Nov. 29 John Butler Trio at the Knitting Factory. Quite possibly Australia’s most enduring musical export since AC/DC, the John Butler Trio recently added a new drummer and bass player, spent a year working a new album, ‘April Uprising,’ and has embarked on tour with new tunes. Don’t miss the live performance of the eclectic music that Butler began busking in Melbourne years ago. www.ticketfly.com or sp.knittingfactory.com.
Dec. 1 Dane Cook Live!, Spokane Arena. Pegged as the largest comedy tour in history, Cook will have audience members slapping their knees in support of his new Comedy Central Special and comedy album ‘Isolated Incident – *Global Thermo Comedy Tour.’ $35-$65. www.spokanearena.com or 509-279-7000
Dec. 4 Mobius Kids Santa Breakfast at the Davenport Hotel in the Grand Pennington Ballroom. Load up the kids for breakfast, festive activities and a visit with Santa at one of the city’s grandest locations. A $25 ticket includes all the event has to offer, and children 12 months and under attend for free.8-10 a.m. 509-624-KIDS x305.
Dec. 4 Spokane Jazz Orchestra: “A Hot Spiced Christmas with Jennifer Madsen,” Bing Crosby Theater. Madesn is a Renaissance woman of sorts: Jazz/Broadway style vocal performer, educator, director, choreographer, composer and actress. You might recognize her jingles for Levi Strauss, Sprite, and Wendy’s, and from CBS’ “Cold Case.” She’s also a regular guest vocalist for the 17-piece Spokane Jazz Orchestra. (800) 325-7328 or www.spokanejazz.org/.
Dec. 28 Jim Brickman, INB Performing Arts Center. It’s been too long since you experienced a romantic night of piano with the Brickster, not with headphones or through a stereo, but live, close enough to fall in love all over again. Bring a special someone, friends, family; it’s hard to go wrong with Jim. (800) 325-7328 or www.jimbrickman.com/.
Dec. 31 Celebrate New Year’s with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. Eckart Preu brought the tradition from his native Germany to a sell-out Spokane crowd. After the initial success, the event is back and could continue for years to come. Adults $20-$25, Children/students $14. (509) 624-1200 or www.spokanesymphony.org/.
Ongoing, Help the Hungry Warehouse Sort Night, Second Harvest Inland Northwest Food Bank Warehouse. Take time during the holidays to lend a helping hand to those who have little to look forward to, possibly not even a holiday meal. Join 30-plus volunteers to sort and box produce, bag bulk pasta and/or arrange food drive items for delivery to emergency food outlets. Register online at 2-harvest.org and click on Volunteer Your Time. Contact Julie at (509) 252-6242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nov. 22 Billy Collins, Town Hall Seattle. Poetry and comedy don’t always go together, but Billy Collins could have you thinking otherwise after one of his readings. Described as “laugh-out-loud funny,” the former Poet Laureate is the author or editor of 15 books of poetry and the first annual recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry. www.lectures.org.
Through Nov. 30, “Unspeakable Horrors,” Historic University Theater. For lovers of the legendary horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, creator of Cthulu Mythos, comes a new twist on his work: Improvisation. The performance utilizes theatrical techniques such as mask work, mime and special effects to create suspense or dread in the audience while simultaneously incorporating the comedy the improvisers are best at. www.wingitpresents.com.
Dec. 1-12 Penn and Teller at Paramount Theatre. Forget everything you know about.. whatever genre Penn and Teller are supposed to be a part of. For over three decades they’ve combined magic, comedy and all that is their collective persona through the live performances that made them famous the world over. Don’t miss the living legends in Seattle for holiday entertainment that’s bound to be far less than traditional. www.stgpresents.com/.
Through Dec. 25 After Hours, Northwest African American Museum. Seattle is known more for its rock n’ roll history than any other style of music. This exhibit sheds light on lesser-known yet entirely critical northwest jazz scene that flourished from 1930 to 1960, with contemporary portraits of jazz-era legends, vintage photographs and historic artifacts. See what the scene was all about, years before Jimi Hendrix was even a twinkle in his father’s eye. www.naamnw.org.
