1800s HOLIDAY: There are many accounts of what Christmas was like a century and a half ago in ye olde California. Many of our contemporary traditions flourished 150 years ago, give or take, though wayback gifts tended to run to penny candies or scarves or presents that were handy though they lacked in frippery. With that in mind, we half-wish that the denizens of Old Sacramento could time-travel forward for an evening to see how the holidays are interpreted nowadays. In a word, they're interpreted with some razzmatazz and panache. (Okay, that's two words.) Thank the Theatre of Lights, "free outdoor performances (that) artfully mix the historic charm of Old Sacramento with state-of-the-art sound and lighting technology," for the merrily modern take in the old-timey setting. And it is indeed old-timey. The buildings, yes, and all of the historic district boast that long-past look, but one of the centerpieces of Theatre of Lights rocks the old-timey cred as well: It's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" -- aka "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" -- by Clement Clarke Moore. The bowl-full-of jelly'd, oh-so-beloved poem'll receive a "live-action retelling" during the light-bright spectacular.
PLUS... there's a big tree, natch. That gets lit for the very first time on Wednesday, Nov. 27, and Theatre of Lights makes its first festive appearance for the 2013 on that night as well. Head for K Street in Old Sacramento, be there on a Thursday through Sunday from Nov. 27 to Dec. 31, and stow yer cash, cowpoke: It's free. And, yes, Nov. 27 is a Wednesday, but call it a special Wednesday and the kick-off night. Oh, and there are two Tuesdays as well: Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
LOOK UP: A lot of the lights'll play off the buildings, up high. We've often thought that Old Sacramento's Wild-West-y structures had a fall feel, what with the crows that tend to call upon the area every autumn. But now we're ready to give it over to winter, to razzmatazz, and a little modern tech played again some past-pretty architecture.