For most of us, the idea of taking our kids to the ballet any other time of year seems…well…a bit nuts. But during the holidays comes the magical Nutcracker ballet with its frenzied mouse battle, dancing snowflakes and delectable Land of the Sweets that are oh-so-irresistible even for our biggest critics. From traditional full-length performances, to abridged versions staged specifically with the wee ones in mind, we’ve got the scoop on 10 amazing shows to help you make the perfect pick for your little sugar plums this holiday season.
photo: Angela Sterling
Pacific Northwest Ballet
For the second time around the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s will be performing their new Nutcracker production featuring the ever-mesmerizing choreography of George Balanchine, and lavish sets and costumes designed by Ian Falconer (creator of Olivia the Pig). This full-length show is best suited for school-aged kids, but theatergoers of all ages will be riveted to their seats for the entire two hours as you bask in the care and craftsmanship of this delightful event. There’s a 40 foot tall Christmas tree, more than 30 cubic feet of snow dropped onto the stage during the snow scene in Act One and 154 different costumes to gaze at (including Mother Ginger’s magical skirt, that weighs more than 60 pounds!).
photo: Elise Bakketun
Insider Tip: Third party sellers may not be reputable. Only buy your tickets direct from the PNB online or from the PNB box office. For tiny theatergoers, booster seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and binoculars are available for a $5 rental fee. Note: Food and beverages are not allowed in the auditorium, so eat your snacks beforehand or keep them for intermission. For a deluxe Nutcracker experience, purchase The Nutcracker Suites for an additional $30. This special intermission package includes a Trophy Cupcake sprinkle station, swords and crowns for snap-your-own pictures, a holiday appetizer buffet and coffee and champagne for adults.
321 Mercer St.
Seattle, Wa 98109
Dates: Select days Nov. 25-Dec. 28, 2016 (matinée and evening shows available)
photo: Paul Sanders Photography
ARC School of Ballet
The ARC School of Ballet is once again bringing back its beloved Nutcracker Sweets production this year. This family favorite is lovingly referred to as “The Fastest Nutcracker in the West,” as it specifically targets younger audiences (which is perfect because many of the dancers are kids as well). Nutcracker Sweets performances warmly welcome all ages and even invite small children to sit up front on the floor so that they can see the action up close and personal. Don’t be surprised if this show has your little one asking for lessons afterwards.
Insider Tip: If you want a quick show, but with a more dazzling full theater experience, or if you have older children who would appreciate the dramatic scenery and backdrops, hit up one of ARC’s Sweets at the Shoreline location. There is full theater lighting during the show and festive holiday treats out in the lobby.
ARC Dance Space
9250 14th Ave. N.W.
Seattle, Wa 98117
Dates: Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.; Dec. 11, 2016 at 2 p.m. & 5 p.m.
Cost: $12/Kids (10 & under); $20/Adults
Shorewood Performing Arts Center
17300 Fremont Ave N.
Shoreline, Wa 98133
Dates: Dec. 17, 2016 at 1 p.m. & 5 p.m.
Cost: $25/Kids (10 & under); $35-$39/Adults
photo: Nicole Schwinkendorf
DASS Dance School
If you’re looking for a multi-tasking holiday excursion, try the Santa Breakfast and mini-Nutcracker performance put on by the DASS Dance School. With multiple mid-morning showings, this is the perfect pre-nap outing for toddlers and young kids. You get a lovely continental buffet breakfast and a visit from Santa (bring your camera!), all while the students from DASS perform The Nutcracker right in your midst.
153 14th Ave.
Seattle, Wa 98122
Dates: Dec. 10 & 11 at 11 a.m; Dec. 17 & 18, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. & noon
Cost: $20/Kids; $$25/Adults
photo: Island Youth Ballet
Island Youth Ballet
Your youngsters will be gob-smacked when they see their peers dance in the fantastical all-youth production of the Island Youth Ballet’s Excerpts from The Nutcracker. Equal parts sweet, fanciful and full-on spectacular, this two-hour show is performed by the school’s students (from preschoolers to high schoolers) and is notable for its gorgeous costumes and spectacular sets, and of course, the adorable youth dancing all the parts.
Jewish Community Center – Mercer Island Campus
3801 East Mercer Way
Mercer Island, Wa 98040
Dates: Dec 10 at 2 p.m.; Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. & 5 p.m.; Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 18, 2016 at 1 p.m. & 5 p.m.
photo: Scott Moore via flickr
Evergreen City Ballet
New sets. New costumes. Newly renovated performance venues. New, new, new! If you’re on the Eastside, look no further than this sparkling new production of a cherished family favorite by the Evergreen City Ballet. With three convenient performance venues, you’ll easily find a Nutcracker near you. Whether you opt for the super kid-friendly one-hour performance or the full-length two-hour production, you’re in for a treat with “mice” scurrying into the audience and a winter wonderland for Clara’s big adventure with the Nutcracker Prince.
