If your holiday season isn’t complete without a trip to the theater then you are in luck! Toe-tapping toy soldiers, pirouetting rabbits and even circus performers (yep, circus performers!) are just waiting to put on a show for you and your family. Whether you choose a traditional Nutcracker with full symphony or the dance-along Nutcracker with a superhero theme, you are certain to feel the holiday cheer that only a trip to the theater can bring.

San Francisco Ballet

Photo credit: San Francisco Ballet (photo by Erik Tomasson)

San Francisco

San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker
Treat the kiddos to a magical family performance of The San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, set right in the City by the Bay.  During family performances, the first 500 children under age 12 receive a special gift.  One hour prior to curtain, the characters are also available for photo opps—so dress the family in their best gear, get there early, and don’t forget your camera. Dec. 10-29 with Family Performances on Dec. 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16.  $50 and up.

The War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave. (at Grove)
San Francisco, Ca
Online: sfballet.org

ODC Dance’s The Velveteen Rabbit
ODC Dance has the magic combo for a well worth it holiday tradition: beautiful storytelling, whimsical costumes, and genuine holiday cheer—all centered on the story of a well-worn nursery rabbit come to life. For an additional $14 you can attend the Milk and Cookies party after the show on Nov. 27 for dancing, games and treats. Nov. 25–Dec. 11.  $15-$75.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
700 Howard St. (at Third)
San Francisco, Ca
Online: odcdance.org

ODC Velveteen Rabbit

Photo credit: ODC Dance (photo by Andrew Weeks)

San Francisco’s Youth Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker
This charming rendition of The Nutcracker by San Francisco’s Youth Ballet Theater is also an affordable one, which could make it the perfect intro for even the youngest of audience goers to the joy (and etiquette) of a beautiful ballet—not to mention getting them into a festive mood. Dec. 3 and 4 at 1 and 5 p.m. $24-$26.

Mercy High School Theater
3250 19th Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: sanfranciscoyouthballet.org

The Fantastic Adventures of Captain Nutcracker
The 31st Annual Dance-Along Nutcracker blends Tchaikovsky’s classic fairytale with superhero antics for the whole family. Audience participation is the name of the game so bring your tutus to dance your way into the holiday season. Dec. 10 at 3 and 7 p.m., Dec. 11 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. $18 kids/seniors/students, $30 adults. 

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
700 Howard St. (at Third)
San Francisco, Ca
Online: sflgfb.townalive.com

Smuin Christmas Ballet

Photo credit: Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet (photo by Chris Hardy)

Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet
The whole family is sure to get dancing as Smuin lets loose a playful performance with vignettes ranging from ballet and tap to swing and jazz, and other dances drawn from holiday celebrations around the world.  In San Francisco from Dec. 15-24, with performances around the Bay Area including Mountain View (Dec. 7-11), Carmel (Dec. 2-3) and Walnut Creek (Nov. 18-19).  $25–89.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
700 Howard St.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: smuinballet.org


Photo credit: Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets (photo by Matt Harber)

Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets
Foehringer’s Dance Project|SF performs a Nutcracker choreographed with the kids in mind. It’s just 50 minutes and recommended for anyone over age 2. Live music and a few deviations from the classic will keep the whole family entertained. The cast meets with the audience after, so bring your camera. Dec. 10-21. $21-31.

Cowell Theater
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, Ca
Online: nutcrackersweets.org

Oakland Ballet Nutcracker

Photo credit: Oakland Ballet Company (photo by David DeSilva)

East Bay

Oakland Ballet Company’s The Nutcracker
One girl’s enchanted evening comes to life in contemporary choreographer Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker, amidst a turn-of-the century setting that features a hot-air balloon ride.  Dec. 17 at 1 and 5 p.m., Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. $23-90 (with 15% discount for kids 12 and under and seniors 62 and over). Purchase $15 tickets to the Sweet Dreams party to enjoy refreshments and photos after the show. 

