If you’re feeling like staying inside as the weather has turned and the cold has seeped in, you may want to reconsider. There is much to engage your mind and enliven your soul in the Inland Northwest that will lure you from your cozy den (even if you aren’t a furry critter that likes to sleep through winter). Life is always changing—even with planned events—so take the time to call ahead or check the websites of the organizations listed here for dates, prices and ticket information before making your plans. A pinch of planning is worth a pound of pouting … isn’t that how the old saying goes? Maybe not, but you get the gist! Whether you are looking for something to do for date night, a place to hang with friends, new adventures for the kids or just want to treat yourself—we’ve got you covered.
Live theater is alive and well in the Northwest! If you want proof, all you need to do is go online and check the schedules or pop on by some of the local theaters to find a cornucopia of talent that will delight and entertain. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is playing at the Spokane Civic Theatre from November 29 through December 22. Also playing is “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” from January 24 to February 23.
The Spokane Children’s Theatre is featuring Roald Dahl’s “Matilda The Musical,” “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “The Three Musketeers,” “A Year With Frog and Toad” and “The Little Mermaid” for their 2019-2020 season. Noted as Spokane’s oldest theater organization, the Children’s Theatre also features a school-day program that creates opportunities to turn school days into field trips.
Stage Left Theatre offers a counterpoint to timeless classics, offering alternative theater with political and intellectual themes that aim to “broaden involvement of the general population by engaging issues of topical value and stimulating the analysis and discussion of the structure and goals of society.” Upcoming productions include “Mandelstam” (January 10 through 26) about a poet who was shipped to a gulag because he wrote a poem about Stalin’s mustache. Also playing in the upcoming season at Stage Left: “Lonely Planet” (February 14 through March 1) and “A Voice of My Own” (March 27 through April 11).
Also for kids, the Christian Youth Theatre (CYT) of North Idaho, located in Coeur d'Alene, promotes character building and creativity through theater training for kids. They offer classes in everything from drama to dance for kids ranging from 8 to 18. In addition to classes, CYT offers camps, other programs and family friendly shows. Don't miss "Peter Pan: A New Musical," February 21 through March 1, and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" May 22 through 31. Christian Youth Theatre of Spokane has a lineup that includes “Frozen” (December 6 through 15), “Beauty and the Beast” and “Matilda” (winter and spring dates TBD). Christian Youth Theatre of Spokane also offers camps, classes and programs for aspiring youth actors.
The Lake City Playhouse in Coeur d’Alene is featuring the timeless classic “A Christmas Story” (November 29 through December 15). Also playing: “These Shining Lives” (February 21 through March 8), “Matilda” (April 10 through 26) and “Fun Home” (January 17 through February 2). Located in Hayden, Aspire Community Theatre showcases Broadway-style musicals with discounts for seniors and students. Don't miss "9 to 5" (February 7 through 16) and "Tarzan" (April 17 through 26).
Ignite! Community Theatre “is a diverse group of volunteers passionate about bringing fully staged shows, reader’s theatre and improv to Spokane Valley,” says LuRicka Kougl, Ignite! historian and marketing committee chairperson. Ignite! not only offers the chance to see theater productions in an intimate atmosphere (80-seat auditorium) but offers countless volunteer opportunities that allow members of the public to be both patrons and participants. With an all-volunteer crew, “it is in every sense a true community theater,” says Kougl. Individual shows are a steal, but you can reduce the cost even further by purchasing season tickets. Performances include “The Cemetery Club” (November 8 through 24) and “The Importance of Being Earnest” (January 17 through 19).
Located in Spokane, The First Interstate Center for the Arts is showing the Broadway hit “Jesus Christ Superstar” (November 20 through 24), “Cirque Musical Holiday” (November 25), “Cirque Dreams” (November 29) and “Mannheim Steamroller Christmas” (December 7). Kicking things off after the holidays, the Interstate will feature “An American in Paris” (January 14 and 15), “Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live” (January 16) and numerous other shows as well.
