1. “The Nutcracker” at the Long Center
Opens Dec. 3. 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 23, with additional performances 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 and 2 p.m. Dec. 21-22. $24-$89. 701 Riverside Drive. 512-476-2163, balletaustin.org.
Ballet Austin, accompanied by the Austin Symphony Orchestra, presents its visually spectacular production of this classic Christmas tale with choreographer Stephen Mills’ sharp, modern classical ballet style. Now celebrating its 54th year as the longest running production of its kind in Texas, Ballet Austin’s “The Nutcracker” remains a holiday tradition that you don’t want to miss — especially to see who the new Mother Ginger will be. Since 1997, the ballet has cast local celebrities, like former Mayor of Austin Lee Leffingwell, in the role.
2. Dimension Gallery’s “Gold and Shadow”
Opening reception 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 1. 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 18. 979 Springdale Road, Ste. 99. 512-479-9941, dimensiongallery.org.
The new “Gold and Shadow” features sculpture work from Austin artist Nick Schnitzer, who takes a look at our dark side by offering viewers the chance to peer at their own shadows. That’s a term borrowed from Carl Jung, who posited that there are negative parts of ourselves that we hide, repress or deny — or otherwise aren’t aware we even have. Schnitzer’s work also features gold, which represents the aspects of ourselves we are proud of and want to show.
3. Whole Foods’ Ice Skating on the Plaza
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays-Sundays through Jan. 7. $10. Lamar Rooftop Plaza, 525 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-542-2200, wholefoodsmarket.com/store/event/ice-skating-plaza-1.
Texas might not get snow, but this holiday season, we sure will get ice. Whole Foods is opening up the rooftop again to ice skaters wishing for a winter wonderland, with the $10 entry fee also providing a pair of skates. Note that the skating rink is opened daily, but private party closures may occur Mondays through Thursdays; call ahead for updated open-to-the-public hours on those days. The rink is always available for anyone’s use on Fridays through Sundays.
4. “Heart of the City” SIMS Foundation benefit at Emo’s
8:30 p.m. Dec. 3. $50. 2015 Riverside Drive. simsfoundation.org.
The full title of this event is “True stories, sordid confessions, and music from the heart of the city,” which means the musicians will not just be playing songs, but also sharing tales about themselves. This could get interesting. Participants include Charlie Sexton, Erika Wennerstrom, Israel Nash, Nakia, Kathy Valentine, Riders Against the Storm, the Grupo Fantasma Horns and the Jones Family Singers. Proceeds benefit the SIMS Foundation. — Peter Blackstock
5. The Bullock Museum’s Free First Sunday
12 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free. 1800 Congress Ave. 512-936-8746, thestoryoftexas.com.
This month’s theme for the family-friendly event — when admission is free all day — is “celebration.” In addition to exploring the three floors of artifacts from around the state, the museum will also offer special activities centered around this theme. You’ll be able to create an artful representation of a celebratory feast, ring in the New Year with a story about resolutions and listen to the Groundwork Music Orchestra, performing a set of diverse holiday music.