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Mannheim Steamroller performs Friday night at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City.
Weekend Express: Your fun-stuff planning tool
First Published Dec 23 2011 12:06 pm • Last Updated Dec 23 2011 12:06 pm

We’re here to help you plan your weekend, with best picks from our entertainment reporters, critics and bloggers.

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Christmas Carol Service » 4 p.m. Saturday, Cathedral of the Madeleine, 331 E. South Temple. The Christmas Carol Service features music of the Advent and Christmas seasons, including plainchant, choral works and traditional carols. For more information, 801-328-8941.

Christmas Eve Service » 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Dixie Center, 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George. Multi-denomination Christmas Eve service, readings and singing. For more information, 435-674-4955.

Santa on the Slopes » 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Canyons Resort, 4000 Canyons Resort Drive, Park City. Santa will shred the slopes at the Canyons, delivering candy and treats to all the good boys and girls around. Look for Santa at the Flight of The Canyons gondola, as well as throughout the entire resort.

Santa Claus visits Deer Valley » 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Deer Valley Resort, 2250 Deer Valley Drive S., Park City. From 9-11 a.m., Santa will visit guests in the Snow Park Lodge Area and from noon-1:30 p.m. in the Silver Lake Lodge area. For more information, http://www.deervalley.com/events-calendar.html or 435-649-1000 or 800-424-DEER (3337).

48th Annual Torchlight Parade » 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Park City Mountain Resort, 1345 Lowell Ave., Park City. Santa will be skiing the resort 11 a.m.-2 p.m. From 5:30-6:30 p.m. enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies on the Resort Plaza. At 6:15 p.m., Santa leads the torchlight parade down the PayDay run. For more information, http://www.parkcitymountain.com or 435-649-8111.

Ogden Christmas Village » Nightly through Jan. 1, 2500 Grant Ave., Ogden. Visit a replica of Santa’s village at the North Pole. Live entertainment Tuesdays through Fridays. For more information, www.ogdencity.com or 801-629-8247.

Spanish Fork Festival of Lights » 6-10 p.m. daily through Dec. 31. Canyon View Park, 3300 East Powerhouse Road, Spanish Fork. The Festival of Lights displays are animated and contain motion lights or moving parts. You can view lights from your car or take a hayride through the park. Hayrides available for groups of 20 or more. Admission $5 per car, $15 large van and vehicles with trailers, $25 for buses. For more information, www.utahvalley.com or 801-804-4500.

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Basketball marathon » 8 a.m. Monday start, Clearfield Aquatic Center, 825 S. State St., Clearfield. This five-day marathon basketball game benefits The Fallen Heroes Scholarship Foundation, which provides scholarships to surviving members of U.S. soldiers and police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Participants hope to set a world record for the longest continuous basketball game, of over 108 hours. The event is open to the public and is a fundraiser for scholarships. For more information, www.fallenheroscholarship.org or 801-525-2700.


Christmas Day is often the last day of the year when movies are released – and, in this case, it’s a day for a very good movie.

Before that, though, are three new movies opening today – and two of them are pretty good.

"We Bought a Zoo" is writer-director Cameron Crowe’s return to form (after misfiring with "Vanilla Sky" and "Elizabethtown"). He directs a sweet, whimsical story (based on true events) of Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon), a widower who decides to move his family to the country -- and the house they find turns out to be attached to a rundown zoo, so he gamely takes over operating it. The supporting cast includes Thomas Haden Church as Mee’s doubting brother, Scarlett Johansson as a dedicated zookeeper and Elle Fanning as her country-girl cousin.

The other two movies opening today are French. One is "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life," an eye-opening and occasionally surrealistic biopic of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, who was as legendary for his music as he was for his bedroom conquests -- including Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. Actor Eric Elmosnino plays Gainsbourg with a rakish charm and a brooding dark side.

Also opening today is "The Women on the 6th Floor," a comedy that starts promising but never delivers. It stars Fabrice Luchini as a Parisian businessman, circa 1962, who starts noticing the conditions for the Spanish maids who live upstairs in his apartment building.

OK, now for the main Christmas Day opening: Steven Spielberg’s "War Horse." (The review will be posted online later today.) It’s a stately, old-fashioned epic built around the simple story of a teen, Albie (Jeremy Irvine), and his horse. What’s not so simple is the setting: England, just before the start of World War I. The story follows the horse, Joey, as he is taken into that war. Joey experiences many episodes -- some harrowing, others uplifting -- and so does Albie. Spielberg’s craftsmanship is on full display, and some of the scenes are astonishingly beautiful.

Lastly, there’s another movie opening on Christmas Day: "The Darkest Hour," a thriller in which some American college kids in Moscow are the only thing standing between humanity and an alien invasion. The movie was not screened for critics.

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