Your Complete Guide to Tacoma Events in November 2019

The 75 Biggest and Best Events You Need to Know about, from the Black Keys to Zoolights
October 31, 2019
Don't miss the Black Keys' Tacoma Dome show with Modest Mouse and Shannon & the Clams. (Artist Photo)

November is here! In Tacoma, that means it's time for early holiday celebrations, Veterans Day ceremonies, turkey trots, and more exciting things to keep you high on life as the days get colder and darker. To give you a head start on your plans, we've compiled the biggest and best events South Sound events in every genre this month, from the inaugural Tacoma Distillery Festival to the Black Keys, Modest Mouse, and Shannon & the Clams, and from the 74th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting to Cirque Dreams Holidaze. Plus, see even more things to do this month on our complete Tacoma events calendar.


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NOVEMBER 1

FILM

'Harriet' Opening
Aside from the assistance that the formerly enslaved Harriet Tubman got from the Underground Railroad­, it’s hard to imagine exactly how she pulled off all her heroics. With Harriet, audiences are given a live-action reimagining of Harriet Tubman’s journey to self-liberation: changing her name, hiding in bales of hay, being chased by dogs, and getting cornered by armed men on a bridge before jumping into the river. Harriet shows how Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) got help from a secret network of safe houses and trusted free Blacks (Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe) who stuck their necks out to help her cause. Throughout the film, the only music you’ll hear, gladly, are negro spirituals—songs that enslaved Blacks used to express their sorrow and joy, and to secretly communicate. (Tubman, who was nicknamed Moses, would sing “Go Down Moses” as a signal to enslaved Blacks that she was in the area, and would help anyone who wished to escape.) Harriet doesn’t subject the sensitive viewer to excessive gore or violence (though there is one particularly unsettling scene), because for once, this is a story in the “slave movie” genre about tremendous triumph, leadership, and Tubman’s unwavering faith, both in God and herself. JENNI MOORE

'Terminator: Dark Fate' Opening
Arnold might get top billing, but the Terminator movies worth watching—1984's The Terminator and 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day—belong to Linda Hamilton and her earnest, hard-edged turns as Sarah Connor. While Schwarzenegger glared and catch-phrased and strutted around to "Bad to the Bone," Sarah Connor got shit done. Alas, even though Hamilton—like Terminator creator James Cameron—largely bailed from the series after Judgment Day, the movies kept lunging forward without her, and like a stupid, janky kill-bot, the series got shakier and shakier with each step. No one ever needs to remember Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines or Terminator: Salvation or Terminator: Genisys, and no one ever does—but now here's Terminator: Dark Fate, the latest attempt to revive the franchise, and a movie that also pretends nothing past T2 ever happened. If nothing else, Dark Fate has one thing going for it: Sarah Connor. Linda Hamilton's back, which means there's a Terminator movie worth watching again. Well, it's worth watching, I guess, if you, like me, have devoted entirely too much of your ever-shrinking lifespan to thinking about terminators. For everyone else, Dark Fate's appeal—which largely hinges on seeing Hamilton, Arnold, and various bloodthirsty murderbots back in action—might be limited. Deadpool director Tim Miller does a lot of things right: His action sequences are messy but intense; he knows to let Hamilton, with her wry eyebrows and smoke-scratched voice, steal scenes whenever she feels like it; and he somehow pulls off the insane-sounding task of making a Terminator movie that's legitimately, consistently funny. But at the end of the day, Dark Fate is another sequel that tries, with mixed success, to reboot a rusty series. ERIK HENRIKSEN

MUSIC

Black Box Jazz: LaVon Hardison
Renowned local jazz vocalist LaVon Harrison will weave an evening of originals and songbook standards, along with her own eclectic arrangements of popular songs.

Frankie Cosmos, Lomelda, Stephen Steinbrink
Frankie Cosmos "packs many punches full of raw power-chord pop and many sacks full of sagacious sap," as Stranger contributor Zach Frimmel has written. The New York-based soft-pop band led by Greta Kline will come to Tacoma for a night out with Lomelda and Stephen Steinbrink. ZACH FRIMMEL

NOVEMBER 1 & 3

PERFORMANCE

The Elixir of Love
Tacoma Opera will perform L'Elisir d'amore or the Elixir of Love, a full-hearted comic opera that follows the story of a country boy who falls in love with a farmer's daughter and the successes and failures that befall him.

THROUGH NOVEMBER 2

HALLOWEEN

Fright Fest 2019
Wild Waves will offer a final weekend of thrills this fall for kids and adults alike, including a "parade of ghouls."

