There are several reasons, beyond COVID, to push 2021 out the door and welcome in 2022. The new year promises a slew of arts and entertainment events. We say hello to an 18-year-old Disney princess-turned-pop queen and goodbye to a maestro who has led the Minnesota Orchestra for 18 years. We tip our hats to a writer, dance powerhouse and arts icon who have made Minnesota proud; bang for the buck buzz-bin performers; and world and national premieres. Here are the hottest picks of 2022.

Olivia Rodrigo
Like Billie Eilish, this teen pop sensation will have her coming-out party in Minneapolis at the instantly sold out Armory when she could have packed a much larger arena. While Eilish had already hit the club circuit before exploding into Grammy-sweeping stardom, Rodrigo is new to the concert stage. However, her appearances on "Saturday Night Live" and the American Music Awards along with her chart-topping, critically adored album "Sour" (No. 1 on my list for 2021) suggest that this Grammy-nominated 18-year-old can deliver the goods. (8 p.m. April 14, Armory, 500 S. 6th St., Mpls.,
Why it's worth it: She will make every teen girl (and their relieved parents) — not to mention pop-loving guys and critics — giddy beyond belief.

'Symphony of a Thousand'
Minnesota Orchestra music director Osmo Vänskä's 19-year tenure reaches a climactic conclusion with an epic undertaking. Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony doesn't require 1,000 musicians, but it can feel that way with its four choirs, eight vocal soloists and a very large orchestra. They'll deliver the most optimistic and life-affirming of Mahler's symphonies before recording the work the following week. (8 p.m. June 10 and 11, 2 p.m. June 12, Orchestra Hall, 1111 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., $35-$109, 612-371-5656)
Why it's worth it: The greatest performances by Vänskä and the orchestra have often come right before recording sessions. And what a way to say goodbye to the maestro.

Sequoia Nagamatsu
With an astounding initial print run of 100,000, the Minneapolis writer's debut novel, "How High We Go in the Dark," is already getting tons of buzz and it won't even be in bookstores until Jan. 18. A futuristic story about people trying to survive after a terrible plague sweeps the Earth, the book was 10 years in the writing. Nagamatsu will be in conversation with Kawai Strong Washburn, whose debut novel last year, "Sharks in the Time of Saviors," won a PEN/Hemingway Award and a Minnesota Book Award. (7 p.m. Jan. 18, Moon Palace Books, 3032 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls., 612-454-0455)
Why it's worth it: Two brilliant and original writers discussing their work at an in-person event in a great bookstore.

Cécile McLorin Salvant
"Adventurous" is often used as a code word for "scary," but not when it comes to this ever-questing jazz singer with the most glorious voice of her generation. The MacArthur genius has turned her song cycle "Ogresse" — a fairy-tale-based story of a woman whose love literally turns ravenous (OK, scary) — into a multimedia extravaganza with visuals co-created with Belgian animator Lia Bertels and a 13-piece chamber orchestra. (8 p.m. Feb. 25-26, McGuire Theater, Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Place, Mpls., $45,
Why it's worth it: You can be among the first to see the world premiere.

'Black Light re: Search'
The latest work by Alanna Morris (formerly Morris-Van Tassel) draws on Caribbean cultural aesthetics. The Cowles Center has teamed with Northrop and the Great Northern Festival for this production that features Black dancers, musicians and poets who explore birth, life and death transitions. The work will speak to themes of community and ancestry, as well as femininity and Blackness. (7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 & 5, 2 p.m. Feb. 6, Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., $25, 612-206-3600)
Why it's worth it: Morris has been a recognizable dance powerhouse in the Twin Cities. As she branches into choreography, Morris is proving herself a creative force rooted in tradition and expanding into new forms.

'Parks: A Portrait of a Young Artist'
The History Theatre looks at arts icon Gordon Parks, who grew up in St. Paul. The photographer, filmmaker, painter, writer and namesake of St. Paul's Gordon Parks High School charts the path of the man who exceeded his mother's words: "Make a good man of yourself." (March 19-April 10, History Theatre, 30 E. 10th St., St. Paul, $15-$53, 651-292-4323)
Why it's worth it: A dazzling array of talent, including playwright Harrison David Rivers (in collaboration with Robin Hickman-Winfield), director Talvin Wilks and actors Dwight Leslie, Aimee K. Bryant, JuCoby Johnson and Mikell Sapp.

