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7 Seriously Cool Winter Festivals to Attend

Movement Arts Festival Sure, summer has a well-earned reputation as “festival season,” but winter is an excellent time to gear up and go out. Tickets tend to be cheaper, crowds aren’t as sweaty, and nothing chases away post-holiday winter doldrums like live events. Plus, cocoa.

1. San Francisco Movement Arts Festival

It’s back, it’s bigger and features new work and an additional venue. This year, the Movement Arts Festival takes place at the Cathedral St. Mary of the Assumption on January 13 and at the Grace Cathedral on January 20. Stations will feature movement choirs, spoken word, chanting and of course, dance.

Why we picked it: Instead of a traditional arts festival where all attendees watch the same performance, SMAF is farmer’s-market style. Visitors walk around at their leisure to catch the various performances. The festival’s unique format lends the opportunity for audience members to connect to (and be moved by) movement arts. How often, in this rapid-paced world, do we get to experience dance and theater in our own way, at our own pace? Get tickets for both events or one.

2. Winterfest Theater Competition

Get out of your sit-at-home Netflix snooze fest and see live theater. Held at the Hudson Guild Theater, Winterfest in New York caters to nascent playwrights, actors, and producers and offers a buffet of indie theater, along with a dose of friendly competition. Buy tickets for one or all of the performances.

Why we picked it: Part festival, part theater competition, Winterfest gives away prize money to best play, best actor/actress, best musical score, and so on. Plus, there’s certain magic to catching independent New York productions while snow swirls outside.

3. Stately City Psychic Fair

It will be cold, it will be very cold (ahem…. Buffalo, NY in Feb). But who cares? The $5 fair includes a chance to get up-close with well-recognized psychic mediums and talk to vendors. (Private readings are available at an additional cost.)

Why we picked it: It’s a psychic fest, early in 2017, ideal timing for those who want a look into the year ahead.

4.Chandler International Film Festival

The Chandler International Film Festival offers a year-round award competition and an annual festival featuring over 100 “unique, creative, and diverse” international films. The goal of CIFF is to “support creative, emerging filmmakers from all over the world and their projects.”

Why we picked it: Arizona isn’t exactly winter wonderland, but January is the ideal time to get a healthy dose of sunshine and see as many movies as you can stuff into a weekend.

5. Fort Bragg Whale Festival

Chow down on chowder, sip wines and microbrews, watch waves roll in on the California coast. During the whale festival, chefs will have “a chowder off” where the crowd gets to vote on best chowder.

Why we picked it: Winter at the beach is woefully underrated.

6. Frostival

When cold weather strikes, rather than shutting inside; bundle up and get out there. That’s what Fargo, ND decided to do with the Frostival, a two-day festival with all kinds of winter activities, including sleigh rides, a snowman toss, snowga and competitive, cold-weather tournaments, such as snow volleyball.

Why we picked it: We admire the spirit of this whole thing. If you can’t beat frosty weather, play in it.

7. Belgian Fest

Rain, rain won’t go away, for another two months in Seattle. How to deal with the gray days? Beer is best and those who prefer Belgian brews should head to this fest, which highlights over 100 beers crafted by Washington breweries. There will be Tripels, Dubbels, Saisons, Wits, Abbeys and Lambics; all beers brewed with Belgian yeast.

Why we picked it: Beer.

Photo credit. Dancer: Ms. Lucy Chen
Video/photo: 2nd20 Productions

Arts >

Beer Release: How to Host a Party

Own a budding new brewery? Successfully crafted brew for decades? Freshly minted nano-brewer? Share news about your latest hoppy libation by throwing a beer release, a prime opportunity to gain new customers and reward existing fans. Beer releases become market research labs. Tune into customer feedback and gain valuable insights into their preferences and tastes. Bonus: These events just might spur new beer batch ideas.

beer and brew releasesSelect a Perfect Venue
Beer release locations are key. If your brewery holds capacity for guests, this would make a spectacular location. Need a space? Reach out to some of the businesses you sell to. They will have incentive to help advertise new beer to sipping enthusiasts. A win-win. Pick a venue that fits your company or brewery personality and offers a setting suitable for coiffing your brew. Venues set the mood for your beer release. Provide the venue with branded swag and signage a few weeks prior to the event so the place can advertise for you. Note: Distributors often take care of this step for larger breweries. Don’t let this slip through the crack for your release.

