Normally, dark, short and cold days mean that you stay inside. But the prospect is more than a bit welcoming in December. There are several holidays with lights involved, which takes care of the "dark" portion of that phrase. And when we gather, good times can extend well into the night, so the days don't necessarily have to be short. Food and drink dispels the chill, too. But with so much holiday activity, being outside isn't so bad, given the number of markets that crop up around this time of year. And if you aren't inclined to do any shopping, this is also a prime time for live music — both secular and sacred — and to reflect on the best portions of a year we are close to putting behind us.

SoWa Winter Festival
Wednesdays - Sundays, Nov. 30 - Dec. 11
SoWa Power Station, Boston
$10 at the door, card only
Hours vary on weekdays and weekends

The SoWa winter festival returns this year for its annual vendor wonderland. Over one hundred artists and makers present their offerings to curious shoppers, while food trucks and vendors keep energy levels high. Live music will round out the festive ambience, including performances from Northeastern a cappella group Pitch! Please.

The SoWa open market, which is located in a huge industrial space, once a power generation plant. It's an overhead view of a grid of kiosks, which are all decorated with white, holiday lights. People are shopping.
SoWa Winter Festival, 2019
SoWa Power Station SoWa Power Station

Thursday, Dec. 1
7:30 p.m.
Boston Center for the Arts Plaza, Boston

Producers Porsha Olayiwola and Cierra Peters have joined forces and collaborated on this artistic exploration of Black joy and futures, for a one-night only performance in an "enchanted garden" at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza. Bringing together musicians, storytellers, visual artists and poets, "ALRIGHT" is a part of The Earthshot Prize, which recognizes winners' contributions to ensure the future of our planet.

This is a headshot of poet Porsha Olayiwola. She is sitting against a red backdrop. She is wearing a black and white striped shirt. Her hair is pulled into a topknot. She is wearing round framed glasses. The rims are gold, the temples are red.  She is smiling,
Porsha Olayiwola on the set of Open Studio, 2019
Howard G. Powell Jr. WGBH News

Learn To Curl
Saturdays from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Through Feb. 11
Seaport Common, Boston
Advance RSVP is required

Every four years, it seems the whole world gathers in front of their television to watch what promises to be the source of high-stakes intrigue: Olympic Curling. Now, you can introduce it into your life in a non-Olympic year, and join the North End Curling Club as they teach you the basics of the sport. No experience required.

This is an extreme close up of two curling stones on an ice rink.  One curling stone has a blue handle, the other one has a red handle.
Curling stones on ice rink
Felix from Canada Wikimedia Commons

SWEA Presents: Swedish Yuletide

Saturday, Dec. 3
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Scandinavian Cultural Center, Newton

See what Northern Europe has to offer during the Christmas season with the Swedish Women's International Association's Fair & Holiday Celebration. Get some waffles, drink some glögg, hear some music and support local vendors. Proceeds will go SWEA Boston Scholarships and local Scandinavian non-profits.

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors
Saturday, Dec. 3
2:00 p.m.
Boston Public Library Central Branch, Boston
Free, registration required

Dr. Carolyn Finney, author of "Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors," joins BPL President David Leonard to discuss her new book, which examines how history and pop culture have created an (assumed) relationship between Black Americans and "The Great Outdoors."

A woman is in the wilderness, surrounded by tall grasses and trees. It is likely summer as she is wearing a short sleeve shirt. She is leaning on a ledge.  She is facing the camera and is smiling
Dr. Carolyn Finney
Nicholas Nichols Boston Public Library

King Richard's Borscht
Sunday, Dec. 4
3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Center Makor, Brookline
Tickets $15 - $35

Part of Shakespeare's legacy is ... there's just so many ways to read the dude, and his stories are easily mapped — seemingly without end — into new societal configurations. That's quite a roundabout way to set up some information for this stage work, presented by the Lumina Theatre Company. It's a modern retelling of "Richard III," centered on a Ukrainian boy trying to read the play while his family is making a pot of Borscht. Bring your family, too.

A Tower of Strength: Black Women of the Suffrage Movement

Opens Monday, Dec. 5
Carol Grillo Gallery, Beverly

Endicott College hosts this exhibit celebrating the lives and contributions of Black suffragettes, like Sojourner Truth, Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells, who paved the way for figures like Kamala Harris and our own representative Ayanna Pressley.

Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells, 1893
Wikimedia Commons

On Being Enslaved

Saturday, Dec. 10
3:00 p.m.
Rochambeau Library, Hope Street, Providence, Rhode Island

Brown University's Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice presents this recital by Marian Anderson String Quartet, "On Being Enslaved." The pieces are thematically linked by their respective explorations of bondage, and include Riahnnon Giddens's "At the Purchaser’s Option with Variations" and Jonathan McNair's suite "Follow the Drinking Gourd." Dvorak's "American" Quartet rounds out the program.

Junction Trio
Saturday, Dec. 10
8:00 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston
Ticket prices range from $20 (Student) to $65 for orchestra seats

The Junction Trio are made up of Stefan Jackiw (violin), Jay Campbell (cello) and Conrad Tao (piano). The young, New York-based musicians are no stranger to Celebrity Series Boston, but this is their first time together as an ensemble for the presenter. On the program are Ravel's Piano Trio, an arrangement from Gesualdo's contemplative Tenebrae Responses and the east coast premiere of Amy Williams' "Bells and Whistles," a co-commission from Friends of Chamber Music and Celebrity Series.

German Holiday Market

Sunday, Dec. 11
12:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Notch Brewing Salem

Notch's Salem location is revving up its annual holiday market, with a distinctly Teutonic Flavor. Sip the brewer's offerings, but clear out some last-minute holiday shopping while you're at it, as you browse the wares of over 20 independent sellers.

This is a poster for a winter festival.  The background of the poster is radial lines in red, white and blue.  In the center of the poster is an  illustration of a pint of beer, with the words "German Holiday Market,"  written on it.
German Holiday Market Banner
Rachel Mars Rachel Mars

Trinity Choir Presents: Handel's Messiah
Sunday, Dec. 11
2:00 p.m.
Trinity Church Boston
Tickets begin at $40

Despite Handel's "Messiah" being an easter oratorio, the famed piece has elbowed its way into December, becoming a mainstay of many a concert programmer's Christmas offerings. This year, the choir of Trinity Church presents it alongside Britten's comforting "Ceremony of Carols," and Finzi's "In Terra Pax."

A Baroque Christmas
Thursday, Dec. 15 at 7:30PM
Sunday, Dec. 18 at 3:00PM
Jordan Hall, Boston
Tickets start at $15

The Handel and Haydn Society, now in its 208th season, has a gift for those of us that crave baroque goodness: two concert dates featuring soprano Robin Johannsen. Featured in the program is Bach's cantata "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen," a showcase for soprano and trumpet; and a trio of Handel selections, including the relatively recently rediscovered "Gloria" for soprano and solo strings.

Jonathan Cohen conducts the Handel and Haydn Orchestra. He is wearing a black dress jacket and white shirt. He is smiling. His left hand is raised as he address the musicians.
Jonathan Cohen conducting the Handel and Haydn Orchestra, 2022
Sam Brewer Handel and Haydn Society