Frighthouse Station Haunted House
Tacoma-dwelling ghosts and ghouls will lurk in the shadowy corners of two equally creepy haunts.

NOVEMBER 2

DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

Día de los Muertos | Art & Music Festival
Enjoy live music by A. Rex, art demonstrations by Caroleena Santiesteban, and Mexican food and drinks. Don't forget to bring photos and mementos of loved ones to place on a community altar. 

FOOD & DRINK

Incline Cider House Grand Opening Party!
The new family-owned and -operated cider taproom Incline Cider House will celebrate its opening with special pours, food, and raffles. 

MUSIC

The Duke Ellington Orchestra
I’m still ashamed. The Duke Ellington Orchestra played Jazz Alley years ago, and I yelled out, “‘Harlem Airshaft!’” Rude, yes. But someone on the bandstand said, “‘Harlem Airshaft,’ okay!” and the band went right into “Harlem Airshaft.” No pause. No rustling of sheet music. The band knew “Harlem Airshaft” down cold, from memory. And that’s the legacy of Duke Ellington, who used to tell his players what key a tune would be in about two seconds before giving the down beat. For the record, “Harlem Airshaft” was a slice of life, from a band and a man devoted to doling out whole pies of such stuff. ANDREW HAMLIN

Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen, Jameson Rodgers
Multi-platinum, CMA Award-winning country singer-songwriter Luke Combs will return to the Northwest on his Beer Never Broke My Heart Tour with guest artists Morgan Wallen and Jameson Rodgers.

Polyrhythmics, Burn Band
Live, their compositions stretch and skronk a little looser, without sacrificing any of the percussive punch and unstoppable forward motion found on record. The controlled tempest of the Polyrhythmics is like manna from heaven in the occasionally funk-starved town of Tacoma. They'll be joined by Burn Band. 

THROUGH NOVEMBER 3

PERFORMANCE

Shakespeare in Love
In this recently penned stage adaptation of the John Madden movie, a frustrated William Shakespeare finds his latest play being shaped by his love for an aspiring actress who's disguised as a man.

NOVEMBER 3

DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

Día de los Muertos Festival
For the 15th year, honor the dead by seeing more than 30 community altars and a colorful tapete (sand painting) installation, eating traditional Mexican food, watching Aztec dancing, dancing to a mariachi band, making sugar skulls, and more.

THROUGH NOVEMBER 7

PERFORMANCE

Evil Dead: The Musical
This R-rated, comedic live stage show is based on the cult classic horror films about a cabin in the woods where the dead return. There's even an audience "splash zone," where getting bloody is likely.

NOVEMBER 7

FILM

'Doctor Sleep' Opening
Struggling with alcoholism, Dan Torrance remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. His hope for a peaceful existence soon becomes shattered when he meets Abra, a teen who shares his extrasensory gift of the "shine." Together, they form an unlikely alliance to battle the True Knot, a cult whose members try to feed off the shine of innocents to become immortal.

'Jojo Rabbit' Opening
The latest from Taika Waititi, the brilliant director of What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and Thor: Ragnarok, starts off with a bright, Wes Andersonian whimsiness: Young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) joyously bounces about at summer camp, having the time of his life as he frolics and laughs with his second-best friend Yorki (Archie Yates) and his first-best friend, the imaginary Adolf (Waititi). Just one thing: Jojo’s at Hitler Youth camp—their campfire activities include burning books—Adolf is Adolf Hitler, and World War II is winding down, with Germany not doing so great. Once he’s home after an unfortunate grenade incident, the tiny, fanatical Nazi Jojo (“I’m massively into swastikas, so I think that’s a pretty good sign”) clashes with his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johnansson) and tries to learn how to spot “filthy Jews” by quizzing disgraced Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell), all while getting a whole lot of dubious advice from his wacky pal Adolf. (“Heil me, little man!”) Both because of and in spite of its inherent shock value, Jojo Rabbit—based on a book by Christine Leunens—is just as clever and hilarious as Waititi’s other movies, but as it progresses, the story taps into a rich vein of gut-twisting melancholy. (“What did they do?” Jojo asks Rosie as they pass a line of corpses hanging in the town square. “What they could,” she says.) There’s more to the complicated Jojo Rabbit than first appears, and only a director as committed, inventive, and life-affirmingly good-hearted as Waititi would even have a chance of pulling it off. He does, to unforgettable effect. ERIK HENRIKSEN

NOVEMBER 7-DECEMBER 1

COMEDY

Seattle International Comedy Competition 2019
For nearly all of November, a lengthy last-comic-standing battle rages. Thirty-two comedians (split into two batches, each of which performs every night for one week) start the contest, and one will finish a champion. Celebrity judges and audience reactions determine who passes the preliminaries and who becomes a finalist. South Sound shows will be in Auburn and Olympia.

