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What’s Happening Your agenda for December and January.



3–7 Portland, Oregon

Spread Cheer with Beer

You can’t complain about the 
winter chill when you’re warming up with a vanilla-tinged, oak-aged imperial strong ale. At the Holiday Ale Festival, breweries from the
Pacific Northwest and beyond— including Widmer Brothers, McMenamins, Eel River, and Lompoc—provide revelers with 50-plus varieties of barleywines, porters, stouts, strong ales, ciders,  and other hearty pours. All the suds are either rare vintages or special recipes crafted for the 
festival. In addition to beer-and-cheese pairings and meet-the-brewer events, Sunday’s European brunch will make you bid adieu 
to mimosas for good. Its plentiful
spread of pastries, fruit, cured meats, and cheeses simply begs 
for a well-aged brew. Bottoms up!

5 Seattle

Sing in the Streets

Don your gay apparel, and get your fa-la-la-la-la on at the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition. Teams from across the region descend on downtown Seattle, staking
claims to street corners for the outdoor contest, which raises funds for the Pike Market Senior Center
& Food Bank. Over 40 groups suit up in festive garb and belt out both 
classic carols and updated renditions. (Don’t miss The Beaconettes, who in true Whoville fashion sport wigs piled high with lights, ornaments, and bows.) Vote for your faves, and then groove to a percussive performance by the Seattle Seahawks’ drumline. The party wraps at the Figgy Main Stage, where top teams face off for the ultimate titles.


13–29 Tucson, Arizona

Admire Bright Lights

Sundown in December means it’s Tucson’s time to shine. For 64 years, the residents of Winterhaven, located on the Old Pueblo’s
north side, have organized an electrifying extravaganza known as the Winterhaven Festival of Lights, one of the longest running neighborhood holiday displays in the country. Homeowners string up endless strands of colorful bulbs around their houses and in the towering Aleppo pines that dot the streets. The festive displays include everything from flashing lights timed to seasonal music to scenes featuring cartoon characters, like the cheeky minions from Despicable Me. Join the 100,000 revelers who take in the sights and sounds on foot or by bike, hayride, or trolley. It’s guaranteed to make your season merry and bright.


13 Reno, Nevada

Carouse with Santa Claus

Imagine a Where’s Waldo scene with a yuletide twist—that’s exactly what you’ll see at the Reno Santa Pub Crawl. More than 15,000 thirsty partygoers slip into red coats and white beards and head for the Biggest Little City in the World, where they raise their glasses and partake in the merriment at over 50 downtown bars, including Abby’s Highway 40, Lincoln Lounge, and Louis’ Basque Corner. Organizers have festivities planned for well before the wassailing gets under way, including the Great Santa Dash 5K, ice skating, and ski deals on Mount Rose in Tahoe. But there’s more to this event than drinks 
and discounts: Proceeds from 
the crawl support Reno-area schools. It’s a Claus, er, cause that St. Nick himself would toast to.


15 New York City

Feast on Potato Pancakes

Few foods beat latkes, the flavorful, fried potato pancakes served during Hanukkah. No wonder we’re salivating over the Latke Festival, where 20-plus culinary
masters from across the Big Apple—including Sasha Shor of Tres Carnes, Jimmy Carbone from Jimmy’s No. 43, and Olga Potap of Karloff—dish out plates aplenty of decidedly untraditional takes on the tasty treat. Intriguing creations are to be expected: Past entries have incorporated sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and even kimchi, with toppings ranging from duck confit to shellfish and pickled fennel. Put your fork in a few, and then cast your vote for Best Latke, People’s Choice. (Luminaries—including Karen Grinthal of the Food Network 
and Lee Schrager of NYC/SoBe Wine & Food Festival—are also on hand to determine the Best Latke, Judges’ Choice.) Proceeds benefit The Sylvia Center, dedicated to teaching children healthy eating habits.

29–31 South Lake Tahoe, California

Crank Up 
the Volume

The organizers of the annual SnowGlobe Music Festival have 
a New Year’s Resolution: Make this year’s fete the biggest and 
best party they’ve ever thrown. And they need your help. Join 
the 10,000 or so music fans who trek to the mountainous terrain
of South Lake Tahoe for this 
outdoor extravaganza, held on 
the athletics field at Lake Tahoe Community College at the base 
of Heavenly Mountain Resort. Dozens of acts will hit the fest’s stages over the course of three days. The lineup leans heavily toward EDM and house with acts like Flume—known for his Lorde and Arcade Fire remixes—and Grammy winners Skrillex, Zedd,  and Disclosure throwing down explosive sets. In between mainstage performances, skiers and snowboarders put their skills on display in the Big Air jump showcase. You needn’t worry about being left in the cold at the end of the night—just follow the crowds to the sponsored after-parties.


