Sponsored by the American Jazz Museum and the Kansas City chapter of the National Black United Front, the City-Wide Kwanzaa Celebration begins Friday, Dec. 26, at the Gem Theater. Kwanzaa founder Maulana Karenga has written that the holiday celebrates “the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.” An African market will be open 6-10 p.m. Friday through Wednesday, Dec. 31. A program with speakers and performers begins at 7 p.m. each night at the Gem Theater. The festivities move to the Nefertiti Ballroom on Thursday, Jan. 1, for a 3 p.m. Karamu feast and lecture by Umar Johnson.
6-10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 26, to Wednesday, Dec. 31, at the Gem Theater. 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 1, at the Nefertiti Ballroom. 816-866-3025. Free.
The unlikely peace that broke out between British and German troops on the front lines of World War I in December of 1914 will be recognized Friday, Dec. 26, by a celebration of sports at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. A three-on-three soccer tournament will begin at 8:30 a.m. Some 30 teams, including one that wore period uniforms, competed in the tournament last year. Less ambitious athletes might opt for the Boxing Day Brewhaha, an event in which four-person teams play pub and tailgate games. All participants are free to indulge in unlimited food and beverages at the English Premier League watch party in the J.C. Nichols Auditorium.
8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 26. The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. 816-888-8100. theworldwar.org. $210 per three-member team for the soccer tournament. $200 per four-member team in the Boxing Day Brewhaha. Watch party access only is $25 per person.
After graduating from Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Jon Schieszer made regular appearances at Stanford’s Comedy Club. He later moved to Los Angeles to pursue his goal of becoming a full-time comedian. Schieszer’s mission statement says he intends “to cherish and love stand-up comedy in times of small crowds and in times of huge, in times of big laughs and in times of crappy d-bag people on their cellphones.” The cynical comic will return to Stanford’s for four appearances while he’s home for the holidays.
“We’ve Only Just Begun”
The Carpenters are one of the most under-appreciated superstar acts of the past several decades. Detractors categorize the output of Karen and Richard Carpenter as easy-listening dreck, and even many partisans of the brother-sister duo are primarily attracted by the music’s sentimentality. Yet Karen possessed a rapturously gorgeous voice and Richard was a clever arranger. The duo’s melodic repertoire will be revived at the Chestnut Fine Arts Center in a production of “We’ve Only Just Begun,” a jukebox musical that includes nuggets from the early 1970s like “Top of the World.”
3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 28; 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 30; 2, 5:30 and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31. Chestnut Fine Arts Center. 913-764-2121. chestnutfinearts.com. $22 except New Year’s Eve, $27.
Chiefs vs. San Diego
The playoff prospects of the Kansas City Chiefs might hinge on the play of one of the most talented but least-likable players in the National Football League. The volatile San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is prone to demonstrative behavior during games. The Chiefs and their fans hope to elicit Rivers’ worst inclinations by frustrating him in the final game of the regular season. A repeat of the outcome of the teams’ first meeting of season would also be acceptable.
Noon Sunday, Dec. 28. Arrowhead Stadium. 816-920-9400. kcchiefs.com. $40-$285.
Missouri basketball vs. Oklahoma State
Kim Anderson has endured a rocky start in his new job as the head coach of the Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team. After opening the season with a loss to the University of Missouri-Kansas City ’Roos, Anderson and his charges have several defeats. Things won’t get much easier Tuesday at the Sprint Center. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are formidable opponents. Although former Cowboys star Marcus Smart is now a rookie with the Boston Celtics, talented senior Le’Bryan Nash and the pesky guard Phil Forte intend to torment the Tigers. Tickets include admission to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. women’s game at the Sprint Center.
8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 30. Sprint Center. 816-949-7000. sprintcenter.com. $13-$123.
Charles Williams’ Motown revue
Fans of classic soul and people who appreciate Kansas City’s jazz heritage will spend New Year’s Eve in the Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum for Charles Williams’ Motown revue. Williams, an elegant pianist who regularly performs refined jazz with ensembles including the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, also leads an earthy rhythm and blues band. The ensemble includes Ron Gutierrez, whose silky voice effectively evokes the work of Luther Vandross. Located under the enormous neon 18th & Vine district sign, the Blue Room is one of the city’s most memorable spots to ring in the new year.
New Year’s Eve Live!
Revelers who insist that bigger is better are advised to make the Power & Light District’s NYE Live! their destination. Promoted as “Kansas City’s biggest New Year’s Eve Party,” it has all the rituals associated with the occasion. Fireworks and confetti will fill the air after a Times Square-style ball drop at midnight. The 1980s cover band Members Only will provide entertainment. Celebrants can opt to mingle at participating bars and nightclubs in the shiny entertainment district.
The Black Party has sold out for 10 consecutive New Year’s Eves by striking an appealing balance between formality and decadence. The name refers to the upscale nature of the event. Guests are encouraged to dress elegantly but black tie attire isn’t required. Stifling ties and restrictive gowns, after all, wouldn’t allow revelers to dance with wild abandon. DJs will be at the main stage, party deck, general admission lounge and VIP lounge to establish distinctive atmospheres for more than 600 attendees.
Missouri Mavericks (hockey) vs. Wichita
Sports fans might be tempted to stay home to watch television on New Year’s Eve. College football bowl games, professional and college basketball contests and National Hockey League matches will be available. But sports lovers intent on making New Year’s Eve truly memorable will grab their skates and head to the Independence Events Center. In addition to watching the Missouri Mavericks battle the Wichita Thunder, attendees can enjoy a post-game skate with the home team.