Marching toy soldiers, leaping doves and even circus performers usher in the holiday season this year. With performances that range from classical renditions of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol to the perennial San Francisco favorite dance-along Nutcracker, there’s something for even the youngest theater-goers. Check out our list below and get your seats reserved!

photo: Erik Tomasson

San Francisco

San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker
Treat the kids to a magical family performance of The San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker, set right in the City by the Bay. One hour prior to curtain, the characters are also available for photo opps—so dress the family in their best gear, get there early and don’t forget your camera. If you need to leave the theater during the show with your little ones, catch the performance on a monitor in the Family Viewing Area on the Dress Circle level. Note: no children under 3 allowed. Runtime: two hours including 20 minute intermission. Dec. 11-15, 17-24, 26-29. $25 and up.

The War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave. (at Grove)
San Francisco, CA
Onlinesfballet.org

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photo: Andrew Weeks

ODC Dance’s The Velveteen Rabbit
Celebrate the 33rd year of ODC Dance's magical production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Beautiful storytelling, whimsical costumes and genuine holiday cheer—all bring the story of a well-worn nursery rabbit to life. For an additional $20 you can attend the Milk and Cookies party after the show on Nov. 25 for dancing, games and treats. Runtime: 90 minutes with intermission (no intermission during weekday performances). Nov. 29–Dec. 8. $15-65.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
700 Howard St. (at Third)
San Francisco, CA
Onlineodcdance.org

Dance-Along Nutcracker: Nutcrackers in Space
Join Clara, Fritz and the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band as we explore new galaxies, meet new civilizations and let’s face it, probably get into some mischief. All this, while wearing our space tutus and dancing along to some out-of-this-world tunes. Dec. 7-8. $22 and up for kids/seniors/students, $35 and up/adults. 

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater
700 Howard St. (at Third)
San Francisco, CA
Onlinesflgfb.townalive.com

STOMP
STOMP is explosive, inventive, provocative, witty, and utterly unique—an unforgettable experience for audiences of all ages. The international percussion sensation has garnered armfuls of awards and rave reviews and has appeared on numerous national television shows. The eight-member troupe uses everything but conventional percussion instruments – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hubcaps – to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms. Year after year, audiences worldwide keep coming back for more of this pulse-pounding electrifying show. Nov. 5-10. $39 and up. 

The Geary Theater
415 Geary Street
San Francisco CA
Online: act-sf.org

photo: Smuin's The Christmas Ballet by Keith Sutter

Smuin's The Christmas Ballet
The whole family is sure to get dancing as Smuin lets loose a playful performance with vignettes ranging from ballet and tap to swing and jazz, and other dances drawn from holiday celebrations around the world. Runtime: two hours. In San Francisco from Dec. 12-15, 18-23, with performances around the Bay Area including Mountain View (Nov. 29-Dec. 1), Carmel (Dec. 28-29) and Walnut Creek (Nov. 22-23). $34 and up.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
700 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA
Onlinesmuinballet.org

photo: Matthew Murphy

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and the father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places. The production is presented in two parts. Select dates Oct. 23-May 2020. $59 and up per part. 

Curran
445 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA
Online: harrypottertheplay.com

photo: African American Shakespeare Company

African-American Shakespeare Company's Cinderella
An annual holiday treat, this timeless tale, brought to whimsical, magical life just in time for the holiday season, is an uplifting re-telling of the classic fairytale, featuring all of the pageantry, hilarity, and charm of the original, but with a soulful twist. Dec. 20-22. $25-40.

Herbst Theatre
401 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA
Onlineafrican-americanshakes.org

photo: Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets by Matt Harber

Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets
Foehringer's Dance Project|SF performs a Nutcracker choreographed with the kids in mind. It's just 50 minutes and recommended for anyone over age two. Live music and a few deviations from the classic will keep the whole family entertained. The cast meets with the audience after, so bring your camera. Weekends, Dec. 7-22. $20.50-42.50

Cowell Theater
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA
Onlinenutcrackersweets.org

photo: Markus Moellenberg

AMALUNA by Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil’s 33rd production is a celebration of love and a tribute to the work and voice of women, featuring a cast that comprises mostly women with an all-female band. The show’s title is a fusion of the words ama, which refers to “mother” in many languages, and luna, which means “moon,” a symbol of femininity that evokes both the mother-daughter relationship and the idea of goddess and protector of the planet. AMALUNA is also the name of the mysterious island where this magical story unfolds. Nov. 3-Jan. 12. $54 and up. 

Under the Big Top
Oracle Park
San Francisco, CA
Online: cirquedusoleil.com/amaluna

photo: A.C.T. A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
Featuring a lively cast of dozens, delightful music, gorgeous costumes and deliciously spooky ghosts, this version of A Christmas Carol stays true to the heart of Dickens’s timeless story of redemption and brings a playful sensibility to his rich language. Now in its 42nd year, A Christmas Carol is a cornerstone of the A.C.T. repertory and has become a holiday tradition for families around the Bay Area. Select dates Nov. 29-Dec. 24. $10-120.

A.C.T.’s Geary Theater
415 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA
Onlineact-sf.org

photo: Oakland Ballet Company by John Hefti

East Bay

Oakland Ballet Company’s The Nutcracker
One girl’s enchanted evening comes to life in contemporary choreographer Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker, amidst a turn-of-the century setting that features a hot-air balloon ride. Runtime: approximately two hours including intermission.  Dec. 22-22. $20 and up. 

Paramount Theatre
2025 Broadway
Oakland, CA
Onlineoaklandballet.org

photo: Berkeley Ballet Thater

Berkeley Ballet Theater’s The Nutcracker
This rendition of The Nutcracker is considered an East Bay must, especially for the youngest ones (even for toddlers as young as three!). To give your own aspiring dancers some inspiration make sure to point out that this year’s principal roles are performed by members of the BBT’s Youth Company.  Dec. 20-22. 

Regents’ Theater at Holy Names University
3500 Mountain Blvd.
Oakland, CA
Onlineberkeleyballet.org

photo: The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux
A musical adventure awaits you this holiday season when the acclaimed PigPen Theatre Co. brings its inventive and imaginative retelling of the beloved, Newbery Medal-winning modern fable to Berkeley Rep. The courageous Despereaux, shunned by his community for his love of stories and humans, shows a forlorn kingdom that even the smallest voice can change the world—and that it only takes a little light to reveal the truth. An indie folk band that creates dazzling works of theatre, PigPen infuses this tale of bravery, forgiveness, and redemption with their masterful music, stunning stage effects, and witty performances. PigPen’s The Tale of Despereaux is a spellbinding musical treat that resonates with adults and children alike. Select dates Nov. 21-Jan. 5. 

Roda Theatre
2015 Addison St.
Berkeley CA
Online: berkeleyrep.org

photo: Kevin Berne

Peninsula

Pride and Prejudice
This romantic comedy for the ages brings a witty, satirical edge and a contemporary beat to its engaging score. Let the battle of the sexes begin as a delightfully liberated Lizzie Bennet and a dashing, disdainful Mr. Darcy discover the irresistible power of love. Select days Dec. 4-8. $35 and up. 

Lucie Stern Theatre
1305 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA
Onlinetheatreworks.org

My Very First Nutcracker
My Very First Nutcracker is a special one-hour classical ballet presentation suitable for the youngest audiences that features the first act of The San Jose Nutcracker, including a festive holiday party hosted by young Clara, her brother Fritz and their family in San Jose at the turn of the last century. Dec. 14-24. $26.50 and up. 

Hammer Theatre Center
101 Paseo de San Antonio
San Jose, CA
Online: newballet.com

photo: Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group performances are euphoric celebrations of human connection through art, music, comedy and non-verbal communication. BLUE MAN GROUP is universally appealing to a broad range of age groups and cultural backgrounds, and continually injected with new music, fresh stories, custom instruments and sensory stimulating graphics. Nov. 1-3.

255 S. Almaden Blvd.
San Jose, CA
Online: broadwaysanjose.com

Bayer Ballet Company's Snow Queen 
When the Snow Queen's spell captures a young boy, his best friend sets out on a quest to save him. A journey filled with whimsy and intrigue, friend and foe, this beautiful original youth ballet takes you on a magical journey where true love and enduring friendship overcome evil. No kids under age three allowed. Runtime: Approximately 2.5 hours with one 20-minute intermission. Dec. 14-15. $38 and up.

Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
500 Castro St.
Mountain View, CA
Onlinebayerballetacademy.com

photo: Pat Kirk

Hansel and Gretel
Opera San José is launching the holidays with a family-friendly production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel that offers treats to go along with this irresistible fairy tale. Kids who attend will not only enjoy a fully produced opera, but will also receive a small gift upon entrance, intermission treats, and opportunities to interact with costumed characters and be photographed in fun, fairy tale settings in the lobby. Nov. 16-Dec. 1

California Theatre
345 South 1st St.
San José, CA
Online: operasj.org

photo: Marin Ballet

North Bay

Marin Ballet’s Nutcracker
The Marin Ballet’s huge cast of over 200 dancers electrifies the stage in this lavish performance of a classic holiday tale. Dec. 14-15. $25 youth/seniors, $45/adults. $10 for the Candy Cane Party immediately following every 1 p.m. performance. 

Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, CA
Onlinemarinballet.org

photo: Mark Strassman, Stapleton Ballet

Stapleton Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Stapleton Ballet’s inspired performance of The Nutcracker full of intricately crafted costumes and sets has a loyal following of families each year, and it’s not too late for you to make it part of your family's holiday tradition. Meet and greet after the 1 p.m. shows. Dec. 7-8. Adults $39; seniors and youth $26. 

Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, CA
Onlinestapletonschool.org

photo: Lightwire Theater

A Very Electric Christmas
Follow the story of a young bird, named Max and his family, as they begin their journey south for the winter. When Max gets blown off course and ends up at the North Pole…his adventure begins! Dancing toy soldiers, caroling worms and performing poinsettias, light up the stage in Lightwire Theater’s A Very Electric Christmas. Audiences of all ages will treasure this magical and captivating tale of family, friendship and hope set to timeless holiday hits, including Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey and Tchaikovsky. Lightwire Theater is internationally recognized for their electro-luminescent artistry, poignant story telling and performs in complete darkness. Brighten your holidays this season with Lightwire Theater’s A Very Electric ChristmasDec. 1. $16 and up.

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts
50 Mark West Springs Road
Santa Rosa, CA
Onlinelutherburbankcenter.org

photo: Moscow Ballet

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker
The quintessential Christmas experience returns to Santa Rosa direct from Russia with the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker. This brand-new over-the-top production features world class Russian artists, larger than life puppets, nesting dolls and gloriously hand-crafted costumes. Bringing a message of peace and unity, young dancers from Santa Rosa will join the cast in this must-see holiday event. Dec. 23. $35 and up. 

Luther Burbank Center for the Arts
50 Mark West Springs Road
Santa Rosa, CA
Onlinelutherburbankcenter.org

—Kate Loweth, Mae Respicio & Erin Feher

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