Family Picks: 8 days 'til you-know-what!

Family Picks: 8 days 'til you-know-what!

We know you're busy with that last-minute shopping, but if you want to squeeze in some fun with the kids we've got you covered!

Take in a special showing of "The Nutcracker" by the Royal Ballet, see a discounted Christmas movie, have breakfast with Santa or hear some great jazz at the Urbana Free Library. And if you need to keep the kids busy while they're out of school, how about a skate or a swim? Here's the lineup:

Ballet at The Art: "The Nutcracker," noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, The Art Theater, 128 W. Church St., C. Admission charge.

In case you missed the Champaign-Urbana Ballet's live "Nutcracker" this month, the Art will launch its ballet programming with a performance by the Royal Ballet, filmed at a 2009 performance in high-definition. Special prices for the two-hour show are $7.50 for adults and $5 for students, seniors and children.

The Art will feature monthly ballet performances from either the Royal Ballet or the Bolshoi Ballet, including:

  • January 22 & 23: Flames of Paris - Bolshoi Ballet
  • February 19 & 20: Giselle - Royal Ballet
  • March 19 & 20: Don Quixote -Bolshoi Ballet

All of these performances start at noon. Prices will be $15 for adults and $13.50 for students, seniors and children. A discount pass for all three performances is $40.50 for adults and $36 for students, seniors and children.

For information: Call 355-0068 or visit

Pokemon!  Pokemon Trading Card Game City Championships, 9 a.m. Saturday, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C; and 9 a.m. Sunday, Rantoul Public Library, 106 S. Flessner. Free.

If you don't know what this is, you've never had a 6-year-old boy. Pokemon, a media franchise owned by Nintendo, was created in Japan as a Game Boy video game and expanded to include cartoons, trading cards, toys, books and other media. It's centered around fictional creatures known as Pokemon who battle with their human trainers.

This weekend's trading-card events, to be held in hundreds of cities around the world, are preliminary rounds in the Pokemon Championship series, culminating in the 2011 World Championships in San Diego, Calif. The events are open to all players, even first-timers,and will include a raffle with Pokemon prizes and a free pizza lunch (bring your own drinks). 

For rules and regulations, prizes and other information: Visit

Breakfast with Santa: 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Jim Gould's, One Main St., C (corner of Neil and Main streets). Regular menu prices apply.

Santa will be there to greet your children. Bring your camera! Buffet and regular breakfast will be available.

For information: Call 531-1177 or visit

Holiday Open House: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Vermilion County Museum, 116 N. Gilbert St., Danville.

Enjoy costumed historical characters, old-fashioned toys, wagon rides of the neighborhood, dancers, carolers, Santa Claus, decorations and light refreshments. Dance performances are scheduled at 2 and 3 p.m., and an accordionist at 3:30 p.m.

For information: Call 442-2922

Kidtoons: "Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas," 10 a.m. Saturday, Beverly Cinema, 910 Meijer Drive, C. Admission charge.

Another in the series of discounted family matinees by Carmike Cinemas. George and the Man in the Yellow Hat are having a merry time counting down the days until Christmas, but there's one problem: they don't know what to buy each other.

Tickets are $3 for children and $5 for adults.

For information: Visit the Kidtoon films website or the Beverly website or call 359-4995

Lights Up Sound Down: "Yogi Bear," 9:15 a.m. Saturday, Savoy 16 Theater, address, Savoy.

Goodrich Quality Theaters provides these special showings so children with autism or other special needs can enjoy their favorite movies in a comfortable, sensory-friendly setting, with the lights turned up and volume turned down.

The screenings are offered once a month on Saturdays at 9:15 a.m. Regular Matinee prices apply.

For information: Call the Savoy at 355-3456 or visit this website

Ice skating: UI Ice Arena, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 406 E. Armory Ave,. C. Admission charge.

Work off those holiday treats with some indoor ice-skating! The Ice Arena has expanded public hours this weekend.

Skating is free for UI students, Campus Recreation members and children under age 3, and $4 for youths (under 13) and $5 for adults. Prices do not include skate rental charges.

For information: Call 333-2081or visit the arena's website

Jewelry Workshop for Kids: 2 to 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C. Free.

Intended for school-age children, this hands-on program will allow them to create simple bracelets, rings, beads and other jewelry pieces to keep or give to friends.

For information: Call 403-2030 or visit

UFLive! New Orleans Jazz Machine, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Busey-Mills Reading Room, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

Escape the winter blues and lift your spirits with the sounds of a Dixieland sextet. Led by clarinetist and local favorite Carl Johnson, the group has a unique blend of swinging New Orleans-style jazz.

For information: Visit

Winter swim! Public swim hours, 1:30 to 9 p.m. Friday and other school holidays, Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center, address, Urbana. Admission charge.

Looking for something to do while the kids are off school? Check out the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center, which is offering expanded public swim hours during winter break.

The pool will be open  from 1:30-9 p.m. Friday, from Monday through Wednesday, and from Dec. 27-30.

For information: Visit

Gifts for Fido: Craft a Gift for Your Pet, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jarman Center, 704 W. Main St., Tuscola. Free.

Craft a present for your favorite four-legged friend. Projects will be easy and are kid-friendly, and supplies will be provided. You can bring your own material or pattern if you'd like.

The event is sponsored by the Okaw Veterinary  clinic. Please RSVP by Saturday by calling 253-3221 or email

For information: Visit

And still on our list:

Candlestick Lane: Holiday light display, 5 to 10 p.m. daily through Christmas, corner of Grant Place and Eastern Drive, Urbana. Free.

‘White Christmas': Musical continues 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Dec. 19, The Little Theatre on the Square, 16 E. Harrison St., Sullivan.

The classic holiday tradition "White Christmas" comes to the stage, as a brand new Irving Berlin musical direct from Broadway. Tickets are $28 to $30.

For information:  Call 728-7375 or visit

Santa in the Depot: 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Monticello Train Depot, downtown Monticello, 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Free.

Chat and take photos with the big guy in the red suit!  Santa will also be there from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 21-23.

For information: Call 762-7921 or visit the Monticello Chamber of Commerce website


Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Friday for upcoming family friendly events, pulled from our News-Gazette online calendar, e3 magazine and other sources.

Do you have an item you’d like to submit? Email me at, or use the online calendar on the News-Gazette home page,

Photos: The Pokemon characters Ash and Pikachu, top. Courtesy Google images

Jennifer McFall of Mahomet and son Nathan move slowly around the rink during the public skate at the University of Illinois Ice Arena in 2007, middle. Darrell Hoemann/News-Gazette

"Irving Berlin's White Christmas," bottom. Courtesy Little Theater on the Square website


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