Set the Mood
Keep your beer release simple. The fewer moving parts to an event the easier it is to engage your fans and enjoy the ride. After all, the main attraction is drinking beer. Arrive well before the event to set up, prepare for last-minute (or unexpected) logistics and be ready for loyal fans. Bring giveaways. Make sure you are open and available to speak with everyone. Attendees adore opportunities for face time with brewers and owners. Put your social game face. Beer releases where you circulate also open you up networking possibilities that could boost your business. Make sure a brew master or official representative who has intimate knowledge of the beer is there to chat with attendees. Prepare for questions about chemistry, ingredients or equipment. Chances are home brewers and beer geeks will attend and they are as passionate about the craft as the final product.

beer and brew release eventsEngage Your Crowd
Drawings interest any audience. Give away pint glasses or t-shirts and you not only give a gift, but the receiver can advertise for you every time the gift is used. Tasting together with your customers allows you to you add depth to your brew by giving insights. Talk about the different spices and ingredients. Point out key notes that your fans should be tasting. Themed trivia is also another way to captivate eager beer lovers. Study your audience over the course of a few events and bring back interactive favorites at your next beer release.
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Event Tips >

NYC Beer and Brewing History

beerweek2014mhedits33percentThis week on Foodie Friday, we have a guest blog from The Beer Wench, also known as Jena Ellenwood. Ellenwood is an Astoria, New York based actress, writer, bartender and beer geek. Jena is a graduate of The New School and is currently studying for her Cicerone License. She enjoys a good story and a good brew, and usually finds one leads to the other.

I am a beer geek. There, I said it. While reviewing the plethora of events for this year’s NY Craft Beer—dinners, tastings, parties—I got most excited when my eyes fell on Drink Local: NYC Beer and Brewing History panel discussion in Brooklyn. My sister Liz joined me and we hit the town.

Covenhoven, a cozy little taproom that opened March 2nd, was our host for the evening. Bill and Molly, the husband and wife team behind Covenhoven, were warm and welcoming, as was their establishment. One wall of the shop displays old kitschy beer trays, while the opposite wall is kept free to host rotating murals painted by local artists. In the summer the front garage doors will roll up, and the doors to the patio will be left open. Turns out they use to run an art gallery in the space, but after having a few pints and being inspired by other local beer centric joints–Bierkraft and Spuyten Duyvil–they decided to merge their loves of art, community, and beer to open a kick-ass little spot to merge all three.

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Food & Drink >

Boozie Friday: The Need for Mead

3476583742_d01766414f_bThrough the long, complicated development of medicine we have made the occasional happy accident. Coke and Pepsi are two very good examples as they were originally meant to be digestive aids and were invented for that specific reason only to later become a sweet treat. But way before there were soft drinks and aspirin there was something a with a little more kick. Mead is wine made from fermenting water, honey, and various other ingredients. It can be made sweet like a dessert wine or be on the crisp side. Mead may include medicinal herbs and spices or fruit to add flavor and health benefits.

There are currently two different kinds of mead bubbling away on the counter in my house. The anticipation is killing me, but I know it will be worth the wait once finished. This is my first attempt at mead making so the process has been admittedly one of discovery. It has however been surprisingly easy to do and I suggest giving it a try sometime yourself. Mead can be made with very few ingredients and little equipment and will have you on the edge of your seat for quite some time.

Brewing mead is an adventure all on it’s own. If you are interested in brewing, you will need a few key items and ingredients to get started. These things can be collected a piece at a time over a few months so you don’t break the bank in the process. Over time you will build a respectable brew set up and be turning out batches of your favorite mead variations on a consistent basis. Find your groove with this process and you will hopefully get the satisfaction and therapy out of the process you are looking for.

