Get Out: Everything You Should Be Doing in Cleveland This Thanksgiving Weekend

Scuba Claus returns to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. See: Friday
Scuba Claus returns to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium. See: Friday Photo courtesy of the Greater Cleveland Aquarium

WED 11/27

35th Annual Thanksgiving Eve Polka Jam

You won't find people playing Cleveland/Slovenian-style polka just anywhere. It's a style of music that's unique to Cleveland, and the musicians who'll perform at the 35th annual Pre-Thanksgiving Polka Jam that takes place tonight at the Slovenian National Home, all know that. The event serves as an open jam session for all the famous polka musicians in town, and musicians travel in from the entire region for the Polka Hall of Fame's award ceremony that takes place that weekend. Organizers say one musician from Slovenia should be in attendance. The bash begins at 6:30, and tickets cost $2. The bar will serve Slovenian wines, craft beers and Slovenian foods (think krajnska klobasa, jota, walnut potica, and elševka). (Jeff Niesel)

6417 St. Clair Ave., 216-361-5115,

Cavs vs. Orlando Magic

In Aaron Gordon, the Orlando Magic have one of the league's most dynamic players. The guy is a true dunk artist, and he brings the Magic to town tonight for a game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse against the Cavs. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Consult the Cavs website for ticket prices. (Niesel)

1 Center Court, 216-420-2000,

Mike DeCapite Book Signing

Born in Cleveland on April Fool's Day in the early '60s, author Mike DeCapite didn't start writing his first novel Through the Windshield, a book about blue-collar life on Cleveland's southside, until he moved to London in the mid-'80s. In a review for the Austin Chronicle, autobiographical comic book author Harvey Pekar referred to Through the Windshield as "one of the better American novels of the past several years." DeCapite's published work also includes the chapbooks Sitting Pretty and Creamsicle Blue, as well as the short-prose collection Radiant Fog. Now living in New York, DeCapite has just completed Jacket Weather, and he'll appear at Visible Voice Books tonight for a book signing and reading. Cleveland poet Zenaida (Zena) Smith is also part of the evening. Smith's writing ranges from the confessional to the surreal. Her 2018 book, Siding With Desire, deals with the various stages of being in love. The event starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free. (Niesel)

2258 Professor Ave., 216-961-0084,

Every Brilliant Thing

Billed as "a surprising and immersive theatrical experience that speaks openly about depression, mental illness, and suicide," Every Brilliant Thing focuses on a character who decides to make a list of things he thinks will rescue his mother from her depression. The Cleveland Play House presents its take on the play tonight at 7:30 at the Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre, where it continues through Dec. 22. Tickets start at $20. (Niesel)

1407 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

White Christmas

This lavish new production of the classic holiday musical tells the story of a song-and-dance team putting on a show in a "magical Vermont inn." Along the way, they mange to perform a host of beloved Irving Berlin songs and plenty of dancing too. Tonight's show takes place at 7:30 at the State Theatre, where performances continue through Dec. 1. Tickets start at $10. (Niesel)

1519 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

THU 11/28

Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Back in 1992, the original House of Blues in Cambridge, Massachusetts, began a tradition of serving the homeless and needy on Thanksgiving. House of Blues here in Cleveland has carried on that tradition for the past decade. Once again this year, it will offer a full Thanksgiving buffet dinner to those in need from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. House of Blues employees, friends, family and vendors will provide the food. (Niesel)

308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583,

GlamGore Monthly Drag Show

Each month, GlamGore, a drag show at the Grog Shop, features a variety of performance artists under one roof. The shows include everyone from "beauty queens" to "drag monsters." Tonight's show theme is Seven Deadly Sins, and it'll feature performers Rhett Corvette, Hugh Madbro, Hazel Lush and Samantha Echo. Tickets cost $10 in advance, $12 at the door, or $15 for VIP tickets that include a special photo opportunity/meet-and-greet with the cast at 8:30 p.m. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. DJ Zoë will attend to the turntables. (Niesel)

2785 Euclid Hts. Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-5588,

Hot Carl's 11th Annual Turkey Jam

For more than a decade now, local comedian Hot Carl has hosted an annual Thanksgiving night comedy show designed to provide a good excuse for folks who need to get away from the family and leave the house for a minute. Hot Carl always performs, and this year's guests include local comedians Brett Thomas, James E. Brassfield, Jimmie Graham, Martin Malloy, Dan Alton and Mike Farrell. The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Winchester Music Tavern in Lakewood, and tickets go for $5. (Niesel)

