This monthly calendar is meant to be an alternative to those automated ones you can find online that are loaded up with outdated information. You know, ones that claim events are happening at venues that closed six months ago. There is no attempt to be all-inclusive. Events that are free or inexpensive are favored, but exceptions will be made for performances, lectures, and other activities if they seem unique or high quality.
If events seem pandering (most things aimed at children) or too commercial, they will not be included.
Here are just a few things you might consider filling your calendar with this December:
- From 9-5, there is free admission to the museum galleries at the Connecticut Historical Society on Elizabeth Street. Visitors can make holiday poppers/crackers at various times. The free entrance does not include the Research Center.
- World AIDS Day will be marked by the Getting to Zero program in the Center for Contemporary Culture at the Hartford Public Library. This runs from 9:30a.m. until 1p.m.
- Today is the first half of the Hartford Prints! Holiday Printshop, a workshop during which participants will learn letterpress printing, make their own personalized holiday cards, and close out the class with a cocktail reception. This is one of those rare not-remotely-cheap ($250) events that makes it onto the calendar because the experience is unique. If all you are interested in is making cards, then this is expensive. If you want to come away with a skill you can use again and again, then the price tag may feel worthwhile to you. The session runs from 10am-5pm today, and resumes from 6pm-9pm on December 6th at 56 Arbor Street, Suite 220. For information about registration, contact Hartford Prints!
- At the Charter Oak Cultural Center, Bonita Weisman and guests will be performing improvisational dances as part of the free Havdalah service. The Havdalah service is a ritual that marks the end of Shabbat, but one need not be Jewish to participate in this event beginning at 7:30 p.m.
- Free jazz at the Hartford Public Library! For an hour, beginning at 3pm, music will be performing in the atrium.
- Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols: The Trinity College Chapel Singers, Trinity College Concert Choir, and Trinity College Guild of Carillonneurs will be giving two performances today, with Mayor Segarra giving a reading at the 4pm one. You are challenged to go and not be moved by the music, regardless of whichever religion (if any) you are affiliated with. The second performance begins at 7pm. It is suggested that guests arrive at the chapel early, as seating is limited.
- American composer Tim Janis, whose music is described as “new age, international, contemporary instrumental, neo-classical, Celtic and new-age Celtic,” will be performing at the Sisters of St. Joseph Cathedral, 27 Park Road, West Hartford. This concert will benefit Tabor House, a non-profit that provides a “safe, loving home for homeless men living with HIV/AIDS” in Hartford. Tickets are available in advance ($15) or at the door ($20). The music begins at 7:30pm.
The Grand Opening of the Hartford Public Library’s Dwight Branch happens today! The ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Segarra and others will begin at 1pm. There will be free refreshments and family activities from 3-4:30p.m to celebrate the expanded facility. This branch of the library is located at 7 New Park Avenue.
Other People’s Stories: Recite a story, from memory, that has been told to you by someone else. No notes. Or, just be part of the listening audience. The rambling begins at 7:30pm at La Paloma Sabanera, 405 Capitol Avenue. There’s no admission fee, but if you want small businesses to continue being in existence, opt to buy a beverage or snack instead of going the BYOB route.
- To mark World AIDS Day, there will be free HIV screenings, testing, and educational materials at Capital Community College (950 Main) from 9:30a.m.-12:30p.m.
- Networking with young professionals isn’t for everyone, but for those new in town or who have their own business, it’s not a bad idea to step outside of the comfort zone once in awhile. From 5:30-8:30 you can drop in on a casual networking event run by HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs). This one will be at City Steam. Bring your business cards and practice explaining to strangers your completely esoteric startup idea.
- The Wadsworth always makes it on the list for its Art After Hours event. Because this one is during the Festival of Trees & Traditions, admission is a bit more: $8 for non-members, $3 for members. This includes finger foods, music, the chance to make your own holiday wrapping paper, and more. Gawk at the trees, wreaths, menorahs, and other decor. Art After Hours starts at 5pm. Stay for the seasonal comedy Remember the Night (1940) at 8pm.
- The Diamond Ruff TV Premiere kicks off at 5:30pm. This is an entirely youth-led project with various partnerships including The Boys and Girls Club of Hartford and the Hartford Journalism and Media Academy. There will be a screening of the first episode, along with dance, poetry, and music. Free. Weaver High Auditorium at 415 Granby Street.
- The monthly meeting of the Blue Hills Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) will take place at 6pm at the Oak Hill School, 120 Holcomb Street.
