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Winter Guide to the Twin Cities 2015

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Winter came late to Minnesota this year, but has arrived in full just in time for Thanksgiving. Cold temperatures have never stopped Twin Cities residents from patronizing the arts, sampling new food, or venturing out into the frigid wilds to get a little entertainment. Dress warm for these, the coolest events of winter 2015. 

Girl Germs

Turf Club

Girl Germs launched in 2014 as a way for Minneapolis locals to pay tribute to the female paragons of the music industry. But in 2015, it’s morphed into one of the most anticipated musical masquerades in the city. Curated and organized by Sally Hedberg and Dana Raidt, Girl Germs already made a bang at the Turf Club this past January, with Aby Wolf going full Kate Bush and Kitten Forever doing their rhythm-only rendition of Beyoncé. Somehow, December’s follow-up surpasses that high-water mark, featuring Picked to Click top finishers Bad Bad Hats and Bruise Violet, who will transform into Sheryl Crow and Lunachicks, respectively. Elsewhere on the bill, Nona Marie tries on Patti Smith’s leather, Suzie throws back to Cyndi Lauper, and Mina Moore channels Janet Jackson. With such a brimming talent pool, Girl Germs 3.0 should be the pinnacle — especially given that 89.3 the Current’s Andrea Swensson, one of the city’s most visible feminists, will be hosting. —JERARD FAGERBERG

21+.

8 p.m. Saturday, December 5. $10-$12.

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1601 University Ave. W. St. Paul; 651-647-0486. 

Joanna Newsom

Fitzgerald Theater

Few things are worth leaving your December ice cave for, save for a glimpse of a deity, and that’s exactly the opportunity the Fitz is offering by inviting harpist/seraph player Joanna Newsom to perform. Newsom broke into the public eye with her narrating role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice and marriage to Lonely Island funnyboy Andy Samberg. But she’s been the jewel of the indie scene since her debut in 2004. Over a decade removed from the pastoral mood of The Milk-Eyed Mender, the Californian avant-garde folk singer has slickened up her sound, packaging her pert songwriting into incredible, urbanite sweeps on her blithe, heart-transforming fourth album, Divers. The album itself is a balm for frostbite, but the chance to see Newsom’s rousing beatitudes live will be enough warmth to sustain you ’til March. Portland folk independents Alela Diane and Ryan Francesconi join forces to open the night. —JERARD FAGERBERG

$35-$50.

8 p.m. Thursday, December 17.

10 E. Exchange St. St. Paul; 651-290-1200.  

Black Sabbath

Target Center

This is The End, metalheads. Metal high priests Black Sabbath have announced their final tour ever, with Minneapolis’ Target Center set to host the legendary pitch-black rockers. Sabbath, formed in 1968 in Birmingham, England, have endured various lineup changes through the decades, but this last hurrah will feature incomparable, variably coherent, bat-chomping frontman Ozzy Osbourne and two other original members: doomsday axeman Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler. Original drummer Bill Ward is currently feuding with his bandmates. The band’s killer string of early 1970s albums — Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality — changed the rock ’n’ roll landscape, effectively inventing the blueprint for heavy metal. Their 19th and most recent album, the Rick Rubin-produced 13, issued in 2013, was their first since the mid ’90s. It’s rumored Sabbath will return to the studio with Rubin again, but no word on any official plans. As for The End tour, it “promises to surpass all previous tours with their most mesmerizing production ever,” boasts the press release, so look forward to that.  –JAY BOLLER

$35-$149.

7:30 p.m. Monday, January 25.

600 First Ave. N. Minneapolis; 612-673-0900.

Babes in Toyland

First Avenue

In our June cover story on Babes in Toyland’s surreptitious reunion, drummer Lori Barbero promised the garage punks would be returning to First Avenue, and now they’re making good on their word. Though the triumph of their homecoming gig at Rock the Garden is still ringing through the city, Babes will be coming back with a different energy, since they’ll be without longtime bassist Maureen Herman (who left the band in August) and with 22-year-old local Clara Salyer. It’s a room that the band has a lot of history in — they recorded their last wax, Minneapolism (Live For The Last Time), in the Mainroom — so January’s show will test how that history holds up after 14 years off and more than a handful of lineup changes. Local punks Kitten Forever, who’ve been touring alongside their idols all year, are the openers along with Ageist. —JERARD FAGERBERG

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18+. $25.