Coeur d'Alene hosts a plethora of galleries to view the works of numerous artists. Cisco’s features Native American and Cowboy antiques for sale, including collections of tramp art, knives, bronze statues and other bric-a-brac. The Blackwell Gallery features local modern art in a variety of media. Dozens of painters and sculptors are represented at the Angel Gallery—a community fixture for 19 years—including artists working in oils, acrylics and clay.
Just next door to Angel, The Art Spirit Gallery features a vast space (3,500 square feet) with new works exhibited each month. If you would like to make or learn as opposed to look and buy, there are several venues where you can learn the art … of, well … art. Redbrick Art Studio not only sells paintings but offers fine art classes in watercolor, oil and acrylic painting. Emerge in Coeur d'Alene seeks to engage all members of the community through a variety of creative outlets while providing emerging artists a platform to cultivate their craft and career. Workshops, demonstrations and classes are held throughout the year at Emerge, and information can be found online. The Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center in Post Falls serves as a wedding and concert venue and also hosts workshops where you can learn painting, digital photography, fiddle and guitar, as well as cooking classes.
The Coeur d'Alene Arts and Culture Alliance features MusicWalk, a monthly multi-venue get together highlighting local musicians and singer/songwriters. Several downtown restaurants, stores and galleries are participating this season and will offer food and drinks to go alongside wonderful live music. Dates for the 2020 MusicWalk are January 10, February 7 and March 13, with each walk beginning at 5pm. April through December, Art Walk takes over the second Friday of every month, 5 to 8pm, with two dozen participating galleries, restaurants and retailers.
If you’re an artist looking to meet other artists and get the scoop about upcoming events in the local art world, the Arts and Culture Alliance provides a unique opportunity to do so via Arts Buzz, held at 9am on the first Friday of every month.
Like the art and music walks in Coeur d'Alene, First Friday in Spokane showcases local galleries and restaurants. Put on by the Downtown Spokane Business Improvement District (BID) year-round, First Friday includes not one route but several. Gallery, office party, kid friendly, retail/restaurant and tasting room are some of the themed routes you’ll find on their website to help you better plan your evening out on the town.
Another enticing event to look forward to is the Spokane International Film Festival (February 28 through March 6) at various locations in Downtown Spokane, where you can munch on your favorite movie snack and view feature films, documentaries and shorts. Internationally acclaimed past participants include Matthew Modine, Eli Craig and Sherman Alexie.
Northern Quest Casino (outside of Spokane in Airway Heights) has plenty of entertainment this fall and winter including Lance Burton Master Magician and Friends (November 22), Urban Cowboy Reunion (November 24), Kenny G (December 11) and Queensryche (December 15). In addition to the stage acts, Northern Quest features a spa, hotel and a variety of dining options including M&D, a movie and dinner restaurant with lounge-seating and a menu you can access during the show. And that’s to say nothing of the casino itself. Let the games begin!
If you’re in the Coeur d'Alene area and you want to roll the dice or hit the links, check out Coeur d'Alene Casino in Worley, Idaho, which, in addition to shows has golf and plays host to privately catered events, weddings, banquets and fine dining. Gambling options include bingo events and off-track betting, along with video machines. In addition to entertainment and sporting options, Coeur d'Alene Casino also offers cultural tours that showcase the culture of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. These include a bison ranch tour, and two Lifeways Workshops: Make Your Own Folded Cedar Bark Necklace and Make Your Own Plateau Basketry Basics.
In terms of live music, there is an almost unlimited variety of options from orchestral and symphonic productions to hipster indie pop. Ever since opening its doors in 2011, The Hive in Sandpoint puts on 21 and up shows and includes a variety of acts from dance with Jam Shack to Canadian indie funk by Bombargo. If you want to take your experience up a notch, V.I.P. booths are available as well.
Also in Sandpoint, the 219 Lounge gives you a chance to dust off your rusty vocal chords with karaoke every Tuesday hosted by DJ Webix. If you’d rather listen to professionals kick out the jams, the 219 has you covered. Don’t miss acts like reggae jams with The Dimestore Prophets (November 23) and the “irreverent innuendo” of Naughty Pine (December 14). Be sure to pop in for their dark beer solstice party (December 21) with the stompgrass folk band Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs. Upcoming acts can be found on their website.
