Christmas Carol Service • 4 p.m. Saturday, Cathedral of the Madeleine, 331 E. South Temple. The Christmas Carol Service features music of the Advent and Christmas seasons, including plainchant, choral works and traditional carols. For more information, 801-328-8941.
Christmas Eve Service • 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Dixie Center, 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George. Multi-denomination Christmas Eve service, readings and singing. For more information, 435-674-4955.
Santa on the Slopes • 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Canyons Resort, 4000 Canyons Resort Drive, Park City. Santa will shred the slopes at the Canyons, delivering candy and treats to all the good boys and girls around. Look for Santa at the Flight of The Canyons gondola, as well as throughout the entire resort.
Santa Claus visits Deer Valley • 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Deer Valley Resort, 2250 Deer Valley Drive S., Park City. From 9-11 a.m., Santa will visit guests in the Snow Park Lodge Area and from noon-1:30 p.m. in the Silver Lake Lodge area. For more information, http://www.deervalley.com/events-calendar.html or 435-649-1000 or 800-424-DEER (3337).
48th Annual Torchlight Parade • 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Park City Mountain Resort, 1345 Lowell Ave., Park City. Santa will be skiing the resort 11 a.m.-2 p.m. From 5:30-6:30 p.m. enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies on the Resort Plaza. At 6:15 p.m., Santa leads the torchlight parade down the PayDay run. For more information, http://www.parkcitymountain.com or 435-649-8111.
Ogden Christmas Village • Nightly through Jan. 1, 2500 Grant Ave., Ogden. Visit a replica of Santa's village at the North Pole. Live entertainment Tuesdays through Fridays. For more information, www.ogdencity.com or 801-629-8247.
Spanish Fork Festival of Lights • 6-10 p.m. daily through Dec. 31. Canyon View Park, 3300 East Powerhouse Road, Spanish Fork. The Festival of Lights displays are animated and contain motion lights or moving parts. You can view lights from your car or take a hayride through the park. Hayrides available for groups of 20 or more. Admission $5 per car, $15 large van and vehicles with trailers, $25 for buses. For more information, www.utahvalley.com or 801-804-4500.
Basketball marathon • 8 a.m. Monday start, Clearfield Aquatic Center, 825 S. State St., Clearfield. This five-day marathon basketball game benefits The Fallen Heroes Scholarship Foundation, which provides scholarships to surviving members of U.S. soldiers and police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Participants hope to set a world record for the longest continuous basketball game, of over 108 hours. The event is open to the public and is a fundraiser for scholarships. For more information, www.fallenheroscholarship.org or 801-525-2700.
Christmas Day is often the last day of the year when movies are released – and, in this case, it's a day for a very good movie.
Before that, though, are three new movies opening today – and two of them are pretty good.
"We Bought a Zoo" is writer-director Cameron Crowe's return to form (after misfiring with "Vanilla Sky" and "Elizabethtown"). He directs a sweet, whimsical story (based on true events) of Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon), a widower who decides to move his family to the country and the house they find turns out to be attached to a rundown zoo, so he gamely takes over operating it. The supporting cast includes Thomas Haden Church as Mee's doubting brother, Scarlett Johansson as a dedicated zookeeper and Elle Fanning as her country-girl cousin.
The other two movies opening today are French. One is "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life," an eye-opening and occasionally surrealistic biopic of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, who was as legendary for his music as he was for his bedroom conquests including Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. Actor Eric Elmosnino plays Gainsbourg with a rakish charm and a brooding dark side.
Also opening today is "The Women on the 6th Floor," a comedy that starts promising but never delivers. It stars Fabrice Luchini as a Parisian businessman, circa 1962, who starts noticing the conditions for the Spanish maids who live upstairs in his apartment building.
OK, now for the main Christmas Day opening: Steven Spielberg's "War Horse." (The review will be posted online later today.) It's a stately, old-fashioned epic built around the simple story of a teen, Albie (Jeremy Irvine), and his horse. What's not so simple is the setting: England, just before the start of World War I. The story follows the horse, Joey, as he is taken into that war. Joey experiences many episodes some harrowing, others uplifting and so does Albie. Spielberg's craftsmanship is on full display, and some of the scenes are astonishingly beautiful.
Lastly, there's another movie opening on Christmas Day: "The Darkest Hour," a thriller in which some American college kids in Moscow are the only thing standing between humanity and an alien invasion. The movie was not screened for critics.
Lark & Spur • The Lark & Spur Christmas program is known for its reliance on melodies, acoustic instrumentation and a respect for the traditions and feelings associated with the Christmas season and message. For many it has become a regular part of the holiday season. Over the years the ensemble evolved. Today the line-up includes Michael Fjerstadt on nylon string acoustic guitar, Evan Coombs on bass, Ray Smith on woodwinds, Lori Decker on vocals, tin whistle and mandolin, and Jeff Whiteley on guitar and vocals. Percussionist Jay Lawrence will also be a special guest of the ensemble. But what makes this indoor yes, indoor concert unique is that this is the first of a series of free concerts that the Excellence in the Community Foundation will hold at the Gallivan Center throughout 2012. Snow, Christensen & Martineau, a law firm that has been in business for 125 years, will be the presenter sponsor for the Excellence concerts at Gallivan Center.
When • Friday night at 7:30
Where • Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • Free
Spencer King • This local, up-and-coming comic has been featured in competitions and festivals across the country, including the Seattle International Comedy Competition and North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. Recently he made his Los Angeles and New York debuts and continues to move himself up the comedy ranks. His approach to taking on his own struggles with mental illness and his unapologetic approach to discussing things like attempted suicide and his love-hate relationship with his cat make him one of the more unique comedians in Utah.
