindsey Stirling in concert
It's not often that a violinist becomes a huge star, but Lindsey Stirling has broken through because of the variety of music styles she plays, from classical to pop and rock to electronic dance music, and because of her energetic performances and videos. Each of her six albums, including the new Snow Waltz, has charted at No. 1 on the Billboard classical charts. She'll perform at Texas Trust CU Theatre at Grand Prairie.

Friday, November 18

Improv Arlington presents Shawn Wayans
Shawn Wayans was born into one of Hollywood's largest and most successful comedic families, so he was naturally gifted with the ability to make people laugh. He carved his own acting career with a starring role in the sitcom The Wayans Bros., along with movies like the Scary Movie franchise. He'll perform four times through Saturday at Improv Arlington.

Family Music Theatre presents White Christmas
In Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil's former army commander. The production, running through December 10 at New Vida Church of God, features standards like “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and the perennial title song.

Bruce Wood Dance presents Awake
Bruce Wood Dance presents Awake, showcasing work by Bruce Wood, legendary American choreographer Lar Lubovitch, Garrett Smith, and Adam W. McKinney with The Digibees. The production shares stories of injustice and loss in the works by Wood, McKinney, and Smith. Paired with the sweeping choreography of Lar Lubovitch’s Dvořák Serenade, dancers glide through the notes echoing grace and beauty along the way. The production will have three performances through Saturday at Moody Performance Hall.

The Fab Four in concert
The Fab Four is elevated far above every other Beatles tribute due to their precise attention to detail. With uncanny, note-for-note live renditions of Beatles' classics such as "Can't Buy Me Love," "Yesterday," "A Day In The Life," "Twist And Shout," "Here Comes The Sun," and "Hey Jude," the Fab Four makes audiences think they are watching the real thing. The concert takes place at Majestic Theatre.

Saturday, November 19

Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle
Lighthouse Immersive presents Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle, featuring whimsical animated characters alongside footage of professional ballet dancers. The 30-minute immersive experience is set to the sweeping music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, encompassing visitors in a grand immersive display that relays the tale of The Nutcracker from opening to finale. The exhibition will be on display at Lighthouse Dallas through December 31.

Joe Satriani in concert
Joe Satriani is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, mentoring other guitar greats like Steve Vai, Andy Timmons, and more. He's also been part of the supergroup Chickenfoot, which included ex-Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. He'll play at Majestic Theatre in support of his new album, The Elephant of Mars.

A Magical Cirque Christmas
A Magical Cirque Christmas is a comedic, musical, and magic-filled holiday experience. World-acclaimed performers and cirque artists take audiences back in time, immersing them in the spirit of the season and performing Christmas classics through the decades. The one-night-only performance will be at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Plano Symphony Orchestra presents "Bravo Broadway!"
For the third show of its season, the Plano Symphony Orchestra will be joined by some of the best voices from the stages of New York performing familiar songs from Tony Award-winning Broadway shows like Les Misérables, West Side Story, The Phantom of The Opera, and more. The concert will be at Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts in Richardson.

Photo courtesy of Plano Symphony Orchestra

Plano Symphony Orchestra presents Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”

The final performance of the Plano Symphony Orchestra’s 40th Anniversary Season will bring together the largest ensemble of musicians in the orchestra's history, uniting the Plano Civic Chorus and the Irving Chorale with 100 orchestra musicians for a rousing performance of one of the very best symphonies of all time: Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection.” This monumental collaboration fulfills a long-standing dream for Maestro Guzmán to conduct a performance of this piece, an opportunity he considers once in a lifetime.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Gala led by Dallas' most VIP couple scores top spot in this week's 5 hottest headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Dallas' most VIP couple leads all-star gala for Perot Museum 10th anniversary. The 10th anniversary of a Dallas landmark deserves a star-studded party and a few fireworks, too — and that's exactly what the Perot Museum of Nature and Science did to celebrate its milestone birthday. Dallas' most VIP couple led the festivities. Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki co-chaired the 10th anniversary Night at the Museum Gala on Saturday, November 12.

