.Things to do in Santa Cruz

Week of December 20




The delicate, snowy wonder of Christmastime fills the stage in Agape Dance Academy’s annual production of The Nutcracker. The beloved ballet follows Clara into her dreams, where the Nutcracker, Sugar Plum Fairy, Rat King and many more whimsical characters dance through a snowy world. Agape dance instructor (and former Sugar Plum Fairy) Lana La Framboise says, “Agape Dance Academy’s Nutcracker is a beautiful display of artistry and excellence and a joyous tradition for the whole family.” ADDIE MAHMASSANI

INFO: 4pm & 7:30pm, Crocker Theater, Cabrillo College, 6500 Lower Perimeter Road, Aptos. $35. 479-6154.

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Mesmerizing Meagerie Winter Hafla PHOTO: David Shamshoian


Estrella Collective presents its annual Winter Solstice Hafla, a formal event with one-of-a-kind vendors, thrilling dance performances and a booty bouncin’ DJ who promises to get the party started. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted in one place to celebrate the Winter Solstice: belly dance, breakdance, samba and bachata. There will also be a best-dressed contest, jewelry for sale, a henna painter, a Tarot card reader and a steampunk ambiance. There might be a Ouija board, too. DAN EMERSON

INFO: 7pm, Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way. $25/adv, $30/day of show. 831-479-1854.




Since the dark days of the lockdown, the parking lot at 1111 Soquel Avenue has become a thriving hub for the Midtown area (yes, we said it: Midtown). The good people at Tasty Mob maker community hold weekly night markets every Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 9pm. Join artisan chefs and local makers as they celebrate the holiday season with a special “World Peace Night” theme. This week’s local food truck lineup is Mattia Pizza, Tacos El Jesse, Epic Eats and more. Vendors range from Sarah Joh Pottery, Milo Halperin Art, Soy Tank Candle Company and everything in between. Perfect for those last-minute shoppers. MAT WEIR

INFO: 5pm, 1111 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Free.




Nobody in the Hagemann Jazz Trio bears the name Hagemann. So, what’s the origin story behind the band’s name? Tenor saxophonist John Bouwsma formed the trio in 2021 when he moved back to his native Santa Cruz after ten years in New Orleans. Bouwsma grew up on Hagemann Avenue, where the new band practiced. Drummer Shawn Medeiros also happened to live on Hagemann. So, the trio, which also includes double bassist Jamie Brudnick, didn’t have to struggle to come up with a name for the group, which reworks jazz classics and songs from the American Songbook. DAN EMERSON

INFO: 3pm, Discretion Brewing, 2703 41st Ave., Suite A, Soquel. Free. 831-316-0662



Drama is full of grand traditions, and none is more wonderful than the play-within-a-play scenario. Shakespeare pulled it off in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and three hundred years later, Shakespeare in Love did it, too. It’s a trope that allows for the best in dramatic irony, zany hilarity and utter confusion. Add Who’s Got Me to the list of meta dramas about folks putting on a play where there’s singing, there’s dancing, there’s a Broadway producer . . . speaking of which, The Producers is another excellent example of a play-within-a-play, eh? The play (and the play-within-the-play) wraps on Saturday. Parting is such sweet sorrow. JESSICA IRISH

INFO: 7:30pm, Colligan Theater, 1010 River St, Santa Cruz. $53. 425-7506.



As the new year approaches, it’s best to leave behind the old with a bang. And what better way than with one of the wildest lineups downtown Santa Cruz has seen in a while? Anyone with eclectic musical tastes can see local country-folk favorites Diggin Trails with alt-rock newcomers Hot Lung for a mere ten dollars. Then, out of left field, the bass will drop with the sounds of Holy Water, a self-proclaimed “grime wave” act that mixes trance, house, bass and synth-trap—the perfect soundtrack to an all-night, Saturday-before-Christmas party. MW

INFO: 9pm, Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10 door. 423-7117.




Some years are just overwhelming. There’s no judgment or shame in that sentence. So, when the holidays creep up, it’s hard to get into the season, let alone prepare a holiday meal for the family. Why not bypass the stress and let the luxurious Chaminade Resort and Spa take care of Christmas? From 10am to 7pm on Christmas Day, the hotel in the hills will host a Christmas buffet—and not only for guests with rooms. For $85 per person ($35 for children 3 to 12), there will be no dishes to clean and no need to come up with an excuse to kick everyone out of the house. MW

INFO: 10am-7pm, Chaminade Resort & Spa, 1 Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz. $85. 475-5600.




In some places, knowing what to do with the week between Christmas and New Year’s can be hard, but not in this town. The Holiday Lights New Year’s Train starts its party on December 26, taking passengers on a festive ride to ring in 2024. The folks of Roaring Camp break out all the bells and whistles for this one, decorating the historic vehicles with thousands of lights and stuffing them with bedazzled hula hoopers and a live DJ. The New Year’s train leaves from the Boardwalk and goes on a loop to the forest’s edge at Highway 9 and back. AM

INFO: 5pm & 6:30pm, Departs from Neptune’s Kingdom, 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz. $32.95/child, $44.95/adult. 335-4484.



Pearl and the Oysters PHOTO: Sandy Honig


The musical duo comprising Pearl & the Oysters might have formed in Paris, but their song “Pacific Ave” tells a very Santa-Cruzian tale. Why can’t I see the ocean when the sign says Oceanview? they muse (and come to think of it, yeah, what’s up with that?). Their album Coast 2 Coast chronicles their journey traveling across the USA in upbeat songs that invoke the melodies of Architecture in Helsinki and Of Montreal: twinkling and heartfelt, embodying the sensations of crossing the country with nothing but a white noise machine, catchy lyrics, and a dream. JI

INFO: 8pm, Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $18/adv, $22/door. 479-1854.


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