Holidays: Shows

I keep telling my kids that some people dream their whole life of coming to NYC during the holidays, so don’t take those holiday windows for granted. We are especially spoiled with live theater and dance options to celebrate the season. Quality classics like The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center or Radio City Christmas Spectacular are worth a splurge, but more intimate, less expensive and less traditional options are also available.
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The Three Bears Holiday Bash

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park (West 79th Street & Central Park West)
$12, $8/ages 18 months - 12 years, free/under 18 months
Through Dec 30
Tuesday–Friday 10:30 am & 11:30 am
Saturday & Sunday 1 pm

Drawing from the stories of Hanukkah, the Night Before Christmas, and Kwanzaa, the holiday production at the historic, cozy Swedish Marionette Cottage has song, dance, puppetry and a “12 days of Christmas” sing-a-long.


George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Lincoln Center (65th Street & Broadway)
$35-$250
Through Dec 31
Tuesday–Thursday 7 pm
Saturday 2 pm & 8 pm
Sunday 1 pm & 5 pm
Select Weekdays Dec 20-29 2 pm

The lavish New York City Ballet Nutcracker that started it all in 1954 is a rightly beloved American tradition. The first act is full of action with (actual) children playing at a party, mischievous giant mice battling toy soldiers, and a blizzard of ballerinas. The costumes, sets and dancing are stunning in the Land of Sweets second act. Pricey but priceless; though wait until your kid is able to sit very still and quiet for 2 hours.


A Christmas Carol the Musical

The Players Theatre (115 MacDougal Street)
$32-$52, $21 for select performances
Through Dec 30
Thursday, Friday & Saturday 7 pm
Saturday 3 pm
Sunday 11 am & 2 pm
With additional holiday shows

Players Theatre presents a lively musical stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved Christmas story. Grumpy old miser Ebenezer Scrooge finds a second chance to become a loving, generous, kind human being through the aid of four ghosts who visit him in turn one Christmas Eve, each teaching him valuable lessons. Featuring updated, British pantomime-inspired scenic design.


Seven In One Blow, or The Brave Little Kid

Axis Theater Company (One Sheridan Square)
$15/adults, $5/children
Through Dec 20
Friday 7:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday 3:00 pm

Adapted from the classic fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm, this interactive play with music features a blend of advanced technology and live performance. Children in the audience will be encouraged to participate in many of the Kid’s challenges with singing and organized “shout outs.”


Elf: The Musical

The Theater at Madison Square Garden (4 Pennsylvania Plaza)
$35-$130 $45-$75 tickets available for some performances
Through Dec 29
Matinees & evenings

See a musical adaption of the hilarious tale of Buddy, who crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts as a child and is mistakenly transported to the North Pole. Buddy grows up thinking he’s an elf, but between his lousy toy-making abilities and enormous size, he begins to realize he’s not like the others. With Santa’s blessing, Buddy sets off on a whirlwind journey through New York City to find his birth father and learn about his past.


The Knickerbocker Suite

Manhattan Movement & Arts Center (248 60th Street)
$22.50–$32.50
Dec 16 – Dec 17

Based on the jocular story by artist Elliott Arkin, this original ballet is a timely tale of American values and folklore with New York City at the center of attention. The first act opens with a satirical animated film narrated by Tony award winning actor, Michael Cerveris, revealing a series of imaginative contemporary visual scenarios and characters following in the tradition of the Nutcracker story. In the second act, the Knickerbocker Suite weaves clever modern NYC interpretations of the land of sweets. The arts, sports, fine dining, parks and even pigeons are set to the classic Tchaikovsky score.


Hansel and Gretel

Lincoln Center (65th Street & Broadway)
$25-$145
Dec 28 & Jan 6 1:00 pm

A Met English-language holiday presentation, Richard Jones’s clever production of Humperdinck’s fairy-tale opera is based on the Brothers Grimm story. Donald Runnicles conducts the sweeping score and a delightful cast, including the legendary Dolora Zajick as the wayward siblings’ mother. Before the show, connect with some of the designers, singers, dancers, musicians, and technical wizards behind the production.