2. Dallas hires Martine Elyse Philippe as new director of arts and culture. The city of Dallas has a new Arts boss: Martine Elyse Philippe, who has worked in arts administration and the nonprofit world, has been appointed Director of the Office of Arts & Culture, a division of the City Manager's Office that fosters partnerships and support with arts and cultural organizations.

3. Record store in Dallas' Oak Cliff to spin off hip new restaurant-lounge. There's a hip new lounge bar restaurant opening in Dallas' Bishop Arts: Called Ladylove, it's going into the favorably located space previously occupied by Dallas Grilled Cheese Co., and is forecast to open in early 2023. Ladylove, whose subhead is "Lounge & Sound," is from David Grover and Kate Siamro, the same amazing team who own Spinster Records, the vinyl record store in Bishop Arts.

4. New Uptown Dallas movie theater sets opening date in time for the holidays. A little over a year after it was first announced, Violet Crown Cinema will open its first Dallas theater in West Village in early December. The theater is located in the former Magnolia Theater, which closed when the pandemic hit in March 2020 and never reopened.

5. Dallas university among best in U.S. for entrepreneurship programs, says Princeton Review. Dallas entrepreneurs, take note. The University of Texas at Dallas is near the top of its class among the country's best entrepreneurship programs. UTD's Naveen Jindal School of Management appears at No. 12 for best graduate entrepreneurship program and No. 25 for best undergraduate entrepreneurship program on new lists from The Princeton Review.

Longtime Mexican restaurant in Deep Ellum closes, breastaurant on the way

Deep Ellum News

A longtime Mexican restaurant in Deep Ellum is closing: Maracas Cocina Mexicana, which has been in business at 2914 Main St. in one form or another since 1992, will close this weekend, to be replaced with another concept whose identity is still to be (officially) announced.

The restaurant is going out with a goodbye party on November 25, at 5 pm, with a DJ and its signature cheap drinks.

They've already started clearing out equipment and this will be their final weekend. A staffer speaking for the restaurant said that current owner, who asked not to be named but also owns a number of Mexican sandwich shops around DFW, is doing a rebranding.

"It's re-opening as a breastaurant, and the menu will be more focused on Mexican seafood," the staffer said.

The working title for the new concept is La Toxica Mariscos Y Micheladas.

Maracas' long history began in 1992 when it was was founded as Monica's Aca Y Alla, named for founder and veteran restaurateur Monica Greene, who opened it on what was then the eastern, rather sleepy edge of Deep Ellum. (Actually, it was originally Eduardo's Aca Y Alla, founded prior to Monica's transgender transformation in 1993.)

By 2012, Greene became restless after 20 years with what she perceived as sluggish development in Deep Ellum — a sad irony since the neighborhood started to blow up just a couple of years later.

She handed over the reins to managers Jose Sanchez and Angel Borjas, who kept much of what it had been — cheap and affordable Tex-Mex, a laid-back party atmosphere — and rebranded it as Maracas. The current owner came on board in 2014.

At 30 years, the restaurant is easily one of the longest running in Deep Ellum. When it opened, restaurants were somewhat of a minority in a neighborhood dominated by live music clubs. Now restaurants are the majority, and clubs have become the minority instead.

Some of Maracas' employees have worked there for decades, and are reportedly being given the option to work at the owner's other establishments.

The Friday night party will be $15 at the door, which gets you appetizers. Otherwise, patrons can order off the menu. House margaritas will be $4.50 and beers will be $5.

The restaurant will be be open as Maracas for the remainder of the weekend, including brunch: from 11 am-11 pm Saturday and 11 am-9 pm on Sunday.

"It's been a watering hole for many of us for so many years!" says Kendell Liptrap, a regular.

Where to eat on Christmas 2022 at Dallas restaurants

Holiday News

It seems impossible to fathom but we've reached that point where we are starting to think about Christmas, and restaurants are already cooking up options, whether you're looking to dine out or grab something to take home.

This list has a little bit of everything: places that are open on Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, or places doing take-out only. As the holiday draws nearer, the list will surely grow; check back for updates, which we'll make as they come in.

Here's our list of Christmas dining options. (Restaurants with names in bold are open on Christmas Day.)

