The week of Dec. 20 brings many holiday events from the traditional to the off-kilter.

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‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

This is a passing-the-torch movie, but one in which director J.J. Abrams references many of the 1977 original’s characters while introducing new ones. It’s full of headlong energy and plenty of quips, many courtesy of Harrison Ford. Now playing at several theaters. Click here for Soren Andersen’s three-star review.

Freebie: Moviegoers can bring their “Star Wars” ticket stub to the Sheraton Seattle’s Fountain Wine Bar to receive a house wine or beer through Sunday, Dec. 27. Kids can exchange their ticket stub for hot chocolate, cider or soda (


‘A Christmas Story’

The annual 24-hour marathon of the 1983 tale of Ralphie and his Christmas quest for a Red Ryder air rifle begins at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24, on TBS.

‘Call the Midwife Holiday Special’

A new holiday special of the popular British series, 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 25, on KCTS.


Garden d’Lights

Garden and holiday themed light sculptures will be on display, 4:30-9:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 2 — including Dec. 24-25 – at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, 12001 Main St., Bellevue; $5, ages 10 and younger free. Advance tickets available (425-452-6844 or

Gingerbread Village

Check out these creations of candies and treats with the “May The Holidays Be With You” theme, inspired by the “Star Wars” movies. The confections will be on display around the clock through Jan. 3, at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, 1400 Sixth Ave., Seattle; free, donations benefit JDRF Northwest Chapter for diabetes research (

Teddy Bear Suite

Need a hug? You might get one at the teddy bear wonderland room, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Dec. 25, at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University St., Seattle; free. Donations collected for Seattle Children’s Hospital (


Poncho Sanchez

One of the great examples of Afro-Cuban jazz, this conguero extraordinaire’s taped-up hands extract music from the drum like a bee pulling pollen from a flower — with similarly sweet results. Texas-born and California-raised, Sanchez came up with vibist Cal Tjader, who probably did more than anyone to popularize the Latin beat in jazz. Since Tjader passed in 1982, Sanchez has forged a career as a leader, snagging a Grammy in 1999. His 2011 album with trumpeter Terence Blanchard, “Chano Y Dizzy” paid tribute to the founders of the Afro-Cuban tradition, Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo. 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Wednesday, Dec. 26-30, plus 9:30 p.m. set Saturday, Dec. 26, at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle; $32.50 (206-441-9729 or


‘Wonderful Life’

ArtsWest stages a lean, one-actor version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” with performer Andrew Lee Creech — who’s African American — playing all the major roles, from George Bailey to the greedy banker Mr. Potter. Times critic Misha Berson wrote: “ … as it gains urgency, the show’s death-wish-to-deliverance narrative, and Creech’s vigorous engagement with it, work their spell.” Through Dec. 27 at ArtsWest Playhouse, 4711 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; $17-$37.50 (206-938-0339 or

‘Holiday Panto: Hansel & Gretel and Three Bears’

The Fremont Players revive their longtime holiday tradition of “Panto,” the British style of theater with roots in commedia dell’arte in which a fairy tale is told — and satirized — and children in the audience are encouraged to comment on the action. The group was founded by British expatriate and performer Simon Neale. Through Jan. 10 at Hale’s Palladium, 4301 Leary Way N.W., Seattle; $7-$13 (800-838-3006 or

‘The Buttcracker’

Tired of holiday treacle? Local choreographers have cooked up a holiday-satire show that riffs on themes from “The Nutcracker” but is set to a heavy-metal soundtrack including Def Leppard, Aerosmith and Foreigner. This show is not for children. 7:30 p.m. Sunday Dec. 20 at Erickson Theatre Off Broadway, 1524 Harvard Ave., Seattle; $20-$22 (206-329-1050 or


A Festival of Lessons & Carols

Northwest Boychoir is in its 37th season presenting the traditional Anglican Christmas program, adopted by denominations around the world since it was first performed in the late 19th century. The story of the Nativity is told through readings and music, offering a message of renewal during a busy time of year. Programs continue at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, at St. Mark’s Cathedral, tickets from $16, 206-524-3234 or; and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, at Benaroya Hall (with Northwest Sinfonia), tickets from $20 at 206-215-4747 or


‘The Figure in Process: de Kooning to Kapoor 1955-2015’

The future of Paul Allen’s new gallery Pivot Art + Culture seems uncertain — a statement from the Vulcan art team says other “long-term options” are being considered for the space — so enjoy its blockbuster first show while you can. The lineup is astonishing: Chuck Close, Anish Kapoor, Kehinde Wiley, David Hockney, Alberto Giacometti and more. Whatever happens to Pivot, this show is a treat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, until 8 p.m. Thursdays through Feb. 28, Pivot Art + Culture, 609 Westlake Ave. N. Seattle.; $5 (206-342-2710 or

‘Jack Daws: Inconvenient Truths’

Can local artist Jack Daws put on a show without committing a crime? For previous exhibitions, he’s counterfeited pennies out of gold (making them more valuable) and sealed hard drugs in little boxes. For “Inconvenient Truths,” a micro-exhibit at Seattle Art Museum, the 2015 Betty Bowen-award-winner has possibly desecrated an American flag by pickling it in a large jar. He’s also painted a deer-hide drum to look like the cutting surface of Bertha and stitched an all-white American flag out of cotton and presented other objects that raise troubling questions. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays-Sundays; until 9 p.m. Thursdays through March 6, Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave. Seattle; $12.95-$19.95 (206-654-3100 or