Insider Tip: Bring your cameras. Young fans can get photo ops with dancers in their costumes after each performance.
The Theatre at Meydenbauer
11100 N.E. 6th St.
Bellevue, Wa 98004
Dates: Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. (full-length); Dec. 3 at 1:30 p.m. (1 hour) & 7:30 p.m. (full-length); Dec. 4, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. (1 hour) & 5:30 p.m. (1 hour)
Auburn Performing Arts Center
702 4th St. N.E.
Auburn, Wa 98002
Dates: Dec. 10 at 1:30 p.m. (1 hour) & 7:30 p.m. (full-length); Dec. 11, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. (full-length) & 5:30 p.m. (1 hour)
Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center
400 S. 2nd St.
Renton, Wa 98057
Dates: Dec. 17 at 1:30 p.m. (1 hour) & 7:30 p.m.(full-length); Dec. 18, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. (full-length) & 5:30 p.m. (1 hour)
photo: International Ballet Theatre/Rex Tranter
International Ballet Theatre
With costumes and sets from Ukraine and dancers from Russia, this version of the Nutcracker is a traditionalists dream come true. Rich and colorful, and full of magic and pomp, this classic production will have you and your little sugar plums glued to your seats.
11100 N.E. 6th St.
Bellevue, WA 98004
Dates: Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. & 5 p.m.; Dec. 15 & 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 18-22, 2016 at 2 p.m.
Cost: $25/Kids; $39-$50/Adults
photo: Heninger Fotografik
Emerald Ballet Theater
If Tchaikovsky’s music is just as important to you as the beautiful dance, don’t miss the Emerald Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. In partnership with the Rainier Symphony Ballet Orchestra, this full-length production has the only complete live orchestra on the Eastside. During intermission, your budding musicians can even look into the orchestra “pit.” These matinee-only performances are particularly nice if you have a crew that you don’t want to keep out past bedtime.
Northshore Performing Arts Center
18125 92nd Ave. N.E.
Bothell, Wa 98011
Dates: Dec. 3-4 & 10-11, 2016 at 2 p.m.
photo: Alante Photography
North of Seattle
Olympic Ballet Theatre
If you’re up north, be sure to check out the Olympic Ballet Theatre’s revamped production of the Nutcracker, freshened up with recently updated costumes and choreography. Full-length productions are available for a special date night or families with older kids; but the younger audiences will adore the one-hour matinée performances, which also include an “Introduction to the Magic of Theatre” as part of the event. Give your little thespian or dancer a sneak peek behind the scenes as staff demonstrate how the scenery and lighting work and dancers show off costumes and props.
Everett Performing Arts Center
2710 Wetmore Ave.
Everett, Wa 98201
Dates: Dec. 9 at 10 a.m & noon; Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.; Dec. 11, 2016 at 1 p.m. & 5 p.m.
Cost: $37.50/Adults; $32.50/Students (11 & up); $25/Kids (10 & under)
Edmonds Center for the Arts
410 Fourth Ave. N.
Edmonds, Wa 98020
Dates: Dec. 15 at 10 a.m & noon; Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.; Dec. 18, 2016 at 5 p.m.
Cost: $40/Adults; $33/Students (11 & up); $27/Kids (10 & under)
photo: Tacoma City Ballet
South of Seattle
Tacoma City Ballet
This enchanting production expands upon the original Nutcracker to also include The Tale of the Hard Nut, a story about how a princess breaks the spell of the “Curse of Ugliness” cast by the evil Mouse Queen. If your family loves history (the tale was first told Russia in 1892) and unique story-telling as well as dancing and pageantry, this is the ballet for you!
Good to Know: This will be Tacoma City Ballet’s final showing of their Nutcracker at the Pantages Theater before moving to the new Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center next year.
Tacoma, Wa 98402
Dates: Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 10 & 11 at 3 p.m.; Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 17-18, 2016 at 3 p.m.
photo: Connrad Kuiper Via flickr
Chances are if you grew up in or around Olympia you saw this very Nutcracker as a kid. For 30 years Ballet Northwest has been performing their traditional rendition at the Washington Center, and this year’s is gearing up to be bigger and better than ever. With more than 200 dancers from across the community, and professionally hand-crafted sets and costumes, this timeless classic is sure to be a family holiday fave for many more years to come.
Washington Center for the Performing Arts
512 Washington St. S.E.
Olympia, Wa 98501
Dates: Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.; Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 18, 2016 at 2 p.m.
Cost:$14-$19/Kids (12 & under); $19-$28/Students; $23-$33/Adults
What production of the Nutcracker are you planning to see this year? Do you have a favorite? Tell us in the Comments below!
— Rachael Brandon & Katie Gruver