Through Dec. 31 Savor Seattle Chocolate Indulgence Tour, Mayflower Park Hotel. If your holiday experience is missing something this year, it could be chocolate. Besides coffee, chocolate is truly an important part of Seattle culture. Discover why with renowned chef Tom Douglas’s signature desserts, even taste President Obama’s favorite chocolates. You don’t have to be a chocoholic to enjoy this one, but it sure helps. www.savorseattletours.com.
Through Jan. 17 Picasso, Seattle Art Museum. Few if any artist was more influential, or radical for that matter in the 20th century than Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). The Seattle Art Museum will play host to an unprecedented exhibition of his work with iconic pieces from nearly every phase of his career. Follow the progression of his art as it evolves, inspires, but never falters; a rare chance to see the legendary work in person. www.seattleartmuseum.com.
Through March 4 “Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition,” Experience Music Project. That tingling in your stomach is your inner nerd struggling to contain its joy. Organized by Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum (EMP|SFM), in partnership with Universal Cable Productions and Syfy, this amazing exhibit features three full-size prop spaceships, iconic costumes, brand new exhibition films, music and props from both the original and re-imagined series. www.empsfm.org.
Nov. 21 “Alice & Wonderland: A Rock Opera,” Portland Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA), The Newmark Theatre. Imagine the classic story and characters crossed with.. well, a rock opera, and you have an event the whole family can appreciate. Think the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and many more singing and dancing their way through a story as peculiar as it is loved. Presented by the Oregon Children’s Theatre. (503) 248-4335 or www.ticketmaster.com.
Nov. 21 Mt. Hood Railroad Polar Express at the Mt. Hood Railroad. Pajamas are recommended, but not required for this adventure to the North Pole on a real train. Lucky passengers will enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and a reading of the “Polar Express.” The real kicker comes upon the train’s arrival at the North Pole where Santa will board the train and hand each child their own Christmas bell. Children who haven’t succumbed to excitement overload can have their photo taken with Santa at the Gift Shop after the trip’s conclusion. (541) 386-3556 or www.mthoodrr.com/.
Ongoing, Underground Portland Tour at Old Town Plaza. What better way to visit Portland than to tour and learn of its most seedy portions? Visitors will be led through Old Town and China Town where they’ll witness stunning architecture and learn of true stories involving crime, scandal and controversial characters that called Portland home; it’s a sordid glimpse into the worst the city has to offer. 503-774-4522 or www.portlandwalkingtours.com/.
Dec. 1 2010 Holiday Ale Festival, Pioneer Courthouse Square. Start December off correctly with five days of bold ales specially crafted to keep a beer lover warm during the winter. Keeping the warmth intact will be a giant clear-top tent that covers Pioneer Courthouse Square, equipped with gas heaters, views of the city lights and one of the region’s largest decorated Christmas trees. The joyous occasion is regarded as the premier winter beer tasting venue on the West Coast. (503) 223-1613 or holidayale.com.
Dec. 5 22nd Annual Christmas Festival of Lights at the Grotto. Lather on the winter-time holiday light screen for over half a million lights set to the tune of the largest Choral festival in the Pacific Northwest. Also: Puppet shows, The Grotto Carolers, a petting zoo, outdoor theatrical performances and a general sense of merriment. (503) 254-7371 or www.thegrotto.org/.
Dec. 11 The Heathman’s Holiday Tea, The Heathman Hotel. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving and continuing on through early January, the Heathman Hotel will be hosting this family tradition with a two-story tall Christmas tree and festive decorations throughout the historic tea court. Seatings are daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Make reservations to guarantee your own tea party will be as enjoyable as planned. (503) 241-4100 or www.heathmanrestaurantandbar.com/.
