Arts & Events

UC Berkeley Holiday Offerings

By Steven Finacom
Friday November 30, 2012 - 11:21:00 AM

While it’s a secular institution and also largely shuts down during the Christmas / New Year’s week, the UC Berkeley campus does have sources of winter holiday gifts and cheer. Several of them come at the end of November / beginning of December. Here’s a short overview. 


An affordable and fun musical evening takes place this Friday, November 30, in Hertz Hall when the UC Chorale Ensembles stage their annual Holiday Show. Student singing groups and Music Department choruses perform. This year there are at least nine performing groups, each doing a couple of numbers, which usually range from Christmas carol parodies to sweet holiday classics, Hanukkah songs, spirituals, and traditional classical music—all beautifully sung.  

The Alumni Chorus and Cal Gospel Choir add their massed voices to the smaller a capella groups. At the end of the evening all of the performers—hundreds and hundreds of them—gather on the Hertz Hall stage and lead the audience in a spirited sing-along of the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. It’s a light-hearted and very musically talented event. 

8:00 PM, Hertz Hall on campus. I couldn’t find an exact ticket price on line, but in previous years it’s been about $10 for the general public—a very good deal for music of this quality and variety. Open seating, so arrive a bit early if you to pick a prime location (remember hat where you sit also determines which of the Twelve Days you sing). Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Student Musical Activities office on campus, by phone (before 12:30 on Friday), or one hour in advance of the performance, at the door. See the Choral Ensembles website at 


The campus used to have a School of Forestry. No more, but there’s still an active Forestry Club among College of Natural Resources students. Each year they do a Holiday Tree Sale on campus, featuring conifers “from Sierra Nevada; handpicked by Cal Forestry Students.” “Trees are selected by students to be trees that would not normally survive to adulthood (usually because they are too close to other trees), thus they are considered sustainably harvested. Tree species harvested are mainly White Fir, Red Fir, and Incense Cedar.” Proceeds benefit the Club. Trees cost $6 a linear foot which, to my mind, compares favorably with commercial tree lots.  

The sale is outside Mulford Hall (on campus, uphill from Oxford Street). It runs Sunday, December 2, through Saturday, December 8, 8-5 pm, “rain or shine”. For details, see 


This on-campus studio (formerly the ASUC Art Studio), located just downhill from Sather Gate by the south bank of Strawberry Creek, offers students and community members art classes from photography to ceramics. Student and professional works are sold in their annual sale. Offerings this year include ceramics, some jewelry, painting, and photography. Last year, I felt the prices had sharply escalated; this year, for the ceramics at least, they’re back closer to a level where you feel you’re getting both a handcrafted artwork and a financial deal. 

Starts this week, and runs through December 13. Monday through Friday, noon to 9 PM. Weekends, noon to 5 pm. 


On December 5, there’s a two hour evening class where you can make your own holiday wreath or garland using foliage from the Garden. 

December 7, from 2-6:30 PM there’s a “Garden Holiday Soiree” selling plants and “garden inspired gifts.” 

And almost any fall or winter day is worth a stroll through the beautiful and varied temperate landscape of the Garden in Strawberry Canyon. 

See the Botanical Garden website and click on “Events” for details.