It's the weekend before Thanksgiving, which means the overachievers are busily pre-baking pie crusts and otherwise prepping for the big feast! Take a break from all that early bird cooking and have some fun with this weekend's top local events.


Looking for something free and fun to do with the whole family? Local amateur astronomers bring some amazing telescopes to Garland Ranch Regional Park in Carmel Valley for a Star Party, complete with hot drinks and cookies. Starts at sunset, which is 4:55 pm tonight, so even the littlest ones can see the stars and be to bed on time. Rain or cloud cover cancels. Free.

Paraiso Vineyards in Soledad hosts a holiday open house, where you can taste wine with Santa Claus. Tell him you want a case of West Terrace Pinot Noir for Christmas. There's also cheese sampling and caroling. 6-10 pm, $10.

Big Sur's favorite jazz act, Paige Too!, plays the Big Sur River Inn tonight. Drink specials all night. 8-11 pm, no cover.

Sarah McCoy and the Zippidy Yeah's describe themselves as "Gypsy-pirate-folk with a tiny tambourine." To us, they sound more like a Janis Joplin-led jazz-blues act...with ukulele. Check them out tonight at Bullwackers on Cannery Row. 8 pm, no cover.

Mike Beck and the Bohemian Saints play amazing country-tinged rock. If you haven't heard them, they sound a little like Tom Petty, a little like The Byrds and a lot like something really awesome. See the video below for a preview, They hit Jose's on Wave Street in Monterey tonight for the first half of a two-night stand. 9 pm, $10.


Start your holiday shopping - or buy yourself an early present. Crafters from Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito Counties vend all kinds of items, from soaps to wood crafts and more, at the 39th Annual Homecrafters Marketplace at the Sunset Center in Carmel. 9 am-3 pm, free to attend.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium throws the spotlight on creatures of the air this weekend with Feathered Friends. Get in-depth information about the personal lives of the Laysan albatross, great horned owl, kite, Harris hawk, turkey vulture, the popular black-footed penguin, and many more birds. 10am-6pm, included in admission.

The Del Monte Center in Monterey beats the holiday rush by holding the area's first Holiday Tree Lighting event, with cookies, hot cocoa, live entertainment and Santa. 5-7 pm, free to attend.

All-female string ensemble La Pieta, led by virtuoso Canadian violinist Angèle Dubeau, appears at the Sunset Center tonight in what is bound to be an amazing performance. If you're not familiar with their work, watch their performance of Philip Glass's "La Belle & La Bête" below, which will also be performed Saturday night. 8pm. Tickets are $29 to $52 and can be ordered online.

Electro-funk-Latin act Trip Delight Fantastic appear at Bullwacker's on Cannery Row with live music and a dance performance. 8:30 pm, no cover.

Mike Beck and the Bohemian Saints once again rock out at Jose's on Wave Street. 9 pm, $10.

San Luis Obispo folk-rockers Sparrows Gate sound a little like an acoustic Ringside. They play Fernwood in Big Sur tonight with the mysterious and unknown The Shillelahs, a band with no MySpace page. The last time this happened, the mysterious band listed was "The Beatles's" and it turned out to be a surprise Joanna Newsom gig. We're not sayin' anything - we're just sayin'. 9 pm, no cover.


Feathered Friends continues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Get the inside information on where birds nest, how they live, and what they eat. 10am-6pm, included in admission. Geocaching is an outdoor adventure sport in which people search for hidden items (or caches) using a GPS. The caches usually have a log book, so you can say you found it, and a little trove of goodies. It's a fun way to have an outdoor adventure. The Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District gives beginners lessons in geocaching today at Garland Ranch Regional Park's "Treasure Hunt: Garland Park!". GPS units will be provided. 1 pm-4 pm, $11.

Register online under "Family Discoveries." Grammy-winning blues phenom Keb' Mo' just released a mostly-live independent album last month. You can download a free track from him here. He plays Sunday night at the Sunset Center in Carmel. Only a few seats are left, so buy your tickets now! 7 pm, $47-$67.

Instrumental rockers La Fin Du Monde bring their intriguing music to Fernwood in Big Sur tonight. 9:30 pm, no cover.


Still looking for something to keep you out of trouble? Check the Monterey County Weekly for even more ideas for things to do.