Celebrate the magic of winter with a festive holiday show! Whether it’s a classic Christmas tradition or an original local favorite, Portland has a wide range of theater performances for families to choose from this time of year. Read on for a backstage look at our top picks.

photo: via unsplash

The Nutcracker

The Oregon Ballet Theatre’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is a mainstay, with all the tradition of the beloved classic and the grandeur of the Keller Theater. Elaborate costumes, plus performances by the OBT live orchestra at several shows, make this tale come to life on stage. This two-hour production may be better suited for older children.

Dec. 7-26
2 and 7:30 p.m. performances (dependent on date)
Tickets: $35-$146
Keller Auditorium
222 SW Clay Ave.
Online: obt.org

Nutcracker Tea

First-time ballet-goers will love this annual Portland tradition. Each year, local non-profit Northwest Dance Theater puts on this family-friendly, 90-minute adaptation of the classic tale, with gorgeous costumes and original choreography by June Taylor-Dixon. And every year, the show sells out fast! Be sure to get your tickets early. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Dec. 14-22
2 and 7 p.m. performances (dependent on date)
Tickets: $19-$35
PCC Sylvania Performing Arts Center
12000 SW 49th Ave.
Online: nwdt.org

photo: Oregon Ballet Theatre via yelp

Oregon Symphony Cirque Nutcracker

Want to shake things up a little? Los Angeles-based theatrical circus company Troupe Vertigo and the Oregon Symphony have teamed up to bring Portlanders an acrobatic take on Tchaikovsky’s version of the classic tale. Watch Clara and crew tumble and cartwheel their way through the story, at this one-day-only spectacular!

Dec. 21
2 & 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $30-$80
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
1037 SW Broadway Ave.
Online: orsymphony.org


It can be tough to find a captivating, non-Christmas production this time of year. Fortunately, Imago theater delivers once again with its original, internationally-acclaimed shows. ZooZoo is back in Portland this year with its ensemble cast of furry and feathered creatures. Its series of vignettes features costumed performers bringing stories to life through mesmerizing choreography and even acrobatics, for a family-pleasing experience appropriate for younger and older viewers alike. Recommended for ages 3 and older

Dec. 13- Jan. 5
Tickets: $14.20-$30.20
Imago Theatre
17 SE 8 Ave.
Online: imagotheatre.com

photo: Portland Revels via yelp

Pioneer Courthouse Square Tree Lighting Ceremony

A long-running Portland tradition, the Square’s annual tree-lighting ceremony happens the day after Thanksgiving. Dress warm and join the crowd early to watch the lighting of the City’s 75-foot Douglas fir, an impressive sight with well over 14,000 lights in its branches. Enjoy hot chocolate and the area’s largest community sing-along while you celebrate the beginning of the holiday season. Entertainment starts at 5 p.m.

Nov. 29th
5:30 – 6:30p.m.
Pioneer Square
701 SW 6th Ave.
Online: TheSquarePDX.org

The Christmas Revels

2019 marks the 25th year of this celebrated Portland classic. This year, join the Portland Revels on an imagined trip to England’s Haddon Hall, a real castle and the site of the original Christmas Revels. What happens when the Duke and his family enter the long-abandoned castle expecting to find it empty, only to encounter the ghosts of revelers of Winter Solstices past? The Revels put on a rousing performance of comedy, drama, song, and dance. It’s entertainment fit for a king, and perfect for families. Look for a special discount on children’s tickets on Family Day, plus a special kid-oriented Q & A with child cast members beforehand. This year, families can also enjoy Haddon Holiday, a separate 60-minute mini Christmas performance created for kids 2 to 7.

Haddon Hall Performance
Tickets: $12 – $85
Dec. 13-15 & 19-22
1 and 7:30 p.m. performances (dependent on date)
Newmark Theatre
1111 SW Broadway Ave.

Haddon Holiday Performance
Tickets: $15-$25
Dec. 27- 29
11 a.m., 2 p.m., & 4 p.m.
Brunish Theater (inside Antoinette Hatfield Hall)
1111 SW Broadway Ave.

Portland Revels
Online: portlandrevels.org

photo: Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree via yelp

Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree

For over 50 years, Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree has been a holiday tradition at the Keller Theater, with a wide range of Christmas music performed by over 350 choir members of all ages. The Jefferson Dancers, performances by actors and musicians, and a cinematic Nativity combine to create a multi-dimensional show. This year features new music and a new story.  Recommended for ages six and up due to the long running time – 2 hours plus intermission. All kids over the age of one require a ticket.

Nov. 22-24, 29-30, & Dec. 1
1 p.m., 2 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances (dependent on date)
Keller Auditorium
222 SW Clay Ave.
Online: singingchristmastree.org

Jingle Bear

This is the 31st year Girlchoir’s four ensembles (ages 5-18) have been traveling throughout the Portland area, performing a range of music at a wide variety of venues. This winter, join the youngest singers for the Jingle Bear concert, including a sing-along with all of your little one’s favorites. The following week, check out the Holiday Concert for even more festive music from these talented young artists.

Jingle Bear: Dec. 14, 3 p.m.
Holiday Concert: Dec. 21, 3 p.m.
Tickets: girlchoirinfo@gmail.com or 503-226-6162
Zion Lutheran Church
1015 SW 18th
Online: girlchoir.com

-Melissa Poulin

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