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Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - Page updated at 11:25 AM

Holiday Guide 2008

Concerts, plays, Christmas ships and more


Holiday concerts, plays and dance performances are as much a part of 'tis-the-season as sticking a tree in your living room. Our annual Holiday Entertainment Guide rounds up all of them -- plus arts-and-crafts fairs, light displays, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, family festivals around Puget Sound, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa events, and that Seattle specialty, the Christmas Ships.

Note: Times and dates are subject to change. We recommend calling ahead to confirm before attending any event.

Home light displays


Share pictures of your holiday lights.

Holiday cookies


Make holiday fun in your own kitchen. Get our annual mail out of recipes.


Pacific Northwest Ballet offers 25th "Nutcracker"

In a holiday stocking stuffed with Nutcrackers, the granddaddy of them all stands out: Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Nutcracker," designed by Maurice Sendak and choreographed by Kent Stowell, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. From the swirling pale-blue snowflakes to the 27-foot Mouse King puppet, it's a lavish and colorful spectacle for all. Special touches for the anniversary year include a soaring silver Nutcracker Tree in the McCaw lobby, as well as surprise guests on stage.

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Stars come out for the holidays

The pop, rock and jazz stars are coming out for the holidays. Whether they're here for a radio-station-sponsored concert (Fall Out Boy at the Jingle Bell Bash Dec. 4, Death Cab for Cutie and the Killers at the Deck the Hall Ball Dec. 7, "Bob Rivers Twisted Christmas") or classic stars serving as inspiration for new artists ("An Inspirational Christmas With Elvis," Dec. 19-20, the annual Duke Ellington concert by the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, Dec. 27), if you want your holiday concerts with hits, this year's calendar has got you covered.

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Holiday fare: traditional and not

Yes, you can see "A Christmas Carol" this year on a Seattle-area stage (or a dozen of them!). Yes, there's a theatrical version of the holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life" (at the Evergreen Family Theatre in Redmond, and in Taproot Theatre's "It's a Wonderful Improvised Life"). And "Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" -- Renton Civic Theater stages that one for you. But this holiday season, you can find shows slightly less in the holiday mold, including a fine, ongoing run of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" at Village Theatre; the return of comedy music duo Dos Fallopia at Theatre Off Jackson's irreverent "The Dos Fallopia Xmas Hour (and a-Half)"; and Seattle's traditional nontraditional show, "Black Nativity: A Gospel Song Play," at Intiman Theatre.

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Holiday movie preview

Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Will Smith and the world's most lucrative Lab are all headed for the big screen in December, as the final gasp for Oscar season gets under way. Here's some of what we can expect at the multiplexes and the arthouses between now and 2009.

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Classical Music

From carol singalongs to the symphony

For classical-music fans, the Seattle-area scene has one gift after another, all season long. Starting next week with the NW Chamber Chorus ("A North Seas Christmas Dec. 6, 13-14) and the Seattle Men's Chorus ("Fruitcake," Dec. 6-22), hardly a day passes without a classical-music performance. The Seattle Symphony alone has plenty to offer, including a carol singalong (starring organist Joseph Adam, on Dec. 9), Tchaikovsky's symphony "Winter Dreams" (Dec. 11-13) and the Christmas tradition, Handel's "Messiah" (Dec. 18-21). We're also looking forward to the NW Boychoir's program, "A Festival of Lessons and Carols" (Dec. 12-21).

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Activities & festivals

Looking for family-friendly fun?

This is the list for you. The Seattle area has dozens of holiday-themed family activities, many of which kick off today and continue through New Year's. The season includes plenty of Santa sightings, tree lightings, parades and bundle-yourself-up outdoor fun.

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Arts & crafts

Try art shows, museum gift shops for great gifts

Smart shoppers already know that great gifts can be found at studios and art centers. Check out our list of holiday sales and go early for the best selection. One of my favorites is the annual Mingei Pottery show of Japanese-inspired ceramics at Glen Richards. And don't forget -- museum gift shops are always well-stocked with unexpected treasures, many quite inexpensive. (Secret: The shop at Wing Luke Asian Museum in the Chinatown International District is fantastic!)

More arts & crafts

More holiday fun