Seattle's missing holiday traditions are the ghosts of Christmas Present

November 24, 2020 | Tom Orr
Seattle's missing holiday traditions are the ghosts of Christmas Present

Christmas Time Is Here!
Ignorance and Fear!
One by One
Our Yuletide Fun's
Begun To Disappear ...

There are certain iconic institutions that are synonymous with Christmastime, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, those beloved holiday traditions and favorite cultural milestones that signify the start of the season and soothe our souls with the comfort of anticipated routine and nostalgic ritual.

The Parade of Lights in Ballard. Christmas Eve with the Seattle Gay Men's Chorus. Dickens Carolers in Westlake Center. A family outing to see Santa at Macy's. Taking a child to their first "Nutcracker" at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Witnessing the nonlinear Noel nonsense and surreal syntax of Dina Martina.

From mistletoe to cameltoe, they filled us with fond familiar feelings of food, fun, friends and family.

Now, however, thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic and Washington's newly revised stay at home restrictions issued Nov. 16 in Governor Inslee's statewide mandate, many of the merry mainstays of our mothballed minds are becoming the mammoths and mastodons of misty modern memory.

Still, they say there's no place like home for the holidays, and as we brace ourselves and our Elves on our Shelves for ongoing life under lockdown, here are a few attractions you can count on to bring you a little holiday cheer for a Stay Six Feet Away Solstice, a Hearthbound Hannukah, a Quarantine Kwanzaa and a Homeschool Yule.

Seattle Center Winterfest - STARTS 11/27 (FREE!)
Unable to host visitors for an in-person celebration this year, Seattle Center keeps the decades-long tradition of Winterfest alive with spirit-lifting virtual content and links to holiday activities by resident organizations and community partners, housed on the multi-faceted Seattle Center Winterfest page, Some of the Seattle Center Winterfest 2020 offerings include:

Campus Luminata - Decorative LED tree lighting throughout the grounds to delight campus visitors and provide seasonal illumination and cheer, now through the New Year.

Virtual Student Showcases - Recorded performances of seasonal selections by school and training program participants in Winterfest Student Showcases.

Virtual Winterfest Festál - Seattle Center Festál community partners celebrate a diverse array of seasonal and holiday traditions through music, dance, cooking and craft demonstrations and storytelling. New content is added each Saturday throughout the Winterfest period.

Our Big Neighborhood Virtual Opening Day - OBN producing partner Northwest Folklife presents family-focused performances by Dunava Balkan Women's Choir and The Geoducks, along with a tortilla cooking demonstration with Francisca Garcia of Machtia. Nov. 27 to Dec. 31. To learn more, visit or call 206 684-7200

THEATRE Release the Kraken! Music, mayhem, tentacles and fisticuffs in a rousing ArtsWest sequel - STARTS 11/27

Featuring five new songs from powerhouse playwright/composer/lyricist Justin Huertas, A Very Merry Kraken Tea Party follows the characters of Justin's 2019 ArtsWest hit The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion. As winter hits, the octopus Nia and Lee formed together has mysteriously separated and both have come ashore just as Todd and David are getting ready to celebrate their first Christmas together. With a new problem to solve, and with Grace away on tour in Thailand, all try to figure out how to celebrate holiday love with each other while they remain apart. Nov. 27 to Jan. 31. TICKET PRICES vary to match patron accessibility: $10 to $100.

Taint misbehavin' ... nostalgia in "Christmas of the Corn" - A Nordo Room Service experience - STARTS 11/27

It's bawdy. It's blasphemous. But you can count the swear words on your fingers and if your kid is laughing at taint jokes, don't look at us! It's "Christmas of the Corn" , a heart-warming murder in a box and Nordo's fifth annual holiday collaboration with Seattle treasure Scot Augustson, a radio play comedy delivered in a parcel filled with presents to solve a murder in the quaint town of Drupe Fruit, Minnisconsan. The story has all the trimmings as it unfolds in Nordo-style cookies, crafts & cocktails. How it works: A handsome red box, bedecked with Nordo's holiday best, arrives at your door. Attached is a train ticket back home to the cornfed Midwest of multiple murders. A website provides access to a titillating radio play that tells the story of Becky-June Beasley-Jones, her romance with Carl Marlboro, the search for her missing father, and of course...a Christmas murder! While listening to the radio play, Becky-June prompts you to unpack your kit: decorate tree ornaments, frost holiday cookies (with the help of Nordo Executive Chef Erin Brindley), and play the game of Holiday Valley with illustrations by local artist Jed Dunkerley. Nordo's Room Service provides add-on options including a Holiday feast of Shepherd's Pie with Rosemary Antipasto Wreaths and of course, WINE! Add-ons bring it all together for one lovely gift with home delivery and zero-contact. Nov. 27 to Dec. 27. *Delivery available between 1:00-6:00 p.m. Thurs-Fri or 1:00-5:00 p.m. Sat- Sun. TICKETS: $118 to $250. 206-209-2002.

