Five things to do this weekend in Iowa City, including 'The Nutcracker' at the Englert Theatre

It’s the first weekend of the final month of the year and in true Iowa City style, there’s still plenty to do.

The Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen and the Nutcracker Prince have arrived for another year of the beloved holiday classic “The Nutcracker” at the Englert Theatre.

As audiences are enchanted with the fantasy world, elsewhere in Iowa City, a murder is taking place.

Fictional, of course.

Willow Creek Theatre Company is hosting Murder at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party for an evening that transports guests to a less fantastical world.

Here are five things to do this weekend in Johnson County.

‘The Nutcracker’ at the Englert Theatre

The arrival of December in Iowa City means plenty of things, including a performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Englert Theatre.

The annual tradition returns as dancers from Nolte Academy, the Coralville performing arts school, grace the stage with this classic tale.

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“The Nutcracker” follows young Clara, befriended by the Nutcracker Prince, who defeats the Mouse King and travels through the Land of Snow.

The performance includes a live orchestra conducted by Carey Bostian.

Here are the performances for "The Nutcracker" this weekend:

  • Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

  • Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

  • Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Visit the Englert Theatre’s website to purchase tickets for “The Nutcracker.”

Bijou Open Screen Fall 2022 at FilmScene

FilmScene invites audiences to a free film festival Friday.

The Open Screen Film Festival will showcase University of Iowa students and local filmmakers’ work on the big screen.

The festival comes from the Bijou Film Board, a nonprofit student ran organization “dedicated to the exhibition of independent, foreign and classic cinema,” according to the University of Iowa’s website.

Finalists from the submission process will have their work shown at the festival. Expect to see anything from documentaries, music videos, excerpts from feature films and more.

Audiences will be invited to vote for the best films of the night.

So, get your popcorn, pop and catch what people in the Iowa City area community are making.

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The festival beings at 7 p.m. at FilmScene at the Chauncey.

Visit FilmScene’s website for more information.

Holiday Open House in downtown Iowa City

Take advantage of the Holiday Open House, presented by Iowa City Downtown District, in downtown Saturday for a fun shopping experience.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., over two dozen participating businesses invite folks in for a holiday party complete with snacks, drinks or a small gift just for you.

It’s a great way to not only get some holiday shopping done, but treat yourself too.

Here is the full list of participating shops:

  • 223 Baby Co.

  • Prairie Kitchen Store

  • Sweets and Treats

  • T.Spoons

  • Glassando

  • Textiles Inc.

  • AKAR

  • Revival

  • Beno’s Flowers and Gifts

  • M.C. Ginsberg

  • Ten Thousand Villages

  • Field & Finch

  • Ewers Men’s Store

  • Discerning Eye

  • r.s.v.p.

  • Bread Garden Market

  • Basic Goods

  • The Shop Iowa City

  • Iowa Artisans Gallery

  • Om Gifts for Body & Soul

  • Herteen and Stocker Jewelers

  • Dulcinea

  • Catherine’s

  • Velvet Coat

  • Poindexter Coffee (Candle & Co pop up from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.)

Visit Iowa City Downtown District’s website for more information about this event and other holiday happenings throughout December.

Willow Creek Theatre Company’s Murder at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

It’s a whodunnit holiday evening at Willow Creek Theatre Saturday.

Here’s the premise.

The Snowflake Lodge is hosting an ugly Christmas sweater party where the crème de la crème of the town of Snow Falls will gather.

But rumors of blackmail, greed and revenge surround some of the guests.

Everyone has high hopes that the holiday spirit will be enough to quench the scandals — at least long enough for everybody to have a good time at the party,” according to Willow Creek Theatre.

For $35, you can have a space at the ugly Christmas sweater party and assume a role in this tense holiday celebration. Don your ugliest holiday sweater, and enjoy complimentary hor d'oeuvres and non-alcoholic beverages, though you can bring your own alcohol in.

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Festive party games, karaoke, prizes and entertainment from local artists round out this special experience at Willow Creek Theatre Company.

Visit the theater’s Facebook page for more information about the event and to purchase tickets.

Birdchild at Elray’s Live and Dive

Iowa cover band Birdchild is performing Saturday night at Elray’s Live and Dive.

Drew Birdsall, Justin Goodchild, Ian Draves, Ryan Plotz and Lukas Jack make up the five-member band that plays top 40 hits from the last 40 years with a special “synth/pop spin on their covers,” according to their website.

Songs by Prince, Fleetwood Mac, Foo Fighters, The 1975, Harry Styles and dozens of other artists may make an appearance during one of their shows.

Birdchild performs at 7 p.m.

Visit Elray’s Live and Dive's website for more information.

Paris Barraza covers entertainment, lifestyle and arts at the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Reach her at or (319) 519-9731. Follow her on Twitter @ParisBarraza.

This article originally appeared on Iowa City Press-Citizen: Things to do this weekend in Iowa City include ugly sweater party