Sure, NYC is home to perhaps the most famous Nutcracker production (looking at you New York City Ballet), but it’s not the only sugar plum fairy game in town. (And not all kids may be ready for a two-hour extravaganza at Lincoln Center.) Scroll down to explore the options, which range from hip-hip, to Russian, to New York City-inspired‚ as well as a one-hour starter version.

photo: New York City Ballet

For Balanchine purists: New York City Ballet

This 2-hour show is the gold standard, with 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of young students (50 per performance) from the School of American Ballet. While all kids probably won’t be able to sit through this ballet, and it's recommended for the elementary school age crowd, the scenery is breathtaking (a Christmas tree grows from 12 feet to 40 feet in front of your eyes), and the costumes are opulent (including one that weighs 85 pounds and still requires the dancer playing Mother Ginger to stay on her toes).

Tickets: From $75 to $285
Nov. 24 - Dec. 31
David H. Koch Theater
20 Lincoln Center
Midtown Manhattan


photo: Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet

For Balanchine-lite Fans: Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet

Gelsey Kirkland was George Balanchine’s muse at the age of 17 and headlined numerous American Ballet Productions, including The Nutcracker (by Mikhail Baryshnikov). Now she and GKA co-artistic director, Michael Chernov present a modified take on the classic.

This year's holiday performance will include a first act with selections from a variety of ballets, and second act of featuring the full second act of The Nutcracker.

Tickets: From $25 (additional service fees apply)
Dec. 7 – Dec. 10, 2017
GK Arts Center
29 Jay St.

For a Fresh Take and Kurtis Blow!: The Hip-Hop Nutcracker

It’s Tchaikovsky performed by a DJ, electric violins and guest MC rap legend Kurtis Blow, with digital sets (no telling how high this tree could go) and a high-energy cast. This Nutcracker is remixed, re-imagined and reworked, so just sit back and enjoy the ride!

Tickets: $29-$79
Dec. 15, 2017
New Jersey Performing Arts Center
1 Center Street
Newark, NJ

photo: NY theater Ballet

For a 1-Hour Nutcracker: NY Theatre Ballet

What’s the Scoop? From clockwork imps to a luminous owl that flies above the audience, mice dressed in polka dots and dancers dancing with huge chopsticks, this timeless re-imagined classic bursts with energy and excitement. This holiday ballet, danced to Tchaikovsky's beloved score, is set in Art Nouveau style circa 1907 with innovative choreography by long-time NYTB choreographer, Keith Michael, set design by Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, and costumes by Metropolitan Opera's Resident Costume Designer Sylvia Taalsohn Nolan. This one-hour ballet is perfect for ages 3 and up!

Tickets: $34/adults; $24/kids
Dec. 15-17, multiple showtimes
Florence Gould Hall
55 E. 59th St.
Upper East Side

photo: Dances Patrelle

For Lots of Tiny Dancers and a NYC flair: Yorkville Nutcracker

Kiddos who want to see dancers close to their own age, this show features lead dancers from New York City Ballet plus 100 local young dancers. In this annual production by Dances Patrelle, the music may be familiar, but everything else is strictly “Made in NY.” Clara and her prince take a tour of Olde New York landmarks, including a holiday party at Gracie Mansion, dancing at the Crystal Palace in the New York Botanical Garden, and skating in Central Park.

Tickets: From $45 to $85 (20% discount for students and seniors)
Dec. 7 - Dec. 10, 2017
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
E. 68th St. between Park & Lexington Avenues
Midtown East

For a Ballet with Kids and Candy: Joffrey Ballet School

Though this production’s growing Christmas tree is only 30 feet high, it’s unlikely your kids will miss the extra 120 inches (or you the extra cost of the tickets). Not when they get to watch over 300 young dancers from the Joffrey Ballet School’s Childrens, Young Dancer and Trainees program accompanied by Guest Artists from the Joffrey Concert Group in full costume performing as mice and waltzing snowflakes.

Tickets: $20-$45
Dec. 15-17, multiple showtimes
Laguardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Ave.

To See How the Russians Crack the Nut: Moscow Ballet & Brighton Beach Ballet

The Nutcracker comes full circle. What started in pre-revolutionary Russia is being continued in Brooklyn, home to America’s largest Russian-speaking community (mostly immigrants from the former Soviet Union). The Moscow Ballet returns for the third year to NYC with their standard company, as well as local children in supporting roles as part of the area's mission to continue the artistic traditions of the Old Country in the New.

Tickets: $32.50-$180
Dec. 9, 2017, 2 & 7 p.m.
Kings Theater
1027 Flatbush Ave
(718) 856-5464

photo: Manhattan Movement & Arts Center

For Proud Native New Yorkers: The Knickerbocker Suite by Manhattan Youth Ballet

What’s the Scoop?  Classic Nutcracker scenes are transformed into a frenzy of shoppers dancing in and out of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s for last minute gifts, with cameo appearances by the angels at Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, several NY sports teams and Central Park. It also features an opening scene narration by Tony Award winner, Michael Cerveris.

Dec. 7 - Dec. 10; Dec. 14-17, 2017
Tickets: $22.50-$32.50
Manhattan Movement & Arts Center
248 West 60th St.
Midtown West
Online: Manhattan Youth Ballet

For a Far Out Production: That 70s Nutcracker

Yet another Nutcracker in a groovy era, Long Island City Ballet brings a psychedelic take to the classic tale. Set in the '70s, a young man is transported magically to the Land of Television by his strange relative Chick, and he discovers ballet for the first time.

Tickets: $30/person
Dec. 2, 1:30 p.m. & 5 p.m.
United Nations Avenue South
Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Which Nutcracker will you be seeing? Tell us in the comments below!

—Alina Adams



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