Festive select

Things to do on and off line this December

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Available on demand, Damian Williams leads a Pop-Up Panto telling the story of what happens when a baddie tries to steal the joy of pantomime. It will feature favourite past pantomime moments including great musical numbers, the pun routine and the famous ghost gag bench.



The Leeds Opera Society performs a
300-year history of opera in the Yorkshire city in a free online documentary. The Leeds Opera Story explores the origins of the art, unearths some of the long forgotten theatres of Leeds, and even confronts the age-old question “what is an opera?”



North West-based African-led arts organisation Amani Creatives is releasing six online arts showcases and workshops one week at a time until mid-January. Highlights include a mesmerising spoken word performance by Congolese-Liverpudlian poet Blue Saint (pictured), an original composition by award-winning saxophonist Gemima Sax and African dance and bass-playing masterclasses.



A new adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic The Snow Queen by Nick Lane promises a Snow Queen like audiences have never seen before – a one-woman whirlwind performed by Polly Lister. It can be seen live, in the round at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, on various dates until 31 December.



Sherlock in Homes is an online murder mystery by Bristol Old Vic, showing until 30 Dec. Expect high wires and even higher stakes as you play detective and attempt to unmask a murderer, in this Victorian case of dastardly behaviour and deadly death at the Bearded Lady’s Circus of Wonders.



Leeds Arts University’s first digital postgraduate show is live until 31 January and features works of contemporary art, photography, fashion, textiles, and graphic design by 45 graduates across five courses. Work pictured by Nataly Perez.



Manchester theatre company Green Carnation presents Queer All About It, four moving short films celebrating LGBTQ+ lives, featuring monologues by emerging LQBTQ+ writers. The four films are HIV: 30+ Years of Change by Lorna Rose Treen, My Queer Family by Matt Gurr, Faith and Sexuality by Priyanka Jha, and Queers Beyond Borders by Lynsey Cullen, starring Leah Baskaran (pictured). 



Hivejacked finds local arts organisation Hive collaborating with 28 Blackpool artists to take over 14 tram stops between South Pier and North Pier, turning them into an open-air gallery.
Each shelter will show large-scale works in a variety of formats. Established and emerging artists taking part include Adan Gee, Adrian Pritchard, Beata Kuczynska, Dawn Mander, Elizabeth Ward, Holly Arnfield, Laura Shevaun-Green (work pictured), Richard Oughton and Robin Ross. 



York Christmas at Home is a weekend of online-streamed concerts on demand until 6 January. The Marian Consort performs vocal music from Renaissance Italy, the Chiaroscuro Quartet playing Mozart’s late Prussian Quartets. The Illyria Consort presents seasonal music for the Nativity from across Europe, and there’ll be much more besides. 



Here’s What She Said To Me is the epic tale of three generations of proud African women connecting with each other across two continents, time and space. They share their struggles, joys, tragedies and broken dreams to find healing in the present. The production was staged briefly, between lockdowns, at the Crucible Theatre but is now available to stream for free, with audiences encouraged to make a donation. 



Obstructions is an exhibition in which 15 artists from the North West re-make an existing piece of their work with one condition: they had to accept a bespoke obstruction given to them by another artist in the exhibition. Available online from Castlefield Gallery, its visitors will be able to watch video works, view installation images and read responses from the artists about their work. A 360° virtual tour of the exhibition will also enable visitors to travel digitally through the gallery. 



Created by a collection of professional artists, including Maxine Peake, (pictured) and community participants, this year the countdown to Christmas from the Royal Exchange Theatre will be filled with stories that celebrate the streets and voices of Greater Manchester. All I Want For Christmas tells tales from contemporary city-centre tower blocks to the terraces of Glebe Street in Leigh. Each day behind an advent calendar door, a short section of a story will be revealed. It’s available to watch each day until Xmas Day. 



Classical crossover soprano Sarah Brightman performs her first ever livestream concert on 20 December at 7.30pm. In an intimate winter wonderland, Brightman will breathe new life into holiday classics and festive favourites. including Silent Night, I Believe In Father Christmas, Ave Maria, La Luna and more. Brightman will be joined by an orchestra, a chorister from Trinity College, Aled Jones, the choir Gregorian and Andrew Lloyd Webber for a performance of Christmas Dream. This ticketed event is in partnership with the Global FoodBanking Network and donations are encouraged.



Artist Josie Jenkins is presenting Assembled Worlds, a collection of recent paintings that try to find order in a chaotic world, on display at the Bluecoat until January. Large-scale paintings of exteriors borrow scenery from romantic painters paired with elements of the everyday such as plastic barrier fencing and clusters of discarded furniture. In Jenkins’ interiors she creates invented scenes from borrowed objects and backdrops. 



Bad Pond Live 2020 is a free live stream event on 19 Dec featuring appearances from Jamie Lenman, Saint Agnes, AA Williams, Orchards (pictured), Gender Role, CLT DRP, and Yumi and the Weather. The online gig is presented by Small Pond, a young music company centred on a thriving recording and rehearsal studio complex in the heart of Brighton.



The world premiere of a new digital artwork by internationally acclaimed British artist Haroon Mirza is featured on Ikon Gallery’s YouTube from 16 Dec. Entitled Year Zero, Mirza’s video – part recital, part voice experiment – was produced during the Covid-19 lockdown, inspired by the widely circulated smartphone footage of communities in Italy singing from their balconies and window. It features renowned soprano opera singer Sarah-Jane Lewis, and is accompanied by an electronic score by musician Jack Jelfs.


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