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Holiday-themed entertainment bountiful this weekend

This time of year, our calendars fill up with special events that put everyone in the holiday spirit.

Here's one that the whole family will love: "Irving Berlin's White Christmas," which opens Friday at the Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks.

Many remember the 1954 film by the same name, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, which still is a seasonal TV favorite more than 60 years after its release.

Adapted for the stage, this production by the Empire Theatre Company marks the first time the heartwarming musical is being performed in Grand Forks, said Mackenzie Teepen, the Empire's communications coordinator.

"We are going all out with a stellar cast of local and regional actors," she said.

And, get this—it will even snow in the Empire!

"White Christmas" is the story of a pair of song-and-dance guys preparing to mount a show in a magical Vermont inn and falling for an attractive sister act in the process. It's packed with dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written, Teepen said.

Among the leading actors are Daniella Lima and Nicque Robinson, as sisters Betty and Judy Haynes, respectively, and Tony Peterson as Bob Wallace and David Triptow as Phil Davis.

The show is directed by Matthew Murry, with music direction by Maddie Sharpe, choreography by Patrick Kasper and stage management by Sarah Ringdahl.

Performances are Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1-2 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday and Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $24 for adults; $20 for students and military; and $16 for children younger than 10. Purchase tickets weekdays at (701) 746-5500 or anytime at www.empireartscenter.com .

If you are up for a classic Christmastime extravaganza, don't miss the world-class dancers, larger-than-life puppets and dazzling hand-crafted costumes at Friday's performance of the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker at 7 p.m. in the Chester Fritz Auditorium.

Tickets, ranging from $30 to $70, are available at the auditorium box office by calling (800) 745-3000 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com.

The HollyDazzle Festival of Lights kicks off at 11 a.m. Sunday with a free showing of "Elf" at the River Cinema Theatre in East Grand Forks, followed by family-friendly activities at 3 p.m. in Town Square in Grand Forks.

The downtown parade starts at 6 p.m., and fireworks will light up the night beginning at 7 p.m.

Cirque Music Holiday, featuring some of the world's greatest circus performers, will present "Believe" at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Alerus Center.

Billed as a fun-filled family holiday event, the show offers a concert and visual experience that blends the spellbinding grace and daredevils athleticism of high-flying acrobats and aerialists with hilarious hijinks.

For tickets, $30 and up, go to www.aleruscenter.com . A pre-show dinner package also is available for $25 per person.

The UND Wind Ensemble performance at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Chester Fritz Auditorium will feature a music performance major, Sadie Cochrane, on baritone saxophone.

Tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens and $14 per family.

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