1. ‘Twas the weekend before Christmas, and throughout the whole state, people sighed with relief as the hour is late. Less than one week until the big day, and we finally got a little bit of snow, instead of dark, dreary, heavy rain. Starting a little early this weekend, on Thursday night there’s the release part for the “Ghosts of Bangor” calendar, set for 7 p.m. at the Main Tavern. On Friday, some of the many fun things to do includes The Focus Group holiday improv show at 8 p.m. at the Next Gen Theatre in Brewer; the monthly contradance at 8 p.m. at the UU Church; at Tantrum, there’s a rock benefit for Toys for Tots featuring rockers Hafsol, The Resistance, Bangtown Timebomb, and Gunhouse Hill; at Paddy Murphy’s there’s a double bill of indie rock with Chamberlain and The Box Tiger (pictured above); Him & Her is at Nocturnem Drafthaus and songwriter Samantha Lynn is at the Big Easy. On Saturday, the Central Gallery on Central Street hosts Portland hip hop-rock duo Caro Khan at 9 p.m.; Dominic James is at Paddy’s, blues guys Sus4 are at the Big Easy, Colin Graebert and friends play all sorts of fun songs holiday and not at Nocturnem, Magnetic North rocks the house at Ipanema, and up in Orono, there’s a night of comedy — also raising money for Toys for Tots — featuring the likes of Travis Cowing, Adam Hatch, Jeremy White, Erik Gundersen, Tuck Tucker and many more.
2. I don’t know how you could possibly feel more cheery than the double bill of holiday movies at the State Theatre in Portland Friday night; “It’s a Wonderful Life” at 7 p.m. and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” at 10 p.m.; it’s $5 for both and kids under 10 are free. At Empire, there’s the annual Flannibus Ball, featuring electronic and hip hop artists including Wisdom, J. Keck, ill by instinct, Northern Lights Nation and DJ KTF and there’s some Maine-made jazz and funk with Micromasse, Jaw Gems and the Maine Marimba Ensemble at the Space Gallery. On Saturday, Port City Music Hall hosts the triumphant return of Maine rapper Spose (pictured), after his nationwide tour, with guests Ock Cousteau and Cam Groves; there’s two shows at the Space Gallery, one at 2 p.m. featuring Brazilian ensemble Charo Louco and folk duo Snaex, and one at 8 p.m. featuring excellent Portland hip hop including Mike Clouds, Mosart212, Trele the God and others. At Geno’s, there’s so much punk rock with Great Western Plain, Babe, RSO and TG9, and there’s a triple bill featuring Samuel James, Zach Jones and Dominic Lavoie at One Longfellow Square, raising money for Toys for Tots.
3. Rock-o-land will rock-o-you this weekend. On Friday, there’s Tomorrow Morning at the Speakeasy and there’s the Santa’s Naughty or Nice Holiday Extravanganza at Rock Harbor Brewing in Rockland, with guests the Midnight Riders. On Saturday, the Camden Opera House hosts a holiday concert featuring singer-songwriter and Camden native Michael Weferling (pictured) with guests Joani Mitchell and Alyssa Manzi; the Barbour Clark Jazz Duo is at Rock City, rockabilly rockers the Murder Weapon are set for the Speakeasy, there’s a DJ dance party at Trackside Station, and there’s a holiday bash at the Myrtle Street Tavern with the 220s. There’s also a special Rock Coast Rollers roller derby event at 5 p.m. at Point Lookout in Northport; it’s free but a non-perishable food donation is encouraged.
4. In special holiday events this weekend, we’re in the home stretch, so if you haven’t seen “The Wizard of Oz” at the Penobscot Theatre or “A Christmas Carol” at Portland Stage, now’s your chance; it’s also Nutcracker weekend at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, with performances at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday featuring the Robinson Ballet and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. You can also enjoy the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s “Magic of Christmas” spectacular, with performances at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday at Merrill Auditorium. Finally, for something a little different, the Chocolate Church in Bath offers their “Fairy Tale Christmas Carol,” with fairy tale characters in place of Dickens’ original characters; performances are at 7 p.m Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; and on Saturday at 2 p.m. Portland bar Bull Feeney’s will host a Christmas Carol Slam, in which participants can write original carols, perform them, and then be judged by the audience. Sounds terrifying.
5. Oh, pish posh — it’s Christmas! Make some cookies. Wrap some presents. Drink some nog. Or see a movie — “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” opens this weekend, the black comedy “Birdman” is spectacular, “Night at the Museum 3” is starting and your kids might drag you to see “Annie.” We can just kind of coast through the rest of 2014 now, can’t we?