Flowing seamlessly from Thanksgiving to Christmas, North Iowa prepares to celebrate with lights, concerts, plays, parades and fireworks. You don't want to miss the party.
• The Rotary Cannonball in Mason City's East Park will greet the holidays with lights and its annual food drive.
The train, decorated by the Mason City Morning Rotary Club, will be lit at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1. This is a change from an earlier announcement. The "Case or a Can" food collection for the Hawkeye Harvest food bank will be from 4 to 6 p.m. that day. People are encouraged to bring a case of food to the lighting. Smaller amounts will be accepted. The Morning Rotary Club will serve hot apple cider and cookies while collecting cases of food.
• For a short drive to Albert Lea, North Iowans can take in "The Buddy Holly Show" featuring the music of Buddy, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday Nov. 25, at The Marion Ross Theater in Albert Lea. Tickets are $15, available by calling 877-730-3144.
• Christmas by the Lake returns to Clear Lake Dec. 2-3.
Saturday's events include horse-drawn carriage and Main Street Trolley rides, craft show, crowning of the prince and princess, a petting zoo, s'mores, Christmas karaoke, special entertainment at the Arts Center, visit with Santa, strolling Dickens characters, the lighted parade with "Christmas Around the World" theme and fireworks over the lake. Sunday includes the Polar Bear Dip and Kids Treasure Hunt.
The weekend also includes a Granger Smith concert at the Surf Ballroom, and the Festival of Trees Friday through Sunday at One Vision.
• The Rockwell Public Library is hosting a traveling exhibit on the History of the Book through Dec. 13. The library is one of 12 selected this year to host the hands-on exhibit. Special programs include "make a miniature book" at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27, and "make a 'clay' tablet" at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4.
• Charles City's Holiday Lighted Parade is 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, organized by Community Revitalization. This year’s theme is “A Story Book Christmas.” Parade line-up is at 5:30 along Central Park.
Immediately after the parade, the Santa House will open in Central Park until 7:30 p.m. Santa will also be available from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 2 and 9; noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 16; 2-4 p.m. Dec. 17; and 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 23.
• Stebens Children’s Theatre will present “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” Dec. 1-10. Performances are 7 p.m. Dec. 1 and 9; 5 and 7 p.m. Dec. 2; 2 and 4 p.m. Dec. 3; 8 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7, and 2 p.m. Dec. 10.
Tickets, $10 for adults and $8 for youth 18 and under, are available at the theater, 616 N. Delaware Ave., Mason City, weekdays 1-5 p.m. or 641-424-9802.
• “The Nativity,” a new play by Wendy Mahoney, will be presented Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at Grace Church, 440 N. Illinois Ave. in Mason City.
Performances are 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3. Tickets are $3 at Grace Church, Hy-Vee and gracemc.org.
• Christmas with Waldorf will be 7 p.m. Dec. 1-2, and 2 p.m. Dec. 3 at First Baptist Church in Forest City. It will feature the Waldorf Choir, Schola Cantorum and choral ensembles from Forest City High School, Charles City High School and the Chancel Choir at First Congregational UCC of Waterloo Dec. 1, Algona High School choir Dec. 2, and West Hancock, Lake Mills, and Garner-Hayfield Ventura High School choirs Dec. 3.
Christmas with the Waldorf University Wind Symphony will be 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, and will include the newly-formed Chamber Ensemble.
Tickets, $6, can be purchased at the door, or at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3111605. Doors open one hour before the performance.
• The Hancock County Christmas Concert will be 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at the First Lutheran Church in Britt. Refreshments will follow the concert.
• Wright on the Park will host its second annual LEGO contest. Entries are due at WOTP’s offices, 17 S. Federal Ave., by Dec. 1. Winners will be announced at 11 a.m. Dec. 9. Entries will be judged in three age categories: 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12, on originality, creativity, and structural elements. Judges will be from the Bergland + Cram Architectural Firm.
• Home Free: A Country Christmas will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, at the North Iowa Community Auditorium, NIACC, part of the 2017-2018 Performing Arts and Leadership Series' 20th Anniversary Season. The show is sold out. For more information, visit www.homefreemusic.com, or www.niacc.edu/palvideos.
• The Charles City Community Chamber Orchestra will present a Winter Tales Concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 601 Milwaukee St. Admission is free, and a post-concert reception with refreshments will follow outside of the sanctuary.
The concert will feature guest violist Susan Bengtson, who will perform solo pieces as well as "Trauermusik" accompanied by the chamber orchestra. Bengtson, of Chicago and a native of Richland, Washington, will also host a Children’s Musical Story Time from 3:30–4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, at the Charles City Public Library.
• Gustavus Adolphus College will host its annual Christmas in Christ Chapel worship services Dec. 1-3 on its Saint Peter, Minnesota, campus. Chelsea Boyden of Northwood is among the performers. The evening performance on Saturday, Dec. 2, will be live streamed online at 7:30 p.m.; visit gustavus.edu/ccc.
• ISU Theatre will present "A Christmas Carol" in Fisher Theater on the Iowa State campus. The cast includes Julia Ringhofer from Osage as Christina Fezziwig. Performances will be 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens and $11 for students; call 1-800-745-3000.
• Holidazzle 2017 is 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Main Street Pub and Grill in Bancroft. It will include breakfast with Santa, a winter wonderland of decorated trees and silent auction (9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.), Christmas story time, games, raffles and a photo booth. Tom Murray, author of "Fathers, Sons, and the Holy Ghosts of Baseball," will also be on hand. Proceeds benefit Bancroft Memorial Park.
• The North Iowa Area Community College Concert Choir and NIACC Singers Winter Concert will be 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, in the North Iowa Community Auditorium. The concert features a mixture of sacred and secular seasonal music, along with other popular selections.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students, available from the NIACC Box office, 641-422-4188, and at the door.
• Live Holiday Music returns to the Mason City Public Library after the Christmas holidays. Music will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Library Commons. Performers are Michael Betz, Tuesday, Dec. 26; Sam Crosser, Wednesday, Dec. 27, and Paul Weitzel and the Hats, Thursday, Dec. 28.