Paramount Theatre
2025 Broadway
Oakland, Ca
Online: oaklandballet.org

Berkeley Ballet Theater’s The Nutcracker
This rendition of The Nutcracker is considered an East Bay must, especially for the youngest ones (even for toddlers as young as 3!).  To give your own aspiring dancers some inspiration make sure to point out that this year’s principal roles are performed by members of the BBT’s Youth Company.  Dec. 16-18; Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. $35. Tickets for Sugar Plum Fairy parties following Saturday and Sunday matinee performances are $10. 

Regents’ Theater, Holy Names University
3500 Mountain Blvd.
Oakland, Ca
Online: berkeleyballet.org

Berkeley Ballet Theater’s The Nutcracker

Photo credit: Berkeley Ballet Theater

Peninsula/South Bay

Symphony Silicon Valley present The Nutcracker
This one-of-a-kind performance combines a full symphony orchestra with the stars of the Moscow Ballet Company for the complete Nutcracker experience. Dec. 16-18, 21-24. $38-100. 

San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
255 S. Almaden Blvd.
San Jose, Ca
Online: symphonysiliconvalley.org

Nutz RE-Mixed

Photo credit: Nutz RE-Mixed (photo by Cliff Warner)

Nutz RE-Mixed!
This Nutcracker for the 21st Century features singers, hip hop dancers, circus artists and gymnasts for a visually stunning show that the whole family will enjoy. Nov. 18-19, 25-27, Dec. 2-4. $26-66 with group discounts available.

Hammer Theatre Center
101 Paseo de San Antonio
San Jose, Ca
Online: tandybeal.com/nutzremixed

Peninsula Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker
Peninsula Ballet Theatre’s lavish performance of The Nutcracker has been a holiday tradition for years. Meet the dancers on stage after every performance. For the ultimate in fun, make the event a train adventure—the station’s right behind the theatre! Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. $30-60 with senior and youth pricing available. 

The Art Deco Fox Theatre
2215 Broadway
Redwood City, Ca
Online: peninsulaballet.org

peninsula ballet theatre

Photo credit: Peninsula Ballet Theatre

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker
This holiday performance for families features magical toys, falling snow, growing Christmas trees, the feather-winged dove of peace and astounding ballet moves. Dec. 18 at 4 and 8 p.m.. $28-175.

Flint Center
21250 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Cupertino, Ca
Online: nutcracker.com

Moscow Ballet Nutcracker

Photo credit: Moscow Ballet

Bayer Ballet Company’s Snow Queen 
When the Snow Queen’s spell captures a young boy, his best friend sets out on a quest to save him. A journey filled with whimsy and intrigue, friend and foe, this beautiful original youth ballet takes you on a magical journey where true love and enduring friendship overcome evil. Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. $33-53.

Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
500 Castro St.
Mountain View, Ca
Online: bayerballetacademy.com

Marin County

Marin Ballet’s Nutcracker
The Marin Ballet’s huge cast of over 200 dancers electrifies the stage in this lavish performance of a classic holiday tale. Dec. 10 & 11 at 1 and 5 p.m. $27 youth/seniors, $43 adults. $10 for the Candy Cane Party immediately following every 1 p.m. performance. 

Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, Ca
Online: marinballet.org

Marin Dance Theatre: Sophie and the Enchanted Toyshop

Photo credit: Marin Dance Theater

Sophie and the Enchanted Toyshop at Marin Dance Theater
Your family’s in for a treat in this two-act children’s ballet, where a mysterious toy maker sweeps young Sophie away on a magical adventure full of colorful characters, inspired sets, and toys that come to life.  A Teddy Bear Tea Party follows the 1 p.m. performance with a cast member/photo-opp meet and greet.  Dec. 17 at 1 and 5:30 p.m.  Adults $40; seniors and students $32.  Teddy Bear Tea Party $10.

Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, Ca
Online: mdt.org

Stapleton ballet nutcracker

Photo credit: Stapleton Ballet

Stapleton Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Stapleton Ballet’s inspired performance of The Nutcracker full of intricately crafted costumes and sets has a loyal following of families each year, and it’s not too late for you to make it part of your family’s holiday tradition.  Dec. 3 and 4 at 1 and 5 p.m.  Adults $36; seniors and youth $24. 

Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, Ca
Online: stapletonschool.org

Which show will kick off your holiday season this year? Let us know in the comments below!

—Kate Loweth, Mae Respicio and Erin Feher