For folks looking for first-class local entertainment, there is no better time than the Christmas season.
Community companies and theatres pull out all the stops for their big performances of the year, so audiences can enjoy much of the jaw-dropping talent we have right here in Abbotsford and Mission.
Each event offers its own special appeal, from the sacred to the humourous to the humanitarian, but all showcase an exceptionally high level of dedication and talents.
Here's a run-down of some of the local events you can support with family and friends to get into the spirit of Christmas, make memories and to start an annual tradition.
ROTARY CAROL FESTIVAL
First up is the annual Mission Rotary Christmas Carol Festival, at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 at the Clarke Foundation Theatre, 33700 Prentis Ave., Mission.
The festival includes delightful school choirs from Deroche and Dewdney Elementary, Cherry Hill Elementary, Heritage Park Secondary and Valley Christian School, along with the exceptional Joy Vox Community Choir, Fraser Valley Stage Society and Chilliwack Symphony Chorus. Admission is by donation to the food centre and Christmas Bureau. Rotarians will be there to help Phil Hope from Mission Community Services collect donations.
This event has a long history in Mission and has a sing-a-long at the end of the program, which for many marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Call Rotarian Pam Alexis at 604-302-2005 for details.
RADIO THEATRE CHRISTMAS
Dec. 5 - 8, the indomitable Fraser Valley Stage Society brings favourite holiday hits from the golden age of 1940s radio with a touch of dramatic flair in the Starlight Radio Theatre, The Christmas Show.
Take a nostalgic step back in time before the days of YouTube, cell phones or even television, when folks gathered together in their homes to get their news and entertainment by tuning in to the radio.
Starlight Radio Theatre gives audience members a behind-the-scenes look as they prepare for their Christmas show and in Act Two, the live on-air Starlight Show comes to life.
There will be five performances at 7: 30 p.m., plus a 2 p.m. show Dec. 8, at the Abbotsford Arts Centre, 2329 Crescent Way, Abbotsford.
This original musical story will delight audiences of all ages. Tickets are $20 general, $18 for students and seniors at 1-888-467-8810, at The Reach or online at Fraservalleystage.com.
THE GRINCH PROJECT
Dec. 7 & 8, Abbotsford Children's Theatre artistic director Freddy Latham leads her youthful band of thespians in The Grinch Project, a zany return to Dr. Seuss' Whoville and the Grinch, 20 years after the original story was written. Fun for young audiences and adults too.
It's on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 8 at 1 p.m., at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, 32315 South Fraser Way. Tickets are $12 at abbotsfordchildrenstheatre.org.
PUSS IN BOOTS, THE PANTO
Dec. 14 - Jan. 12, the off-the-wall Christmas comedy, Puss in Boots, The Panto is a vaudevillian, rollicking English tradition that's taken hold in Mission. Written and directed by Camille Knight of Opening Nite Theatre, the family show follows Fairy Nice and Fairy Naughty in ancient France. They meet poverty-stricken Andy and his mum, who are losing hope when the family cat decides to make millionaires out of them, by marrying Andy off to the beautiful Princess Zola.
Dec. 14 -16, and Jan. 4 - 12, at 33227 Railway Ave., Mission. Tickets at Murdoch's Book Shoppe, 33078 1st Ave., Mission, or at door. See openingnitetheatresociety.tripod.com.
Christmas at the Clarke
Musicians ask to come back every year to this perennial favourite, the Christmas at the Clarke. Organized by Heritage Secondary teacher John Agnew and his elves, it's on Dec. 19 at 7 p.m., at the Clarke Theatre, 33700 Prentis Ave., Mission.
The variety fundraiser, with all proceeds going to Mission's Christmas Bureau and the Women's Resource Society emergency housing programs, showcases country star Kenny Hess, his brother Rob with the big voice and the band Halo.
The band Horizon features Crystal Hicks, who's compared to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James, and includes lead guitarist Warren Grosland, JP Worst, jazz and electric bass, Rick Noel on drums and Asger Hansen on keyboards. The band plays swing, blues, rockin' soul, R&B, Latin and country.
HSS Jazz Band and Choir complete the roster. Donations are accepted and there is a big silent auction with great items donated by local sponsors.
Tickets are $15 to $10, in Mission at London Drugs, Rex Cox Men's Wear, Murdoch's Book Shoppe, Shoppers Drug Mart, Prospera Credit Union and Fraser Valley Building Supplies. Call 604-820-3961 or 604-217-1863 for details.
Dec. 15 at 8 p.m., Pacific Theatre and the Gallery 7 Theatre's Christmas Presence is a night of celebratory, funny and thoughtful music and readings about the holy aspect of the season. It will showcase local artists Sheree Plett, Jeremy Eisenhauer, Laurell, Garth Bowen, Nelson Boschman, Lance Odegard, plus Ron Reed and Ken Hildebrandt acting.
The show is at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, 32315 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford. For tickets ($14 to $22 HST not incl.) call 604-731-5518, see pacifictheatre.org, or visit House of James, 2743 Emerson St., Abbotsford.
A Carol for Christmas
Dec. 20 - Dec. 22, in A Carol for Christmas, Songs Strings & Steps music director Calvin Dyck, the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra and guests perform eight brand new Christmas carols, written by competing composers from around North America, including some from the Fraser Valley.
A Carol for Christmas features soloist soprano Alison Nystrom, the three Pilkey Sisters, Nutcracker excerpts performed by Fraser Valley Academy of Dance, the Langley Cello Ensemble, a brass ensemble and choral sensation iSing and a mass choir. It's at Central Heights Church, 1661 McCallum Rd., Abbotsford. Tickets are $25 to $12 at Kings Music or House of James, for group discounts contact firstname.lastname@example.org. See calvindyck.com for more details.