The holidays are headed our way, and that means loads of family-friendly theater and shows are about to take to the stage all over NYC. Whether you’re looking for a Christmas classic, an entirely new production, something for the youngest of kids or maybe a little older, there’s a show for you, from circus, puppetry, Disney on Ice and Rudolph, to Rockettes, Scrooge, KIDZ BOP and beyond. Our advice no matter what?: book now! (Looking for Nutcrackers? Click here for our roundup of classic and new takes on the ballet!)

photo: MSG Productions

Radio City Christmas Spectacular with The Rockettes

Embrace the tradition and see this NYC Christmas show for the first time—or the 50th. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular returns on November 8 and keeps on kicking all the way to January 5. Little ones get to see live animals on stage, festive musical numbers with New York flair, high-kicking Rockettes dressed as toy soldiers, snowfall and yes, the 3D arrival of Santa before he magically steps on stage! There's even something called Party City Santa Hat Day, when audience members get a free holiday hat! Show runs 90 minutes with no intermission. 

Tickets: from $25
1260 Ave of the Americas
Radio City Music Hall

photo: Matthew Murphy

Big Apple Circus

The Big Apple Circus is back, featuring all new acts and one of the most diverse circus lineups we've ever seen. Afro-Latina Storm Marrero steps in as Ringmaster, overseeing an international crew of circus pros that will tumble, fly, juggle, and balance to your amazement. Plus: acrobatic horseback riding, the "Wheel of Death", a real live circus scholar and even the Savitsky Cats. (Meow!) All the seats are within 50 ft of the performers so you'll get an intimate view of all the action in this one-ring big top tent.

Tickets: $45-$195
Through Feb. 2, 2020
Lincoln Center
10 Lincoln Center Plz.
212-875 5456

photo: MUMMENSCHANZ Foundation

For Amazing MUMMENSCHANZ: Re:Play

The Swiss masters of wordless, playful productions, MUMMENSCHANZ makes its New Victory Theater debut with this collection timeless vignettes. See why the troupe has been entertaining audiences around the globe for over four decades (including three stints on Broadway). Recommended for ages six and up; runs an hour with no intermission. 

Nov. 15 - Dec. 1
Tickets: $17 and up
New Victory Theater
209 W. 42nd St. 

photo: Jill Jones

A Christmas Carol in Harlem

Returning for a second year and reimagined for a new theater setting, this production by the Classical Theater of Harlem dramatizes the Charles Dickens classic with an uptown flair. Set in present-day Harlem, A Christmas Carol in Harlem finds Ebenezer Scrooge a real estate mogul who has made his fortune at the expense of others. Scrooge foregoes using his wealth to affect positive change within his Harlem community and instead lives a life of miserly solitude. That is, until three unexpected visitors arrive on Christmas Eve to show him the error of his ways. This family-friendly production includes original and classic holiday carols tinged with gospel, hip-hop, pop and R&B influences to celebrate the spirit of the season. Show runs 90 minutes with no intermission. 

Tickets: $35/adults, $10/kids, students & seniors
Dec. 4-21, various times
Aaron Davis Hall
City College Center for the Arts
135th St. and Convent Ave. 

photo: Character Arts

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical

Yes, it's the Rankin-based holiday television special come to life on stager! Come see all of your favorite characters from the show including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf/wannabe dentist, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph. It’s an adventure with a message that what makes you different can also be what makes you special. Show is 90 minutes with a 20-minute intermission. 

Tickets: $29 and up
Dec. 1, 1 & 4:30 p.m.
Kings Theater 
1027 Flatbush Ave.

photo: South Street Seaport Museum

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Experience

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show Experience,  is a live, interactive puppet show that incorporates several of Eric Carle's books for children: Brown Bear, Brown Bear10 Little Rubber Ducks, and of course, the star of the event – The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The hour-long experience includes an interactive puppet show, activities, and the opportunity to take a picture with The Very Hungry Caterpillar himself. 

Tickets: $25; $5/kids under one with accompanying adult
Nov. 29- Dec. 29, 10 am, 11:30 am and 1 pm
Melville Gallery
South Street Seaport Museum 
213 Water St.
Tickets are $25

photo: A Christmas Carol the Musical

A Christmas Carol: The Musical

For a classic Christmas story with an added musical twist, check out this downtown tradition, now in its 11th year. The Charles Dickens’ holiday tale follows the grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge on an enlightening emotional journey, as he is visited by four forewarning ghosts. Spoiler alert: he has a change of heart, with the joy of community triumphing over selfishness. Attend the Sunday matinee at 11 a.m. and come an hour early for a pre-show family workshop when you can meet the cast and creative team, and do a craft to keep or give as a gift. 

Tickets: $42-$57
Dec. 1-30
115 MacDougal St.
West Village

photo: Courtesy of the Apollo Theater

28th Annual Double Dutch Holiday Classic

The 28th Annual Double Dutch Holiday Classic presented by the National Double Dutch League, returns to the Apollo stage—bringing together national and international communities of jumpers. Act fast! This sells out and tickets are getting snapped up! 