Jan. 2 The Santaland Diaries, Portland Center Stage, Ellyn Bye Studio. Witness the true chronicles of David Sedaris’ time spent as Crumpet the Elf in a Macy’s Santaland display, a cult classic tale about the holiday madness that envelops a mall each year. Sedaris is the NPR humorist and best-selling author of “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.” Don’t mist a chance to chuckle at one of the country’s foremost humor writers. www.pcs.org/.
Jan. 7-9 RiverCity Music Festival, Red Lion Hotel at Jantzen Beach. Really more of a party than a concert, enjoy traditional bluegrass and more as music flows from fiddles, mandolins, dobros, accordions and acoustic/electric guitars just to name a few instruments. Live performances are only part of the friendly atmosphere; with the purchase of a ticket, feel free to attend masters or beginners musical workshops and cut a rug at the dance Saturday night. (503) 283-4466 or www.rivercitybluegrass.com.
Nov. 12-Dec. 31 Ho Ho Holter Holiday Gift Sale in Helena. Instead of the mass-produced holiday gifts, welcome yourself to Helena and shop for goods created by more than 125 artists. Includes jewelry, hand-blown glass, paintings, handmade scarves and hats, functional ceramics, cards, woven baskets, wooden bowls and cooking utensils, ornaments and stocking stuffers for all ages and price ranges. Gift-wrapping available at a minimal charge. 406-442-2404.
Nov. 27 Madison Valley Woman’s Club Holiday Craft Bazaar in Ennis. Although advertised as being for the ladies, any friendly person, regardless of gender is encouraged to attend the annual holiday event. Includes shopping for handmade gifts lovingly created by local craftspeople and a scrumptious luncheon, all amongst good company. Give shopping in Ennis a try. 406-682-5680.
Dec. 4 Snowmobile Pancake Breakfast in Lincoln. Every good morning should begin with homemade sourdough pancakes, sausage and eggs around a wood stove with coffee and hot chocolate. Lincoln has that covered and sweetens the deal by inviting attendees to hop on their snowmobiles for a day of riding on 250 miles of groomed trails designed for beginner to advanced riders. Trails begin in town at 4,500 feet and climb to Stonewall Mountain at 8,260 feet. 406-362-3334.
Dec. 5 Victorian Christmas, Grant-Kohrs Ranch in Deer Lodge. Travel to the ranch house for a healthy dose of small-town Christmas fare, with children’s activities in the dairy barn and classic family photo opportunities in front of white and red buildings built in rough log to Victorian gingerbread style. But wait, there’s more! Children can rope up “”Woody”, the wooden calf, pet a huge draft horse, be led through the 23-room mansion on a tour by a ranger and even hop on a sleigh or wagon ride, led by a massive draft horse team. Free admission year round. 406-846-2070.
Dec. 18-20, 27-29 Holiday Candlelight Tours of Lewis and Clark Caverns in Whitehall at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Follow in the famous explorers’ footsteps and experience the cave as they first did: by candlelight. Weather permitting, the guided tours take two hours and cover a two-mile round trip walk. Visitors should be forewarned, this is an outside hike in wintertime conditions to the mouth of the cave; expect to brave the elements on a mission of discovery. Reservations required and are accepted starting Nov. 30 at the park office. Admission $15 for adults, $8 for children. 406-287-3541.
Jan. 22-23 Lion’s Club Perch Ice Fishing Derby in Townsend. Bundle up and round up a couple friends for an ice-fishing derby at Canyon Ferry Lake. Saturday, prizes go to the largest perch caught, Sunday, teams of four people compete to see who can bring in the most pounds of Perch. Prizes will be given out to both adults and kids. Food will be provided making it unnecessary to eat your catch. 406-266-5790.
Every 2nd Friday through December, Coeur d’Alene Art Walk, downtown Coeur d’Alene. As if downtown Coeur d’Alene weren’t already enticing enough to strollers and shoppers alike, galleries and shops will be opening their doors for holiday shopping, great food, art and an all-around sense of warm family enjoyment. Visit www.artsincda.org/.