Brew on!
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Food & Drink >

The Pronto Podcast — Brown Paper Tickets’ Event Guide for Seattle

BPT_buttonWelcome to The Pronto! Brown Paper Ticket’s event guide for Seattle.

Tune in every Tuesday to check out a few of our favorite events in the Emerald City! You can check back to the blog every Tuesday at 10am or hit “subscribe” on the player and get each week’s Pronto delivered right to your computer.

Have a friend that’s visiting Seattle this week? Why not share this podcast with them and give them ideas of something to do? 

This week’s podcast features a rye whiskey tasting, the School of Rock tackling new wave classics, a class on sheep brain dissection (!) and more!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 15, head over to the Barrel Thief in Fremont for their Annual Winter Rye Tasting. You’ll learn all about the history of rye and its distillation process. Plus, you’ll get a chance to sip ten different samples. Everything you always wanted to know about rye but were afraid to ask.

After eating rotten meat, a brainless brunette is transformed into a dangerous genius. Am I talking about your weird dream last night? No. This is the plot of Pig Death Machine, a movie at Northwest Film Forum. Perverse sci-fi/ comedy at its best. Tuesday January 14, through Thursday, January 16.

Thursday, January 16, through Sunday, January 19, 9th Street Studios in South Lake Union features the play The Memory of Water. Three sisters come together on the eve of their mother’s funeral. Dramatic with moments of levity.

Friday, January 17, and Saturday, January 18, you’re probably going to hit happy hour anyway, so why not check out Improv Happy Hour at Unexpected Productions’ Market Theater. Good fun. Improv style.

The intimate venue Empty Sea Studios in Greenwood features the music of singer/ songwriters Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin on Friday, January 17. These two astonishing solo artists come together for this very special performance.

Saturday, January 18, at Oddfellows Hall on Capitol Hill, it’s time for Glitter & Mischief: An Alumni Invitational featuring Jo ‘Boobs’ Weldon. Lots of other great performers, too. This one is not to be missed.

On Saturday, January 18, the School of Rock presents New Wave and Rock 101. Kids going retro. Obviously, this is going to be awesome. Check it out at Chop Suey on Capitol Hill.
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Arts >

Boozie Friday: Signature Cocktails and Other Fun Ideas

6540592675_bee065c187_bTis’ the season to be merry, jolly and, for some of us, buzzed. Winter is a perfect time to try your hand at your very own signature cocktail. Since we usually relax our calorie counting when it’s cold outside,  sweeter liqueurs, cream and half and half are more-than-welcome ingredients for a winter cocktail. This also means you can work with the spices and flavors of the season. This, my friends, is the perfect opportunity for mixologists of any skill level to try their hand at signature cocktails. Fun garnishes, interesting flavor combos, and lots of practice can easily turn a dull and dreary winter evening into a lively and festive soiree.

So, before you can start mixing, you will need a few things to get started. First, stock the bar with a few key liqueurs and pieces of hardware. A well stocked bar should contain at least one bottle each of gin, vodka, whisky, bourbon, tequila, scotch, rum (both light and dark and/or spiced) and brandy. I may have left out something here but you get the idea. Just make sure it’s quality booze. If you drink cheap stuff you might not feel like doing much of anything the next day. If you don’t want to lay down a bunch of cash on all these different flavors pick your three favorite, that’s a good start.

The next thing to add to your collection are liqueurs. Now there are lots and lots of these so you might break the bank trying to buy all of them. Add to your collection a little at a time. A bottle of Frangelico here, a bottle of Grand Marnier there will quickly turn into a respectable collection. Think seasonally when selecting your liqueurs. In the winter time, what flavors are most inspiring? Orange, hazel nut, chocolate, raspberry, maybe even pear? There is a liqueur out there for just about anything you are going for so play around. If you aren’t sure and don’t want to dedicate to a large bottle try buying the airline bottles until you find what you are looking for. These smaller bottles allow you to have lots of different things on hand to mix with.

