It wouldn’t really and truly feel like the Holiday season without at least one viewing of The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s iconic score combined with the fairytale setting of the Land of the Sweets is sure to entrance children and adults alike. There are lots of different Nutcracker productions throughout Los Angeles, so whether you have toddlers or teenagers, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for all the dance (and non dance) lovers in your family.

photo: Westside Ballet

Timeless Tradition: Westside Ballet

If it’s a mix of LA tradition and classic ballet you are looking for, West Side Ballet’s production at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica is right up your alley. This is the longest running Nutcracker production in LA and is accompanied by a live orchestra to boot. This is particularly friendly for young theater-goers as there are early matinees, booster seats for the little ones and babes two and under can sit on your lap for free.

Dates: Nov. 24-25; and Dec.1-2.
Cost: $45

1310 11th St.
Santa Monica
Online: westsideballet.com

photo: Reed Hutchinson

A Classic: Los Angeles Ballet

Los Angeles Ballet continually brings exciting ballet productions to Los Angeles, and their annual Nutcracker is no exception. In this production, LAB has stayed true to their classical roots with a little spin: the show is set in LA in 1912. Keep your eyes peeled for hints of iconic Southern California sights, including the Venice archway and snowy forests of The Sierras. This year LAB performs The Nutcracker at five different venues throughout the Southland, so there’s plenty of opportunities to catch a performance without having to sit in too much traffic.

Dates: Nov. 24-25; Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16 and Dec. 22-24
Cost: $36-104

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Performances are at Cerritos CenterThe Alex Theatre, Royce Hall at UCLA, The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center and The Dolby Theatre where they will be accompanied by the Los Angeles Ballet Orchestra.

Online: losangelesballet.org

photo: The Waldorf Astoria

Tea with the Sugarplum Fairy: LAB’s Nutcracker Tea

Spend an elegant afternoon at The Waldorf Astoria and enjoy a full High Tea plus a special preview performance from Los Angeles Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Dine on classic tea time delicacies and specially blended TEALEAVES teas while the kids enjoy a craft area that includes dance lessons with some of LAB’s star dancers. Also included: a special Holiday bazaar featuring unique gift ideas and the opportunity to take a photo with the dancers.

Date: Nov. 17 & 18
Cost: Tickets $1,000 and up are only available

9850 Wilshire Blvd.
Online: eventbee.com

photo: BurnAway via flickr

Break with Tradition: The Hip Hop Nutcracker

The Hip Hop Nutcracker takes the traditional music and story and turns it on its head, literally! Featuring incredible hip-hop choreography, a dozen superstar dancers plus an on-stage DJ and electric violinist, the Hip Hop Nutcracker transports the traditional story to modern day New York City.

Dates: Nov. 8 (The Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside) and Nov. 11 (Long Beach Convention Center)
Cost: $45 & up

Online: hiphopnutcracker.com 

photo: Moscow Ballet

Old Country Style: Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker

If it’s old-fashioned you’re looking for (in the best possible way) this is your production. Step into the Wiltern theater to see Moscow Ballet’s principal dancers straight from Russia. This production features a 60-foot growing Christmas tree, handmade costumes and hand-painted sets that will leave everyone enthralled.

Dates: Dec. 14 & 15
Cost: $43 & up

3790 Wilshire Blvd.
Online: nutcracker.com

photo: Lee Tonks

A Twist on Tradition: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

In this rendition of the timeless tale, the great Christmas Eve party scene takes place in 1928-era New Orleans. Kara Johnson receives a nutcracker filled with hot chocolate and upon falling asleep is transported to a land of wonder by a trio of mischievous mice. This spin includes an original score by Mariah Carey, young LA dancers who are all students of the Debbie Allen Academy and Debbie Allen herself. Treat your family to this not-so-classic adventure, and even those who poo-poo the tutu will have a blast.

Dates: Dec. 6-9
Cost: $60-110

1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Redondo Beach
Online: thehotchocolatenutcracker.com

photo: Pasadena Dance Theater via Facebook

Taste the Sugarplum Sweets: Pasadena Dance Theater

This is a beautiful production at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse is presented by one of our local companies and the perfect opportunity to support homegrown artistic effort. With a cast of over 80 dancers, it’s a tremendous production that will please everyone. Plus, the company hosts Clara’s Holiday Party on Dec. 16 & 23 at 12:30 p.m. before the show, where refreshments will be served by Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy.

Dates: Dec.15-16, 21-22, & 23
Cost: $42 & up

320 S. Mission Dr.
Pasadena
Online: pasadenadance.org

photo: Red Chair Children’s Production

For Kids by Kids: The Red Chair Children’s Production

What’s more kid-friendly than other kids? This production features young dancers ages 5-18 performing alongside adults with a stunning cast of over 100 dancers, making it a great way to introduce young audiences to classic ballet. Don’t miss “Drosselmeyer’s Magical Bag” before the performance on Dec. 9, where kids can meet the cast and get a special present from Uncle Drosselmeyer’s bag, just like Clara!

Dates: Dec. 8-9
Cost: $21 & up

216 N Brand Blvd.
Glendale
Online: redchairproductions.org

photo: Bob Baker Marionette Theater

Dancing Puppets: Bob Baker Marionette Theater

If you’re concerned about ballet holding your little one’s attention span, The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is an excellent alternative to a traditional Nutcracker performance. The locally famous puppet theater is taking their Nutcracker show on the road (to the Pasadena Playhouse, to be exact) for the first time since 1969. The show features over 100 handcrafted puppets in a quirky, fun and enchanted version of the classic ballet.

Dates: Nov. 24 -Dec. 30th
Cost: $24

39 S El Molino Ave.
Pasadena
Online: pasadenaplayhouse.org

photo: Marat Daukayev/Sharon Cavanaugh

Inspire Your Dancers: Marat Daukayev School of Ballet

You may recognize the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet from the documentary Getting to the Nutcracker, but even if you’re not familiar with this local training ground for future prima ballerinas, their annual Nutcracker is worth seeing. Featuring a cast primarily composed of students, the colorful production often includes guest artists from notable companies such as The New York City and San Francisco ballets. Young audience members who remain enchanted with ballet can sign-up for classes and practice to take their place as a future Clara or Snow Queen.

Dates: Dec. 8-9
Cost: TBA

5151 State University Dr.
Los Angeles
Online: luckmanarts.org

photo: IP Ballet

Crack You Up: Inland Pacific Ballet

This version of the Nutcracker returns this season to Riverside’s Fox Performing Arts Center and Claremont’s Bridges Auditorium at Pomona College for one performance at each venue. A hilarious send-up of everyone’s favorite holiday ballet, The Nutty Nutcracker features a zany storyline loosely based on the traditional Nutcracker. Follow Clara and her offbeat friend, Anita as they witness hysterical antics and unexpected visitors in the Land of the Sweets. Get ready for sidesplitting surprises and wacky characters for those seeking a funny alternative version of the traditional holiday classic. Recommended for ages 10 and older.

Dates: Dec. 14 (Riverside); Dec. 21 (Claremont)
Cost: $23-62

Online: ipballet.org

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—Anna Lane

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