7 p.m. Saturday, January 30.

701 First Ave. N. Minneapolis; 612-338-8388. 

Greg Dulli

Cedar Cultural Center

Greg Dulli is set to perform 32 intimate solo shows (billed as “An Evening With … ” no less) in 11 countries beginning early next year. The Cedar Cultural Center is a definite underplay for the Afghan Whigs frontman, a fact made clear when the March gig instantly sold out. The moody and horny indie-rock icon drummed up hype for the solo excursion in October by releasing a cover of Sharon Van Etten’s “A Crime,” with help from guest vocalist Ani DiFranco. The solo tour promises to be career-spanning, which means cuts from the Whigs, the Twilight Singers, and his less celebrated solo career. The reunited Whigs played First Avenue last year, but their devoted fanbase will relish the opportunity to see Dulli — whose gloominess is always wonderfully contrasted with R&B-indebted soulfulness — in these intimate digs. Writer Derrick Brown will open the American leg of the tour, so who the hell knows what that will entail. —JAY BOLLER

All ages. Sold out.

8 p.m. Saturday, March 19.

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416 Cedar Ave. S. Minneapolis; 612-338-2674.

Guerilla Girls’ Twin Cities Takeover

Various locations

The Twin Cities is getting an extra dose of feminism this January, as art institutions big and small welcome the Guerrilla Girls to Minnesota with a series of gallery exhibitions, museum interventions, public art displays, and more. Guerrilla Girls’ Twin Cities Takeover marks the 30th anniversary of the anonymous activist group, and many museums, colleges, universities, and galleries around town will be participating. There’s a GG-designed installation showcasing their poster archive at the Walker Art Center, new work created by teens in collaboration with the Girls in downtown storefronts, and an exhibition featuring pieces by college students at MCAD. The Girls will also be making their mark over at Mia, creating posters that comment on the museum’s collection. Separately, they’ll be projecting some of their work on buildings in downtown Minneapolis as part of a huge public art display hosted by the Hennepin Theatre Trust. In addition, there will be dozens of related exhibitions celebrating Minnesota’s own feminist artists, plus panel discussions, parties, lectures, and more. For a complete list of happenings, visit ggtakeover.com. —SHEILA REGAN

January 21 through March 5, 2016

Visual Art British Arrows Awards

Walker Art Center

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Nothing signifies that the holidays are upon us quite like the Walker Art Center’s annual screening of the British Arrows Awards. Sure, a program featuring the very best commercials that the Brits have to offer might not seem to be tied to any particular holiday tradition, but for some it’s just as much a part of the season as sugarplum fairies and Scrooge’s nightgown. The British Arrows Awards are one of the Walker’s most popular offerings, with screenings taking place in two theaters through December (and a few days after New Year’s). What makes them so irresistible? Maybe it’s the (often) bizarro humor, or the keen sense of storytelling and character. Maybe we just like the funny accents. No matter the reason, the British Arrows Awards are as essential to this time of year as fruitcake and wassail.  —SHEILA REGAN

 $12.

1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600.

December 4 through January 3, 2016

Art Shanty Projects

White Bear Lake

Last year, the Art Shanty Projects went on hiatus. But event organizers had a plan, and so the endearing (and enduring) outdoor winter festival returns in 2016 better than ever. The celebration, now with nonprofit status behind it, invites revelers out to the frozen surface of White Bear Lake for quirky hands-on activities, educational opportunities, and plenty of silly fun. Over 15 shanties will be setting up on the ice, including the Dance Shanty, where the party never stops (it’s also a great place to visit if you get cold); the Chef Shanty, where folks can sample food and take a mini-cooking class; and the Sound Chamber Shanty, where visitors can listen to and create sound under the lake. Say hi to the Pedal Bears as well, two giant puppets on wheels that will be traveling throughout the grounds. For more info, visit artshantyprojects.org. —JESSICA ARMBRUSTER

