The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley over the holidays

Plenty of holiday cheer to be had — from Klezmer to Christmas music — or you can just watch the Cal women’s basketball team continue its winning streak.

Telegraph Holiday Street Fair
The annual Telegraph Avenue holiday fair runs from Saturday through Christmas Eve. Photo: Telegraph Fair

TELEGRAPH FAIR A familiar holiday-season sight in Berkeley: four blocks of booths covered in soaps, earrings, puppets, tie-dye t-shirts, succulents and, last year at least, some kind of skateboard-turned-string-instrument. It’s the 36th annual Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, where vendors — the avenue’s mainstays as well as visiting artisans — peddle handcrafted goods readied for gift-giving. Admission and gift wrapping are free, and Scott Guberman will provide musical accompaniment. There will be plenty of food for sale too, of course. Saturday through Tuesday, Dec. 21-24, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Telegraph Avenue between Bancroft and Dwight ways.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL The Cal women’s basketball team heads into the holidays with a seven-game winning streak. But the squad will unquestionably be challenged against nationally ranked Kentucky on Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion. The Wildcats come to Berkeley with a glittering 10-1 record, their only loss coming against in-state rival Louisville. The Bears are 7-2. Cal are paced by senior guard Jaelyn Brown, the only returning starter from last season. She had 30 points and 12 rebounds when the team topped then-#20 Arkansas on Nov. 24. Saturday, Dec. 21, 4 p.m., Haas Pavilion.

OPEN STUDIOS The holidays are coming up. There are only a couple more days to get your holiday shopping in. Thinking of something creative, distinctive and local to gift someone? The 29th Annual Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios will have a large variety of original hand-crafted work from 100 hand-picked artists and craftsmen in or around Berkeley. Each piece of artwork has their own originality ranging from up-cycled materials to mosaics and many more different art pieces. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21- 22 at 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Berkeley Artisans, 2547 Eighth Street.

KUGELPLEX I’ll hazard a guess that the most clever musical group names, pound for pound, are in Klezmer. Hence, Kugelplex. “Kugelplex is the West Coast’s most rockin’-est purveyor of klezmer and old-world party music.” The group will be playing at The Freight on Sunday evening. Sunday, Dec. 22, 7 p.m., Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison St.


BACKROOM MERRY CHRISTMAS If you want something decidedly different, at least in its billing, you could try the 2nd Annual Merry Christmas from a Jewish Atheist Pianist at The Back Room on Christmas Eve. Sam “Hurricane” Rudin has this to say (which certainly charmed me): “Clearly, in terms of heritage and beliefs, my connections to the holiday are slim. But as a sentient being in the USA, I am fully acculturated, and as a musician, I couldn’t help noticing that, if I chose carefully, and stayed far away from Rudolph and Frosty… hey, a lot of this music is really good – and not just good, but flexibly available to a lot of interpretations. And, both as a player and a listener, I’ve always loved taking old things and making them new again. So, in spite of the somewhat flippant headline, this will be an entirely respectful, and musically sincere evening. So if you can’t be with your family tonight, or if your own heritage and belief systems have you heading out for Chinese food – please stop by and and indulge in our shared musical tradition. And no!, the night will NOT include an obligatory chorus of ‘Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.'” Tuesday, Dec. 24, 8 p.m., The Back Room, 1984 Bonita Ave.

Don’t miss these other events covered on Berkeleyside:

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