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Halloween is long gone, Thanksgiving has passed but the holiday season really has just begun.

In Hamilton, don’t miss the community Christmas party at the Daly Mansion. Stop in Missoula on your way through the valley and check out the Garden City Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. Keep going through the month and by New Year’s Day you might find yourself in Woods Bay, which is home to the Flathead Lake Polar Bear Plunge. We’ve highlighted a few events in each area. Check the community calendar for a longer list of December events.

In the Bitterroot Valley:

• Santa arrives at noon on Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Daly Mansion’s community Christmas party in Hamilton. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $5 for adults, $2 for children, ages 3 and under free. Pictures with Santa are $5 each. Stop by for live music, performances, snacks, cookie decorating, crafts, Santa and a chance to see the holiday decorations at the mansion. Call 406-363-6004, Ext. 2, for more information.

• The Hamilton Players present Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Hamilton Playhouse. A mix of stage play and bedtime story appropriate for all ages. Call 406-375-9050 or visit for more information.

In the Flathead Valley:

• From Monday-Wednesday, Dec. 21-23, the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts will present “A White Christmas in Bigfork” 7 p.m. The show is full of the sacred and secular Christmas music, with ensemble, solos and full Christmas choir. Visit for more information and ticket details.

• If you’re feeling brave, on New Year’s Day you can join in the Flathead Lake Polar Bear Plunge at Woods Bay. Registration and food and drink start at 10 a.m. at The Raven. The parade begins at 1:45 p.m. and the plunge is set for 2 p.m. For more information, contact or 406-837-5472 prior to the event and 406-837-2836 on the day of the plunge, or at (See related story)

In the Missoula Valley:

• Kick off the season on Saturday, Dec. 3, with the 14th annual Parade of Lights in downtown Missoula. Family-friendly activities begin at noon and will run until 5 p.m. Santa will arrival at the Florence Building at 1 p.m. Photos with Santa will be available from 1-5 p.m. Downtown carriage rides sponsored by Lithia Ford of Missoula will take place downtown between 1:15-5 p.m. The Parade of Lights on Higgins Avenue is set to begin at 6 p.m. Lighting of the tree and caroling at The XXXXs starts at 6:15 p.m.

• The second annual Little Red Truck Vintage Market’s European Christmas kicks off on Friday, Dec. 9, at the Missoula County Fairgrounds. Last year more than 3,000 shoppers enjoyed two days of vintage, handmade and holiday shopping, artisanal baked goods, hot beverages, savory food, live music and Santa Claus. The event returns this year and runs from 5-10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, and continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10. Visit or email for more information.

• Missoula’s Tuba Christmas returns Friday, Dec. 9, at the Southgate Mall. The show takes place at the Southgate Mall Clock Court. Participants are encouraged to park and enter at the old “Sears” store location. Registration begins at 3:30 p.m. with rehearsal following at 4. The registration fee is $10. The show begins at 7 p.m. Contact Gary Gillett at 406-241-8616 for more information.

• Visit the MADE Fair at the University of Montana’s Adam Center on Sunday, Dec. 11, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. where you can find alternative arts and a craft market featuring more than 175 local and regional artists. Call 406-243-4265 or visit for more information.

• The Garden City Ballet is offering five performances of its production of The Nutcracker, beginning with an evening show on Friday, Dec. 16. Four more shows follow, with matinee and evening shows on Saturday, Dec. 17, and Sunday, Dec. 18. The shows take place at the Montana Theater on the University of Montana campus. Tickets are available at all GrizTix locations, by calling 406-243-4051 or 1-888-666-8262, or visiting Matinee shows cost $25 plus fees, evening shows cost $30 plus fees. There are no discount prices for students, seniors or children. The full length ballet runs approximately 2 hours, with one 20-minute intermission.

• Arts Missoula (formerly the Missoula Cultural Council) is preparing for the 23rd annual New Year’s Eve community-wide celebration of the arts. First Night 2017 will showcase 80 arts performances and activities throughout downtown Missoula, the University of Montana campus and Southgate Mall from noon until midnight on Saturday, Dec. 31. There also is free shuttle bus service for all participants provided by Beach Transportation. Admission buttons are $15 in advance ($18 on New Year’s Eve), with children ages 10 and under free, and starting in December will be available online at and at more than 20 locations throughout Missoula and in the Bitterroot Valley. Volunteers will receive a free button, call 406-541-0860 for more information. Special events include the annual children’s parade of hats at Southgate Mall at noon; ice carvings on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn; parking meter art; indigenous crafts; poetry slam; African, Greek and Contra dance workshops; and the Flanagan Motors burning mini-van. Performances by several local artists run through the day and evening, including the Celtic Dragon Pipe Band, Big Sky Mud Flaps, Salsa Loca, the John Floridis Trio, Captain Wilson Conspiracy, Jack Gladstone, the First Night Spotlight High School talent competition, and the grand finale at the University Center with the Ed Norton Big Band and the Drum Brothers. Before First Night: Fact and Fiction Downtown will host the annual First Night Missoula Book Fair on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Proceeds of all sales that day will be donated to the annual New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts. Admission buttons will be on sale during this event.

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