Free.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

5050 Lake Ave. N., White Bear Lake; 651-748-2500.

February 6-28, 2016  

Daniel Fish

Walker Art Center

Anyone familiar with David Foster Wallace knows that the writer was a tennis player and a fanatical follower of the game. Of Roger Federer, he wrote, “The thing with Federer is that he’s Mozart and Metallica at the same time, and the harmony’s somehow exquisite.” Here he is describing a “Federer moment”: “My spouse says she hurried in and there was popcorn all over the couch and I was down on one knee and my eyeballs looked like novelty-shop eyeballs.” In Daniel Fish’s A (radically condensed and expanded) Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again After David Foster Wallace, tennis balls fly while five actors channel Wallace as they listen to his words streaming through headphones. In a kind of physically charged karaoke, they scurry around trying to catch and reprise Wallace’s often baroque sentences from a script that changes with every performance. Cobbled together from Wallace’s writings and recordings, which are mixed live during the performance, this spontaneous sampling seems like the perfect eulogy for a writer whose prose can certainly set your eyeballs zinging around in your head, and whose eccentric harmonies are truly exquisite. In addition, Fish’s film Eternal, in which two actors recreate the final four-minute scene of Michel Gondry’s film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, on a double-screen projection, will be shown at 1 p.m. on January 16, 2016. —LINDA SHAPIRO

$25; $20

8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600.

January 14-16, 2016  

Faye Driscoll

Walker Art Center

You might mistake the entry etiquette for Faye Driscoll’s Thank You for Coming: Attendance, part of the Walker Art Center’s Immerse Yourself series, for the opening of a new club. Your hands will be stamped at the door, and you’ll need to free yourself up for action by leaving all your stuff (shoes, coats, bags) behind before you advance to the stage of the McGuire Theater. Some folks will be given weird items to wear or hold, and composer Michael Kiley will incorporate everyone’s name into a song. In this communal setting, spectators interact with performers who borrow their props, create a party atmosphere, and lead them into surprise encounters. Driscoll’s invitation to open the kinetic door and come on in is just the first part of a trilogy that the Walker will present over the next three years. —LINDA SHAPIRO 

$25; $20 Thursday.

8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday.

1750 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-375-7600.

February 17-21, 2016

Pericles

Guthrie Theater

When Joseph Haj joined the Guthrie as artistic director this summer, most of the 2015-16 season had already been set. He was slated to direct South Pacific in the summer of 2016, but that was a long time to go without showcasing his skills for Twin Cities audiences. The solution came in a show that he had directed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and would be on tour. One extension later, and Pericles found its way to the winter Guthrie schedule. The play is an early piece by the Bard (and very likely was written by multiple writers) that feels more like a serialized adventure than the tightly-knit romances that Shakespeare would write later on in his career. The princely title character wishes only to find love, but instead sails off into a string of exploits, with an evil king always at his back. One thing is for sure: The cast is going to be well-versed in the production. “By the time it is done, the actors will have been in Pericles for 13 months,” says Haj. —ED HUYCK 

$29-$74 ($15-$59 previews). 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sundays; 1 p.m. on some Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

818 S. Second St., Minneapolis; 612-377-2224.

January 16 through February 21, 2016

Visions of Sugarplums: A Burlesque Nutcracker

Ritz Theater

One of the more provocative holiday productions in recent memory, Visions of Sugarplums: A Burlesque Nutcracker, is returning to the Ritz Theater to provide some playful naughtiness for the season. Under the acclaimed collaborative team of director/choreographer Lily Verlaine and host/performer Nadine DuBois, Visions of Sugarplums offers an irreverent take on the Nutcracker ballet from a decidedly adult perspective. Including DuBois, the 14 skilled performers display a diverse range of scintillating artistry through varied forms of dance, allowing for a program that runs the gamut from exacting ballet formations to freestyle interpretation. The performers’ backgrounds are as eclectic as their styles, and yet a synchronicity prevails. Even in the midst of the impressively choreographed leaps and spins, it’s the striptease aspect that lends the spiciness to this winter wonderland. There’s plenty of bawdiness to be found, as the performers offer up playful solo routines and saucy chorus lines. Throughout the cheeky suggestiveness, however, resides a genuinely warm sentiment that resonates like wholesome holiday entertainment. Visions of Sugarplums might not be what Tchaikovsky had in mind for his ballet, but as far as holiday fantasies are concerned, even the most animated of gingerbread soldiers just can’t compare. —BRAD RICHASON

18+. $35.

