Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Consol; Handmade Arcade at the Convention Center (CPs Sat., 12/7/13)

1) In 1993, musician/rock band manager Paul O’Neill hit upon the idea that Christmas could be totally metal and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra was born. The TSO plays holiday music, traditional and its own, with a Rush level of pomposity and technical skill, an annual event that has racked up sales of over million albums. You probably know the band’s wailing, synth-infused version of “Carol of the Bells.” It’s the most hardcore track DJs pull out each December. Music like this of course deserves the arena treatment, with a light show and all, and the TSO makes the rounds at the end of each year. Today, they come to the Consol Energy Center for two shows guaranteed to make this holiday season seem like the most epic one since the last one. 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown.

2) The Handmade Arcade is like the mall, except that every seller is unique and unpredictable instead of the opposite. For the last nine years, the annual craft fair has brought clothiers, printmakers, bookbinders, housewares creators, illustrators, stationery designers, knitters, toy smiths, bath product inventors and other artisans under one roof. This year, more than 150 vendors will be on hand, organized into seemingly endless rows in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. This is where people who pretend they’re too cool for Christmas shopping actually do their Christmas shopping. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. No cover. 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Cultural District.

3) Although the blog uses a sandwich with fries in it as a logo, eatPGH’s contributors are dedicated to going beyond Pittsburgh’s few well-known food fetishes and really diving into the city dining scene. They have poured their knowledge into a new cookbook, The Pittsburgh Chef’s Table, with recipes from restaurants across the city. Today, at café/grocery store Marty’s Market, eatPGH is holding a launch party. They’ve hired a DJ and have scored choice alcohol (locally sourced of course, from places like Full Pint Brewing and Maggie’s Rum Farm). Best reason to come , besides the chance to dance in a grocery store: the $40 ticket price includes a copy of the book. 7 p.m. 2031 Smallman St., Strip District.

4) City Dwelling Nature Seekers are no amateurs, and by that, we don’t just mean they’re really, really good; we mean they have credentials! The members of the alt-country quartet all have music degrees from Duquesne University. While undergrads, they formed the band and cut their teeth through gigs at a campus pizza parlor. Now a touring act with an album out, the guys play the Thunderbird Café tonight, after an opening set by local singer/songwriter Megan Burtt. 9 p.m. 4023 Butler St. Lawrenceville.

5) The mixed martial arts matches that are challenging boxing as America’s favorite fighting sport return to Stage AE tonight with Gladiators of the Cage. 10 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore.

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Nick Keppler

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