Holiday Guide 2021

Welcome to the holiday season! A time when we enthusiastically embrace the colder months’ coziness by bundling up indoors with our favorite holiday movies and tunes, put the kitchen to good use by cooking up traditional delights and maybe even enjoy (or curse) a rare snow event or two.

However you spend your holiday season, there are plenty of festive shows, light displays, performances, movies and more coming this winter to usher you into the season. Read on for stories on how families are navigating the holidays and its diverse traditions, Washington’s favorite pie flavor (and where to find it) and an inside look at the Nutcracker, as well as our recommendations for how to bake a pie, holiday events (both live and digital) and more this winter.

Happy holidays!

— Seattle Times Features staff


Larger-than-life penguins follow the leader at WildLanterns at the Woodland Park Zoo.   

Preview before opening to the public on Friday.

Wednesday Nov. 10, 2021 218746

Looking for an opportunity to get out of the house and see a holiday play or light show this year? The Seattle Times has you covered with this list of holiday events around Greater Seattle, with light shows, markets, music and much more. Click on through!

Lemon pie, cranberry-pear pie with crumble topping (center) and berry-ginger pie with spoke lattice crust baked by Seattle Times producer Taylor Blatchford. 

Recipes adapted from Live Well Bake Often,  Sallyís Baking Addiction and Pieometryí by Lauren Ko

(Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

You don’t have to be an expert baker to make a pie for your holiday feast. Our writer explains how, during the pandemic, she went from novice to seasoned pie maker. Plus: Three recipes that anyone of any ability level could make this holiday season.

Charles E. Sampson (l) and his nephew Cortez Charles stand near the goal post at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle Friday, November 12, 2021.   In 1959 Sampson started a neighborhood touch football game in the South at the age of ten and he and his friends and family played every year until several of them went into the military in the 60s. In 1977, Sampson and his wife moved to Seattle and restarted the tradition between the Sampsons and the Mannings (his wife’s family) and grew the tradition to include a canned food drive and more families and friends, even city officials. In the late 1990’s the tradition fizzled out as the family got older. Sampson’s nephew Cortez Charles restarted the tradition in the 2000s and it is now an annual multi-day program called the Turkey Bowl that invites youth to volunteer then cap off a week of service with a flag football game.  They now hand out around 2,000 hygiene and warming kits to shelters in Seattle and Federal Way and to tiny home villages all over Seattle.  The kits contain hats, gloves, socks, hand sanitizer, soap, tooth brushes, tooth paste, deodorant and hand warmers.  They also hand out around 3,000 sandwiches .  To help, donations can be made on the Cash app at $fam0508.  For more information, go to:

With the holiday season comes many time-honored traditions — hot cocoa, family feasts and gifts, to name a few. Here are some unique and personal traditions, new and old, that get Seattle-area families — biological and chosen — into the holiday mood.

Wed. November 10, 2021.   Chris Porter, owner of Seattle’s A La Mode Pies at his Ballard shop. 218779

After the turkey and accoutrements are cleared from the Thanksgiving table, your very last bite of food will likely be pie. For these Seattle-area pie shop proprietors, your Thanksgiving meal is the reason they exist and toil around the calendar.

Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Lesley Rausch in the Kent Stowell/Maurice Sendak Nutcracker.

Four principal dancers at Pacific Northwest Ballet share memories of many years of dancing “The Nutcracker,” from being a kid gazing at their idols from the wings, to watching the “Nutcracker” kids today.

An assortment of meats in the display at Shambles in Seattle on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021.  218853

As costs to put Thanksgiving dinner on the table rise with widespread inflation, supply chain issues and the worker shortage, Seattle-area restaurants, butcher shops and bakeries struggle to meet demand.

The Seattle Times tries 10 apple pies from local bakeries on Nov. 4, 2021.

We asked Seattle Times readers for their favorite pie flavors; then, we took the top result and went all over Greater Seattle, scooping up 10 different apple pies to conduct a blind test in hopes of finding the best pie for your Thanksgiving table.

Caption and credit: Brandon O’Neil and Alexandra Tavares in Seattle Rep’s Public Works The Winter’s Tale.

Another pandemic holiday season is here, though this year there are vaccines and falling COVID-19 case numbers ushering the return of in-person theater. Here are shows that will help you celebrate the holidays with laughter and a touch of the ridiculous.

Seattle band Thunderpussy, from left, Whitney Petty, Leah Julius, Ruby Dunphy and Molly Sides, photographed after playing a show at Elysian Brewing on Capitol Hill on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. The band’s attempts to trademark their name have been caught up in a case before the Supreme Court involving the Asian band The Slants and the Washington Redskins.

Many of Seattle’s music all-stars come home for the holidays, giving the city a great lineup of winter shows. Here are some of the best concerts by locally grown artists to check out in the next couple of months.

Bradley Cooper in the film “Nightmare Alley.”

What to watch during the holidays? Here are 10 promising-looking December movies headed for the multiplexes (and streaming services), from a classic musical to a Shakespeare tragedy and a fourth “Matrix” film. Check out Moira Macdonald’s roundup here.

(Dreamstime/TNS) 31025973W 31025973W

Maybe you don’t want to cook a whole turkey this Thanksgiving, or you’d rather enjoy a meal at a restaurant. Here’s a list of Seattle-area restaurants offering advance-order Thanksgiving feasts, or spots that will be open on Thanksgiving Day.

People pause to take photos of snow and the string lights in Occidental Park in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle Sunday February 3, 2019. 209225

As we gear up for the winter season, we want to know: How do you stay sane during the rainy months? Is there a certain activity you do that keeps you moving until the warmer months or a tried-and-true method to lengthen those short days? Tell us here!