The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City Music Hall (1260 6th Avenue)
$46 - $160, discount tickets available for some performances
Nov 4 – Dec 31 12:00 am

This truly spectacular show is great for all ages, even toddlers, with fabulous dancing by the talented Rockettes, dazzling costumes and special effects, camels, sheep, and Santa Clause (many, many Santa Clauses in one of our favorite numbers).


It’s Holiday Time in PaleyLand

The Paley Center for Media (25 West 52 Street )

Through Jan 7
Wednesday–Sunday 12 - 6 pm
Check website for Santa times

Enjoy daily screenings of beloved classic holiday TV programs from the Paley Archive, along with family activities including ornament and puppet making, visits with Santa and free hot cocoa.


A City Singing At Christmas

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (Fifth Avenue & 51st Street)

Thursday, December 21 7:00 pm–9:00 pm

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City and Francisco J. Núñez join the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir, the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir, the Cathedral Organs, and the New York Symphonic Brass in this joyful celebration of Christmas in the majesty of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This inspiring evening of traditional and contemporary Christmas hymns and carols closes with the performers and everyone in attendance joining together to sing Silent Night by candle light. Arrive early for best seats.


Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street) )
Free with museum admission
Saturday, December 23 1:00 pm–3:00 pm

One of Jim Henson’s most beloved television specials tells the story of Ma Otter and her son Emmet, who both secretly enter a talent contest to win money for each other’s Christmas presents. This restored presentation includes Kermit the Frog’s segments. Jim Henson Legacy President Craig Shemin (producer of the award-winning documentary Behind the Scenes in Frogtown Hollow) will be joined by Marilyn Sokol (voice of Ma Otter) to present outtakes from the special and excerpts from the documentary. The 40th Anniversary DVD Edition of Emmet Otter will be available for purchase at the Museum shop and Marilyn Sokol will sign DVDs after the screening. After, try some puppeteering in the exhibition Jim Henson’s World.


Christmas Eve on Sesame Street

Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street) )
Free with museum admission
Sunday, December 24 1:00 pm–2:15 pm

In the Emmy Award-winning holiday special Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, Big Bird camps out on his roof to prove to Oscar the Grouch that Santa Claus does, in fact, deliver the presents to every house on Christmas Eve. The episode will be preceded by a compilation of clips from Sesame Street holiday programs.


Bear in the Big Blue House: "A Berry Bear Christmas"

Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street) )
Free with museum admission
Saturday, December 30 1:00 pm–3:00 pm

In honor of the 20th anniversary of “Bear in the Big Blue House,” see a special screening of the special two-part episode,“A Berry Bear Christmas,” introduced by Noel MacNeal (Bear) and Tyler Bunch (Treelo, Pop, Doc Hogg). In the episode, Bear sets out to find the traditional Winter Berry while he and his friends prepare for the holidays. Hang out with more puppets and try some puppeteering in the funexhibition Jim Henson’s World.


Jim Henson's The Christmas Toy / "The Bells of Fraggle Rock"

Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35 Avenue (at 37 Street) )
Free with museum admission
Sunday, December 31 1:00 pm–3:00 pm

Before Toy Story, there was Jim Henson’s The Christmas Toy. In this ABC holiday special, a group of toys comes to life whenever their owner, Jamie, leaves the room. Last year’s favorite gift, Rugby Tiger (Dave Goelz), is nervous about the arrival of a new toy and plans to sneak under the Christmas tree so he can once again be a new gift. In The Bells of Fraggle Rock, Cantus arrives for the Festival of the Bells and Gobo sets out on an adventure—to find out if the mythical Great Bell of Fraggle Rock is really real. Hang out with more muppets and try some puppeteering in the exhibition Jim Henson’s World.


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3 Comment(s)

  • by Veronica Wade Posted December 8, 2016 6:58 am

    Who won the tickets to the Swedish Cottage? The website states the contest closes at Wednesday 9pm.

    • by Veronica Wade Posted December 8, 2016 7:02 am

      Perhaps you meant it to read Wednesday before the dates indicated?

      • by kid Posted December 8, 2016 10:43 am

        We extended the entry period to this evening; we will announce the winner on facebook tonight.

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