21 courtesy of pacific northwest ballet angela sterling covpry

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

Nov 24–Dec 28 The season does not officially start in Seattle until opening night of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s perennial favorite. This year continues a new tradition featuring children’s book author Ian Falconer’s whimsical costumes and courtly sets. Even McCaw Hall dons its best wintertime duds. Many at PNB cite the Nutcracker as their introduction to the art form. How many future dancers will fall in love with ballet this year? McCaw Hall, pnb.org

It’s a Wonderful Life

Dec 8–28 Among the canon of American holiday films, It’s a Wonderful Life is high art. The 1946 opus checks all the boxes for feel-good viewing: black-and-white nostalgia, stories of human empathy, and a timeless movie star performance. One of the city’s last remaining classic movie theaters gives December over to James Stewart’s unmistakable charm. Grand Illusion Cinema, grandillusioncinema.org

A Sassy Brassy Holiday

Dec 10–23 The Seattle Men’s Chorus ascends to the very heavens with a rendition of “Joy to the World,” then follows up with “A Super Gay Christmas” and a wily Dixieland version of “Let It Snow.” A Sassy Brassy Holiday compounds the grandeur of a men’s chorus with a dash of fun and funk. Benaroya Hall, seattlesymphony.org

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The Burlesque Nutcracker

An Offbeat Holiday

Tired of the same old lineup of carolers, cherubs, and gingerbread men? Fear not. Venues around the city offer decidedly alternative versions of holiday pageantry. Unexpected Productions’ Improvised Christmas Carol, invites the Ghost of Christmas Audience Suggestions every night. Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker at the Triple Door uses candy canes and mistletoe in ways that might make you blush. Cirque Dreams Holidaze’s version of holiday cheer incorporates astounding feats of aerial athleticism. And finally, remove any hope of decency at A John Waters Christmas, starring the famous provocateur himself.

Winterfest 

Nov 24–Jan 1 Seattle Center transforms into a winter playground for the entire family, complete with ice skating, a charming model train and village, and performances ranging from a cappella to comedy to puppet shows. Seattle Center, seattlecenter.com

Santa’s Lane at Nordstrom 

Thru Dec 24 On Sixth and Pine, snappily dressed little ones (and more than a few adults) line up to meet the jolly guy himself in a glitzy yuletide photo op. Downtown Seattle Flagship, nordstrom.com  

Candy Cane Lane 

Dec 3–Jan 1 Every December for nearly 70 years now, this otherwise quiet street of Tudor-style homes in Ravenna gets bedazzled for the holidays in a big way. Lights and lawn decorations are the bare minimum. NE Ravenna Blvd & Park Rd NE

Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival

Dec 1–17 All year long, Washington state’s own Bavarian hamlet looks like it sprang from a storybook. But weekends in December are even more fantastical, with sledding, live music, and a tree lighting. Downtown Leavenworth, leavenworth.org

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