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Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents The Ghosts of Christmas Eve – the Best of TSO & More

Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents The Ghosts of Christmas Eve – the Best of TSO & More

Photo courtesy of Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Progressive rock group Trans-Siberian Orchestra comes to San Antonio as part of their 2022 winter tour, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve – the Best of TSO & More. They will present a completely updated presentation of the multi-generational holiday tradition.

The rock opera features enduring fan favorites like "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24," "O’ Come All Ye Faithful," "Good King Joy," "Christmas Canon," "Music Box Blues," "Promises To Keep," and "This Christmas Day." They'll also perform a second set containing more of TSO’s greatest hits and fan-pleasers, including “Wizards In Winter,” “A Mad Russian’s Christmas,” and more.

Photo courtesy of Dean Z

Empire Theatre presents Dean Z’s Rockin' Christmas Show

Empire Theatre presents Dean Z’s Rockin' Christmas Show

An award-winning and internationally acclaimed entertainer, Dean Z sings audiences' favorite rockin’ holiday hits, featuring his high-energy 12-piece band and the beautiful Deltatones. The show will include rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly and swing Christmas classics, guaranteed to rock the holiday spirit.

Photo courtesy of Central Market

Your best gingerbread creations could win $500 from Central Market

Sugar and Spice

Is your gingerbread house the stuff of family legend? Do coworkers clamor for your expertly decorated gingerbread cookies? Have you watched The Great British Baking Show and thought, "my piping is so much tidier"?

This is your chance to prove it, and possibly win a $500 gift card from Central Market.

From now until December 27, upload photos of your gingerbread masterpieces here.

And don't think you have to confine your creations to houses or people — let your imagine run wild and decorate to impress.

Two winners will be chosen for each Central Market location. All entrants must be 18 years or older, and winners will be contacted directly.

Read the official rules here, and good luck!

Photo courtesy of Central Market

Ready to win?

Photo by Allen Fraser/Universal Pictures

Santa Claus comes to town for a fight in Violent Night

Movie Review

When it comes to movies themed around Christmas, there are an infinite number of heartwarming films and a surprising number of horror movies. But, unless you are among those who count Die Hard as a Christmas movie, there are almost no holiday action films, and even fewer where Santa Claus is the hero at the center of it.

That makes Violent Night a unicorn of a film, one in which Santa (David Harbour) is a disillusioned, drink-addled mess whom we first meet downing beers in a bar on Christmas Eve. After stumbling through house after house, complaining all the while about kids’ obsession with video games, he makes his way to the estate of Gertrude Lightstone (Beverly D’Angelo).

Instead of seeing a happy family, he encounters two jealous siblings and their families, and a coordinated attack by an outside group led by a man nicknamed Scrooge (John Leguizamo) looking to steal $300 million in cash. Somewhat reluctantly, Santa uses his holiday magic – and long untapped military experience – to take on the bad guys and ensure a merry Christmas for those who deserve it.

Written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller (the team behind the two Sonic the Hedgehog movies) and directed by Tommy Wirkola, the film more than lives up to its title, splattering much of its running time with enough blood to satisfy any hardcore action fan. The creative ways in which villains are killed or maimed are numerous, including a fantastic final death and an homage to Home Alone that’s only slightly more graphic than the sequences in that classic kids movie.

Photo by Allen Fraser/Universal Pictures

David Harbour in Violent Night.

It’s surprisingly easy to accept Santa Claus as a vengeance-seeking action hero. Harbour is clearly having a ball in the role, and because he plays Saint Nick as grizzled and grumpy, there’s no disconnect between the kindly version we know and love and this more intense one. He also gets the majority of the laugh lines in the film, with a good number (though less than expected) giving a fun twist on holiday clichés.

The problem with the film is that it can’t sustain the momentum of the Santa mayhem scenes. The filmmakers try to have it both ways, pairing ultra-violence with a (dysfunctional) family story, using a cute girl who still believes in Santa as the bond between the two tones. The lack of attention paid to the dialogue of the Lightstone family is glaringly evident, especially since all of their roles, with the exception of D’Angelo, are filled by relatively unknown actors.

Anytime Santa Claus is on the screen – which is less than you might think – the film works. But any other time, it’s clear that they’re just trying to come up with something – anything – for the characters to do until they can get back to Santa kicking ass. And most of the time, what they’ve come up with is so eye-rollingly stupid or poorly written that you wonder why they included it in the first place.

Harbour is the glue that keeps the film watchable, committing himself 100 percent to the idea of the role. He doesn’t go overboard with the typical Santa elements, and the fact that he looks different from your typical Santa Claus also helps with the believability factor. Almost no one else is worth mentioning, save for maybe Leah Brady, the aforementioned cute girl who shines amid the depravity.

The potential for an alternative holiday classic was there with Violent Night, but the filmmakers focused too much on balancing the film instead of delivering on what the concept promised. If there is a next time, they should just let go of the reins and let Santa Claus go completely loose.

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Violent Night opens in theaters on December 2.