12112 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-600-5338,

FRI 11/29

Big Fish

The critically acclaimed movie-turned-musical, Big Fish is the next installment in the Near West Theatre's Season of Discovery series. Based on the Daniel Wallace novel and the film directed by Tim Burton, Big Fish centers on parents and their children as well as "the tales we use to define ourselves and those we leave behind as our legacy." Music is directed by Jordan Cooper and choreography is led by Katie Gibson. The musical runs weekends through Dec. 15. Tickets are as low as $10 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under. Reserved Star Seat tickets are $25. (Niesel)

6702 Detroit Rd., 216-961-6391,

Cavs vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Also known at the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo brings his Milwaukee Bucks to town tonight for their first game of the season at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Antetokounmpo might just be the season's MVP, so consider this a good chance to see the man up close. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. Consult the Cavs website for ticket prices. (Niesel)

1 Center Court, 216-420-2000,

A Christmas Carol

The Great Lakes Theatre's annual production of this Charles Dickens' classic returns to Playhouse Square tonight as it does each year at this time. The story about how a certain Scrooge comes to realize that he needs to embrace the holiday season has proven to be a timeless tale. Tonight's performance takes place at 7:30 at the Ohio Theatre, where it continues through Dec. 22. Tickets are $28 to $75. (Niesel)

1501 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

A Christmas Story

The Cleveland Play House's production of Jean Shepherd's beloved Christmas Story returns, as it does each holiday season, to the Allen Theatre. See it tonight at 7:30 — BB guns, bunny costumes, leg lamps and all. Performances continue through Dec. 23. Tickets are $20 to $97. (Christine Howey)

1407 Euclid Ave., 216-2541-6000,


Remember that 7Up guy? Good. Because he's in town tonight. Godfrey, who got his start during a 1980s viral soda campaign, is showing off at the Improv. Cast as the token black friend in every comedy ever made, he's best known as the token black friend in 2001's Zoolander. Godfrey's hot right now, touring the country and making regular appearances on Comics Unleashed. His shows start at 7:30 and 10 tonight at the Improv, and he has additional shows scheduled through Sunday. Tickets cost $20. (Brittany Rees)

1148 Main Ave., 216-696-IMPROV,

The Ground Beneath My Feet

This well-crafted psychodrama centers on a woman whose life changes drastically when she's forced to deal with her hospitalized schizophrenic sister. The 2019 Austrian film screens today at 7 p.m. at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Tickets cost $10, or $7 for CMA members. (Niesel)

11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350,

The Holiday Hangover Show

The Sprint Guy from those old Alltel commercials, Michael Busch hosts this night of standup comedy, sketches and music. Busch splits his time between L.A. and Cleveland. When in L.A., he's a regular performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and when in Cleveland he produces and performs in various sketch and improv shows around town and teaches classes. Tonight's bill also includes Bill Squire, Dana Quercioli, Hannah Corrigan, Flamingo City, Dave Flynt and Galina Rivina. The show starts at 8 at Hilarities. Tickets cost $20. (Niesel)

2035 East Fourth St., 216-241-7425,

Scuba Claus

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium's annual Scuba Claus event takes place today, tomorrow and Sunday. Guests can talk to Scuba Claus while he's in one of the exhibits and ask a question about diving or suggest gifts for the fish. Guests can also takes photos with Scuba Claus. The aquarium will also feature craft animal-themed snowflakes and a cold weather trivia challenge for a chance to win an aquarium experience prize package valued at $200. In addition, the animal care team will present holiday- and cold-weather-themed feeding enrichment activities such as giving fish melting icicle treats and giving birds fruit ornaments. Children visiting on Scuba Claus appearance days also receive an original holiday mini activity book and a Scuba Claus temporary tattoo, while supplies last. Check the aquarium website for hours and ticket prices. The event continues through Dec. 24. (Niesel) 2000 Sycamore St., 216-862-8803,