Now that you have the hard stuff figured out, you can add the finishing touches. Fresh fruit and other garnishes are going to make your cocktail pop. Get creative and don’t be afraid to taste things as you go as this tends to “inspire” people. Play around with variations on classic cocktails by subbing a portion of the liqueur or adding spices. Cranberry, orange, and cinnamon? Yes these things taste good together.

Now that you are well on your way and hopefully have some great ideas, go out and get your drink on. Included below is one of my favorite concoctions. Please drink safely!
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Food & Drink >

The Pronto Podcast — Brown Paper Tickets’ Event Guide for Seattle

BPT_buttonWelcome to The Pronto! Brown Paper Ticket’s event guide for Seattle.

Tune in every Tuesday to check out a few of our favorite events in the Emerald City! You can check back to the blog every Tuesday at 10am or hit “subscribe” on the player and get each week’s Pronto delivered right to your computer.

Have a friend that’s visiting Seattle this week? Why not share this podcast with them and give them ideas of something to do? 

This week’s podcast features including a bitters class, a hayride, a beer festival and more!

Attention all authors. Today, Tuesday, December 3 is the day for an Amazon Publishing Tutorial at UW Center for Urban Horticulture. Learn how to use the tools, grow your market and understand the technology.

Today is also the day to learn to make bitters at the Barrel Thief in Fremont. In this workshop you’ll learn to mix your own bitter for cocktails, soups and all kinds of other recipes. All ingredients are included.

Head over to a class called Dr. Jen’s Stage Make-up with Inga Ingenue at Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty in the Central District on Wednesday, December 4. Accentuate your best features before you hit the stage.

Wednesday, December 4 is the big day for A Totem Pole History: The Work of Lummi Carver Joe Hillaire at the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center. This free presentation supports the preservation and revitalization of this native northwest knowledge system.

Seward Park Audubon Center is all about Winter’s Eve Hayrides. So come on out on Wednesday, December 4, and take a tour around the loop at Seward Park. Bundle up!

Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7, Hangar 30 in Magnuson Park is the place to be for 2013 Winter Beer Festival. Lots of beer. Guaranteed.

On Friday December 6, the action is at House of Hong in the International District. The event— Top Contributors to the Asian Community. Put on by the Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation, this is a great opportunity to support the community.

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Arts >

The Pronto Podcast — Brown Paper Tickets’ Event Guide for Seattle

BPT_buttonWelcome to The Pronto! Brown Paper Ticket’s event guide for Seattle.

Tune in every Tuesday to check out a few of our favorite events in the Emerald City! You can check back to the blog every Tuesday at 10am or hit “subscribe” on the player and get each week’s Pronto delivered right to your computer.

Have a friend that’s visiting Seattle this week? Why not share this podcast with them and give them ideas of something to do? 

This week’s podcast features including tributes to Jimi Hendrix and Lou Reed, tons of holiday gift events and even more food events!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 27, head on over to the Vera Project at Seattle Center for the Jimi Hendrix Annual Birthday Tribute Concert. It’s live music by Leon and Tina Hendrix and others. Serious rock just in time for the holiday.

Also, tomorrow Wednesday, November 27, Kirkland’s Laughs Comedy Spot hosts Turkey Day Eve Comedy Show. Seattle’s funniest people take on the impending holiday. Good laughs right before the big day.

If the Jimi Hendrix show got you in the mood for tribute concerts, head on over to the Columbia City Theater on Friday, November 29, for a Tribute to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. This one features performances by Hounds of the Wild Hunt, Bigfoot Wallace and others.

Friday, November 29 and through the weekend, hit up the Native Holiday Gift Fair at Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center. Buy directly from native crafts people. Great stuff in every price range.

Friday November 29, through the weekend and beyond, check out Unexpected Productions’ An Improvised Christmas Carol. The audience decides the story. It’s different every time. But it’s always funny, weird and Christmas-y.

You know about Etsy, the online craft shop, right? Take it live on Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30, at Elliot Hall at Pier 66. Check out tons of hand made crafts from local Etsy artists.

Saturday, November 30, it’s as good a time as any to get environmental. So head on over to the Bullitt Center on Capitol Hill for a tour of the greenest commercial building in the country. It’s a very cool space with some serious solar panels on the roof.

