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Around Berkeley

crowd on fourth street and the holiday decorations are lit up
Fourth Street Berkeley’s famous holiday lights will be illuminated during a “lights on” celebration on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 5 p.m. The lights will turn on nightly through February 2024. Credit: Fourth Street Berkeley

🦃 As a part of its free family series, Rialto Cinemas Elmwood is showing Director Gurinder Chad’s What’s Cooking, a comedy-drama film about four families in LA of different ethnicities — Latino, Asian, African and Jewish — who get together for Thanksgiving dinner. Thursday, Nov. 9, 1 p.m. Rialto Cinemas Elmwood. FREE

🎤 The American Indian Film Institute is hosting a fireside chat with comedians Jana Schmieding and Jackie Keliiaa. Thursday, Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m. Berkeley City College. $22.05

📖 Mexican-American writer Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo discusses and reads from her new book, Incantation: Love Poems for Battle Sites as part of a Guadalupe Orozco-Gutierrez-hosted East Bay Poetas event with readings by Sara Borjas, Maya Chinchilla, and Yaccaira Salvatierra. Thursday Nov. 9, 7 p.m. Pegasus Books Shattuck. FREE

🎨 See “Seguiremos Siendo Fuego” (Keep Being Fire), La Peña’s final art exhibition of the year, while attending the center’s Empowering Women of Color Open Mic. The new exhibit consists of a collection of graphic art made by Colombian artists, activists and allies during the 2019 Colombian protests. Thursday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m. La Peña Cultural Center. $5-$25 (sliding scale) 

🎶 It’s been more than three decades since jazz vocalist Judy Carmichael performed in Berkeley, and in the interim she’s evolved from a brilliant song stylists and first-class stride pianist into an award-winning public radio host (KCSM broadcasts her show “Jazz Inspired” Sundays at 9 a.m.) who knows thousands of stories about jazz and American Songbook standards and the artists who’ve defined them. She plays the Back Room with Los Angeles guitar great Larry Koonse. Thursday, Nov. 9, 8 p.m. The Back Room. $30

🎶  From her experiences singing with Kitka and True Life Trio, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Brigit Boyle has acquired a vast and deeply felt repertoire spanning Appalachian, Balkan and Celtic folk idioms. Friday, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. The Monkey House, $10-$40

🎼 The San Francisco Symphony will cross over the bay and play a rare concert at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. It’ll play the world premiere of Drowned in Light by Jens Ibsen, the latest winner of the Emerging Black Composers Project. EBCP is a collaboration between the symphony and San Francisco Conservatory of Music that aims to address classical music’s diversity problem. Also on the program is music director Esa-Pekka Salon’s Kínēma, featuring clarinetist Carey Bell, and Stravinsky’s fun Symphony in Three Movements. Friday, Nov. 10, 8 p.m. $45+

🎷 A former member of the SFJAZZ Collective and one of the most influential and widely admired tenor saxophonists of his generation, Mark Turner checks into the California Jazz Conservatory for a Saturday afternoon masterclass and two JAMBAR-sponsored concerts with an all-star quartet featuring guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Jeff Denson, and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 10-11, 8 p.m. $35 

🇺🇸 Active and retired veterans can visit (and park their car at) any of the East Bay Regional Park District parks for free on Saturday, Nov. 11. 

❄️ Fourth Street Berkeley’s famous holiday lights will be illuminated during a “lights on” celebration on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 5 p.m. Expect plenty of family-friendly festivities: arts and crafts, magic shows with local magician Brian Scott at 5:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., live music by The 3 Elements, a glowing snow fairy on stilts and a roller skating elf. There will be complimentary cookies and cider, hot chocolate and coffee from Peet’s. FREE

🎶  After years of touring and recording with the all-women folk trio Rebecca Riots, singer/songwriter and Berkeley activist Andrea Pritchett lit out on her own to explore more elaborate instrumentation, and she returns to the Freight for another round of celebrating the release of her album The Frame with a powerhouse cast of female players, including guitarist Shelley Doty, percussionist Michaelle Goerlitz, violinist Irene Sazer, former Rebecca Riots bandmate and album co-producer Lisa Zeiler on rhythm guitar, and other musicians. Saturday, Nov. 11, 8 p.m. Freight & Salvage. $30-$35

🎶 The Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, a talent-packed 17-piece jazz ensemble led by Berkeley-reared trumpeter and composer Erik Jekabson, continues its intermittent California Jazz Conservatory residency, joined on several new pieces by the band’s in-house performance poet Avotcja. Sunday, Nov. 12, 5:30-7 p.m., Nov. 12, California Jazz Conservatory. $20