7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays; 2 p.m. Sundays starting December 20. No show on Christmas.

345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612-623-7660.

December 11-27 

Beer Dabbler

Winter Carnival, Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Drinking outdoors is a time-honored tradition for the centuries. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival’s Beer Dabbler is an excellent opportunity to do so, as over 120 beers will be on tap for sampling in the Minnesota State Fairgrounds’ Mighty Midway and Coliseum. Try local brews from the likes of Birch’s on the Lake, Badger Hill Brewing Company, and Lucid, or step outside our state for tasty options from Alaskan Brewing Co., Ommegang (Cooperstown, N.Y.), and Epic Brewing (Salt Lake City, Utah). During the day, the festival will also be offering winter games, good eats, and live music to add to the fun. For more info, visit beerdabbler.com.—JESSICA ARMBRUSTER 

 $40-$55; $99 VIP; $10 designated driver.

3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

1265 Snelling Ave., St. Paul; 651-288-4400.

February 6, 2016.

A Midwinter Night’s Revel

Red Eye Theater

Walking Shadow Theatre Company loves to put fresh twists on old stories. They are harkening back to Shakespeare with this year’s holiday offering. As you may guess by the title, A Midwinter Night’s Revel is a twist on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The fairy folk are back in John Heimbuch’s new work, arriving during the winter in the midst of the Great War. Just like in the original, the fey and mortal alike are twisted up together in the story, and Puck has a fresh group of players — holiday-themed, this time — for his mischief. Heimbuch has long been intrigued by the idea of taking the fairies and their court to a winter set in the early 20th century. The show draws inspiration not just from Shakespeare, but English folk stories and seasonal traditions as well. The company features Neal Beckman as Puck, Heidi Fellner as Titania, and Daniel Joeck as Oberon, plus features Zach Garcia, Jessie Scarborough-Ghent, and Shelby Rose Richardson. Walking Shadow’s co-artistic head Amy Rummenie directs.—ED HUYCK

$10-$22.

7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Additional performances 7:30 p.m. December 7, 21, and 30. No performances December 10, 24, and 25. 15

W. 14th St., Minneapolis; 800-838-3006.

December 4-30.  

2016 Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Various Locations

Epitomizing Minnesotans’ defiant embrace of glacial environs, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival ranks among the state’s most singular of traditions. Not content to merely endure freezing temperatures and unrelenting snowfall, the Winter Carnival actually celebrates these arctic conditions by offering an array of attractions to suit the tastes of our hardiest inhabitants. A stroll through Rice Park, the epicenter of the event, provides an ideal starting point as one can marvel at the strikingly designed Mini Ice Palace and associated Ice Sculptures en route to viewing one of the three signature parades (Moon Glow Pedestrian, King Boreas Grand Day, and Vulcan Victory Torchlight). The Minnesota State Fairgrounds also host family-friendly activities in their Snow Park, including a giant snow slide, fire-truck rides, and scavenger hunts. Those without children (or seeking some adult diversions) can partake in the seventh annual Beer Dabbler, featuring craft beverages from 120 breweries. The more athletically inclined are welcome to partake in the Securian Winter Run (choose from the 5K, 10K, or half marathon) and/or the 28-hole Disc Golf Ice Bowl. Others might prefer to witness the innovative technologies displayed by the Autonomous Snowplow Competition, the crowning of a king and queen feline at the Saintly City Cat Show, or view a local movie premiere courtesy of the inaugural Frozen Film series. For a complete list of locations, admission fees, and event schedules, visit the official website at winter-carnival.com, or call 651-223-4700. —BRAD RICHASON 

January 28 through February 7, 2016. 

