Early Warnings

Your Guide to December 2020 Events in Seattle

Scott Shoemaker's War on Christmas, a Drive-In at On the Boards, and More Major Happenings
December 1, 2020
Scott Shoemaker and friends lead a fearless yuletide investigation in Scott Shoemaker's War on Christmas, streaming on-demand starting December 5. (Bronwen Gilbert Houck)

Finding reasons to celebrate is more important than ever right now (even if you're just celebrating the fact that 2020 is almost behind us), and while this holiday season will be a helluva lot different than what we're used to, there are plenty of noteworthy COVID-safe events this month that you'll definitely want to know about—the majority of which you can enjoy without leaving your house. We've compiled the biggest ones below, from Donald Byrd's The Harlem Nutcracker to the Dina Martina Christmas Show, and from an On the Boards Drive-In curated by the Henry Art Gallery to the new Starlight Lane drive-through experience at Lumen Field. For even more options, you can always check out our complete streaming, in-person, on-demand, and winter holidays calendars. 

Events are online unless otherwise noted.



MoPOP Founders Award 2020, honoring Alice in Chains
Seattle grunge legends of yore Alice in Chains will receive MoPOP's 2020 Founders Award for their lasting impact on the city's music scene. They'll also perform live.


Ijeoma Oluo Book Launch event with Megan Rapinoe
Two Seattle masters of their respective fields in writing and pro soccer, So You Want to Talk About Race author Ijeoma Oluo and Women's World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe will sit down together virtually to discuss Oluo's new book, Medicare: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America.



French Dip Sandwich Pop-Up
While the origin of the French dip is subjective (two Los Angeles diners claim to have invented it), meat lovers can all agree it's a delicious, juicy (jus-y?) sandwich, and a perfect treat for chilly weather. Get yours with a side of French fries from Tom Douglas's Ballard takeout pop-up while they last.
Serious TakeOut (Ballard)


The Hip Hop Nutcracker featuring Kurtis Blow
This stellar 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, and an electric violinist. This year's virtual edition features seasoned NYC rapper Kurtis Blow. 



Urban Craft Uprising 2020 Winter Show
You'd be hard-pressed to find zilch for your loved ones at Urban Craft Uprising's tried-and-true indie craft show. With over 150 vendors selling a huge variety of hand-crafted goods—from jewelry to clothing to paper goods to candles to housewares—you're bound to find unique gifts for the holidays. For this virtual edition, you'll interact directly with the vendors and order their goods online.



Virtual Author Talk: In Bibi's Kitchen by Hawa Hassan
Brooklyn chef Hawa Hassan honors bibis (aka grandmothers) from eight African nations in her new cookbook, In Bibi's Kitchen. She'll be joined in virtual conversation by Olaiya Land of Lionesse. 



Word Works | Porochista Khakpour on Writing Toward & Against Identity
Iranian American novelist Porochista Khakpour, whose Brown Album: Essays On Exile And Identity recalls her family's journey from Iran to "Tehrangeles" (an enclave of wealthy Persians in Los Angeles) during the Iranian Revolution, will open Hugo House's Word Works season with a talk on how she uses personal essays to explore the self. After that, she'll be joined by writing instructor Anne Liu Kellor for a brief interview.



Henry Art Gallery & OtB Drive-In
Having proven its parking lot a supreme locale for drive-in events, On the Boards will once again invite car-havers to turn off their engines, stay in their vehicles, and enjoy a series of films on the big screen, this time dedicated to Henry Art Gallery-curated artists who use moving image as a means of exploring global issues like climate change.
On the Boards (Queen Anne)



Ragamala Dance Company: Written in Water
Discover South Indian Bharatanatyam-style dancing in this on-demand run of the Ragamala Dance Company's Written in Water, inspired by the ancient Indian board game Paramapadham (also known as Snakes and Ladders).



Can Can's sparkly, playfully debaucherous carnival of holiday merriment is now on-demand and available to rent throughout the season. As an extra treat, the cabaret company's Show To Go package allows you to enjoy entrees, house-made confections, and wine selections while you watch the show at home.



Kitten N' Lou Present: Jingle All the Gay!
Recorded in front of a live audience interwoven with phone calls, love letters, and other mid-pandemic quarantine modes of communication, this year's edition of Kitten N' Lou holiday special Jingle All the Gay! will bring you some queer-tastic comfort.



SMooCH 2020
The charity circuit will get an indie-rock soundtrack as a pitch-perfect lineup gathers to help raise funds for Seattle Children's Hospital. Attendees will get the unique treat of pairing their online concert-viewing experience (the lineup for which includes Jason Isbell, Kim Gordon, J Mascis, Angel Olsen, Ben Gibbard, and Yuno) with a culinary party box from all-star local chefs like Ethan Stowell, Makini Howell, Edouardo Jordan, Tamara Murphy, and others.



