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From the ballet to Christmas movies: What we’re looking forward to this week, Dec. 16-22

This week, the Northern Virginia Magazine editorial team is looking forward to The Nutcracker, Star Wars events, holiday celebrations and Santa Girl.

feet pointed in ballet slippers
Photo by Nihal Demirci

This story appears in our weekly Things to Do newsletter, sent to subscribers every Monday. Get it in your inbox by signing up here.

By Katie BiancoJess FeldmanHolly Gambrell and Jennifer Zeleski

What’s crackin’?
I’m not going to lie, when I first saw The Nutcracker I thought, “What is happening?” basically the entire time. That was when I was a young, naive child who needed some dialogue (really, where is the dialogue??) to get through a full performance. But now, as a mature, wiser (sometimes) adult, I can appreciate The Nutcracker for what it is: a worthy tradition worth revisiting every holiday season. This week I’ll watch Manassas Ballet Theatre bring the classic tale to life. If you haven’t seen the ballet yet this holiday season, there’s still time, with plenty of showings of The Nutcracker happening across the region. -Holly Gambrell, Digital Editor // Manassas Ballet Theatre: 9004 Mathis Ave., Manassas; Dec. 18-23, times vary; $40-$80

The beginning of the end (or so we think)
Let’s talk Star Wars. To those of you who I did not lose after the first sentence, hello fellow fan (or parent of littler fans)! Just your average Star Wars late bloomer here who missed out on the fun of the series when I was young, but now aspires to be Jyn Erso. See the name similarity here? OK, let’s get down to business. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the long-anticipated Episode Nine, will be released on Thursday, Dec. 19, and I couldn’t be more pumped. Recently I’ve been catching up on the entire series via my Disney+ subscription, but this new release? It’s time to leave my living room and head to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for the weekend premiere. I have yet to watch a film there, and the theater is planning photo ops, Star Wars-themed drink and food specials and even a curated, ad-free, pre-show experience. It is the perfect place to gather the fan base one more time. Bu with The Mandalorian and baby Yoda … could this really be the last time? We’ll find out someday. Happy Holidays from Team Resistance. -Jennifer Zeleski, Editorial Assistant // Alamo Drafthouse Cinema One Loudoun: 20575 Easthampton Plaza, Ashburn; Dec. 19-22 (festivities), showtimes vary; $14.75 per ticket

It’s all in the details
I was raised both Jewish and Catholic, enabling me to celebrate the holiday season with a variety of traditions that are unique to my family. Over the years, we’ve made going to the movies on Christmas Day a habit, eating lobster fettuccine on Christmas Eve a staple and lighting the menorah while sipping red wine together a necessity. And this Saturday, I will be heading home to Boston to do it all with my brother, parents and puppy. Before then, though, I’ll visit Details for the Home in Haymarket to meet Craig Conover of Southern Charm—a guilty pleasure show of my mother’s. Conover is stopping by the small NoVA town on his Holiday Pillow Party Tour, where he will meet fans and sign his very own handmade, festive pillows. This way, I won’t come home empty-handed. -Jess Feldman, Editorial Assistant // Details for the Home: 6590 Jefferson St., Haymarket; Friday, Dec. 20, 5-7 p.m.; prices vary 

Hallmark happiness
With two tiny tots in my house, our seasonal screen time mostly consists of the holiday lineup on the Disney Channel and Nick Jr., which means I haven’t gotten my fix of schmaltzy Hallmark holiday movies this year. But, this weekend, after the kids are in bed, I’m going to settle in (with some of these chocolates) to watch Santa Girl. It’s not technically a Hallmark movie (it’s on Netflix), but it’s got all the Christmas trimmings that I crave: a love story, Christmas miracles, a villain who might ruin the season. Bonus: It was shot in NoVA at Shenandoah University. My colleague interviewed the director for our December issue. He says he purposely tried to steer away from Hallmark tropes, but let’s all watch it this weekend and decide for ourselves. -Katie Bianco, Editor 

For more fun things to do this month, read our guide to December events here.

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