Yes, Disney has a new cinematic take on the classic Nutcracker tale, but in the case of the beloved ballet, sometimes live and in-person is the way to go. Whether you’re continuing a tradition or starting a new one, NYC provides lots of ways to see The Nutcracker with the kids. Go for the classic or see a show with a fresh twist. Whatever your version, the family-friendly holiday ballet tells a dreamy tale of dancing toys, mischievous mice, and beautiful ballerinas. Here are some of our favorite NYC productions of The Nutcracker this holiday season!

For a Nutcracker YOU can Dance in: EXO Nutcracker Dance Party

How awesome does this sound? The Experiential Orchestra invites audience members to get up and dance with performers during this holiday classic. (You are also welcome to sit down and enjoy the show.) There are two performances—one at 3:30 p.m. for kids and adults (candy canes and hot chocolate served), and one at 7:30 for grown-ups only, with a full cash bar. (That must get crazy.)

Dec. 1, 3:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. (evening show adults only)
Tickets: $25- $100
EXO: Experiential Orchestra
Nutcracker Dance Party
Bohemian National Hall
321 E. 73rd St. 
Upper East Side


The Classic: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker by NYC Ballet

This vast and vibrant show puts together a cast of 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 40 stagehands and 125 children to bring viewers a truly spectacular performance. Using Tchaikovsky's classic music and George Balenchine's choreography, this rendition of the Nutcracker is definitely one of the showiest. Watch in amazement as 12-foot Christmas tree grows to 41 feet and marvel at the 85-pound, 9-foot wide figure of Mother Ginger — even the snowflakes are created to perfection! It's a dazzling sight to behold and a joy for any age.

Various times and dates
Lincoln Center
David H. Koch Theater
20 Lincoln Center Plaza

For Funky Fun: The Hard Nut

Mark Morris' retro modern-reimagining of this ballet is described as "a cascade of wit and wintry beauty" and a "lavish, gender-bent love letter to the classic." Based on the comic book art of Charles Burns and featuring Tchaikovsky’s complete original score (performed live), this take, set in the swinging 70s, features raucous parties, dancing G.I. Joes, and fabulous costumes. Not your average Nutcracker and lots of fun! Recommended for ages four and up. 

December 14-23
Tickets: $25 and up
Peter Jay Sharp Building
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House 
Fort Greene


The Bite-sized: 1-Hour Nutcracker by the NY Theater Ballet

Don't think your little ones can sit through an entire performance? Then Keith Michael's version might be the right one for you. Recommended for ages 3 and up, this performance condenses the ballet into just one hour and fills every moment with excitement and color. The performance touts the intimacy of the venue, where every child can experience their first Nutcracker in unforgettable clarity. This version uses Tchaikovsky's original music combined with 1907-era Art Nouveau style and will win over the younger audience.

Fri., Dec. 14-Sun., Dec. 16
Various times
Florence Gould Hall
55 East 59th Street
Upper East Side

The Fresh: Hip Hop Nutcracker by MC Kurtis Blow

Celebrate the fifth year anniversary of the Hip Hop Nutcracker, created by MC Kurtis Blow. This magical mash-up features the original score with an electronic twist, performed by an on-stage DJ and an electric violinist. Dancers bring the traditional story to life in modern setting and using Hip-Hop choreography. The reimagined performance is a fun take on the piece, and is meant as a celebration of love, community, and diversity.

Thurs., Dec. 18
7:30 p.m.
Paramount Theatre
1200 Ocean Ave.
Asbury Park, NJ  

The New Yorker: The Yorkville Nutcracker by Dances Patrelle

Take a trip back in time to 1895 NYC, where you can watch the story unfold amid familiar locations. The tale begins at the Gracie Mansion, where a grand celebration features famous guests like Teddy Roosevelt. The performance then takes you through Central Park, the Bronx Botanical Gardens, and more. Sleigh rides, life-sized mice, and plenty of visual treats make this one a treat at any age.

Thus. Dec. 6-Sun., Dec.9
Various times
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
E. 68th St. btwn Park & Lexington Aves.
Midtown East

The Tiny Tots: The Nutcracker by the Joffrey Ballet School

Kids love watching kids, and the Joffrey Ballet School's rendition of the Nutcracker has over 300 tiny dancers to keep little eyes peeled on the stage! The performance is put together by students attending the Joffrey Ballet School’s Childrens, Young Dancer and Trainees program.

Fri., Dec. 14-Sun., Dec. 16
Various times
Laguardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Ave.
Long Island City

The Dove of Peace: Great Russian Nutcracker by Moscow Ballet & Brighton Beach Ballet

For a beautiful take on an already stunning ballet, see the Dove of Peace version of the Nutcracker. Performed by world-class Russian ballerinas, this performance focuses on the idea of peace and harmony between all living things and features hand-painted sets, Russian nesting dolls and snow maidens, and other cultural takes on the classic.

Sat., Dec. 8
2 and 7 p.m.
Kings Theater
1027 Flatbush Ave
Prospect Park South

The Abridged: The Nutcracker by The School of Russian American Ballet

This condensed version of the performance provides another option for the smallest ballet-enthusiasts. The pace is faster and more upbeat than the original, providing viewers with non-stop engaging visuals as over 60 dancers take to the stage. This performances is recommended for kids ages four and up. The price for this event also includes the earlier Winter Holiday Class Concert, in which students showcase what they've learned over the year.

Sun., Dec. 16
5 p.m.
Kingsborough Community College
Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center
2001 Oriental Blvd
Manhattan Beach

—Yuliya Geikhman


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