HUMP! Greatest Hits, Volume 2
The HUMP! team is bringing back some fan-favorite amateur porn shorts from years past in the second volume of streamable compilations. If you get inspired, find out how to make and submit your own HUMP! film here—submissions are due January 8!



Seattle Turkish Film Festival
The Turkish American Cultural Association of Washington will present the seventh annual edition of their community-driven, volunteer-led festival featuring a rich panorama of new Turkish films. We're excited about Queen Lear, Pelin Esmer's documentary about a group of peasant women from southern Turkey who founded a theater group and now travel on the road with their unique production of Shakespeare's King Lear.



Scott Shoemaker's War on Christmas!
Scott Shoemaker (Ms. Pak-Man) and illustrious friends like Ade, Waxie Moon, Mandy Price, and Fageddy Randy will lead a fearless investigation into the War on Christmas. Their weapons: "ALL NEW hilarious comedy, songs, dance numbers, amazing videos and partial nudity!"



Virtual Author Talk: The Book On Pie by Erin McDowell
Get some pro pie crust tips and filling ideas from Erin McDowell as she cooks a recipe from her new book, The Book on Pie (natch), live on Zoom.



Author Talk: Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss
Italian American, Berlin-residing cook and writer Luisa Weiss, the progenitor of the popular food blog Wednesday Chef, will present her new cookbook, Classic German Baking, alongside local food writer and podcast host Molly Wizenberg. While they chat over Zoom, they'll also be making Biberle (a festive almond cookie) using the recipe from the book. 



Seattle Rep's Public Works Presents: Twelfth Night
Seattle Rep's Public Works presents selections from a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s horny comedy Twelfth Night, conceived here by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub.


Cinema Italian Style
The Cinema Italian Style is a weeklong SIFF mini-festival featuring the best in contemporary Italian cinema. This online edition will include work from established masters and new voices and pre-recorded filmmaker Q&As.



Starlight Lane: A Rockin' Holiday Drive-Through Experience
Drive through the newly monikered Lumen Field (formerly CenturyLink) to be dazzled by a laser light display with synchronized holiday tunes. 
Lumen Field (Pioneer Square)



The Harlem Nutcracker
Leading up to its grand 25th-anniversary production in 2021, acclaimed local choreographer Donald Byrd and the Spectrum Dance Theatre present Time Travel, a workshop "phase" of this year's production of The Harlem Nutcracker wherein, as press materials describe, "Death manifests flashbacks of Clara's early years and chronicles the Black struggle for justice and equality from the 1920s to the death of George Floyd."

Manual Cinema's Christmas Carol
Interdisciplinary performance collective Manual Cinema trades in Charles Dickens's Ebenezer Scrooge for Aunt Trudy, a holiday skeptic who's tasked by mysterious forces to adopt her late husband's cheery Christmas disposition, which includes putting on his famous Christmas Carol puppet show from her isolated Chicago apartment.



The Dina Martina Christmas Show
Last year, Chase Burns wrote, "Watching Seattle drag legend Dina Martina perform is a bit like having a Christmastime flu. You will sit there, confused and warm, your thoughts disassociating, a fever addling your brain, while the holiday cheer twinkles all around you. Truly there's no performer who is more like a strong dose of Nyquil than Dina Martina. She is cozy but disorienting. You will laugh without knowing why. Take her with alcohol and double the danger." This holds up, and we hope Dina is the only fever you get this year.



Savage Love Livestream
The Stranger's own sex advice columnist, podcaster, pundit, and public speaker Dan Savage will answer your most intimate quandaries in a live virtual edition of Savage Love.

Taylor Mac's Holiday Sauce...Pandemic!
"MacArthur Grant-winning genius Taylor Mac is an unparalleled playwright and performer," Chase Burns wrote last year. "Mac produces shows that are bombastic and colorful, somewhere between drag and cabaret and classical Greek tragedy, with the loudest costumes ever concocted, created by the equally genius designer Machine Dazzle." Mac's Holiday Sauce blends music, film, burlesque, and "random acts of fabulousness" to give the songs you've been hearing over and over on FM radio a little refresher and to remind us of our chosen families.

Theater Anonymous: 'It's a Wonderful Life'
The plot of this holiday show is predictable if your legal guardians ever sat you down to watch Frank Capra's 1946 film as a child, but the cast is a surprise—for you and the people on stage. Though they've been rehearsing with the director for weeks, the 30 actors selected for the job took an oath of secrecy to only tell one person in their lives about their role. You get to see how it all plays out. 


Drawing Jam
This is not one naked person trying not to breathe too hard in front of a handful of art nerds. No, this is a whole crowd of art nerds hanging out at their respective houses while they draw multiple models—in drag, holding instruments, and/or wearing funky costumes. The online event this year is open to all ages, so there will be no butts in the buff. 



