The Entertainment Guide

A publication of

Season’s greetings! As the great Andy Williams once proclaimed, it’s the most stressful time of the year. No matter how hectic they are, the holidays have come, and with their arrival comes a sleigh full of exciting entertainment to enjoy.

There’s no need to enter the lottery – your golden ticket will arrive when Wonka invites you to savor a seasonal treat on Dec. 15. From Warner Bros. comes the origin story of the chocolatier who coerced weirdos into his massive factory and likely caused five children severe mental health issues… In other words, one of the most beloved characters in literature and film! Gen Z-er Timothée Chalamet has picked up the hat and cane – no, he’s not playing Mr. Peanut – to sing with Oompa Loompas. (Who I still find mildly terrifying after all these years.) The musicalfantasy-comedy sees a young Willy attempt to make his delicious dreams a reality, but he and the previously mentioned unsettling orange folk will have to beat the odds. With that said, Wonka has earned my official Must-See Movie of the Month (MSMM) stamp!

Let’s be honest: DC has not been so hot this year. (I’m not talking about Washington, that’s an entirely different subject.) The superhero studio’s three prior 2023 releases didn’t produce much guacamole at the box office, but comic book fanatics might have hope when Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom makes a splash on Dec. 22. Why do I declare this, your frontal lobe may beg? Well, it’s the sequel to a $1 billion grosser. Plus, Jason Momoa is the main character. (How the skeptics become believers so quickly.) The titular dolphin-speaking hero is back, protecting his underwater kingdom from the wrath of vengeful mercenary Black Manta – but it’ll require the help of his brother. Yikes!

As a bonus for the kids, an animated movie about ducks will fly your way on Dec. 22. The eye-popping comedy Migration finds the Mallard family departing their monotonous New England home (no offense, Rhode Island) and relocating to the island nation of Jamaica…though they have to survive their flight through New York City first. Hopefully they’ll be able to get their ducks in a row. (There was no way around that – dads everywhere will be pleased.)

Additionally, did you know that the 2016 Hallmark Channel movie Love Always, Santa was set and largely filmed in Northfield? No, not the Illinois village. Our very own Minnesota town was utilized for a Christmas-injected, albeit not Oscar-winning, motion picture! If you’re down for an excessively campy but ultimately heartwarming story, watch Love Always, Santa. The film is available for streaming on Hallmark Movies Now or for free on Plex or YouTube. (Note: yours truly was an extra in the film. No conflicts of interest here…)

Now allow me to take up the alias of Kosmo Kringle and highlight fanciful festive fun in the surrounding area. Of course, the most obvious example of this comes from Northfield’s annual Winter Walk, the holiday bash commemorating its 25th anniversary this year. Leading up to the jubilee on Dec. 7 will be the Snowflake Ornament Hunt, with the prize consisting of a thousand big ones. Watch out, Northfield: that ice decoration is mine! As usual, the downtown event will include caroling, sleigh rides, store-browsing and a visit from jolly ol’ Saint Nicholas himself. (Put in a good word for me – I’m determined to break my coal streak!)

When sorting through the entertainment options every December, it’s impossible not to detect some theatrical production of A Christmas Carol; Lakeville Area Arts Center has kept the Yuletide tradition alive. The tale as old as time (shoot, wrong play) will make its way to the stage the weekend of the 8th as a live 1940’s-era radio play! Amusing sound effects and exciting musical underscoring will occur in real time, along with the clever addition of retro advertisements. You’ll feel as though you’ve really been teleported back 80 years ago – sorry to break it to you, kids, but there weren’t any iPhones.

Paradise Center for the Arts is offering a delightful diversity of classy Christmas presents this month. However, if you’ve been cursed by the Ghost of Christmas Present (or Past, Future, whatever) and only have time for one show, make room for “A Grand Ole Opry Christmas” on Dec. 16. Local celebrity Mick Sterling and four other top-notch lead vocalists will take you on a holiday journey through various genres of Christmas music, featuring both classics and hidden gems. I am granting Mick and company the widely coveted Top Entertainment Recommendation (TER) of the month. Congrats! It’s an honor, trust me.

Finally, Keller Farm in Nerstrand has a spectacularly vintage-inspired Christmas lights display every year, so put it on your holiday bucket list to take a driving tour through their festive steading – it’ll light up your holiday spirit. (Dang it, I used that joke last month. How indolent!)

Another year come and gone. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from 2023, it’s that being in the moment means enjoying the moment. I hope you’ll do away with all that Christmastime stress and cherish the holiday season. To quote an eccentric (and oddly never-aging) North Polian friend of mine: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”