Downtown Spokane has a number of historic venues that major acts often make part of their national tours. Performances at The Bing Crosby Theater include The Tenors “Wonder of Christmas” Tour (November 30), Affiniti Celctic Christmas (December 15) and Esperanza, presented by Quiero Flamenco (January 31), along with dozens of other performances throughout the season. Nearby is the Spokane Knitting Factory, which brings in an eclectic variety of acts to suit a number of tastes. The Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, another historic downtown venue, hosts an array of performances.
Coeur d'Alene Symphony partners with other local groups to engage in opera, dance and choral performances. They feature pre-concert lectures by Artistic Director Maestro Jan Pellant and a melody contest for children up to sixth grade. The 2019-2020 season includes: “A Festive Celebration” December 6 and 7; “Family Concert” with the North Idaho Youth Symphony (actor, writer, painter and Coeur d’Alene resident Stephen Shortridge narrates and brings the voices of Peter and the animals live for the Symphony’s Family Concert, Prokoviev’s “Peter and the Wolf”) January 24 and 25; “The Next Superstars” March 13 and 14; finishing out the season with "A Fiery Conclusion” May 1 and 2.
The Spokane Symphony keeps the spirit of music alive by presenting “passionate, high-quality performances of classical, popular and innovative music, creating cultural enrichment for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.” They provide numerous educational programs including “instrument petting zoos” which allow kids to have a hands-on encounter with instruments. A peek at their season's offerings include The Nutcracker (December 5 through 8), Holiday Pops with Vanessa Williams (December 21 and 22) and New Year's Eve: Beethoven's Ninth (December 31). Two dozen more performances feature series including Pops, Movies & Music, and Masterworks concerts, along with Chamber Soirees.
For those who want to engage with life at the intersection of art, science and history, a day at the museum can be just the thing. The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) has temporary exhibits with an anthropological and historical focus, from textiles to Northwest legends. On display through January 12, 2020, don’t miss “Norman Rockwell’s America” exhibit, where young and old will enjoy this remarkable collection of 22 paintings, seven drawings and all 323 vintage "Saturday Evening Post" magazine covers, chronicling the 20th century American spirit. This is the first solo exhibition of Norman Rockwell’s paintings and magazine covers to visit the Inland Northwest. During MAC's Campbell House Holidays (December 14,15, 17, 22 and 26 through 29, from noon to 4pm each day), you can learn how Norman Rockwell’s distinctive illustrations left a lasting influence on the way the American people celebrate the Christmas holiday. (The Campbell House is a restored early English Revival Tutor available to tour at select times and dates as part of the museum’s overall admission price.) The museum also houses one of the nation’s foremost American Indian Plateau collections, some of which are currently on display in the exhibit As Grandmother Taught: Women, Tradition and Plateau Art.
Initially conceived of as a logging museum in the ‘60s as the brainchild of the North Idaho Hoo Hoo Club, the Museum of Northern Idaho now focuses on the history of the region of Coeur d’Alene. Exhibits continue the focus on logging but also include steamboats, railroads and recreation, as well as the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the Cataldo Mission. Closed for the season, it will reopen April 2020.
Open by appointment through March 31, the North Spokane Farm Museum, located in The Red Shed, a 5,000-square-foot farm building. As a self-described “teach and touch” museum, the museum features restored farm machinery, kitchens and bedrooms from various eras. For those with imaginations that take flight, the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center in Hayden may be worth a stop. The museum features restored turbo-prop aircraft and highlights a variety of inventions that influenced the history and culture of the United States.
Over in Sandpoint, the Bonner County History Museum has an extensive array of temporary and permanent exhibits showcasing regional geology, archaeology, mining and forestry.
As you can see by this diverse range of opportunities, the Inland Northwest is a great place to be, whether you call it home or are just here for a visit. Whatever your pleasure, you will find the right adventure awaiting you.