When • Friday night at 7 and 9
Where •Wiseguys Trolley Square, 505 S. 600 East, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $10 at wiseguyscomedy.com
Mannheim Steamroller • Mannheim Steamroller brings a holiday tradition to Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, with its New Age take on holiday music.
When •Friday at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Where • Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $50-$75 at ArtTix
Marleymas: Burning Down Babylon • Billed as "A Very Gypsy Jah-Mas," this holiday-themed reggae show features local favorites including Natural Roots, Funk N Gonzo, Leik Affect, Afro Omega, Ashlee K, and more.
When • Friday night at 6
Where • The Organ Loft, 3331 S. Edison St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $30 at door
The Folka Dots Christmas Show • This Salt Lake City alt-country ensemble will hold its annual Christmas show, with its sound influenced by Bob Dylan, The Carter Family, Hank Williams, Leadbelly, Lucinda Williams, Brandi Carlile and Gillian Welch.
When •Friday night at 7
Where • Kilby Court, 741 S. Kilby Court (330 West), Salt Lake City
Tickets • $6 at door
Thrillionaires • This talented improv group will perform its holiday-themed show, "A Dickens of a Tale." The Thrillionaires perform live, improvised musical comedies and plays without a script of any kind, and make up all the lyrics and dialogue on the spot.
When •Friday night at 8
Where • Covey Center for the Arts, 425 W. Center St., Provo
Tickets • $8-$10 at coveycenter.org
Kurt Bestor: One Silent Night • Kurt Bestor is an Emmy-award-winning composer and one of America's most prolific and versatile composers. Bestor's holiday shows have sold-out to audiences across the west over the last 16 years, but this is a more intimate demonstration of Bestor's talent.
When • Saturday, Dec. 24 at 6 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 25 at 6 p.m.
Where • Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., Park City
Tickets • $15-$35 at parkcityshows.com
ONE CHEAP CHICK
Google offering a free call from Santa • Google is offering a free personalized call from Santa to anyone in the United States. Go to http://www.sendacallfromsanta.com/?utm_source=ogb&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=launch for more information about this offer. Go to http://www.google.com/press/audio/google_santacall_2011.mp3 to listen to a sample call.
Don't forget, you can track Santa's whereabouts on Christmas Eve at http://www.noradsanta.org/en/, and leading up to Christmas, children can play a variety of online games on this popular site. At PortableNorthPole.tv/home, you can make a free personalized video message for your child from Santa.
Free movie downloads from Best Buy • Best Buy's free movie download offer is back. Go to https://www.facebook.com/bestbuy?v=app_228380667229862 to the company's Facebook page, enter your e-mail address and you'll get a code you can use for a free download from a selection of movie titles that changes daily.
The NBA returns from the lockout with a quartet of games on ABC/Ch. 4 and ESPN. Because nothing says Christmas like professional basketball.
The holiday games are Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks (12:30 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4); Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers (3 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4); Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder (6 p.m., ESPN); and Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors (8:30 p.m., ESPN).
By the way, the Utah Jazz open the regular season on Tuesday, Dec. 27, in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
Elsewhere on Friday •
Chuck (7 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): In "Chuck versus the Santa Suit," a computer virus threatens to ruin Christmas at Buy More.
Olive the Other Reindeer (7 p.m., CW/Ch. 30): Charming 1999 animation. (Repeat)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (7 p.m., ABC Family): 1989 comedy. (Repeat)
A Christmas Carol (7 p.m., TNT): Patrick Stewart stars in this 1999 TV movie. (Repeat)
Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (8 p.m., PBS/Ch. 7): Taped a year ago, the MoTabs are joined by soon-to-be LDS missionary David Archuleta and Michael York. (Repeat)
Sanctuary (8 and 10 p.m., Syfy): In the first of a two-parter, the team races to prevent the unleashing of a doomsday weapon.
Elsewhere on Saturday •
NFL football: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills (11 a.m., CBS/Ch. 2); New York Giants at New York Jets (11 a.m., Fox/Ch. 13); Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (2:15 p.m., Fox/Ch. 13)
College football (6 p.m., ESPN): Honolulu Bowl Nevada vs. Southern Mississippi
The Sound of Music (6 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4): This 1965 classic isn't a Christmas movie, but it's certainly got the right spirit. (Repeat)
A Christmas Story marathon (6 p.m., TBS): The 1983 movie airs every two hours, continuing until 6 p.m. Sunday.
It's a Wonderful Life (7 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5): "Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings." Classic 1946 film. (Repeat)
The Nerdist: Year in Review (7 and 11:30 p.m., BBC America): Counting down the year's top nerd moments.
The Graham Norton Show (8 p.m., BBC America): Matt Smith ("Doctor Who") guests on the annual holiday special.
Elsewhere on Sunday •
NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (6:15 p.m., NBC/Ch. 5)
The Simpsons (7 p.m., Ch. 13): This season's holiday episode which flashes 30 years into the future is definitely worth watching. (Repeat)
Doctor Who (7, 9:20 and 11:40 p.m., BBC America): This year's Christmas episode is a "Chronicles of Narnia" take-off titled "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe."
Leverage (7 and 10 p.m., TNT): The team searches for a philanthropist's missing wife.
Masterpiece Classic (8 p.m., PBS/Ch. 7): In "Downton Abbey," the rivalry between Mary and Edith intensifies. (Repeat)
Scott D. Pierce