NOVEMBER 8

FILM

Volkswagen Presents: Warren Miller's 'Timeless'
As another snowy season on the mountain approaches, skiers and snowboarders can get stoked with Warren Miller's 70th film, Timeless, wherein professional athletes (including Washington's own Tyler Ceccanti and Morgan Hebert) journey to the Rockies, the Swiss Alps, and beyond. 

PARTIES & NIGHTLIFE

Sixth Annual Holiday Heritage Swing Dance: Save the First Dance
Grab a partner and swing to live music from the Pierce County Community Big Band in the newly restored Spanish Ballroom. 

NOVEMBER 8-9

VISUAL ART

Lusio Lights
Enjoy work by light artists as it plays over the botanical wonders of Wright Park's Seymour Conservatory.

NOVEMBER 9

FESTIVALS

South Sound Winter Beer Festival
This craft beer festival promises seasonal staples like "dark imperial stouts, roasty porters, strong beers, Scottish ales, barrel-aged surprises, spiced ales, piney IPAs," and much more from over 30 Washington breweries.

FOOD & DRINK

Tacoma Brewing Co. 7th Anniversary Celebration
Operating on a promise to "not make boring beer," this Tacoma establishment will celebrate seven years around the sun with a special anniversary flight, featuring an Anniversary Hazy Triple IPA, a Bourbon Barrel Extra Aged Imperial Stout, Red & Black Currant Wild Sour Ale, and other pours. 

MUSIC

Erotic City Prince Tribute Band Purple Party
Swath your body in velvet and lace and party like it's 1999 with Prince tribute band Purple Party. 

Snails
Bass music heavyweight and general eardrum-crusher Snails will return to Tacoma on his World Of Slime Tour.

PERFORMANCE

God is a Scottish Drag Queen
In this two-act comedy, God, dressed in a floral power suit, comes down to Earth to "skewer everything from the Pope to politics."

VETERANS DAY

Auburn Veterans Day Parade
This 54th annual parade and observance in Auburn—named Washington's Regional Site for celebrating the holiday by the Veterans Day National Committee and the US Department of Veterans Affairs—features high school marching bands, military vehicles, honor guards, and other such fanfare. 

NOVEMBER 9-10

COMEDY

Gilbert Gottfried
The raucous-voiced top comedian/dirty joker/reader of Fifty Shades of Grey will visit Tacoma. 

PERFORMANCE

Dracula: The Romantic Ballet
Tacoma City Ballet will perform an original ballet based on the gruesome story of Vlad the Impaler. The stakes will be high!

THROUGH NOVEMBER 10

VISUAL ART

Translations: An Exploration of Glass by Northwest Native Carvers and Weavers
This glassworks show features pieces made in the museum's hot shop by family members of "three of the Pillars of the Evergreen Longhouse"—Mary Ellen Hillaire (Lummi), Gerald Miller (Skokomish), and Hazel Pete (Chehalis)—with the aid of Dan and Raya Friday. Old weaving and carving treasures from the families' collections are juxtaposed with the new glass interpretations of baskets, sculptures, and bentwood boxes.

NOVEMBER 11

VETERANS DAY

Museum of Glass Veterans Day
Veterans and active-duty military members are invited to take in live glassblowing demonstrations, performances from MusicWorks4Vets, and displays from Geoffrey Bowton and Tacoma Arts Live. 

NOVEMBER 11 & 29

COMMUNITY

State Park Free Days
If you don't have a Discover Pass but you still want to take in Northwest wildlife in all its evergreen-hued glory, take advantage of free admission to state parks like Penrose Point, Kopachuck, and Dash Point on Veterans Day (Nov 11) and Autumn Day (Nov 29).

NOVEMBER 12

PERFORMANCE

Pilobolus: Come to Your Senses
Pilobolus is a troupe that depicts science-related narratives through dance. For Come to Your Senses, they've collaborated with Radiolab and MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, plus Song Exploder podcast host Thao Nguyen, to craft choreography based on the origins of life, humanity's place on earth, and "the beauty and strength of human connection." 

NOVEMBER 14

FILM

'Charlie's Angels' Opening
When a systems engineer blows the whistle on a dangerous technology, Charlie's Angels from across the globe are called into action, putting their lives on the line to protect society.