🎤 As part of Berkeley Center for New Media’s Indigenous Technologies program, Pulitzer Prize-winning Raven Chacon, a composer, performer, and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation, discusses his recent works, using scores and field recordings to explore narratives of outdoor spaces (Aristotle’s Lyceum) and indoor spaces (Catholic churches). Monday, Nov. 13, 5-6:30 p.m. Arts Research Center. FREE (suggested donation, $5-$100)

👩‍❤️‍💋‍👨 Delve into the details of one of the most iconic paintings in the world: Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss,” made in Vienna in the early 1900s. Director Ali Ray’s documentary Klimt & The Kiss, which will be shown thrice at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in November, examines how Klimt viewed women and encourages viewers to think more critically about the iconic Art Nouveau masterpiece. Tuesday, Nov. 14, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 30, 1 p.m. Rialto Cinemas Elmwood. $17

📷 Conservation photographer Dave Showalter presents his latest book, Living River: The Promise of the Mighty Colorado, which weaves together his trenchant essays and vivid photography focusing on this essential but much abused waterway. Wednesday, Nov. 15, 7-9 p.m. Brower Center. $5

🎭 Berkeley native Eisa Davis’ Bulrusher, a coming-of-age play showing at the Berkeley Rep through Dec. 3, follows a multiracial girl found as an infant floating in a basket on the Navarro River who meets a mysterious young Black woman from Birmingham. The Rep is holding its Native Heritage Night on Friday, Nov. 10. Read our review. $22.50-$134

And here are a few more suggestions for weekend activities, drawn from our round-up of affordable things to do in Berkeley:

🎲 Gather a few friends and head to Berkeley’s Victory Point Cafe to explore its vast board game collection over food and cozy drinks — the graham cracker latte is perfect for a chilly fall day. Open daily. $8 per person

🚂 Take a short scenic ride through Tilden on a real steam locomotive. The Redwood Valley Railway Company’s miniature trains have delighted East Bay families for more than 70 years. If you’re prone to mosquito bites, we recommend bringing bug spray. Saturday-Sunday (and most holidays and summer weekdays), 11 a.m. -6 p.m. $4

🛤️ Located a short walk downhill from the Redwood Valley train is the Golden Gate Live Steamers, the nation’s oldest live steam train club. You can ride the tiny steam trains, which run on propane (and member donations – the club is a nonprofit), for free. Read our story. Sundays, 12 p.m.-3 p.m. FREE

🎠 Here’s another Tilden gem: a merry-go-round built in New York in 1911 that was used in the Universal Studios film “So Ends Our Night” (1941). Reservations are encouraged but not required. Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. $4

Beyond Berkeley

The Hip Hop Nutcracker reimagines Tchaikovsky’s 130-year-old ballet as a contemporary holiday dance spectacle. Credit: Hip Hop Nutcracker

🎸 If you ever wanted to be in a band, then you can make your rockstar dreams a reality at Instant Band. Audience members at the event, which currently takes place every other month, have a chance to be chosen by the party’s host to take the stage and perform as part of that night’s band. Once the band is assembled, the group meets briefly to plan a five-minute set. Those who don’t want to participate can bring drinks to share and simply enjoy the show as an audience member. Thursday, Nov. 9, 6 p.m. East Bay Community Space, 507 55th St., Oakland. $10

🕯️ Oakland’s first South Asian city councilmember, Janani Ramachandran, will be hosting an event to celebrate Diwali, a cultural holiday significant to a number of communities in the East Bay, including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and other South Asian communities. Diwali is a national holiday in India, celebrating humanity’s ability to overcome evil and the triumph of light over darkness. This inaugural festival will have live music, performances, speakers, and small bites. DJ Madam Gandhi will provide music and emcee the event. UC Berkeley-based Bollywood dance group Azaad will also perform. Friday, Nov. 10, 6 p.m, Zanzi, 19 Grand Ave., Oakland. FREE (RSVP online)

🎄Now in its 10th year, The Hip Hop Nutcracker reimagines Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s 129-year-old classic ballet. In this rendition, Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker prince go on an adventure — but instead of taking place in traditional 19th-century Germany, this tale takes place among the diverse sights and sounds of contemporary New York City. The Hip Hop Nutcracker is performed by a dozen dancers, an on-stage DJ and an electric violinist. Saturday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m.  2025 Broadway, Oakland. $52-$90

If there’s an event you’d like us to consider for this roundup, email us at If there’s an event that you’d like to promote on our calendar, you can use the self-submission form on our events page.

The Oaklandside’s Arts and Community reporter Azucena Rasilla contributed reporting to this story.

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Iris Kwok covers the environment for Berkeleyside through a partnership with Report for America. A former music journalist, her work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, San Francisco Examiner...

Freelancer Andrew Gilbert writes a weekly music column for Berkeleyside. Andy, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, covers a wide range of musical cultures, from Brazil and Mali to India and Ireland....