With all there is to do this time of year, holiday-themed fun can sometimes run families ragged, while leaving the very youngest of merry elves out, or keeping them up way past bedtime. This year when sleigh bells ring, consider these accessible and low key arts events where the littles will love to listen, and sing and dance along too. Then, perhaps that long winter’s nap won’t be just for ma and pa in their kerchief and cap after all.

screenshot-2016-11-23-at-2-24-28-amPhoto: Encore Stage

A Fairytale Christmas Carol
A collaboration like no other fairytale, this one stars all the traditional favorites from Cinderella to the The Three Little Pigs. Plus, does someone small have the acting bug in your family? In keeping with their own tradition of theater for kids by kids, Encore incorporates several young actors in this parody of the Charles Dicken’s classic. Peformances are both in the morning and afternoon.

When: Dec. 2-4
Encore Stage
2700 S. Lang St. (Arlington, Va)
Online: encorestageva.org

Adventures with Mr. Bear
Tickets for this world premiere show are already selling like honey sticks for the age two to five crowd. A story about a girl and her favorite stuffie presented by performers dedicated to theater patrons zero to five, this one is sure to keep everybody in a holiday mood. Bring along your “animal buddies” for arts activities and photo ops both before and following the morning show.

When: Dec. 1-17
The Lab at Convergence
1819 N. Quaker Ln. (Alexandria, Va)
Online: artsonthehorizon.org

Snowflakes on Parade
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra continues the Music Box Series designed for families with young children to experience classical music together, but with a baby-saavy approach. Created for babies six months to 3 years, the program is expertly set for two morning concert start times in the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall’s lobby, preceded by creative activities for babies and families.

When: Dec. 10
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
1212 Cathedral St. (Baltimore, Md)
Online: bsomusic.org

The Nutcracker
Tiny dancers will be en pointe at one of these abridged versions of the classical holiday ballet where girl meets Mouse King turned Prince, and travels through the Land of Sweets to dance with the Sugarplum Fairy. Both Maryland Youth Ballet’s Mini Nut, and The Center for Ballet Arts Nutcracker in a Nutshell, are Washington area mainstays for audiences with about an hour’s attention span. Prefer puppets to prima ballerinas? Check out The Puppet Company productions of both The Nutcracker, coming in at just under an hour, or turn on the lights for a Tiny Tots performance of Nutcracker Fantasy, a pared down 30 minute rendition presented at the convenient toddler hour of 10 am.

Maryland Youth Ballet (Silver Spring) Dec. 10-11
Center for Ballet Arts (Alexandria) Dec. 17-18
The Puppet Company (Glen Echo) Nov. 25 – Dec. 30

Holiday Sing-Alongs
Young children love to sing, and sing, sing out loud. Warble without fear, right along with your little songbird at these family friendly harmonious events all around town. Wolf Trap’s annual Holiday Sing-a-long is a free outdoor event, while Capital City Symphony’s Annual Concert and Sing-Along brings everyone inside to the super cool Atlas Center on the H Street Corridor. For a more intimate setting, head to Jammin Java, featuring two local kids music sing-alongs with Rainbow Rock Band’s holiday show and toy drive, and Rocknoceros appearing for their 10th annual event. On the Maryland side of the beltway, join Washington Revels for its December installment of its monthly Community Sing, or this year’s Nordic-themed Winter show at GW’s Lisner Auditorium.

Wolf Trap Dec. 3
Jammin Java (Vienna) Dec. 10 and Dec. 17
Capital City Symphony Dec. 11
Washington Revels Dec. 21 and Dec. 10 – 18

–Carolyn Ross