The Star Wars Holiday Special 

Bryant-Lake Bowl

The Star Wars Holiday Special has a reputation that is so bad it seems too good to be true. Rest assured, this thing lives up to the hype as the best worst thing ever made. It aired once on network television in the winter of 1978 before it was banished (but not before killing a few careers on its way to excommunication from the Star Wars mythology). Thanks to the internet, it’s back. The story follows Chewbacca’s family as they prepare for Life Day. Will Chewie and a contractually obligated Hans Solo make it to Kashyyyk in time for the holiday? Along the way, audiences will be treated to segments featuring Jefferson Starship (and their incredibly phallic microphones), Diahann Carroll (appearing as a kinda-sorta pornographic hologram), and Bea Arthur, who sings a tune telling people to get the hell out of her bar. There’s also an animated segment (Boba Fett’s debut!), an obviously strung-out Carrie Fisher (she claims to have no memory of making the special), and an old wookie named Lumpy. Before the masses head to the theater for the latest installment, be sure to take in this more humble (and low-budget) moment in the Star Wars canon. —JESSICA ARMBRUSTER

 Admission is free with a new toy donation for Toys for Tots.

4, 7, 10 p.m.

810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612-825-3737. December 16  

Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol

Park Square Theater After giving a performance as Scrooge in a Chicago production of A Christmas Carol, actor Tom Mula heard an interesting observation from a young audience member. While Scrooge got to run around in his nightdress and be giddy as a schoolboy after his transformation, Jacob Marley, the long-suffering spirit who sent him on his path to redemption, got nothing in Dickens’ story. This got Mula to thinking, which led to a book, a radio version (read aloud at Christmas for several years on NPR), and eventually to a stage production. Versatile actor Dane Stauffer takes on not just Marley, but all of the other characters in this metaphysical journey of redemption. Just as in A Christmas Carol, Marley is dead from the beginning here. He heads off to the afterlife, and discovers that fate is far from the paradise he wanted. Marley gets a chance at salvation, but it’s a tall order: redeem his old partner, Scrooge. From there, Marley and his helpful sprite work behind the scenes in this unusual retelling of a classic Christmas tale.Richard Cook directs. —ED HUYCK 

$15-$60. 

7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday.

20 W. Seventh Pl., St. Paul; 651-291-7005. December 9-20 

City of the Lakes Loppet

Various locations

During the coldest month of winter, Minnesotans arrive in south Minneapolis for the City of the Lakes Loppet, a multiday festival featuring scenic nature walks, beer parties, outdoor games, and intense races for competitive athletes. Sporting events include speedskating, ski sprints, skijoring (with dogs!), bike racing (on ice!), and cross-country ski challenges open to all skill levels and ages. Saturday evening boasts the popular Luminary Loppet, a wintertime stroll around Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles that travelers can walk, cross-country ski, or snowshoe through. Along the illuminated trail, revelers will find fire performers, hot chocolate stations, ice sculptures, and more. Other happenings throughout the weekend include firework displays, a Surly beer garden, and a snow sculpting contest. Events are free to watch, with sign-up rates ranging from $10 to $150. For a complete schedule of events, times, and locations, or to register for an event, visit loppet.org/cityoflakesloppet. —JESSICA ARMBRUSTER

February 5-7, 2016  

U.S. Pond Hockey Championship

Lake Nokomis

For 11 years, the U.S. Pond Hockey Championship, an amateur tournament, has brought together teams of varying skill levels to compete for glory on ice. Played on the frozen Lake Nokomis, the back-to-basics ethos behind the pond hockey league is worlds away from the rigid governing of the NHL. Any bold souls can create a team, registering in one of the five designated divisions: women’s, rink rats, cedar, 40+, and open. Of the five, the open division stands as the most advanced, and has a history of featuring players with previous pro or semi-pro experience. Throughout the weekend, winning teams advance ever closer to the coveted championship game, vying to have their names immortalized on either the Silver Scoop or the Golden Shovel. For spectators, the tournament can prove just as invigorating (if not more) than the pro leagues, offering a chance to cheer on community teams. For complete game schedules, see the official U.S. Pond Hockey website: uspondhockey.com. —BRAD RICHASON

Free.

5001 Lake Nokomis Pkwy. W., Minneapolis.

January 14-17, 2016.