31 Panama City Beach, Florida

Have a Ball on New Year’s Eve

Looking for a unique way to ring in 2015? You’ll find it in Panama City Beach at the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop. The countdown starts well before midnight with an all-ages block party along the boardwalk at Pier Park mall. In between getting your face painted,
dodging a stilt-walking street 
performer, or dancing along to live music, take a moment to look up: Suspended above the crowd, you’ll see mesh nets filled to nearly bursting with inflated beach balls. All told, more than 10,000 of them will rain down at 8 p.m. while fireworks burst overhead. Later, as the clock strikes 12, the ball-drop tradition gets a Floridian twist with the descent of a giant, illuminated beach ball heralding the beginning of the New Year.



9-10 Cambridge, Massachusetts

Make Celtic Melodies

The wind may be howling and the snow may be drifting, but the organizers of Boston Celtic Music Fest would argue there’s no better
time to break out the fiddles and start jamming. In warding off 
the winter chill, BCMFest pays homage to the heritage of Ireland, Scotland, and other Celtic cultures with rousing performances by local artists. Friday night’s Roots and Branches concert highlights Flynn Cohen & The Deadstring Ensemble, Scottish-Appalachian style fiddler Jenna Moynihan, and the combined talents of instrumentalists Laurel Martin and Mark Roberts and dancer Kieran Jordan. On Saturday, Dayfest promises lively music sessions, dance lessons, and storytelling. And new this year, Sunday’s BCMFest Academy fills the afternoon with fiddle and bagpipes 
lessons taught by performers at the Passim School of Music. A chance to take part in the song? It’s music to our ears.


14–25 Chicago

Marvel at Marionettes

If your favorite movie is Pinocchio and you consider Jim Henson 
to be one of the top artists of all time, you’ll adore the inaugural Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, which sets the stage for both local and international performers of the dramatic medium. Attendees will witness a wide variety of styles at the fest, including shadow puppets, 
miniature figures, marionettes, and Japanese Bunraku-inspired puppets. Chi-Town’s famed 
cultural institutions join the act with events presented by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Links Hall,  the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, and more. The Field Museum gets involved too with 
its Open Mic Puppets event and puppet-themed Dozin’ with the Dinos slumber party. Want to go meta? Make plans to attend the multidisciplinary symposium hosted by the University of Chicago. And if you’re curious about picking up the art yourself, the festival offers hands-on workshops for families, performers, and schoolteachers—no strings attached.


15-18 Portland, Oregon

Get a Taste 
for Truffles

Expect culinary intoxication 
at the Oregon Truffle Festival, where the stars of the show are the American species of the fragrant fungi. (Four of the seven varieties
native to North America grow in Oregon.) Tag along on a dog-led excursion to see how canines help foragers locate the coveted ingredient. Attend the Black + White dinner series with acclaimed Portland chefs Jason French of Elder Hall, Vitaly Paley of the Imperial, and Sarah Schafer 
of Irving Street Kitchen. The “Walk on the Wild Side” showcase provides truffle-scented small plates from chefs like Elias Cairo of Portland’s Olympic Provisions and Stephanie Kimmel of Marché in Eugene, plus wine pairings. Head to the Oregon Truffle 
Marketplace, where you can pick up “diamonds of the kitchen” 
and truffle-infused foods or check 
out cooking demos. The festival also hosts events in Eugene and 


24 Atlanta

Band Together and Make Noise

Since 2003, Honda Battle of 
the Bands has spotlighted the precision and showmanship of marching bands from America’s
 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The eight featured schools—which this year include Tennessee State, North Carolina
A&T, and Talladega College—were selected by popular vote from a pool of 38 colleges, and they’re raring to fill Atlanta’s Georgia Dome with electrifying
energy. This ain’t your average
band show: The groups move beyond traditional marching 
formations by infusing hip-hop elements into their performances, including flying flags, spinning 
pom-poms, and musicians pop, lock, and dropping it on the field. The bands won’t be the only ones 
making some noise: When you’ve got a stadium packed with 50,000 fans, things are bound to get loud.

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