Marching toy soldiers, leaping doves and even circus performers usher in the holiday season this year. With performances that range from classical renditions of The Nutcracker to the perennial San Francisco favorite dance-along Nutcracker, there’s something for even the youngest theater-goers. Check out our list below and get your seats reserved!

San Francisco Ballet

photo: San Francisco Ballet by Erik Tomasson

San Francisco

San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker
Treat the kids 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 age 4-12 receive a special gift and everyone enjoys special treats at intermission. 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. Note: no children under 3 allowed. Runtime: two hours including 20 minute intermission. Dec. 13-30 with Family Performances on Dec. 13-15, 17 & 19.  $25 and up.

The War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave. (at Grove)
San Francisco, CA


ODC Dance’s The Velveteen Rabbit
Celebrate the 30th year of ODC Dance’s magical production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Beautiful storytelling, whimsical costumes and genuine holiday cheer—all bring the story of a well-worn nursery rabbit to life. For an additional $15 you can attend the Milk and Cookies party after the show on Nov. 26 for dancing, games and treats. Runtime: 90 minutes with intermission (no intermission during weekday performances). Nov. 25–Dec. 11. $15-$65.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
700 Howard St. (at Third)
San Francisco, CA

photo: ODC Dance by Andrew Weeks

San Francisco’s Youth Ballet’s The Nutcracker
This charming rendition of The Nutcracker by San Francisco’s Youth Ballet 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. Stay after the show for photos with the dancers. Runtime: two hours. Dec. 2 & 3, 1 and 5 p.m. $24-$26.

Mercy High School Theater
3250 19th Ave.
San Francisco, CA

Dance-Along Nutcracker: Nutcrackers of the Carribean
It’s a pirate’s life for you when you attend this one-of-a-kind dance-along Nutcracker! Join in the fun as Clara, Fritz and Captain Drosselmeyer seek out the lost treasure of Peg Legs Tchaikovsky. Dec. 9 at 3 and 7 p.m. & Dec. 10 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

photo: Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet by Tom Hauck

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. Runtime: two hours. In San Francisco from Dec. 14-24, with performances around the Bay Area including Mountain View (Dec. 6-10), Carmel (Dec. 1-2) and Walnut Creek (Nov. 17-18). $25–89.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
700 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA


photo : Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets 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. 9-23. $20.50-42.50

Cowell Theater
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA

photo: Oakland Ballet Company 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. 23 at 1 & 5 p.m., Dec. 24 at 1 p.m. $23-90 (15% discount for kids and seniors). Purchase $15 tickets to the Sweet Dreams party to enjoy refreshments and photos after the 1 p.m. shows. After the 5 p.m. show, join the dancers for an encore reception of champagne and holiday treats at $25/adult and $15/child. 

Paramount Theatre
2025 Broadway
Oakland, CA

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. 15-17; Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m., 3 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 11 a.m. performances are $10. 

Julia Morgan Center for the Arts
2640 College Ave.
Berkeley, CA

Berkeley Ballet Theater’s The Nutcracker

photo: 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. 15-17, 20, 22-24. $45-90. 

San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
255 S. Almaden Blvd.
San Jose, CA

My Very First Nutcracker
My Very First Nutcracker is a special one-hour classical ballet presentation suitable for the youngest audiences that features the first act of The San Jose Nutcracker, including a festive holiday party hosted by young Clara, her brother Fritz and their family in San Jose at the turn of the last century. Dec. 16-17 and 23-24 at 11 a.m. $12.50-33. 

Hammer Theatre Center
101 Paseo de San Antonio
San Jose, CA 

photo: Jana Marcus

JOY! A Holiday Show
This holiday show for the 21st Century features a capella singers, circus artists, dancers and gymnasts for a visually stunning show that the whole family will enjoy. Dec. 1-3 in San Jose. Also, Nov. 24-26 in Santa Cruz. $9.75-50 with group discounts available.

Hammer Theatre Center
101 Paseo de San Antonio
San Jose, CA

Peninsula Ballet Theatre’s Hip-Hop Nutcracker
New for 2017! This production plays homage to both the tradition of Nutcracker and future of dance. It features 17 hip hop artists from The Tribe and Poise’n, joined by dancers from Peninsula Ballet Theatre. For the ultimate in fun, make the event a train adventure—the station’s right behind the theatre! Dec. 15 at 7 p.m., Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. $35 until Dec. 1, then regular pricing. 

The Art Deco Fox Theatre
2215 Broadway
Redwood City, CA

Moscow Ballet Nutcracker

photo: Moscow Ballet

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. 17 at 3 and 7 p.m.. $30-91.

Flint Center
21250 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Cupertino, CA

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. Runtime: Approximately 2.5 hours with one 20-minute intermission. Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. & Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. $33-53.

Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
500 Castro St.
Mountain View, CA

Marin Dance Theatre: Sophie and the Enchanted Toyshop

photo: Marin Dance Theater

North Bay

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. 9 & 10 at 1 and 5 p.m. $28 youth/seniors, $44/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

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

Stapleton ballet nutcracker

photo: 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. 2 & 3 at 1 and 5 p.m.  Adults $38; seniors and youth $26. 

Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, CA

What’s your favorite show to celebrate the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!

—Kate Loweth, Mae Respicio & Erin Feher