1) Holiday festivities will light up Watertown’s Public Square tonight, starting at 5:30 p.m. with a performance by the Jefferson Singers from JCC on the north side of the square. The annual holiday parade starts at 5:45 p.m. and has more than 40 entries this year. The route starts in the J.B. Wise Parking Lot, enters Public Square at Mill Street and ends in the Court Street parking lot. An official countdown to turn on the holiday music and light display starts at 6:30 p.m. and Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will greet children in the Public Square gazebo until 7:30 p.m.
2) Another event to get you into the holiday spirit is “Santa Central” at the Clayton Opera House on Saturday from 3 p.m. until the start of the Clayton Holiday Parade at 6 p.m. The event includes a bouncy house, a holiday craft station, a write-a-letter-to-Santa table and several holiday film shorts. There will also be hot cocoa, coffee, tea or water, and baked goods. Admission is free. Other Christmas-themed activities Saturday in Clayton include a craft show and basket raffle at the Knights of Columbus Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a holiday food fair at St. Mary’s Parish Center (515 James St.) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the annual Dickens Christmas Festival at Hawn Memorial Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a holiday social and trunk show at the TI Arts Center. The TI Winery will also host Kris Kringle Market, a German-style indoor Christmas market featuring local crafters, food, wine tastings, winery tours and Santa’s workshop, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A full schedule of Christmas activities in Clayton can be found here.
3) Isaac James, a classical pianist who grew up in the Watertown area and now lives in Vermont, will make his debut solo piano recital in his hometown area tonight at 7 p.m. at Jefferson Community College’s Sturtz Theater. Mr. James, who made his Carnegie Hall debut a year ago, will perform works by Brahms, Chopin, Debussy, Schumann, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff and others on a Yamaha 9-foot concert grand piano. The concert will also feature a special guest artist. Mr. James, who competed in the prestigious annual 1000 Islands International Piano Competition in Cape Vincent, has studied with instructors from the Julliard School of Music and Mannes College of Music in NYC and performed widely on the East Coast. The concert is free.
4) Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, 53 Main St., Canton, is hosting a Holiday Open House on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event includes the opening of the Sugar & Spice Gingerbread exhibit of gingerbread houses, a Holiday Showcase featuring artist and folk store wares, and a performance by Vocal Skies Sacred Harp singing group at 11:30 a.m. The group will also perform its slate of 18th and 19th century Christmas hymns at 3:30 p.m. at Pickens Hall in Huevelton. Vocal Skies is a Canton-based ensemble that sings in the sacred harp tradition. A variety of other holiday-themed events are also happening in Canton on Saturday: A book, bake and craft sale at the Canton Free Library from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; the Holly Berry Bazaar at the St. Mary’s School gymnasium sponsored by the E. J. Noble Guild, which raises money for the hospital by selling lunch, Christmas gifts and decorations; a visit by Santa at the Brewer Bookstore, 92 Park St. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and a holiday open house from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Silas Wright House, 3 E. Main St.
5) This weekend is the annual Festival of Trees and Sugarplum Ball at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown. The Gala Dinner takes place tonight, followed by the Sugarplum Ball on Saturday. Public viewings of decorated large and small trees will be today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets to the gala are $70 each, and tickets to the Sugarplum Ball are $70 per parent-child couple, and $35 for each additional child. To reserve tickets to either event, call 785-5745 or visit www.samaritanhealth.com.
Also going on: The fifth annual charity Christmas masquerade ball at Bonnie Castle Resort in Alexandria Bay is tonight from 8 p.m. to midnight. The event benefits local families in need during the Christmas season and includes hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, a cash bar and music by Nik Lite of Nik and the Nice Guys. Tickets are $40 and masks will be available starting at $5. Visit www.TIYLO.org for more information.