Sofa, so good! ... Taproot shares yuletide cheer in innovative "Christmas At Home" - STARTS 11/27

The tradition continues as the Taproot Theatre family shares songs, stories and seasonal specialties in "Christmas At Home" , available for streaming Nov. 27 to Jan 3. Created by director Karen Lund with a cast of local audience favorites including Cayman Ilika, Kate Jaeger, Tré Cotton, Harold Taw, and the mother-daughters trio of Be Russell, Sarah Russell, and Faith Bennett Russell. "Christmas At Home" was recorded in living rooms across the country. TICKETS are available online and this year Taproot asks patrons to consider the number of household members who will be watching and what they can afford based on their financial circumstances: $20, $35 or $50. Also new this year, "Give or Receive Christmas Cheer". GIVE by purchasing an extra ticket for one who can't afford to see the show. Or RECEIVE a free ticket by emailing the box office and requesting "Christmas Cheer" (no questions asked). 206-781-9705.

From "RuPaul's Drag Race" to sheltering in place... it's "The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special"! - STARTS 12/1

"Hold on to your sugarplums and get ready for a holiday drag spectacular that's as magical as a flying reindeer and as unexpected as a virgin birth!" So say world-renowned drag artists and "RuPaul's Drag Race" alumnae, BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon, as they continue to sleigh the holiday season after their previous SRO holiday tours ("To Jesus, Thanks for Everything" and "All I Want for Christmas Is Attention") with their new hard candy Christmas confection: "The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special" . With the help of a chorus of dancers and DeLa's deceased grandmother - whose spirit lives on in a glass of eggnog - DeLa tries her hardest to uphold the cheery Christmas traditions of her childhood, while Jinkx is much more interested in bawdy jokes and boozy libations. This original 60-minute musical special will be available via video on demand on Dec. 1 worldwide, while the digital soundtrack will be released on Dec. 11. PRE-ORDER: $13.99. Filmed safely under CDC guidelines in September on a Seattle soundstage, this marks the first film project directed, co-written and executive produced by BenDeLaCreme under her production company, BenDeLaCreme Presents.

Camp it up for Christmas as Kitten N' Lou present "Jingle All the Gay!" - STARTS 12/4

"Jingle All the Gay" invites you to join our chosen family of fabulous fruitcakes online in a joyful and triumphant celebration of song, dance, burlesque, and holiday hilarity in a special cinematic edit of the production recorded in front of a live audience with phone calls, love letters, and mid-pandemic musings from all your favorite characters in quarantine! Featuring an all-star cast of luminaries!

Kitten N' Lou, Cherdonna Shinatra, Markeith Wiley, Randy Ford, ilvs straus, Mr. Gorgeous (NYC), RedBone (San Francisco), The Luminous Pariah, Woody Shticks, Lola Van Ella (NOLA), Abbey Roads, Willy LaQueue (Chicago). Choose one of two ways to watch. ON-DEMAND available to stream at your holiday leisure Dec. 4 to Jan. 2. TICKETS: Solo Viewer $15. Bubble of Two $30. Super Patron Status $50. Virtual VIP Table $200. VIRTUAL Viewing Parties hosted by Kitten N' Lou! Dress up and celebrate in a festive online "room" with your fellow Queers and Allies! Purchase TICKETS for Dec. 11, 13, 19, or 20! Solo Viewer $20. Bubble of Two $40. Super Patron Status $55. Virtual VIP Table $220. Virtual VIP Tables include a Jingle All The Gay goody bag that will arrive in the mail to make your experience extra festive! (Be sure to buy your tix at least one week in advance to receive it before your viewing.)