Courtesy of Enchanted Springs Ranch

10 festive holiday happenings outside the San Antonio city limits

Holiday Happenings

Visiting the San Antonio area this holiday season, but want to see more than the River Walk lights? Or the Travis Park Christmas tree and the surrounding holiday wonderland?

Several suburbs and towns surrounding the Alamo City have their own Christmas events. Some are a few years old, others date back decades, but each offers a taste of the community's holiday spirit. Check out 10 holiday happenings outside the San Antonio city limits.

Boerne: Old West Christmas Light FestNow through December 24
Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne is the place to be as the ranch is transformed into an Old West town. Guests may come during most any evening now through December 24 and get into the holiday spirit, aided by millions of twinkling Christmas lights, live music, and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. There's even a chance to see Santa’s herd of ... longhorns. Organizers said this year’s additions included extended Saturday hours, an interactive petting zoo, an inflatable jumping pad for children, and more illuminated tunnels through which to walk. Prices start at $20 for general admission before discounts.

Selma: The Light Park Now through January 1
Drive out to Selma’s Retama Park and ride around pathways, figures and structures lined with millions of Christmas lights, while enjoying festive holiday music. The Light Park has food and drinks, and is pet friendly. Prices start at $39 per car. Visit from 5:30-10 pm from Monday to Thursday; 5:30-11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Seguin: Lighted Holiday Parade December 1
Seguin’s annual Christmas parade features more than 70 entries around the city’s historic downtown. The parade starts at the intersection of Austin and College streets at 6:30 pm, and ends at Central Park, where the mayor will flip the switch and turn on the Christmas lights hung around downtown. Attendees may also get a photo with Santa Claus. Admission is free. Stick around for other holiday events in Seguin from December 2-4.

Hondo: A Night in BethlehemDecember 2 and 3
First Baptist Church of Hondo organizes a drive-through live nativity scene outside the church, with a 120-person cast and crew. The "story of Jesus Christ’s life" will be told with live animals and historically accurate costumes. The drive-through starts at 6 pm on both days at 2400 Avenue P. The event is free, and donations are appreciated.

Castroville: Old-Fashioned Christmas Celebration and Market December 2 and 3
Medina County’s biggest arts and craft show features artisan vendors from around South Texas, gathered in Houston Square from 6-10 pm on December 2, and 9 am to 4 pm on December 3. It offers a variety of handmade crafts, gift items, home decorations, candles, jewelry, and more. There will also be children’s activities, a visit with Santa Claus, and other entertainment. Admission is free.

Schertz: Holidazzle December 3
Holidazzle is Schertz’s annual day and evening of Christmas celebrations, starting with a breakfast with Santa, followed by the Kris Kringle Market featuring handmade crafts, specialty foods, and more. Then, the Holiday Hoopla offers snow, a temporary ice skating rink, entertainment, and a chance for fireside roasting and toasting of food for all ages. The Festival of Angels Parade, held at night, concludes the event as local schools, clubs, and merchants travel Schertz’s main roads between Pickerel Park and Community Circle Drive. All festivities take place between 8 am and 8 pm.

Windcrest: Light-Up — December 3
Windcrest’s annual holiday event is one of the more renowned activities of its kind in the San Antonio area. Dozens of households decorate their front windows, doors, porches, and lawns in fantastical ways with lights and elaborate designs according to each year’s theme; this year’s theme is Fiesta de Navidad. Members of the public are invited to use a map from the city showing them participating decorated homes and businesses to judge the best decorations. The December 3 kickoff ceremony includes entertainment, a market, and a visit from Santa. Anyone can drive through Windcrest and check out decorated, illuminate homes nightly through December 31, starting at 6 pm.

New Braunfels: Old Town Christmas Market — December 8
The New Braunfels Conservation Society puts on a market fundraiser at Conservation Plaza, filled with gift baskets, refreshments, and unique, handmade crafts and other products. The one-day event runs from 2-8 pm. Admission is free.

Helotes: Hill Country Christmas Parade — December 10
The Hill Country Christmas Parade includes many local individuals, businesses, schools, churches, and civic groups marching or traveling through “old town Helotes.” The procession starts at 13715 Riggs Road near Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church at 7:30 pm; it ends at First Baptist Church of Helotes. Admission is free.

Bandera: Sunday Funday Christmas Ride — December 18
Head out to Bandera in the Texas Hill Country, mount a rescued horse (or "mule/donkey/zebra/camel," according to the cheeky event description) and enjoy a Sunday Funday Christmas Ride by Major Hope Corral. Visitors may see Bandera’s historic downtown, hit the trails going through the city park and past Medina River, go to the Cowboy Bar, and return to the ranch; there they can gather around campfire with chili and mulled wine. The ride starts at 11 am at the corral and concludes at 4 pm.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Affluent Texas city tops list of most lavish holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub puts one affluent Texas city on the "nice list," where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to WalletHub, the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Flower Mound boasts a jolly big holiday budget of $3,531 per person this year — the third highest in the U.S.

