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2012 FALL ARTS PREVIEW — December 

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The Nutcracker | Dec. 6-9
Performance

A yearly family tradition for many, The Nutcracker ballet once again returns to Spokane this holiday season, taking the stage for the second time at The Fox’s Martin Woldson Theater. The Spokane Symphony provides the sounds to Tchaikovsky’s famous score while dancers from Santa Barbara’s State Street Ballet mesmerize the audience with their graceful movements and leaps. Attendees of last year’s performance enjoyed the new venue choice, after the Nutcracker moved from its former spot at the INB. The classic holiday story about young Clara and her adventures in dreamland with the dashing Nutcracker Prince is sure to once again be a treat for both young and old. (CS) Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, $16-$65, multiple showings


Small Artworks Invitational | Dec. 7-31
Visual Arts

What do you get for the art-lover who has everything? Miniature art, of course. Now in its 14th year, the Small Artworks Invitational presents scaled-down woodwork, paintings, sculptures and more from some of the area’s biggest artists. Featured artists include George Carlson, who will again be showing his horse sculptures and Allen and Mary Dee Dodge and their colorful wooden sculptures. Renowned painter Peter Cox will also show his work. Steve Gibbs, the owner of Art Spirit, says that the exhibition is geared for the holidays and gift-giving. He also enjoys being able to show work from newer artists. “It’s interesting with artists who normally work on a large scale, to see their work on a small scale,” he says. (AP) The Art Spirit Gallery, Free, Tues.-Sat.-11 am-6 pm


Floater | Dec. 7
Music

A staple of the Portland music scene for years, and seeing as next year is its 20th anniversary, this alternative rock band shows no sign of stopping. Forming in the early ‘90s after Peter Cornett answered a “musician wanted” ad placed by Robert Wynia, it only took one drunk guitarist and a ruined show for David Amador to step in and complete the lineup. The trio has released eight studio albums — most recently Wake, in 2010 — which they self-financed. While Floater’s music doesn’t get the most radio play, the band’s die-hard fans and the trio’s passion for performing have kept the show on the road. (AP) Knitting Factory, $13-$15, 8 pm


Gaiser Conservatory Holiday Lights | Dec. 7-16
Event

For about a week each December, damn near every leafy and bark-covered surface inside Manito Park’s Gaiser Conservatory is laden with more than 30,000 twinkling lights in a spectacular display of color and texture. The Friends of Manito have been hosting this event for more than a decade now, and each year it seems the event only grows in the number of people who come to enjoy it and in the selection and amount of lights. Dozens of seasonally blooming flowers, including poinsettias and mums, are also displayed throughout the conservatory. Make sure not to miss its more than 100-year-old Christmas cactus, which will be bursting with bright fuchsia blooms. (CS) Manito Park, free with donations accepted, noon-7:30 pm


Bing Crosby Holiday Film Fest | Dec. 8
Film

Although he’s long passed on to the stage up in the sky, Bing Crosby pretty much still owns this town. As arguably Spokane’s most famous former resident, the golden-voiced Gonzaga graduate is, for the seventh holiday season, being honored with this day-long celebration of Bing’s holiday-themed films. The schedule is still being finalized, but you can count on a cozy winter day inside the historic confines of the theater with some classic films. (MB) Bing Crosby Theater, 10 am-10 pm


Gingerbread Build-off | Dec. 9-23
Holiday

Colorful, edible, towering holiday creations in the spirit of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and company? Yes please, with a gumdrop on top. Local chefs and architects will be crafting candied mansions for their favorite superhero in the annual gingerbread house build-off. Anyone can come watch as gallons of icing fly through the air for the sake of healthy — well, technically unhealthy — competition. Kids can also join in by making their own mini gingerbread house until 4 pm. All proceeds will benefit Christ Kitchen, a job-training project for women in poverty. (JM) Davenport Hotel, free to watch, $7 to build a mini gingerbread house, Dec. 9 from 10 am -1 pm, houses on display through Dec. 23


Popovich Comedy Pet Circus | Dec. 14
Performance

Cats walking a tightrope. A dog riding a scooter. A cat pushing a mini shopping cart with a dog in it. Dogs walking on their hind legs giving cats piggyback rides. All of these acts and plenty of silly and “aw”-worthy others will take the stage at the Bing Crosby Theater this month when the Popovich Comedy Pet Circus comes to town. The world-touring act features 15 cats and 10 dogs, all rescued from shelters and trained through positive reinforcement by the show’s owner, Russian-born performer Gregory Popovich, to perform adorable tricks. (CS) Bing Crosby Theater, price and times TBA


Traditions of Christmas Musical Performance | Dec. 14-29
Theater

Finally, someone has taken all of the Christmas traditions worth celebrating and put them in one place! Traditions of Christmas features all of your Yuletide favorites including Rockette-like tap dancers, dancing elves, snowmen and Christmas trees, a Coca-Cola drinking Santa Claus, toy soldiers, wooden blocks and Raggedy Ann dolls, USO scenes, gospel singers and a Nativity scene, complete with live camels and sheep. Of course, they’ll be singing your favorite Christmas songs too. The show doesn’t start for another few months but one of the nine performances is already sold out, so get your tickets sooner rather than later. (AP) The Kroc Center, $15-$32, 3 pm and 7 pm


Spokane Symphony Holiday Pops | Dec. 15-16
Music

For a decade now, the Spokane Symphony has helped ring in the holiday season. This year, part three in its six-part SuperPops series finds the symphony, with conductor Morihiko Nakahara, performing traditional carols and holiday favorites alongside the big man himself. Yes, you read that right. Santa Claus will be on hand to add some extra oomph to the Spokane Symphony performance. To make this event even more special, family packages are available for the Sunday show so your entire family can enjoy the event together. (AP) Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, $25, Dec. 15 at 8 pm, Dec. 16 at 2 pm

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