MUSIC

EarthGang, Guapdad 4000
EarthGang have that ATL hip-hop sound I love, keeping the spirit of Outkast (fun and freaky dirty South) alive without sounding much like that particular duo. EarthGang are a duo, too—rappers Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot. They’ve been buzzing since self-releasing their debut in 2013, their quirky, psychedelic rap eventually catching the ears of J. Cole; EarthGang signed to his Dreamville Records last year. Their major label first (and third full-length overall, excluding all the mixtapes and EPs and comp singles and guest spots in between), Mirrorland, is fucking banging. Johnny Venus told Pitchfork that the album is inspired by 1978 Wizard of Oz redux The Wiz: “It’s really colorful. It’s really dangerous. It’s really trippy. It’s literally Freaknik Atlanta in the summertime—folks riding around in cars with big rims with paint on their faces.” Johnny Venus has the gnarly, demented, Caribbean-flecked vocal quality, while Doctur Dot is a tad more straightforward eccentric, slicker, very slightly quicker—though both are lyrically agile, clever, witty as fuck, with the ability to be both odd and catchy. They’re edging toward stardom. Here’s hoping their quirky charm is intact when they arrive. LEILANI POLK

NOVEMBER 15

MUSIC

Dude York
Stranger music contributor Ana Kaplan has written, "Dude York have proclaimed themselves as America's Band, and their love of Cheez-Its, La Croix, and rock and roll only bolster that reputation. Released earlier last year on Hardly Art, their second record, Sincerely, navigates dark themes of love, depression, and anxiety under the guise of singsong alt-pop. Guitarist Peter Richards and bassist Claire England switch off on vocals, and with Andrew Hall on drums, this trio’s live show gets loud." 

PERFORMANCE

The Hip Hop Nutcracker with MC Kurtis Blow
This reinterpretation of the beloved ballet swaps out imperial Russia for 1980s Brooklyn as little Maria-Clara travels back in time to her parents' first meeting at a nightclub. It's acted out by a dozen hip-hop dancers, a DJ, Kurtis Blow (who opens the evening with a short set), and an onstage violinist.

NOVEMBER 15-16

COMEDY

Roy Wood Jr.
You know Roy Wood Jr. as a wry correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and the host of This Is Not Happening since 2017.

NOVEMBER 16

COMMUNITY

Exclusive Tour of Stadium High School
Did you know that the 1800s-era Tacoma high school was originally built to be a luxury hotel? Or that parts of 10 Things I Hate About You were filmed there? Learn all about it and take in the French Chateau-style architecture on a walk-through with Pretty Gritty Tours. 

FOOD & DRINK

Tacoma Distillery Festival
Sample spirits from over 20 Northwest distilleries in the form of cocktails and neat sips at this inaugural festival. 

MUSIC

Party Like It's 1999! Homecoming Dance Party
Channel those teen Y2K vibes as the Elks Temple transforms into a high school auditorium decked out for homecoming. DJ Gregarious will spin and prizes will be awarded for the best era-appropriate costumes. 

NOVEMBER 17

MUSIC

BRONCHO, Hot Flash Heat Wave, Rinse & Repeat
Pretty sure you’ve heard BRONCHO. Maybe it was the jangly “Try Me Out Sometime” (which sounds like it was ripped straight out of the early ’80s post-punk songbook) or the relentlessly catchy “Class Historian” (the one with all the du-du-du-ing and a guitar riff that feels nostalgic and sunny). The Oklahoma indie-rock quartet has taken a sexier, groovier turn in 2018 full-length Bad Behavior, which starts out strong with “All Choked Up,” a snotty little ditty with a sauntering and swaggering cowbell-studded rhythm. It’s dark and funky-fun, and I imagine it’ll prompt some lip-curled dance faces when they bring it to Seattle. LEILANI POLK

NOVEMBER 19

PERFORMANCE

Sugar Skull! A Dia de Los Muertos Musical Adventure
Fans of Disney Pixar's Coco will enjoy this heartfelt family-friendly musical about a young girl who discovers the magic of Día de los Muertos when her Abuelita comes to life from beyond the grave. 

NOVEMBER 20

MUSIC

Nahko & Medicine For The People
The Nahko Bear-fronted group Nahko & Medicine for the People will bring their worldly music to Tacoma on their Take Your Power Back Tour.

Taj Mahal Quartet
Iconic bluesman Taj Mahal and his quartet head south for a night of global fusion, incorporating reggae, gospel, and Hawaiian slack key into his unique sound.