Nov. 27- Jan. 2 “Fantasy Cruise to the North Pole” Holiday Light Show Cruises. Catch one of three cruises each night and marvel at the numerous holiday light displays of Coeur d’Alene. The climax: arrive on the opposite side of the lake at the “North Pole Toy Workshop” where it snows every night, and yes, Santa will be waiting there with even more holiday cheer. www.cdaresort.com.
Dec. 4 Fifth-annual Hayden Lights Parade & Tree Lighting, Hayden. Hayden will be hosting a parade beginning at Hayden Avenue & Government Way, south to Honeysuckle Avenue, followed by a tree lighting ceremony in Hayden City Park. For even more down-home charm, Atlas Elementary and Hayden Meadows school choruses will perform in preparation for a special visit from Santa himself. 208-209-1080 or www.cityofhaydenid.us.
Dec. 11 Harrison Winterfest 2010, City Park. Bring the kids for a meet and greet with Santa & Mrs. Claus in the gazebo, plus children’s projects, food, vendors, fire pits and holiday shopping at local businesses. Contact www.harrisonidaho.org or 208-689-3669.
Jan. 1 Coeur d’Alene Polar Bear Plunge 2011. Envision important extremities disappearing as Coeur d’Alene rings in the New Year with a plunge into the icy waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The shocking event begins at 11:30 a.m.
Nov. 21 Masked Bandit, Devonian Regional Park (Metchosin). This is your chance to get into the mind of a greatly misunderstood creature: the raccoon. A CRD Regional Parks naturalist will lead visitors on a raccoon trail for a “day in the life” of the little thieves. 250-478-2244 or www.crd.bc.ca/parks/events/calendar.aspx.
Nov. 26-Dec. 2 Oak Bay Avenue Light Up! Our neighbors to the north are proud to host the sixth-annual Christmas Festival with a light-up celebration, musical entertainment, roasted chestnuts, Santa Claus and thousands of Christmas lights on the trees, buildings and lampposts. Also on the docket, the Island Equipment Operators Association truck parade will be held on Dec. 2 with 75 heavy trucks including cement trucks, dump trucks, etc., amazingly decorated in Christmas lights. www.oakbaytourism.com/.
Dec. 3-5 A Touch of Saltspring Christmas Show in North Saanich, Panorama Recreation Centre. Quite possible the best opportunity to buy a special holiday gift in British Columbia, featuring the work of more than 230 well-known artisans. Discover why this buzz-worthy event is rapidly growing in popularity. www.atouchofsaltspring.com/. 206-655-0967.
Dec. 3-20 Christmas Magic in Milner Garden at Qualicum Beach. Bring a flashlight for admission by donation event in support of the garden itself. Thousands of Christmas lights will twinkle as musicians entertain in the Milner House, creating a perfect atmosphere to bid on silent auction items and visit the Milner gift shops for wreaths, jams and jellies. For the even more adventurous, enjoy tea & scones in the Tearoom and hot drinks & hot dogs at the outdoor refreshments stand. www.viu.ca/MilnerGardens/ or 250-752-8573.
Dec. 3-23 BC Forest Museum Christmas Express (Fridays-Sundays). Ride through a decorated forest on a 1910 steam locomotive, also known as the Christmas Express. Say hello to Santa Claus, dance to Christmas music, make a Christmas tree craft in the schoolhouse and even watch a model train display while sipping hot chocolate and munching on snacks in the Train Station; the ultimate Christmas train experience! www.discoveryforest.com or 250-715-1113.
Through Jan. 8 A Christmas Carol, Chemainus Theatre. No holiday season would be complete without watching as Ebenezer Scrooge encounters whirlwinds of terrifying visions from the past, present and the terrible future that awaits him if he refuses to change his ways. Will he learn his lesson? Only the players at the Chemaninus Theatre know for sure. www.chemainustheatrefestival.ca or 250-246-9800 ext 7020.