- I do not usually post events that are both outside of Hartford and which do not directly benefit something in the city, but this is one of those rare, unique things that people should know about. Shulchan Ivrit (Hebrew Table) is a casual opportunity to practice conversational Hebrew. This will be the second meeting. No tests, no homework. If your Hebrew is quite terrible, you can sit back and listen. This is coordinated by Alexa Mannheim and will be taking place at the Panera (2534 Albany Avenue) in West Hartford. It is free to participate in this hour long conversation which begins at 6pm.
- You probably have a deficit of Swedish holiday songs. Know how to treat this? Go to the St. Lucia Pageant (5pm and 8pm) at the Emanuel Lutheran Church (311 Capitol Avenue). Tickets can be obtained at the door: $5 for adults, $2 for children. Food and “Swedish inspired gifts” can be purchased after the performances.
- Opening reception for the Hog River Revival Collection at the Artwalk Gallery in the Hartford Public Library. 6-8pm and free. If you’ve never been to an art opening in the library, go. It’s definitely a different vibe than openings at art galleries.
- The Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus will debut at the Unitarian Society of Hartford. This holiday concert kicks off at 8pm. Tickets ($20) are available through Hartford Stage’s online box office.
- Free admission to the Wadsworth Atheneum from 10-1.
- MD Robertson Photo Arts Holiday Saturday Open Houses: The first of three opportunities in December to admire (and maybe purchase) Maurice’s photos of musicians, nature, and travel scenes. Stop by his place (69 Myrtle Street #C2) from noon until 5pm today, December 15th, or December 22nd. Be prepared to chit chat…this will not be a rush in and rush out experience.
- Pianist Michael Korman will be holding his first master’s recital at the Berkman Recital Hall within the Fuller Music Center located on the University of Hartford campus. The program will include works by Schumann, Ravel, Poulenc, Brahms, and Rachmaninoff. 8pm. Free.
Today is the last day of the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Festival of Trees & Traditions. There is programming from 10:30-3:30 including a jazz brunch, hands-on crafts for all ages, Chanukah story sharing, the Solid Oak Big Band, and a visit from Mr. & Mrs. Claus. This is a fundraiser, so admission is not free.
Vibrant cities partially rely on having reliable, convenient, and affordable public transportation. From 5:30-7:30 p.m. there will be a discussion about the proposed change to the downtown bus routine. All are welcome to this program being held in the Hartford Public Library’s cafe.
Check out Laurie Frick’s floor-to-ceiling mixed media work at Real Art Ways. Making Tracks opened on December 6th and will be on view through January 17, 2013. Real Art Ways is located at 56 Arbor Street.
- Every Wednesday from 5:45-7p.m. there is a meditation and dharma gathering at the Unitarian Society of Hartford (50 Bloomfield Avenue). Drop in for some silent or guided meditation.
- Free screening of Toll Booth at 6pm in the Center for Contemporary Culture in the Hartford Public Library. This film is in Turkish with English subtitles.
The Sustainable Farm School –an independent day school for children ages 2 1/2 – 18 — will be presenting poetry, music, dancing, and more at its annual Winter Assembly from 5-7pm at ArtSpace (555 Asylum). A glance at this school’s schedule is likely to make you feel like your own schooling experience was subpar; they allot time for capoeira, garden chores, rock & roll, and herbology. With that kind of focus, you can expect this assembly to be perhaps more creative than those found at testing-centered institutions. Free.
- Read It and Sleep — Charter Oak Cultural Center is hosting a free community pajama party beginning at 7pm. They say to “bring your family and wear your pajamas.” Guest reader Wanda Seldon will be sharing Elijah’s Angel: A Story for Chanukah and Christmas. The first 25 families will receive free copies of this book.
- Nearby, at the Caldwell Colt Memorial Parish House (155 Wyllys Street), there will be a one-act play by Luke Boyd. The subject? Sam Colt. Tickets are $5 at the door. Showtime: 7pm.
The Hartford History Center will have on display what Hartford looked like during the holiday season 100 years ago. These images will be displayed through January 26, 2013 on the third floor of the Hartford Public Library. Free, 1-5p.m.
- Vivaldi’s Gloria will be performed today at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church during the 9a.m. and 10:30a.m. services.
- Center Church Music and the Arts presents A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 4pm. Donations will help support MANNA programs. A reception will follow.
- Every Sunday evening there is bluegrass at the Firebox (539 Broad Street) starting at 5pm. Get there early (like before 5!) if you hope for a seat in the tavern. Big Bluegrass Mule Pull will be performing tonight. There’s no cover charge, but help support local business by at least ordering one drink.
