The Nutcracker Tradition Continues (CPs Sun., 12/15/2013)

1) Join the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra and the Laurel Ballet for a magical afternoon with The Nutcracker Ballet at The Palace Theatre. Accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s music, the timeless ballet tells the tale of young Clara and her encounters with her nutcracker doll, the mouse king, gingerbread soldiers, and the Land of Sweets. Classic compositions like “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Flower Waltz” captivate audiences of all ages and show us the magic of the holiday season, no doubt bringing out the inner child in all of us. Featuring dancers formerly from the Pittsburgh Ballet as well as the Tamburizans, The Nutcracker is a true holiday treat. 2 p.m. 21 W. Otterman St., Greensburg.

2) Even if you’ve been naughty, you have a chance at redemption at the Hard Rock Cafe for Breakfast with Santa. Enjoy a breakfast buffet for the whole family while the little ones can tell Santa just what they want for Christmas. The event also includes a goodie bag and a train ride for the kids to the Station Square shops. Parents can enjoy free parking, too. In the spirit of the holiday season, the Hard Rock will be collecting new, unopened toys for Toys for Tots. Please consider a donation for families less fortunate. Also, please call to reserve your spot as space is limited. 9 a.m. 230 W. Station Square Dr., Station Square.

3) It might not be the seven levels of the Candy Cane Forest or the Sea of Swirly Twirly Gum Drops, but the Peoples Gas Holiday Market is an impressive display of all the things we love about winter. Enjoy an old-world feeling with a modern twist through the shopping village and the beautifully illuminated Market Square. Hop on the Holly Trolley to various stops throughout downtown including the U.S. Steel Plaza Creche; ice skate at the rink in PPG Place, or finish your holiday shopping at one of the numerous vendors set up. Vendors have all kinds of gift ideas, from Russian nesting dolls by Gifts from Afar to recycled pieces of the Civic Arena by Wendell August Forge. Holiday spirit is contagious here, so make sure to bring a friend. Runs through Dec. 23. Sunday hours 12 – 4 p.m. Market Square, Downtown.

4) Are you still nursing that Buccos hangover from this past season? Get your fix today at PirateFest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Pirates fans of all ages can enjoy the various activities from the Kids Fun Zone to Q&A sessions with your favorite Pirates. Find your buried treasure with authentic jerseys and bats and get information on 2014 season tickets and ticket packages (seriously, they’ll go faster than ever this year). 12 – 5 p.m. 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Downtown.

5) Perhaps the Steelers are plotting an early Christmas present for their fans this year with a victory over bitter division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. The battling Steelers (5-8) take on the first place team in the AFC North at Heinz Field for the nationally televised Sunday Night Football game. Find your thermals and pack that stadium—our boys need all the cheers they can get! 100 Art Rooney Ave., North Shore.

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Jessica Dayhoff

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