On Sunday, December 1, why not learn how to make a cute stuffed whale at Ugly Baby and La Ru in downtown Seattle? No experience necessary. And you’ll walk away with a cute little stuffed whale. Perfect for a kiddo in your life.

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Arts >

The Pronto Podcast — Brown Paper Tickets’ Event Guide for Seattle

BPT_buttonWelcome to The Pronto! Brown Paper Ticket’s event guide for Seattle.

Tune in every Tuesday to check out a few of our favorite events in the Emerald City! You can check back to the blog every Tuesday at 10am or hit “subscribe” on the player and get each week’s Pronto delivered right to your computer.

Have a friend that’s visiting Seattle this week? Why not share this podcast with them and give them ideas of something to do? 

This week’s podcast features our top picks including an event based around the art of macaroni and cheese, a couples workshop and a comedy show from a guy with a Ph.D.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 6, you know you’re gonna want to drink some beer and eat dinner.  So check out the Left Hand Beer Dinner at Burgundian. Drink up some great craft beer from the Left Hand Brewing Company and indulge in a fantastic five course meal. Yum on that.

Wednesday, November 6, is also a good day to take the Estate Planning Workshop at the Saturn Building in Fremont. It’s good information you’ll need to know some day.

Have you ever wanted to taste a bunch of different hard ciders and raise money for a good cause at the same time? Thursday, November 7, is your big chance with the 2013 Hard Cider Test Fundraiser at Little Uncle restaurant in Pioneer Square. Funds help support City Fruit’s fruit harvest.

Artist Trust helps local artists in a whole lot of ways. So head down to EMP on Friday, November 8, for the Artist Trust Awards Party. See who’s getting a grant this year and get 50% off your Artist Trust membership at the event. Support local artists!

They said you were crazy when you called your mac and cheese an art form. But it’s true. On Friday, November 8, join the fun at Chez Klozar for Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese. It’s a book launch event with lots of pasta. And lots of cheese.

It’s time for Theater Schmeater’s Auction Schmauction on Saturday, November 9. That’s a gala event with wine, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction and a performance of special scenes from favorite past productions. Good times. Good cause.

Want to step up your relationship? On Saturday, November 9, buy a Brown Paper Ticket for Hold Me Tight, at the Inn at the Market, downtown. This couples workshop will help you strengthen the bonds between you and your significant other in a number of important ways.

On Sunday, November 10, head on over to Bainbridge Island’s Heyday Farm for Sunday Supper on the Farm. That’s dinner, wine and a fabulous meal prepared by Mike Easton of Corvo. All at a gorgeous venue on the island.

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Comedy >

Foodie Friday: Pairing Beer and Food

4948339584_07b33f2a11_zAs long as people have been harvesting grain they have been making beer. Although beer has always been a popular beverage there has been a resurgence in interest in the form of micro brewing.

Throughout the country small batch brewers are turning out some of the most delicious deep flavored brews imaginable. Serious “beer nerds” want to try every kind of beer they can find and will go to great lengths to get a schooner of the newest limited edition batch from their favorite brew master. Since food and beer go together so well it seems natural for them to be served together and carefully paired much in the way you would pair with wine.

Choosing the best beer to go with a meal is a particular skill that will take lots of practice. The good news is that eating and drinking beer is a wonderful experience and therefore the “practice” is relatively painless. When shopping around for beer you might want to check out your local tap houses, beer dinner events, beer release parties or even take a brewery tour or two. Many tap houses will allow you to taste many kinds of beer for cheap or even free until you find your favorite. It’s important to remember to tip appropriately and treat the staff kindly (that is if you want them to keep pouring).

This week, I thought I would share some tips and ideas to help when pairing food with beer. I recommend trusting your instincts and starting with something that you know and love. If you don’t love the beer and food you are serving there is a great possibility your guests will know. So above all relax and do what makes you happy, show them what you like and chances are they will like it too.

Here are a few tips to get you started:
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Food & Drink >