Nutcracker is An Unforgettable Holiday Experience

New York City is a magical place during the holidays, full of so many treasures for young children to discover. The classic Nutcracker ballet is one such delight, and the city offers many wonderful interpretations of this beautiful Christmas show.

The New York City Ballet’s annual production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is at the heart of New York City’s year-end holiday season, and this year is extra-special as we celebrate their 60th anniversary of performing New York City’s best-loved Nutcracker! Whether it is a family tradition or a once-in-a-lifetime visit, your experience of this glittering classic ballet will stay with you forever and warm your spirit.


From the moment the lights dim, you will be transported to a magical place filled with adorable children, marching toy soldiers, a glowing one-ton Christmas tree that seemingly grows forever, mischievous mice, crystalline waltzing snowflakes, the Land of Sweets and some of the most breathtaking costumes, sets and dancing on earth.


Almost 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 32 stagehands and two casts of 50 young students each from the School of American Ballet join forces to make each performance as magical as possible. The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are extraordinarily grand. The most famous example is the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 40 feet, evoking audible gasps of disbelief from the audience at each performance.

Think it might be too much for your little ones to sit through? Don’t worry: There are lots of families- (and budgets) friendly Nutcracker productions beyond the big Balanchine ballet at Lincoln Center. We’ve rounded up 16 different Nutcrackers playing in NYC this season, including offbeat and just-for-kids versions of the timeless classic. Many are abridged and inexpensive but still possess the charm to keep kids wide-eyed.

Click through to our listings for all the details, including address, time and recommended ages.

The Yorkville Nutcracker – Upper East Side
Thursday, December 4-Sunday, December 7
$45-$85 but save on tickets through our affiliate Goldstar
Set in New York City in 1895, Dances Patrelle’s Nutcracker at the Kaye Playhouse stars New York City Ballet principals Abi Stafford and Adrian Dancing-Waring as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, alongside young dance students from Ballet Academy East and elsewhere. Watch as they dance through classic NYC locales such as Gracie Mansion, Central Park and the New York Botanical Garden.

Highlights from The Nutcracker – Soho
Friday, December 5-Saturday, December 6
In advance: $35; at the door: $40 for adults; free for one child ages 4-7 with every paying adult
Dancers at the Rebecca Kelly Ballet Studio perform solos and duets from the holiday classic in an intimate setting. The show runs just 45 minutes, perfect for short attention spans, and the Saturday family matinee is followed by a reception with the performers and holiday treats.

Holiday Fiesta: Nutcracker Delight – Park Slope
Saturday, December 6
In advance: $10; at the door: $15, $5 for children under age 5
Equal parts show and festival, this fete at PS 77 features a pair of Nutcracker-inspired dances performed by Dancewave students and pros. Food and raffle prizes are also on tap.

Dance Conservatory Performance Project’s Nutcracker – Upper West Side
Saturday, December 6
$40 for adults, $20 for children but save on tickets through our affiliate Goldstar
Valentina Kozlova’s Dance Conservatory of New York performs a traditional full-length version of the Christmas ballet at Symphony Space. Best for school-age kids who can handle two hours plus of dancing.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker of Washington Heights – Washington Heights
Sunday, December 7 and Saturday, December 13
$10-$100 but save on tickets through our affiliate Goldstar
The iconic ballet is given a modern urban makeover at the stunning United Palace Theatre. Set on New Year’s Eve in Washington Heights, this Nutcracker features hip-hop dancers, a DJ, digital scenery and the legendary Kurtis Blow as special MC.

The Nutcracker – Financial District
Thursday, December 11-Sunday, December 21
$39-$59 but save on tickets through our affiliate Goldstar
Former New York City Ballet principal dancer Gelsey Kirkland, who danced the role of Clara in the 1977 movie version of The Nutcracker alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov, brings her dance company’s interpretation of the classic to the Schimmel Center at Pace University. This take hews close to E. T. A. Hoffman’s original The Nutcracker and the Mouse King novella and is a bit darker in tone, so it’s probably best for older kids.

Joffrey Ballet School Nutcracker – Greenwich Village
Friday, December 12-Sunday, December 14
$50 for adults, $25 for children but save on tickets through our affiliate Goldstar
Students from the esteemed ballet program present their version of the Christmas classic at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. This family-friendly 90-minute performance is an elegant introduction to the holiday classic for kids.

Winter Journey – Union Square
Saturday, December 13-Sunday, December 14
$50 on Saturday evening; $30 for adults, $15 for children ages 6-12 for other performances
Peridance Capezio Center’s artistic director and choreographer, Igal Perry, debuts a new take on the classic, with excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s original mixed with new music in this 75-minute production.

The Nutcracker NYC, A Contemporary Ballet – Midtown West
Saturday, December 13-Sunday, December 14
This modern version of the classic at the Ailey Citigroup Theater is 90 minutes long and features ballet students from the tri-state area performing alongside seasoned veterans.

The Colonial Nutcracker – Flatbush
Sunday, December 14
Dance Theatre in Westchester performs this full-length version of Tchaikovsky’s classic at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts. Set in Colonial Yorktown during the Revolutionary War, this Nutcracker features a red-coated army of mice and is aimed at children ages 5 and up. Arrive at 1pm for a pre-show holiday card decorating workshop in the mezzanine lounge.

New York Children’s Dance Theater/Nika Ballet Studio – Brighton Beach
Sunday, December 14
More than 85 young dancers will join former American Ballet Theater principal dancers Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky onstage at the Master Theater to perform the full two-act ballet.

American Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker – Fort Greene
Friday, December 12-Sunday, December 21
ABT returns to BAM for the swan song of its lauded production of The Nutcracker, which completes its five-year run this December. We went when it debuted back in 2010 and were totally blown away. In terms of choreography and sets, it truly rivals the big show at Lincoln Center. Of course, serious ballet is a serious commitment: It’s pricey and two hours long, and is recommended for ages 4 and up.

The Knickerbocker Suite – Upper West Side
Friday, December 12-Sunday, December 21
$30 for adults, $20 for students
An original ballet inspired by The Nutcracker, this two-act performance at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center kicks off with an animated short of the classic story followed by creative modern-day interpretations of its traditional set pieces. Watch as Manhattan Youth Ballet dancers weave their way through Bloomies and Macy’s for some last-minute shopping in the Land of Snow, or check out street vendors selling their wares in the Land of Sweets.

Keith Michael’s The Nutcracker – Midtown East
Friday, December 19-Sunday, December 21
$40 for adults, $35 for children under age 13
This heavily abridged version, performed by New York Theatre Ballet, runs just an hour so it’s the perfect way to give squirmy preschoolers their first taste of The Nutcracker. Plus Florence Gould Hall is so intimate kids really feel like they’re part of the show.

The Nutcracker – Manhattan Beach
Saturday, December 20
$20-$50; $20 tickets for children under age 13 only available in advance at the BBT/School of Russian Ballet, not online or at the door
Designed with families in mind, this abridged Nutcracker at Kingsborough Community College features more than 80 young dancers from the Brighton Ballet Theater and School of Russian American Ballet along with spectacular scenic design and sumptuous costumes. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker – Upper West Side
Friday, November 28-Saturday, January 3
Tickets start at $35 for non-peak and go up to $235 for “sweet seats”
We can’t do a post on The Nutcracker without mentioning the granddaddy of them all at Lincoln Center. This magical production is a must-see-at-least-once-in-your-life New York City holiday attraction. That said, we don’t recommend New York City Ballet’s well over two-hour performance for young kids.


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