- The Ropkins Branch of the Hartford Public Library will be providing materials for children (ages 8+) to make ornaments that are inspired by their favorite holiday books. 4-5pm. This branch of the library is located at 1750 Main Street. Free.
- Over at the Albany Branch of the library (1250 Albany Ave.) kids (ages 6+) can make holiday cards using the art of quilling. Free.
In May, the Conference of Churches purchased the former Hartford Courant Arts Center at 224 Farmington Avenue. Today, they are holding an open house and chapel dedication from 3-5pm. They have been really excited about this for months, so show some love.
Celebrate National Cookie Day at the Camp Field Branch of the Hartford Public Library. Listen to a reading of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, play games, and make crafts. What do you think the odds are that they’ll have cookies? I’d put money on that one. This is for visitors ages 3+ with their “adult friends.” 10:30-11:30a.m. The Camp Field Branch is at 30 Campfield Avenue. (Note: I think National Cookie Day is actually earlier in the month, but this is one we could celebrate weekly.)
Did you know that the Billings Forge Farmers’ Market runs year round? Every Thursday (except holidays) it is inside of the Studio at Billings Forge (563 Broad Street) during the colder months. The market is open from 11-2. Drop by for local vegetables, breads, meat, milk, eggs, and more. Need a hat, scarf, or mittens? They sell those too.
Youth ages 8+ will be having cupcake wars at the Ropkins Branch of the Hartford Public Library. Come show the world (or just others at Ropkins) that you rock at icing cupcakes. Because space is limited, they ask that you call ahead: 860-695-7420. This goes from 3-4pm.
It’s a Wonderful Life will be making its annual appearance at Cinestudio at 2:30pm all three days, and at 7:30pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Last chance to catch The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris at TheaterWorks. This not-for-kids show, which began on December 4th, is described as “merrily subversive.” Ticket prices and times vary, but today there are performances at 2:30 and 7:30. Nobody under age fourteen will be admitted.
Holiday Light Fantasia is back at Goodwin Park. Go when it’s dark. The website has details on coupons and special offers for discounted admission. This is a drive-through event, so it appears you actually need to have a car (or hop in someone else’s) to enjoy it. This runs through January 6, 2013.
- The calendar says nothing about the ice rink being closed today. The free skating in Bushnell Park began the day after Thanksgiving and will continue through January 21st, weather-permitting. Skate rentals are free. The humiliation of wiping out on the ice is free too.
- If we’re lucky enough to have snow and you need to get out of the house, I suggest taking a long walk along the Riverfront, while donning the appropriate footwear, of course. It’s quiet and beautiful in the winter. There’s nothing like watching a river full of ice.
The Charter Oak Cultural Center is again hosting a free Kwanzaa celebration. Beginning at 5:30 pm, there will be music, dancing, and more. You can participate or just watch from afar. This is at 21 Charter Oak Avenue.
Youth ages 6+ who are interested in playing — or learning how to play — chess are invited to the Urban Youth Chess Club at the Dwight Branch of the Hartford Public Library. This meets for an hour beginning at 3:30.
If you’ve lost count of the times you’ve said “the children need to be back in school,” maybe it’s time to school them in film. The New York International Children’s Film Festival is happening at Real Art Ways. This festival of short films is primarily geared toward children ages 8-18. Films will be screening on December 22 and December 26th-January 1st. See the Real Art Ways website for times and details on ticket information. On the way in and out of the film, show them some art in the galleries. Bonus feature of Real Art Ways: it has a great view of the train tracks. Who doesn’t love to watch trains?
Last chance to see A Christmas Carol at Hartford Stage.
Free jazz in the Hartford Public Library atrium from 3-4p.m. If you’ve never been in the library during a jazz event, you should stop by — even, or especially, if you think you hate jazz.
First Night Hartford offers the standard grab bag of activities that one finds at most First Night events — a mixture of music, art, and dance for all ages. This year’s highlights include a Mary Poppins living statue, Japanese drumming, a performance by Connecticut’s State Troubadour Chuck Costa, a reading by Connecticut’s State Poet Laureate Richard Allen, a klezmer ensemble, The Jolly Beggars, Orquesta Afinke, and Sea Tea Improv. There will be fireworks, if you’re into that sort of thing. You can find out more about this all day event on the First Night Hartford website.
As always, verify with venues that times and prices are accurate, as these things change.
Is there anything not on this list that should be? Leave a comment.