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

While Flower Mound was the only Texas city in the top 10, there's plenty of Lone Star holiday cheer to be found in the report. In total, 15 Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531
  • Cedar Park, No. 14, $2,855
  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Allen, No. 17, $2,670
  • League City, No. 20, $2,541
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Austin, No. 78, $1,705
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630

Among Texas' major cities, Austin boasts the biggest holiday budget by far, while San Antonio has the smallest, at $803 per person (No. 431). Fort Worth ranked No. 318 with a budget of $986; Houston landed at No. 366 with a budget of $890; and Dallas ranked No. 401 with an average holiday budget of $845.

Finally, at No. 553, with a budget of $487, sits the Rio Grande Valley city of Pharr. It's the lowest-ranked Texas city and comes in just a few spots ahead of last-place Hartford, Connecticut, with a budget of only $211.

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Legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers heat up San Antonio with 2023 tour stop

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most legendary acts is headed to San Antonio on their highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play the Alamodome on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

Kicking off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29, RHCP will also stop in Houston's Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25 to close out the North American leg of the tour before heading to Europe. Effortlessly hip modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers on both Texas stops, along with talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale at 10 am Friday, December 9 online. Other supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red-hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Texas-based 3D printing company tapped by NASA to build on the moon

To infinity and beyond

An Austin-based builder of 3D-printed homes, ICON, is making one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind by signing a $57 million contract with NASA to build on the moon.

According to a release from ICON, the Texas company will soon venture into a new frontier of space dimensions. The contract, announced on November 29, was awarded to the company under NASA's Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This program allows ICON to use the $57 million award to build their Olympus system, which adds to previous construction done by both NASA and the Department of Defense for exploration of the moon and beyond.

"ICON’s Olympus system is intended to be a multi-purpose construction system primarily using local lunar and Martian resources as building materials to further the efforts of NASA as well as commercial organizations to establish a sustained lunar presence," the release stated.

The project will work in conjunction with NASA's Artemis program, which launched its first rocket in 50 years on November 15. ICON will work with the program to:

  • Use lunar regolith samples brought back from Apollo missions, in addition to other regolith simulants, to see their mechanical behavior in lunar gravity.
  • Bring advanced hardware and software into space through a lunar gravity simulation flight.
  • Create results to inform future lunar construction approaches for the space community.
  • Establish critical infrastructure necessary for a sustainable lunar economy and habitation.

“The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world, and that is going to be a pretty special achievement," said Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO.

"It's a construction system we call Olympus system that will allow us to use the local materials of the moon to build all the elements of infrastructure necessary for a lunar outpost and ultimately a moon base ... launch and landing pads, roadways, habitats, you name it, all the things on the moon," said Ballard.

He added that they hope to start building on the moon by 2026, starting with a launch and landing pad.

In addition to the grant, ICON was awarded a subcontract in 2021 to support NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate to create the world's first and only simulated 3D-printed Mars surface habitat. Called Mars Dune Alpha, it is located at NASA's Johnson Space Center and is assisting in long-duration science missions.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

6 things to know in San Antonio food right now: New beer garden quietly opens

New You Can Eat

Editor's note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of San Antonio's restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Openings

The owners of Gold Feather have unofficially untapped a new venture, LadyBird Beer Garden. Although official channels are keeping details mum, a Facebook page run by landlords VLA Real Estate spilled the beans on the November 25 opening. In addition to serving craft beer, the concept at 447 W. Hildebrand Ave has a full kitchen, bar, and a small patio for enjoying the mild December weather.

Months after coyly announcing a second location, Elotitos Corn Bar sprouted a new Government Hill location on December 3. The snack shop is well known for its aguas frescas and elotes flights, offering the street food staple in various flavors. The new outpost is open Monday through Saturday, 3-9 pm.

Following the recent San Antonio expansion of Oregon-based Dutch Bros Coffee, another out-of-towner is gaining some local buzz. According to Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation records, Arkansas franchise 7 Brew Coffee is brewing its first Alamo City location at 4825 Walzem Rd. Barring delays, the project will be completed in May 2023.

Pop-up concept Rose Hip Coffee has found a permanent home at 116 W. Olmos Dr. in Olmos Park. The broadened Rose Hip Market combines caffeine with boutique retail, offering everything from kid's clothes to ready-to-eat sandwiches and salads. The playful equestrian wallpaper might make it a can't-miss selfie spot.

Other news and notes

A new cocktail conference will lift San Antonio's spirits in January. The Culinaria-hosted Third Coast Cocktail Summit will feature seminars, tastings, dinners, and tipsy soirées during its five-day run from January 10-14. All-access passes are now available for $250 for industry and $500 for general admission at the nonprofit's website.

In other booze news, Kinsman's Brandy Alexander Tour is back in full swing for the holiday season. Dorćol Distilling's annual celebration of the famous desert cocktail has drafted 14 spots to offer the renowned desert cocktail this year, including several newcomers like Allora, Bar Loretta, Double Standard, Ladino, and Sojourn Trading Co. A full list of participants can be found here.