As Thanksgiving comes and goes the Tristate begins to explode with holiday festivities. From decorating your home to visiting the local grocery store, it’s nearly impossible to escape the season’s tidings. While merry and bright, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the non-stop jolly December brings. Luckily, this year Cincinnati is offering several non-holiday activities throughout December to keep the season fresh, bearable and joyous.

A visit to “Chocolate: The Exhibition” is a sweet treat for the mind. Open throughout the month of December at the Cincinnati Museum Center, “Chocolate: The Exhibition” invites visitors to discover the extensive history of the cacao bean from its origin in the royal Mayan drink to its current role as a guilty pleasure. Discover the cacao tree’s unusual anatomy and environment while standing next to a life-size replica or enter a Mayan Temple throughout this interactive exhibition. Guests are welcome to participate in chocolate tastings with Cincinnati State’s Midwest Culinary Institute on selected dates throughout the month.

Three miles, two schools and one city. On Dec. 8, Cincinnati’s largest rivalry will split up the city at the 86th annual Crosstown Shootout. Xavier and University of Cincinnati will meet this year at UC’s newly renovated Fifth Third Arena, where the teams will fight for the title of best basketball team in Cincinnati. All are welcomed to enjoy this event, complete with a life-long rivalry and good fun.

Commemorate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, former South African president, through the breathtaking photographs at the National Underground Railroad Museum’s exhibition, “Mandela: The Journey to Ubuntu.” This December, experience many of the locations that played an important role in South Africa’s route to racial equality and Mandela’s personal fight for freedom through documentary photographer Matthew Willman’s moving and inspiring photographs.

Defy gravity and dive into a world of imagination at Crystal by Cirque du Soleil. This magical show is performed on various dates at the end of December at U.S. Bank Arena. The exhilarating tale of self-discovery highlights Crystal as she suspends reality and glides into a world that springs to life with astounding visual projections accompanied by a soundtrack that blends popular music with the signature sound of Cirque du Soleil.

Innovation and experimentation meet art at Synthetica. This group exhibition featured at the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery presents artists who have worked with chemically engineered materials in unconventional ways. Experience materials like synthetic felt, acrylic resin, polystyrene, polypropylene and more in ways you have never seen them as they are displayed on two-dimensional surfaces. You won’t be able to find this unique application, construction or visual language anywhere else this December.


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