Sun., Dec. 8
Tickets: $22
253 West 125th St.
The Apollo Theater

photo: The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

Calling all members of Camp Half-Blood and mythology fans everywhere! The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, based on the bestselling novel by Rick Riordan is leaving town soon. The show tells the story of Percy, a son of Poseidon, who has newly- discovered powers he can’t control. With monsters on his trail he's on a quest to find Zeus’ lightning bolt to prevent a war between the Greek gods. Expect a high-energy original rock score, with an onstage company of seven playing more than 47 characters. The Lightning Thief is an action-packed theatrical adventure about accepting that "normal" is a myth and embracing the superpowers inside all of us. Run time is two hours with one intermission, with an age recommendation of eight and up. P.S.: the show has matinees on Wednesdays, Thursday and Saturdays, and an early 7 p.m. showtime on Fridays. 

Through Jan. 5
Tickets: $39 - $199
Longacre Theater 
220 W. 48th St.

photo: New Victory Theater

42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels

Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, Cirque Mechanics brings high-flying fun to the New Victory for the holiday season. See a man so strong he juggles trees, an acrobat so light she floats on air, as well as a  brilliant blur of sequined stilts, feathered frocks and flashing circus stripes. The troupe makes its New Victory debut with this show, which runs an hour and 45 minutes with one intermission. Recommended for kids ages five and up. 

Tickets: $22 and up 
Dec. 6 - Jan. 5
New Victory Theater 
209 West 42nd St.
Times Square

photo: Cirque du Soleil

'Twas the night Before from Cirque du Soleil

It's hard to believe, but this is Cirque du Soleil's first-ever Christmas show! It tells the story of Isabella, a curious girl who’s become jaded by the hoopla surrounding Christmas. She's whisked away to an upside-down, inside-out world, where she meets characters inspired by the original timeless poem. Expect messages of sharing and friendship with that special Cirque flair. 

Tickets: $40 and up
Dec. 12 - Dec 29, various times
Hulu Theater at MSG
4 Penn Plaza
Herald Square

photo: Theatre des Petites Ames


Theater created especially for young audiences (kids ages three to eight), OGO is from Canadian company Theatre des Petites Ames. Small scale and intimate, the show is a bit like "Waiting for Godot" for the toddler set. Yes, three players wait, for the titular character, OGO. Seating is general admission. 

Tickets: $25
Dec. 14 & 15; 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Clark Studio Theater
165 W. 65th St. 
Lincoln Center 

The Christmas Show, St George Theatre

This two-hour production is a high energy, rhinestone-studded medley for the whole family, now in its 16th year! Featuring local talent, with over 100 performers, a scene from “The Nutcracker”, a master juggler, an aerialist, and Staten Island's answer to the Rockettes, the story is a magical journey through New York scenes to a living Nativity. Packed with song and dance, this is a show for the whole family, and affordable, too!

Tickets: $10-$50
Dec. 13-15, various times 
St George Theatre
35 Hyatt St.
Staten Island

photo: Pip's Island

For an Immersive Adventure: Pip's Island

Pip's Island, the interactive and immersive show that premiered back in 2016, has returned to New York City! The fantastical production is designed for kids ages 4 -10.  Audience members move through imaginative environments, help characters along the way, and play a part in helping save the day. (Lots of positive messaging is throughout the show as well.) Pip's Island is in a new home on 42nd Street, and while it maintains much of the original story, sets, and characters, it’s been updated and improved. Take the kids on a special date, or book the best birthday ever for up to 50 kids! Tickets are $59, and you can purchase them online or at the box office. Read our full review from its first NYC run here! 

Tickets: $59; order by 11/25 and get 50% off with code DISCOVER50
400 W. 42nd St.
Midtown West

photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

The Magic Flute, Met Opera

Now a holiday tradition, this family-friendly adaptation of Mozart’s operatic fairy tale features eye-popping puppetry and stunning visuals—and clocks in at under two hours. The Julie Taymor production tells the story of Prince Tamino, who must go through a series of tests, accompanied by his goofy sidekick, in order to marry the princess Pamina. Along the way, he must battle the evil and mysterious Queen of the Night. For the December 28 matinee performance, doors will open at 10 a. m. for some exclusive pre-show activities where kids get to learn how sets are built, pet the props, meet the cast, and get a taste of what it's like behind the scenes at the Met Opera.

Tickets: from $30
Dec. 15- Jan. 4
Metropolitan Opera
30 Lincoln Center Plaza
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
212-799 3100

photo: Apollo Theater

Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night

Hosted by Imhotep Gary Byrd, this celebration of African heritage has been a holiday hit for more than a decade. It's packed with energetic dance and music as well as stunning visuals and costumes. The performance showcases the high impact work of Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and guests, and runs for two shows only. This is a beautiful and much-loved celebration of family, community, and culture for the holiday season.

Tickets: $25 & $40
Sat., Dec. 28, 2 & 7:30 p.m.
253 West 125th St.
The Apollo Theater

— Mimi O’Connor


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