NOVEMBER 21

VISUAL ART

Tacoma Art Walk
Duck into businesses marked with a yellow sign along Sixth Avenue to see new work by local artists every third Thursday of the month. 

NOVEMBER 22

COMMUNITY

Night Tour of the Armory
Wander through the stable, firing range, horse bath, and endless winding corridors of the Tacoma Armory (home to the National Guard until 2011) and learn about its storied history from tour guides. Don't forget to bring a flashlight. 

FILM

'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood' Opening
It was only a matter of time before cinematic nice guy Tom Hanks was cast as modern saint Fred Rogers. Matthew Rhys (The Americans) co-stars as Tom Junod, the real-life reporter assigned to profile the TV host/all-around mensch.

'Knives Out' Opening
The director of The Last Jedi and Looper has assembled an amazing cast for a good old-fashioned ensemble whodunit. Watch Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig, Lakeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, et al. go at each other with barbed wit and sharp implements.

MUSIC

Sammy Johnson
Australia native Sammy Johnson will blend reggae, soul, and jazz for a night of uplifting tunes.

PERFORMANCE

A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage
Actors will take on the roles of your favorite Peanuts characters in this live take on the classic holiday show A Charlie Brown Christmas.  

NOVEMBER 23

FOOD & DRINK

Empty Bowls
Choose a nifty handmade bowl from a selection of about 1,000 and then eat some soup (served in a separate bowl) at this annual fundraiser for the Emergency Food Network. 

MUSIC

The Black Keys, Modest Mouse, Shannon & the Clams
Back in 2002, when I lived in Cleveland, I’d catch the Black Keys in small venues like the Beachland Tavern. Nothing about the scrappy Akron, Ohio, blues-rock duo screamed out “potential rock megastars”—not even their decent cover of the Beatles’ “She Said, She Said.” To be honest, nothing still screams out “rock megastars,” but there’s no denying these rust-belt muthas worked hard to reach their rarefied heights. They may seem ultra-meat-and-potatoes-y to me, but Dan Auerbach can sing with barrel-chested, Paul Rodgers–esque soul and grind out catchy guitar riffs all damn night, and drummer Patrick Carney’s perfectly functional and unflashy. DAVE SEGAL

George Li Plays Enchanting Rachmaninoff
Pianist and technique whiz George Li will take on the notoriously challenging Piano Concerto No. 3 originally composed by Rachmaninoff, as well as David Ludwig's Fanfare for Sam and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.

The Helio Sequence, Hibou
The Helio Sequence have always been masters of texture. Guitarist/singer Brandon Summers and drummer Benjamin Weikel began their career in the deep end of the sugary-sweet pop pool, amid sparkling synths, heavily effected vocals, and whizzing bleeps and bloops. Over time, however, the Portland band’s dreaminess has darkened and become more thoughtful, its layering more restrained, its effects more minimal. On its sixth self-titled album, the band feels like it’s settling into the apex of its career, balancing just the right amount of dark to light, quiet to loud. It sounds gorgeous. KATHLEEN RICHARDS

Petty Theft, SOS
Experience all the greatest hits of rock legend Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with Petty Theft, a San Francisco-based Petty tribute group. They'll be joined by Police tribute band SOS. 

NOVEMBER 23-DECEMBER 31

HOLIDAYS

Fire + Ice Festival
Winter is a time for snow people and warm fires to complement each other from a distance, and the holidays wouldn't be complete without them. For its third annual Fire and Ice festival, the Museum of Glass hosts a variety of holiday-themed performances and demonstrations.

NOVEMBER 23-MAY 2020

VISUAL ART

Alchemy 5: Transformation in Contemporary Enamels
This juried exhibition, traveling from the University of Oregon, pays tribute to the "alchemical" process of firing powdered glass to produce vitreous enamel, a coating that can turn glass, metal, stone, or ceramic into a shining object of deep, sheeny colors. See some of the best enamel-coated objects in the world.

NOVEMBER 24

MUSIC

Trans-Siberian Orchestra 2019 Presented By Hallmark Channel
Yes, I know, they're cheesy in the extreme and not even actually from Siberia, but Trans-Siberian Orchestra's jolly blend of electric-guitar shredding and Christmas music is like the flu: It comes around every year and it's extremely catchy. That being said, if I'm going to be afflicted with pinch-harmonic-inflected cheer, then I'm at least going to focus on the upside. Which is, TSO formed from the remains of the excellent and under-appreciated power-metal outfit Savatage, whose interpretation of Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" probably sparked the whole classical-music-meets-metal fad. Now if only they still had Alex Skolnick from Testament in the band. JOSEPH SCHAFER

NOVEMBER 25-26

FILM

BANFF Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Returning to the big screen for the 44th year, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour presents the best mountain films of the year by filmmakers from all over the world. 