The Wild Winter Lights Festival

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has brought back its holiday lights event that was discontinued after the 2004 season. The zoo has reworked the bright spectacle to include thousands of lights, a visit from Santa, an extremely tall teddy bear and, of course, plenty of animals. Dubbed the Wild Winter Lights Festival, the event takes place today through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets start at $18.50 for those who aren't members of the zoo and $15.50 for members. Find out more about the event and buy tickets on the website. (Laura Morrison)

3900 Wildlife Way, 216-661-6500,

Winter Wonder Cleveland

Based on similar concepts in New York, Los Angeles and other major cities, Winter Wonder Cleveland houses 10 larger-than-life installations all designed as photo backdrops for groups of families and friends. Open daily, the attraction at the Hamilton Collaborative Building features a replica set from a holiday movie, a giant swing that projects you out on a pendulum over the Cleveland skyline, three Olympic-style curling tracks where you can try your hand at the quirky Canadian sport, an enormous ship that sways and rocks as if it is in the middle of the ocean, a mirrored holiday tree room and other displays that combine appealing winter imagery, great lighting, group challenges and subtle nods to some favorite holiday movies and traditions. The event is priced variably for peak and non-peak times, and kids are always discounted. Groups seeking a private event such as a holiday party or team-building event can always be accommodated and are encouraged to inquire on the website. The pop-up opens today. Find hours and admission prices on the website. (Niesel)

5401 Hamilton Ave.,

Yuja Wang Plays Rachmaninoff

Pianist Yuja Wang sits in with the Cleveland Orchestra tonight at Severance Hall as it performs Rachmaninoff's Fourth Piano Concerto. The program also includes pieces by Prokofiev, Poulenc and Ravel. Case Western Reserve University's Emily Laurance gives the pre-concert talk that begins an hour before the concert. The concert takes place at 8 tonight and tomorrow night and at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Severance Hall. Consult the orchestra website for ticket prices. (Niesel)

11001 Euclid Ave., 216-231-1111,

SAT 11/30


Aga, Bulgaria's official entry for the 2020 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, centers on an older couple who live in a yurt in the frozen northern Siberian wilderness. They then set out to find their estranged daughter who lives in a nearby city. The movie screens at 7:05 tonight and at 8:45 tomorrow night at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. Tickets cost $10, or $7 for Cinematheque members and students. (Niesel)

11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450,

Cleveland Pops Orchestra: Holiday Spectacular 2019

Cleveland Pops Orchestra and Pops Chorus, plus the "mellow" voice and showmanship of nationally acclaimed entertainer Michael Preaceley, team up today at Connor Palace for the orchestra's annual Holiday Spectacular. Expect to sing along to holiday carols and songs. Adoptable puppies and kittens from local shelters will be on hand as well, and you can take family photos with Santa Claus. Bring new toys and games to help the City Mission in its efforts to provide gifts to needy kids. The event begins at 2 p.m., and tickets cost $19 to $45. (Niesel)

1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

Give Me Liberty

This film from director Krill Mikhanvsky created a buzz when it showed at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The movie centers on a medial transport driver who encounters a number of roadblocks as he tries to get his passengers to their various meetings and appointments. It screens at 9:05 tonight and at 6:30 tomorrow night at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. Tickets cost $12, or $9 for Cinematheque members and students. (Niesel)

11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450,

Ken Jeong

Actor, producer and writer Ken Jeong got his big break when he was cast in the hit comedy film The Hangover. He's gotten great roles ever since. The lead in the ABC sitcom Dr. Ken, he currently appears as a panelist on The Masked Singer, a wacky show that features celebrities performing in disguise. He provides color commentary as he tries to guess who's behind the mask. Jeong brings his standup show to MGM Northfield Park – Center Stage tonight at 8. Tickets cost $39 to $69. (Niesel)

10705 Northfield Rd., Northfield, 330-908-7793,

Monsters vs. Rochester Americans

The Cleveland Cavaliers are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and the Monsters get in on the action tonight as they take on the Rochester Americans at 7 p.m. at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The game will feature Cavs' entertainment teams and mascots. Consult the Monsters website for ticket prices. (Niesel)