Mark Morris Dance Group Holiday Special: Home for the Holidays
Along with the return of The Hard Nut, a gender-bending play on The Nutcracker, the Mark Morris Dance Group is spending their 40th anniversary season online (like the rest of us) with a whole lineup of holiday performances and events. The only thing you can't do is join them for outdoor caroling in Brooklyn, unless you happen to be there, in which case, have fun.



Gingerbread Barn-Raiser 2020
At this fourth annual fundraiser presented by Sawhorse Revolution (an organization that aims to empower youth through carpentry and craft), guests will collaborate with their quarantine pods (or go it alone) on edible structures (kits for which can be picked up on December 3 or 4) to contribute to "the world's most progressive Gingerbread village"—think sustainable gardens and art museums. 



Eat, Drink & Be Generous
As part of United Way of King County's series of online fundraisers this season for local restaurants affected by COVID-19, Marination's Kamala Saxton will teach you how to mix either a margarita or a bourbon sour, depending on which kit you choose. The "elevated" ticket comes with an appetizer as well. 


Scott Silven 'The Journey'
Illusionist and performance artist Scott Silven invites you to an online theatrical experience streamed live from his home in rural Scotland.



Sugar Plum Gary
A misanthropic disposition combined with a strong satanist worldview distinguishes Sugar Plum Gary from other yuletide figures. Every year around this time, "somewhat beloved storyteller and comedian Emmett Montgomery" slips into a red onesie and takes the stage to give audience members completely unsolicited advice on how to best navigate the season, and it's often pretty funny if you're into dark, absurd humor. What's his favorite holiday decorating tip? In an interview with Brett Hamil in City Arts, Sugar Plum Gary gives his answer: I like to "find a dark place and put myself in a corner and wait," he says, with a creepy uncle grin. Merry Christmas. RICH SMITH



George Balanchine's 'The Nutcracker'
Rich Smith has written "If you haven't seen this Christmas classic since you were a kid, give it a go this year. In 2014, Pacific Northwest Ballet replaced its beloved Maurice Sendak set with one by Ian Falconer, who did the Olivia the Pig books, and I'm glad that they did. The new set is gorgeous in a Wes Anderson-like way, and it reflects the genuine weirdness and beauty in the story. I mean, the last 45 minutes of this thing is a Katy Perry video starring dancing desserts and a glittery peacock that moves like a sexy broken river. Bring a pot lozenge." This is an archival performance, so it'll feel extra nostalgic. Plus, if you miss those cookies and snacks from the lobby during intermission, you can even add a Nutcracker gift box to your ticket for a bundle of sweets. 



An Absolut Delightful Night with Erik Hakkinen
Star bartender Erik Hakkinen (formerly of Pike Place's Zig Zag Cafe) is the drinks man behind the French-inspired Belltown bar Roqette, and tonight he's gonna teach you to whip up some special seasonal cocktails made with Absolut and Kahlúa. You're looking at an espresso martini, a cardamom White Russian, and a German chocolate cake and an apple spiced mule. Each kit includes enough for six to eight drinks.


The KEXPY Awards
According to the KEXP, this may be their last listeners choice awards ever, and who can blame them for wanting to turn a new leaf once 2020 is over? With peeks into the everyday lives of your favorite radio DJs to special performances from Waxahatchee, Vagabon, Black Belt Eagle Scout, and La Luz, this online event is not to be missed. 



Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes: A Very Lonely Solstice Livestream
If you can believe it, these chilly past couple of months have technically still been autumn. As the Northern hemisphere officially turns the tide into winter, join Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold, who will perform a live solo acoustic set from St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, where he'll be joined by the Resistance Revival Chorus. 



Snowflake Lane
Every year, downtown Bellevue turns into a winter wonderland not just for one night but for a whole dang month, with (fake) falling snow, jolly music, and twinkling lights every night until Christmas Eve. Don't expect a marching band this year (mouths blowing into trumpets during COVID = bad), but do expect a perfectly lovely, socially distanced walk- or drive-through.
Bellevue Collection



A Christmas Carol 2020
Cozy up around ye olde device for this on-demand version of ACT Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol: a dependable, simple pleasure with just enough variation to warrant returning year after year.



T-Mobile New Year's at The Needle
Seattle Center's usual slate of New Year's Eve festivities are canceled, but the Space Needle's annual light display will prevail with a digital-only show broadcast on KING 5 and streamed online. Why can't you just find a safe spot to view the show IRL, you ask? To the naked eye, the top of the needle will appear a static magenta, but the digital show, which uses sky-mapping technology and video footage, will be the only place to watch the full shebang. 



The Woodland Park Zoo is taking a more realistic approach to its beloved annual holiday light display by lining its paths with glowing lanterns in the likeness of tigers, snow leopards, aquatic creatures, zebras, and other exotic animals.
Woodland Park Zoo (Phinney)



Land of The Sweets Cinematic Cut 2020
This lascivious holiday show experience with sugar plum fairies, exciting clothes-dropping times, and more swanky fun will return this year in film form.