Toy soldiers battle mischievous mice, the Sugar Plum Fairy appears and snowflakes begin to dance: The Nutcracker is here. Whether it’s an annual tradition for your family or a first-time adventure for your little dancers, reserving your seats at one of the many  productions this ballet is a must for some serious holiday fun. Read on to find out which performance best fits your kids’ age and interest and then purchase your ticket for a trip to the Land of the Sweets!


Photo: by Ava McIntyre.

Oregon Ballet Theatre
The grandest production in town is produced by the professional company at the Oregon Ballet Theatre and performed at the Keller Auditorium. It provides and opportunity for parents and kids to dress in their finest (whatever that might be — this is still Portland after all) and head downtown to wonder at this winter tradition. Note that eight of the productions have a live orchestra, if you want the full experience. This performance is best for kids ages 6 and older. For a fully decadent downtown trip, head to Cacao after the matinee for a sip of rich drinking chocolate.

Dec. 10-26. Tickets start at $23 for some performances.
222 SW Clay St.
Portland, Or

Oregon Ballet’s Nutcracker Tea
High tea is a lovely experience for the young people in your lives who want to feel like they’re living their best Eloise life at the Plaza. The Oregon Ballet Theatre makes this annual tea even more special by bringing in their dancers and some favorite characters from The Nutcracker to enjoy one-on-one time with the diners. It’s not a ballet performance, but it’s an extra special adventure for the littles in your life who love The Nutcracker, or who aspire to be prima ballerinas or premiers danseurs. This performance is perfect for children of all ages especially your littlest.

Dec. 4, 2 p.m. $50 per person.
City Club of Portland
901 SW Washington St.
Portland, Or



photo: Classical Ballet Academy

Classical Ballet’s Nutcracker
The Classical Ballet Academy’s Nutcracker might be staged by a ballet school, but they take great pride in providing a professional-level production for the sake of the dancers, and of course, the audience. Portland State’s Lincoln Hall is a lovely setting, and you can expect the full staging, costumes, and run times. Kid-friendly start times that vary on the days of the performances mean that at least one time should work for your school/nap schedule. This production will please kids of all ages, but the matinees are recommended for younger children.

Dec. 22 and 23. $14-25.
Lincoln Performance Hall
1620 SW Park Ave.
Portland, Or
More information:

Northwest Dance Theatre’s A Nutcracker Tea
A Nutcracker Tea is a family-friendly adaptation of the classic ballet, designed for all ages as a first entry to the art form. Performances sold out last year, so get tickets early. Not to be confused with the Nutcracker Tea offered by the Oregon Ballet Theater, but if you’d like to add a fancy holiday tea experience complete with petite sandwiches and cakes, check out high tea at Hotel De Luxe, Russian tea service at Heathman Hotel (opening on Nov. 25), Medley Tea, or English tea at Overlook House from Old MacDonald’s Farm.

Dec. 10-18, $17-33.
PCC Sylvania Performing Arts Center
12000 SW 49th Ave.
Portland, Or


photo: Columbia Dance

Columbia Dance Nutcracker
Vancouver’s Columbia Dance will put on a production featuring dancers from their own company. The performance even includes a cannon, but it’s a light “firecracker” sound that isn’t too loud. This production is best for children ages 6 and up. Tickets will be available within a few weeks, but you can reserve now by contacting the box office.

Dec. 16-19
Royal Durst Theatre, Vancouver School of Arts and Academics
3101 Main St.
Vancouver, Wa

Little Ears Concert
The Old Church holds a series of free concerts for kids of all ages, and December’s show features a family-friendly (read: short and free!) rendition of The Nutcracker. This show’s arrangement has two players on one piano, playing some favorite melodies from Tchaikovsky’s score, while a local librarian reads The Nutcracker and The King of Mice. Head to Pioneer Courthouse Square before or after the show for the Portland Artisan Festival, featuring makers from Portland’s Saturday Market. You might need to stop at Moonstruck Chocolate for hot chocolate while you’re there.

Dec. 6, 3:30 p.m., free
1422 SW 11th Ave.
Portland, Or

Before you go: Most productions of The Nutcracker will run about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, including a 15-20 minute intermission between the two acts.

Does your family have a Nutcracker tradition? Tell us about it in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner