If The Nutcracker is part of your family’s holiday tradition, then you’ve got a lot on your plate. Portland is offering a variety of options for families looking to view this holiday classic. From hip hop to a version for tiny tots, see one or try to hit them all. Most performances sell out quickly, so you’ll want to plan ahead. Read on to get the details on this year’s six top picks for a memorable, magical ballet experience.

photo: courtesy of the Oregon Ballet  

Oregon Ballet Theatre
For 14 years, Portland audiences have taken in the rich scenery and elaborate costumes of OBT’s annual performance of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® at the Keller Auditorium. They’re one of only a handful of theaters in the country with the rights to produce Balanchine’s version of the holiday classic. This year, 10 of the 19 performances will feature live music with the OBT Orchestra. (Check the schedule for live music dates.) Returning fans should note that there will be no Nutcracker Tea this year. For new audiences, this performance is open to all ages, and may be best for kids ages 6 and older. Check this year’s Chinook Book for a 40% discount coupon on select dates.

Dec. 9 – 24
222 SW Clay St.
Box office: 720 SW Bancroft St.
Portland, Or
Online: obt.org/nutcracker

Classical Ballet Academy
Returning for its 13th consecutive year, the Classical Ballet Academy’s two-hour performance features the pre-professional (but no less enchanting) talent of the Academy’s older students. Tickets go on sale November 13, with both a matinee and evening option available on each of the two performance dates. All shows recommended for all audiences, but matinee viewing may be better for younger children. (Note: There’s also the condensed Children’s Nutcracker performance, by dancers between the ages of 6-13 in the children’s program, recommended for friends and family of the performers.)

Dec. 16 and 17. $14-25.
Lincoln Performance Hall
1620 SW Park Ave.
Portland, Or
Tickets: pdx.edu/boxoffice
More information: classicalballet.net

Northwest Dance Theatre Nutcracker Tea
With just seven performances, you’ll want to get your tickets soon for this family-friendly adaptation of the classic ballet, described as “a first entry to the art form.” Last year, all performances sold out. Complimentary tea and cookies served at intermission. (Note: this is different from Oregon Ballet Theater’s annual Nutcracker Tea, which will not be offered this year.) This performance runs just over one hour in length and is recommended for all ages.

Dec. 9 & 10; Dec. 15-17 $19-35.
PCC Sylvania Performing Arts Center
12000 SW 49th Ave.
Portland, Or
Online: nwdt.org

photo: courtesy of Columbia Dance

Columbia Dance
Just over the bridge in Vancouver, a cast of over 90 local dancers presents this annual production set to Tchaikovsky’s score. Tickets go on sale mid-November, but you can reserve now by contacting the box office, with a handful of matinee options to choose from in addition to the evening performances. This production is best for children ages 6 and up.

Dec. 15-18
Royal Durst Theatre, Vancouver School of Arts and Academics
3101 Main St.
Vancouver, Wa
Online: columbiadance.org

Little Ears Concert
Here’s a great option for the youngest ballet fans: a free, 45-minute performance at the Old Church as part of the Little Ears Concert series. Two pianists perform a four-hand arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s score while a beloved local youth librarian narrates from the The Nutcracker and The King of the Mice. Recommended for kids ages 2-7.

Dec. 12, 10 am., free
1422 SW 11th Ave.
Portland, Or
Online: theoldchurch.org

photo: Northwest Dance Theater via facebook 

Portland 5’s Hip-Hop Nutcracker
New this year, The Hip-Hop Nutcracker is part of Portland 5’s Education Program series. The cast is on tour from NYC for their third national tour, with original choreography performed by all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ, and an electric violinist. Featuring MC Kurtis Blow, this performance uses digital scenery to reimagine the classic ballet set in 1980s Brooklyn. About 1 hour 40 minutes including intermission, it’s appropriate for all ages– but hurry, because there’s just one tour date in Portland!

Nov. 15, 8 p.m., $25-$55
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
1037 SW Broadway
Portland, OR
Online: portland5.com

Before you go: Unless otherwise noted above, most productions of The Nutcracker will run about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours, including a 15-20 minute intermission between the two acts.

What’s your family’s favorite Nutcracker tradition? Join the conversation in the comments.

—Melissa Poulin