Goodness has nothing to do with it... Exploring the oldest profession with Mae West's SEXÆ - STARTS 12/4

Play Your Part presents Mae West's SEX, a play with music. Reimagined for the virtual stage under the direction of Isabella Price, this flapper-era drama features live performances from 17 actors from around the country, with original music by Perice Pope and burlesque choreography by Sailor St. Claire. Originally shut down for obscenity after its successful 1926 Broadway run, The New York Times called SEX a "crude and inept play," as it pushed passed the boundaries of Broadway by shedding light on sex workers' lives. Following the story of a particularly successful lady of the night (originally played by West), this daring drama explores the Canadian red-light district through a uniquely feminine lens, where sex workers navigate how to move up in a world dominated by men. Dec. 4 to Dec. 19. TICKETS: $20 general; $65 household; $15 industry/student/senior; pay-what-you can/play-it-forward.

Who's fighting a "War On Christmas" and WHY? - STARTS 12/5

One new Christmas tradition that has survived from The Before Times is "Scott Shoemaker's War on Christmas" . This irreverent variety show by Freddy Molitch and Scott Shoemaker (co-creators of "Ms. Pak-man" and "PROBED!") returns for a third year with a month of online viewing from Dec. 5 to Jan. 3. This year's show features the same stellar cast of talented Seattle actors, singers and burlesque stars: Scott Shoemaker, Adé, Waxie Moon, Mandy Price, and Fageddy Randy and a bevy of new material. Featuring new song parodies, original songs, comedy, dance numbers, and partial nudity. "2020 has been a harrowing year, but Christmas is not canceled!" says Scott Shoemaker. "Treat yourself, your family, friends, or your whole COVID pod!" TICKETS: Stocking Stuffer $10; Date Night! $25 Two people watching the show? Please help support our production during COVID; Spirit of the Season! $50. Please choose this option if your household is watching, or you want to give the performers a little extra Christmas cheer! Tickets: Facebook event:

Sugar Plum Gary finds a whole new platform on Zoom - STARTS 12/17

Sugar Plum Gary used to not believe in Christmas, until one magical Christmas Eve Santa came to visit the orphanage he grew up in, and he was the only survivor becoming possessed by the holiday spirit. For years he has wandered the planet searching for answers and visiting 18th & Union every December to share about the fun cosmic nightmare that is CHRISTMAS (in a body that is shaped somewhat like beloved storyteller and comedian Emmett Montgomery stuffed into footie pajamas with Santa Claus faces for the feet).

Performance dates and times are Dec. 17-19, 23 & 24 at 7:00 p.m.; Dec. 18 & 19 at 9:00 p.m. and Dec. 20 at 3:00 p.m. TICKETS can be purchased to be involved in a Fireside Chat with Gary, in which the audience will be on a Zoom call with Sugar Plum Gary. Gary will be able to see and hear them, they'll be visible to the rest of the audience, and they'll be able to participate in the discussion about the fun cosmic nightmare that is Christmas and ask questions about how to best survive the night. Or TICKETS are available to just Peer Through a Window and watch the show on a one-way live stream. Gary won't be able to see or hear this audience, but Santa will. He is always watching. All TICKETS are available on a sliding scale at Each performance will be streamed live from 18th & Union.


Pacific Northwest Ballet presents George Balanchine's The Nutcracker - STARTS 12/11

Pacific Northwest Ballet's favorite holiday tradition can now be enjoyed from the comfort of home. Stream this archival performance of George Balanchine's classic rendition of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's immortal ballet The Nutcracker with the unique-to-Seattle scenery and costumes by Ian Falconer. Immerse yourself in a candy-filled dreamland and a superb cast of PNB's stellar corps de ballet. TICKETS: Streaming for Digital Performance Plus $55 starts on Dec. 11 and Digital Performance $39 starts on Dec. 18

Suites for the Sweet: Evergreen City Ballet presents dance film The Nutcracker Suites - STARTS 12/11