The Great Northern
This festival, founded in 2017, is becoming one heck of a winter's tale. For its fifth year, it will double in size, with talks, screenings, events and grand acts of imagination. An artist-designed, ice-enclosed greenhouse in a St. Paul alleyway. An ultra-slow dance on a frozen lake. A cello made of ice and embedded with electronics that melts over the course of a performance. (Jan. 26-Feb. 6, with a launch party 6 p.m. Jan. 26, 1325 NE. Quincy St., Mpls.,
Why it's worth it: The fest began as an umbrella organization for the St. Paul Winter Carnival, City of Lakes Loppet and U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. But it's grown into much more — a collection of artsy, heady takes on climate, culture and community.

Local coming-out gigs
With many concert tours still on hold in 2021 from the pandemic, there's a backlog of young buzz-bin artists overdue to play coming-out gigs in Minnesota in 2022, especially acts from overseas. Some of the most noteworthy newcomers finally headed to town include: London's post-punk howlers Shame (Feb. 22 at Fine Line), "Chaise Longue"-hitmaking British duo Wet Leg (March 3, Amsterdam Bar), Los Angeles' ironic punks Illuminati Hotties (March 6, 7th St. Entry), New Zealand's warm-vibe groover Baynk (March 12, Amsterdam Bar), Norway's lo-fi craftswoman Girl in Red (March 28, First Avenue), Pakistani neo-classical innovator Arooj Aftab (April 10, Parkway Theater) and British bedroom-pop wiz-kid Cavetown (April 21-22, Varsity Theater).
Why it's worth it: Paying $20-$30 to see rising newbies can be a lot more rewarding than $200 to see the same old old-timers. That said, though, Los Lobos' return to First Ave on Feb. 4 might actually be the most rocking gig of the year (and only costs $35).

'Long Take'
Philadelphia-based artist Carolyn Lazard, whose work explores the polarities of care and harm in relation to disability and Blackness, gets its first U.S. solo museum exhibition at the Walker. Lazard's installation includes a moving image and seating arrangement that documents a performance between a dancer and bodyworker without any actual footage. Visitors will hear audio descriptions while seated on different types of furniture, showing how different types of bodies are or are not accommodated. (Feb. 12-Dec. 11, Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Place, Mpls., 612-375-7600,
Why it's worth it: "Long Take" offers a fresh perspective on the complications of disability and race politics.

Penumbra Theatre is going big with a one-act show. It has tapped longtime company member Lester Purry to play Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in this play by George Stevens Jr. A formidable actor whose volcanic turn as Othello is embedded in a ghost image at the Guthrie, Purry also is a protean interpreter of August Wilson's canon. He reunites with Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy to resurrect a character he has played elsewhere. (March 10-27, Penumbra Theatre, 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul, $15-$40, 651-224-3180)
Why it's worth it: As a team, Bellamy and Purry have already created indelible images in "Jitney" and "Two Trains Running" at Penumbra. They're likely to add to those memories.

10,000 Laughs Comedy Festival
After a two-year break, it's scheduled to return at various venues in the Twin Cities with the best in local and national acts. The fest, celebrating its 10th run, is the best opportunity to catch up-and-coming comics before they get too popular to say howdy after the show. "We still have a startup mentality," said founder Bob Edwards. "[But] you have to get bigger and bigger every year or you'll stop existing." (Oct. 6-8, various sites in Twin Cities.)
Why it's worth it: Watching stand-ups from across the country bond off stage is almost as entertaining as their routines. All-access tickets can be a bit pricey but for comedy nerds, it's the bargain of the year.

'Law & Order'
It's the reboot of reboots. One of the longest-running dramas of all time returns 12 years after the so-called final episode. You'll see some familiar faces, including Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson, as well as new characters played by Hugh Dancy, Camryn Manheim and Jeffrey Donovan. Creator Dick Wolf promises that the formula will remain pretty much the same. (7 p.m. Feb. 24, KARE, Ch. 11)
Why it's worth it: The impersonal, just-the-facts-ma'am approach will be a welcome respite from other network procedurals that spend way too much time sticking their noses into the characters' personal lives. And who doesn't want to see Jack McCoy throw more courtroom tantrums?

'Death on the Nile'
Among the movies delayed in the past couple of years, perhaps none was unluckier than this Agatha Christie adaptation, which got bumped not only because of the COVID pandemic but also because of salacious reports about one of its now-canceled stars, Armie Hammer. Director/star Kenneth Branagh made "Death" long before "Belfast," which hit theaters last fall. The murder-mystery thriller will finally see the light of day, knock wood, Feb. 11.
Why it's worth it: Branagh's first Christie film, "Murder on the Orient Express," was not great but it was an international hit. He's hoping he gets the formula right this time, with a book that has much more humor than "Orient Express" and a cast that includes Gal Gadot, Annette Bening and Sophie Okonedo.