17 Best Things to Do in Seattle in October 2019

Our handpicked list of the best bets for entertainment this month

By Gavin Borchert


September 24, 2019

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This article appears in print in the October 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Seattle Queer Film Festival
Showcasing creativity and building community since 1996, this festival brings its usual generous buffet of shorts, docs and features from around the world for 2019, exploring every aspect of the queer experience—and occasionally making news. Last year’s festival closer, the 2018 Kenyan drama Rafiki, was banned in its conservative homeland thanks to its “intent to promote lesbianism.” Times and prices vary. See threedollarbillcinema.com for participating venues.

Seattle Lit Crawl
“Get drunk…on words!” proclaims this pub crawl/reading event: More than 80 writers will take over some 35 Capitol Hill and First Hill venues (mostly bars, as well as places like Elliott Bay Book Company and the Frye Art Museum) to knock back a few and present their own work to increasingly jocund crowds. Four programming slots: 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m., after-party to follow at 10. Free. See litquake.org for lineup and venues.

John Leguizamo: Latin History for Morons
Impelled by the short shrift given to Latinos in his son’s history textbook—and because “I’m embarrassed that I did not know enough about my ancestry to pass onto my kids,” he admits—Leguizamo, the shape-shifting Tony- and Emmy-winning comic actor, put together a madcap comic overview of the topic, from the Aztecs to entertainer Pitbull. After the show’s Broadway run, Leguizamo has now taken it on tour. 7:30 p.m. $35–$85. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.682.1414; stgpresents.org

Austen’s Pride
Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs dropped Jane Austen into her own book to confront and reconsider her beloved characters in their musical reimagining of Pride and Prejudice. Austen’s Pride came up through The 5th Avenue Theatre’s New Musical Development Program to earn this fully staged premiere. Times and prices vary. 5th Avenue Theatre, downtown, 1308 Fifth Ave.; 206.625.1900; 5thavenue.org

Cécile McLorin Salvant performs 10/18 at Town Hall for Earshot Jazz Festival. Photo by Mark Fitton

Earshot Jazz Festival
The highlight of seattle’s jazz calendar since 1986, the Earshot festival returns to showcase solo musicians and ensembles, from acclaimed high school bands to free improvisers, exploring practically every jazz subgenre imaginable. Times, prices and venues vary. earshot.org

The old Saturday Night Live skit “Germany’s Most Disturbing Home Videos” exemplified the popular stereotype of German-language film—you know, creepy, artsy and humorless, with dour, inscrutable titles like The Ultimate Irony of Frieda. Northwest Film Forum’s Kinofest intends to counteract that notion with family films, comedies and documentaries featured during the four days of German film screenings. Times and prices vary. Capitol Hill; nwfilmforum.org 

Daniel Norgren
This Swedish singer-songwriter’s music is roughhewn, DIY-sounding, way more country/blues than Europop—in other words, he fits right in with the Northwest alt-roots vibe. (If you’re thinking strictly in Swedish terms, he’s like the anti-ABBA.) April’s Wooh Dang was Norgren’s first worldwide release, and he’s touring it from coast to coast this fall. 8 p.m. $20.50. Neptune Theatre, University District, 1303 NE 45th St.; 206.682.1414; stgpresents.org

Timothy Egan
In his new book, A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith (Viking, October 15, $28), the journalist, columnist and Northwest correspondent for The New York Times takes a journey, both personal and literal, to trace the roots of his Irish Catholic faith and its place in today’s world. Town Hall, First Hill, 1119 Eighth Ave.; 206.652.4255; townhallseattle.org

Garrick Ohlsson
To show off both his poetry and his power, this pianist—popular in Seattle, granting us practically annual visits—has chosen both delicate and superhumanly taxing pieces by Brahms (a handful of fantasies and a selection from the Variations on a Theme of Paganini) and Chopin (a nocturne and the Sonata No. 3). 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices vary. Meany Center, University of Washington, 4040 George Washington Lane NE; 206.543.4880; meanycenter.org

Celebrate Pacific Northwest glassblowing at Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience. Photo courtesy of Pilchuck Glass School

Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience
It’s been close to 50 years since Pilchuck Glass School opened in Stanwood, in 1971, and made the Northwest a pioneering center of glass art in America. This lavish weekend of celebration includes gallery shows, tours and talks, parties and open studios all over town, at venues that include Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center, Tacoma Art Museum and Museum of Glass, and Pike Place Market. You can even get a taste of the experience yourself at hands-on glassblowing demos. Times, prices and venues vary. refractseattle.org

Jet City Improv: Stabbin’ Cabin
What ingredients make a great slasher movie? Lots of (horny) teenagers, very few adults and a creepy locale. Put these together and you have summer camp, which is why that setting became a horror-film archetype after 1980’s Friday the 13th blazed the trail. Jet City Improv is sending up that movie and the era’s other camp (in both senses) classics on Thursdays and Fridays in October. See who makes it out alive! 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Jet City Improv Theater, University District, 5510 University Way NE; 206.352.8291; jetcityimprov.org

Nick Kroll
Kroll is one of those guys who, one way or another, turns up on Comedy Central about six times a day in stand-up performances, sketch shows, sitcoms and films (especially animated movies, in which you may not recognize his protean voice until you see his name in the credits). His most common and recognizable comic persona is, to be blunt, kind of a douche—which actually was the literal name of his character, an obnoxious radio DJ, on Parks and Recreation. His “Middle-Aged Boy Tour” suggests he’s sticking to the brand. 7:30 p.m. $26.50–$36.50. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.682.1414; stgpresents.org

Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Beheading Holofernes (1612–1613), is among the famed artworks at SAM starting this month. Courtesy of Seattle Art Museum

Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces
Selections from the holdings of Naples, Italy’s Capodimonte Museum will come to Seattle Art Museum this fall. Included are pieces by painters you probably know (Titian, Raphael) and ones you definitely should know, such as pioneering female artist Artemisia Gentileschi and her throbbingly dramatic works. Seattle Art Museum, downtown, 1300 First Ave.; 206.654.3100; seattleartmuseum.org

Burke Museum Grand Reopening
The Burke Museum’s $106 million rebuild, designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig, opens up previously behind-the-scenes labs and research spaces via glass walls, making the museum more accessible and integrated. Visitors can now take a peek at the collections at the same time they’re perusing the natural history and culture exhibits. Get your first look during its reopening weekend. Burke Museum, University District, 4300 15th Ave. NE; 206.685.3861; burkemuseum.org

Necessary Sacrifices
Ends 10/26
After the emancipation proclamation was issued, African-American soldiers joined the Union Army, where they faced new race-based setbacks and horrors. In Richard Hellesen’s 2012 historical play (which was commissioned for Washington, D.C.’s Ford’s Theatre), abolitionist Frederick Douglass confronts Abraham Lincoln about the soldiers’ plight. The work is based on actual White House meetings between the two giants. Times and prices vary. Taproot Theatre Company’s Jewell Mainstage Theatre, Greenwood, 204 N 85th St.; 206.781.9707; taproottheatre.org

Beyond Bollywood features family photos collected from around the United States, like this one in San Francisco. Photo by Prithvi Sharma

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation
While Americans may be familiar with Indian cuisine and the giddy flamboyance of Bollywood, the Museum of History & Industry’s (MOHAI) Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation exhibit suggests that we might have a thing or two more to learn, as recent Indian-American contributions to U.S. culture gain visibility and influence in areas like high tech and pop culture (from rom-coms to stand-up). This presentation, curated by the Smithsonian, brings together photography, artifacts and oral histories to spotlight the struggles and successes of immigrants and their descendants both nationwide and locally, going back a century. Among those people were Washington state Army vet Bhagat Singh Thind, whose application for citizenship led to a destructive 1923 Supreme Court decision; and the Sikh farmers who have turned Whatcom County into America’s leading raspberry and blueberry producer. Times and prices vary. Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), South Lake Union, 860 Terry Ave. N; 206.324.1126; mohai.org

Seattle Sings Choral Festival
The chief reward of singing in a choir is the fun of gathering to make music as part of a community, so when you gather a bunch of communities together, the fun increases exponentially. That’s the spirit behind the biennial Seattle Sings Choral Festival, which brings together 25 local choirs (from the Sound Singers Japanese choir to the Norwegian Male Chorus of Seattle) for three days of singing. The special guest for Friday’s performances will be University of Southern California professor Morten Lauridsen, a native of Colfax, Washington, whose works are probably the most frequently performed of any living choral composer. Times and prices vary. Seattle First Baptist Church, First Hill, 1111 Harvard Ave.; 206.325.6051; seattlesings.org

Photography by Tyree Harris

Book Excerpt: Marmots May Be Running Out of Time

New book explores endangered species in Pacific Northwest

In her debut as a book author, Josephine Woolington turns back the clock to examine events that have shaped Pacific Northwest wildlife in an effort to provide a deeper sense of place for those who call this unique and beautiful region home. Where We Call Home: Lands, Seas, and Skies of the Pacific Northwest sheds…

Illustration by Arthur Mount

Seattle Artifacts: The Mystery of Chief Seattle’s Death Mask

Is it real? Where did it come from?

In different parts of the world, and throughout the course of history, death has been memorialized in a variety of different ways. One of the more intriguing was death masks. Typically, a wax or plaster cast was made of a deceased person’s face, which then served as a model for sculptors when creating statues and busts.  …

Photography by Sage Chen

The Art of Weathering Winter: Foraging, Bathing, and Gold Dust

Two Seattle Chefs on the Soothing Hobbies that Get Them through the Winter

Though I’ve lived in Seattle nearly my entire life, the early winter sunsets, which fall like a set of blackout curtains over the world, never fail to feel like a curse. This year, though, I wanted to challenge myself to find a better way to get through it. Could it be an opportunity to surrender…

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Hip-Hop Healing in Seattle

Rapper Carter Costello’s house is more than just a venue for artists

The last time I was at Seattle rapper Carter Costello’s house was under the cloak of night. I had been invited to an art and music show — featuring Seattle photographer and artist Baby Claypool, a duo of fire dancers, rapper Nobi and Costello — by local photographer James Gerde. Once I set foot on…

Seattle artist and curator Anthony White challenges consumerism and societal hierarchy in his work.

Seattle’s Prince of Plastic

Artist Anthony White’s work offers deep, and sometimes uncomfortable, cultural commentary

Overheard conversation at artist Anthony White’s current exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum plays out like a zeitgeisty spoken-word soundtrack that weaves between the past and present, hitting various cultural milestones along the way. “Is that Lindsay Lohan?” “Look, Nintendo!” “Do you notice the Greek columns?” “Ah, Lisa Frank!” The joyful cacophony is a reaction…

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Time Warp: ‘Seattle’ Magazine Cover Still Relevant, Five Decades Later

Magazine cover from 1968 still applicable today

Rising prices. Concern over firearms. The above cover from “Seattle” magazine is from September 1968, but it’s sadly just as relevant today. At 4.19%, inflation in 1968 was less than half what it is today (9.1% in July), but was rising rapidly. For perspective, an item that cost $1 back then would cost $8.51 today….