1 Center Court, 216-420-2000,


A free family event that takes place downtown, Winterfest begins with activities at 9 a.m. There will be live entertainment and musical performances, free horse-drawn carriage rides, gourmet food trucks, ice skating and a Kids' Village. The event concludes with the ceremonial lighting of the holiday tree at 6 p.m. followed by fireworks, a visit from Santa Claus and his elves, and a concert by Nashville recording artist AC Jones. Find a complete schedule on the Downtown Cleveland Alliance website. (Niesel)

SUN 12/01

Genghis Con

Genghis Con returns today for its 11th installment, taking over the Tenk Building on the West Bank of the Flats. This time around, local graphic artist John G has recruited Cleveland artists such as Sequoia Bostick, co-founder of Cleveland's Vagabond Comics, to help organize the event and select the lineup of exhibitors. The event is similar to other makers' markets or local bazaars, only this time, booths are filled with independent writers and artists touting their 'zines and comics and other affiliated goods. This year, the Weird Realms DIY Game Room is also making a return. It highlights locally produced board games and role-playing games (think Dungeons & Dragons) — and don't worry, the rules will be explained. The show runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Tenk Buildling. It's free. (Laura Morrison) 2111 Center St.,

Growing Up Female and Methadone: An American Way of Dealing

A three-time Oscar nominee who lives in the Dayton area, Julia Reichert is Ohio's foremost non-fiction filmmaker. Julia Reichert: 50 Years in Film, a traveling retrospective that has come to the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, features screenings of restored versions of her films. Today at 4 p.m., the Cinematheque presents a double feature of her films: 1971's Growing Up Female and 1974's Methadone: An American Way of Dealing. Tickets cost $11, or $8 for Cinematheque members and students. (Niesel)

11610 Euclid Ave., 216-421-7450,

Dina Hashem

Soft-spoken comedian Dina Hashem describes herself as an "Arab lady," but admits she can't do an Arab accent. Still, she tries to mimic her father, who left her and her mother when she young and moved back to the Middle East. That's why she voted for Trump. "I'd vote for anyone who will keep my dad out of the country," she jokes. She performs tonight at 7 at Hilarities. Tickets start at $13. (Niesel)

2035 East Fourth St., 216-241-7425,

Munch in Hell

Director Stig Andersen profiles Dutch painter Edvard Munch in this documentary film, Munch in Hell. A Norwegian painter who sought to "bring light to darkness," Munch left his entire art collection to the city of Oslo, reportedly the "greatest gift an artist has ever given to the public." The film explores the ways in which the city has mistreated the esteemed artist's collection. It screens at 1:30 p.m. today and at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Tickets cost $10, or $7 for CMA members. (Niesel)

11150 East Blvd., 216-421-7350,

MON 12/02

Thank Yule For Being A Friend

The Golden Gays NYC (or GGNYC) became a sensation as a flash mob extravaganza. They've now evolved into something less transient, and their hit musical Hot Flashbacks premiered to rave reviews last year off-Broadway at Theatre Row. Thank Yule For Being A Friend, the Midwest tour that brings them to the Music Box tonight marks the fourth successful GGNYC tour and celebrates the holiday season. Tickets start at $25. (Niesel)

1148 Main Ave., 216-242-1250,

TUE 12/03

Cavaliers vs. Detroit Pistons

What used to be one of basketball's greatest rivalries has subsided now that the Cavs and the Detroit Pistons are both in the process of rebuilding their teams. The Cavs have notched wins against division rivals such as the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls. They'll be looking for another division win tonight as they take on the Pistons at 7 p.m. at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Check the website for ticket prices. (Niesel)

1 Center Court, 216-420-2000,

Mean Girls

Part of the KeyBank Broadway Series, Mean Girls centers on a newbie who must navigate a high school filled with "frenemies." Book writer Tina Fey, composer Jeff Richmond, lyricist Nell Benjamin and director Casey Nicholaw collaborated on this musical that's based on the movie of the same name. Tonight's show takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Connor Palace, where performances continue through Dec. 22. Tickets start at $10. (Niesel)

1615 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

Pure Yanni

A unique concert featuring the composer Yanni, Pure Yanni will feature the man's orchestrations performed exclusively on a piano. Yanni will also tell stories about traveling the globe. The performance, which takes place tonight at 8 at the State Theatre, will also include a live Q&A with the audience. Tickets start at $45. (Niesel)

1519 Euclid Ave., 216-241-6000,

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