Evergreen City Ballet reimagines the traditional experience of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker with an exciting at-home dance film. Nutcracker Suites explores the origin and history of this popular ballet in a unique "docu-dance" film, drawing from Evergreen City Ballet's 25+ year legacy of celebrating inclusion, artistry, and community through dance, and includes inspiration from Artistic Director Bennyroyce Royon's Filipino cultural heritage. Partnering with the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra for the iconic "Waltz of the Flowers"; beloved Seattle performer Mx. Aleksa Manila will reprise her 2019 role of Mother Ginger; and two very special guest artists from New York City Ballet, Georgina Pazcoguin (Co-Founder, Final Bow Yellow Face) and Alec Knight. Gather your family or social pod, put on your finery, and join us for one of three versions of the film. Each week's edit will feature a different chorus of talented local dance students. See the film any time during each week-long show period. Nutcracker Suites streams from Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. to Dec. 18 at 6 p.m. with Cast A. Nutcracker Suites streams from Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. to Dec. 25 at 6 p.m. with Cast B. Nutcracker Suites streams from Dec. 25 at 7 p.m. to Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. with Cast C. TICKETS: Ticket packages vary $30 to $75.

Don we now our Gay apparel for "The Seattle Men's Chorus Holiday Special" - STARTS 12/6

That's right, Seattle! Nothing's gonna stop the SMC from bringing you their 40th annual holiday concert: "The Seattle Men's Chorus Holiday Special" . This year you can't come to them, so they're coming to you...a-caroling! In this holly jolly variety show, they've packed in their signature blend of classic choral splendor, familiar cheer, and zany hilarity. While they weave together beloved carols filmed from all across the region, host Nina West (with the help of her puppet friend, Holiday Herald) races against the clock to bake the perfect fruitcake before the show ends. Will they make it? Featuring The Supertonics and certified ASL interpretation, the concert includes "Deck the Halls," "Auld Lang Syne," "Holiday Lament (The Fruitcake Song)," and many more seasonal favorites. Special guest host Nina West appeared on VH1's RuPaul's Drag Race Season 11, on which she placed sixth and won Miss Congeniality. Streaming available from Dec. 6 9 a.m. EST to Dec. 31 11:59 p.m. PST. TICKETS: $25-$1,025.

Pacific Music Works spices it up with the Latin flavors of "¡Navidad!" - STARTS 12/12

Join the festivities with this new program of joyous Christmas music from 18th century Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Peru. Sopranos Tess Altiveros and Danielle Sampson join Stephen Stubbs and the Pacific MusicWorks Band for "¡Navidad!" , a delightful holiday treat of South American, African, memorable melodies and high-spirited Latin rhythms. It's a PMW holiday tradition! Virtual release begins Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. TICKETS: $40 per household.

Seattle ProMusica presents "Comfort and Joy" - Choral Music of the Season - a FREE virtual choir event - 12/12 & 12/13 (FREE!)

Join us for a virtual concert of holiday music made distantly by our singers. Though we cannot gather in person, we can still wear your souls with beautiful songs by composers old and new. To close our performance, conductor Karen P. Thomas will lead everyone in a holiday carol sing-along. Get cozy and bring home the sights and sounds of choral music this December! FREE online concert Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 13 at 4 p.m.

Y'all come Bach now, y'hear? But if it ain't Baroque, don't fix it! - STARTS 12/27 (FREE!)

Byron Schenkman & Friends Digital Concert Series presents the third premiere of their Eighth Season: "Bach & Baroque Virtuosity" with Rachell Ellen Wong (Violin), Andrew Gonzalez (Violoncello di Spalla) ... Byron Schenkman (Harpsichord). The program takes us on a journey through joyful and amazing works by Antonio Vivaldi, Jean-Marie Leclair, Johann Sebastian Bach (Partita in D Minor with the famous Chaconne), and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. This FREE digital premiere launches on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m., and will remain available for the foreseeable future on

Last but not least ... now that Rachel's gone & The Kinsey Sicks present "Quarantunes" - A DIGITAL ALBUM!

The Kinsey Sicks were poised to reprise their run for President in the hit show, "Electile Dysfunction", with performances scheduled across the United States throughout the year. Instead, a pandemic got out of control, shows were canceled and Angel, Trixie, Winnie, and Trampolina were sequestered across the country. Left to their own demented devices, The Kinsey Sicks turned their energies to creating brand new Dragapella® ditties, outrageous videos, and now give the world an album they desperately need to endure these unprecedented times: "QUARANTUNES: A DRAGAPELLA® ODYSSEY 2020" - the year we avoid contact! DOWNLOAD: $12 or $0.99 a tune.