City Hall Bistro. Restaurant at the Adolphus has a three-course menu featuring squash & kale salad, honey baked ham, cornbread dressing, candied yams, pumpkin pie, and Texas praline crunch brownie. Additional items are available for an extra cost including prime rib and salmon. 12–8 pm. $70. 214-651-3686.

Commons Club at Virgin Hotels Dallas. Open Christmas Eve for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 5-10 pm. Open Christmas Day for brunch 11-2 pm, and Christmas Day dinner from 5-10 pm. 469-359-7700.

Dive Coastal Cuisine. To-go items include mini potato latkes, bruschetta ciabatta crostinis, charcuterie, chicken, beef tenderloin, whipped or whole sweet potatoes, holiday everything salad, and whole key lime pie. Order by December 21. 214-891-1700. Closed Christmas Day.

Dolce Riviera. Special edition Feast of the Seven Fishes menu. $85. December 19–December 24. 469-458-6623. Closed Christmas Day.

Encina. Oak Cliff restaurant is open Christmas Eve for brunch and dinner, plus brunch on Christmas Day, with the full regular menu as well as seasonal offerings including Strauss Farms veal cheeks with truffled polenta, ricotta cavatelli Bolognese, and Sonoma Farms duck leg confit with chermoula cauliflower & curried squash. Brunch 10 am-2 pm, dinner 5-8 pm. 469-620-3644.

Fogo de Chão. Open Christmas Eve 11 am–9:30 pm and Christmas Day 11 am–9 pm.

Gorji. Open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 6-8 pm with 3- or 4-course meal featuring choices from garlic and Bulgarian feta with pita, chili & yogurt over grilled chilled avocado, baby greens & strawberries, Romaine & kale Caesar, turkey, pork chop, langoustine tails, sea bass & shrimp over cauliflower puree, 6-oz tenderloin with gorgonzola gnocchi, spinach cheese lasagna, strawberries and kefir, or flourless chocolate cake. $99 to $115, no-tip required. 972-503-7080.

Knife Dallas. Open Christmas Day 5-10 pm with regular menu. 214-443-9339.

Kona Grill. Open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 11 am-11 pm, with full menu as well as holiday specials. 214-945-2500.

Mercat Bistro. Christmas Day brunch with festive 3-course menu. $68. Make reservations to sit in the restaurant’s famous Polar Bear section. 10 am–3 pm. 214-953-0917.

Magnolias Sous Le Pont. Open Christmas Day morning with winter themed beverages including Toffee Crunch Affogato, Mexican Hot Chocolate, and frozen peppermint mocha. 469-249-9222.

Postino WineCafe. Family-size to-go menu feeds up to 15, including two starters, bruschetta platter, and salad. Add-ons are available for an additional cost. $285, Order by December 23. 972-210-2102. Closed Christmas Day.

Tacodeli. Chile En Nogada and Spiked Horchata, available for dine-in or to-go.Available through December 23. West Dallas – 214-760-1930; The Hill – 214-206-8980; Park & Preston (Plano) – 972-200-5101; Parkwood (Plano) – 214-997-6047. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

TJ’s Seafood Market. Holiday to-go menu includes holiday platters, shrimp, smoked salmon, oysters, and gumbo. Order by December 23 for pickup December 24. Preston Royal – 214-691-2369; Oak Lawn – 214-219-3474. Closed Christmas Day.

Sassetta. Joule hotel restaurant is doing a Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner December 23-24 from 5–10:45 pm. Courses include dip with crostini, scallop crudo, cioppino, pasta vongole, pasta puttanesca, and branzino. $130, includes valet and complimentary cocktail. Menu is online. 214-290-7555. Closed Christmas Day.

SusieCakes. Christmas desserts include chocolate candy cane cake, holiday cupcakes, cupcakes, frosted sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, and decorating kits. Order by December 24. Preston Center – 214-983-2253; Hillside – 945-245-2253. Closed Christmas Day.

Ten50 BBQ. To-go smoked meats, sides, and desserts. Order by December 21 for pickup by December 24. 1-855-QUE-1050 or email catering@ten50bbq.com. Closed Christmas Day.