NOVEMBER 28

SPORTS & RECREATION

Norpoint Turkey Trot 5K
Choose from a 5K, 2K, or a Kids Dash at this annual pre-dinner run. 

Tacoma City Turkey Trot
Everyone who finishes this 5K pre-feast race will receive a medal and a t-shirt. 

NOVEMBER 29

FILM

'Pain and Glory' Opening
Pedro Almodóvar has long warmed his filmography with flickers of details from his personal life. But Pain & Glory, his latest, brings us closer to the flame. In it, we look in on Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), a filmmaker in self-imposed exile due to a creative decline and a variety of physical ailments. After reconnecting with key figures from his past, he starts to pull himself out of his cocoon. Almodóvar is aware of the story’s potential for self-important navel-gazing, which he avoids through a restrained use of flashbacks to his childhood (brought out through Mallo’s brief dalliance with heroin), his tender relationship with his mother (Penelope Cruz and, in her older years, Julieta Serrano), and his blossoming sexuality. But what truly steers this film toward greatness is Banderas, who stifles his melodramatic tendencies to subtly, powerfully reveal Mallo’s internal agonies and slow evolution. ROBERT HAM

MUSIC

The Black Tones, Mirrorgloss, La Fonda
Blues-punk post-grunge makers/Hendrixian rock-and-roll torchbearers the Black Tones are led by the fabulous Walker twins, with brother Cedric pounding out the heavy, calculated rhythms, and sister Eva belting it out in a rich, sonorous vocal that varies between full-bodied operatic and fuck-your-face fierce. LEILANI POLK

NOVEMBER 29-DECEMBER 22

PERFORMANCE

Elf the Musical
A taller-than-average elf learns that he's really a human in Tacoma Musical Playhouse's staged rendition of the beloved holiday movie Elf

WINTER HOLIDAYS

Christmas at the Mansion
Per holiday tradition, visitors can marvel at Puyallup's historic Meeker Mansion decked out in Victorian-style Christmas decorations (with 21st-century LED lights). 

NOVEMBER 29-DECEMBER 23

FESTIVALS

Christmas Ship Festival
The Puget Sound is filled with lights throughout the holiday season, but no vessel can compete with Argosy Cruises' Christmas Ship, which docks in 65 waterfront communities to serenade people onshore and onboard with its resident choir. Those who choose to board the ship will enjoy photos with Santa, a reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," and kids' activities. For a less family-oriented option, you can trail behind in a 21+ boat with rotating themes each week. It's also free to watch from the shore.

NOVEMBER 29-JANUARY 5

WINTER HOLIDAYS

Zoolights
Holiday traditions don't get more classic than strolling through the zoo when it's transformed into a luminous wonderland of 3-D animal light installations. Displays from previous years have included hammerhead sharks and sea turtles, a majestic polar bear family, and a giant Pacific octopus.

NOVEMBER 30

WINTER HOLIDAYS

74th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting
This annual tradition—which has been going strong since World War II—kicks off the holiday season with carols, photos with Santa, and the lighting of a giant holiday tree in downtown Tacoma. 

MUSIC

Eldridge Gravy & the Court Supreme, Form Destroyer
The many-membered funk party band Eldridge Gravy and the Court Supreme will spice things up after opening sets from Olympia future soul group Form Destroyer. 

PERFORMANCE

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
This lavish circus performance is chock-full of holiday icons like gingerbread men, snowmen, angels, Santa, ornaments, and others—all performing acrobatic feats in 20 acts and 300 costumes.

SHOPPING

Gritty City Gift Fair
With an emphasis on recycled and reclaimed materials, this beloved craft fair brings tons of handmade goods for those looking for unique holiday gifts for their loved ones. Enjoy live music and treats while you shop. 

Shop Small along the Row
Support local businesses along Tacoma's Antique Row on Small Business Saturday. 

Tacoma Night Market
Enjoy an evening of vendors, local food, sweet treats, live music, and more for all ages. 

Tacoma Striezelmarkt
Get a taste of a traditional German Christmas market at Tacoma's annual Striezelmarkt, which promises a variety of goods from Northwest craftspeople, plus cozy seasonal treats.