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The Big Ten

Party Monsters

Perhaps the only person alive with the ability to steal the spotlight from a glowing 12-foot Waterford Crystal orb, Lady Gaga will ring in 2012 in front of an estimated 1 million people in New York City’s Times Square. But if cold isn’t your thing, head down to Rio instead, where more than 2 million revelers will greet the New Year on Copacabana Beach with a boisterous celebration that includes one of the best fireworks displays in the world. DECEMBER 31

Jolly Good

A winter wonderland in San Francisco? You bet, thanks to the brainiacs at the city’s California Academy of Sciences and their “’Tis the Season for Science” exhibit. Not only have they conjured up a monthlong celebration of beloved holiday traditions and symbols — including those famed Santa’s helpers, reindeer — but they’ve even managed to make it snow … indoors. NOW OPEN

By the Book

Fresh off his Oscar-nominated take on Facebook, The Social Network, director David Fincher tackles another ubiquitous piece of pop culture with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. His version of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling thriller may face judgment by the millions who’ve already read the novel, but will undoubtedly delight the millions more of us who’ve been meaning to get around to it (really). DECEMBER 21

Pole Position

If you like your South Pole books done up in a package the size of an ice floe, the special edition of Assouline’s South Pole: The British Antarctic Expedition 1910–1913 is for you. A 2-foot-high collection of starkly beautiful photographs, illustrations and journal entries, it recounts the story of Robert Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition. The price may seem steep, but those guys went all the way to the end of the earth to produce the material. The least that you can do is shell out $1,050 for it. OUT NOW

Snow White

Does the thought of winter send chills down your spine? Perhaps that’s because you’re not welcoming it properly. The California ski resort Mammoth Mountain is back again with its famous Night of Lights, offering fireworks, live music, a torchlight parade and gondola rides. Maybe if you act happier to see winter, it’ll be nicer to you. DECEMBER 17

Art Star

City-wise, the art-world hierarchy has changed a bit since the 1400s, when Florence was at the forefront of the Italian Renaissance. But this year’s Florence Biennial — featuring guests of honor Jeff Koons and Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (with her own exhibition space) — should feel just like old times. DECEMBER 3–11


If watching those “Battle of the Nutcrackers” marathons on cable sends you into sugar-plum shock, try taking a more gourmet approach to this holiday treat: Choose just one, but make sure it’s the best. You can’t go wrong with tickets to the fabled Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. The troupe is fast closing in on a century’s worth of Nutcracker performances, and its expertise shows every step of the way. DECEMBER 11, 24–25, 29–31

Novel Attraction

What better way to celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens than to wallow in the grime and grace of Victorian England? “Dickens and London,” opening at the Museum of London, immerses visitors in Dickens’ world, placing the writer’s rise from dismal anonymity to worldwide esteem in the context of the social conditions that helped inspire his work. Also on hand: the original handwritten manuscript for David Copperfield. DECEMBER 9

Fighting Spirit

More than four centuries have passed since Geneva fended off an attack by the Duke of Savoy, but the victory is still as sweet as ever, judging by the size of the anniversary party — called L’Escalade — that the city throws each year. Among the highlights: period costumes galore and kids smashing candy pots while shouting, “And perish the enemies of the republic!” DECEMBER 9–11

Tin Foil

Steven Spielberg returns to his wonders-of-childhood wheelhouse with The Adventures of Tintin, an animated 3-D epic based on the beloved comic books by Belgian artist Hergé. In the film, intrepid young reporter Tintin sets out in search of hidden treasure, and has his first run-in with the mercurial Captain Haddock, voiced by Andy Serkis. DECEMBER 23

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