Favorite holiday tradition are back in person! Also see our listing of non-seasonal family-friendly shows.

The best starter shows for the littlest audience members include New York Ballet Theater's Nutcracker, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and Seven in One Blow, Or The Brave Little Kid. Feel free to email us with any questions, we've seen (and loved) most of these.

Also see our guides to Nutcrackers in NYC.

We'll keep updating this list; sign up for our email list and follow our insta for the latest.


George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

Lincoln Center
Opens Nov 28

After a year without mischievous mice and prancing sweets at Lincoln Center, the lavish New York City Ballet Nutcracker that started it all in 1954 makes its grand return. Celebrate the season with the exquisite costumes and magnificent sets of this beloved production, and allow Tschaikovsky’s iconic score to transport you to a land of twirling snowflakes, leaping candy canes, waltzing flowers, and so much more.

* The first act (49 minutes long) is full of action with (actual) children playing at a party, mischievous giant mice battling toy soldiers and a blizzard of ballerinas. No unvaccinated dancers were allowed in the cast this year, so all the performers are 12+.

* Look for art and fun digital experiences  throughout the sumptuous lobbies and get snacks during the 15 minute intermission.

* Favorite treats like hot chocolate and candy canes come to life in the 41-minute second act set in the spectacular Land of Sweets.

* Pricey but priceless; wait until your kid is able to sit very still and quiet for the whole hours. Save money on service fees by buying at the Lincoln Center box office. More seats available to Mastercard holders.

* Learn some of the delightful Balanchine choreography at children’s workshops before select performances.

* Proof of vaccination required for ages 12+. Children under the age of 12 who are not vaccinated need proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before the performance.

* Prep for the ballet with a gorgeous picture book The Nutcracker by New York City Ballet with illustrations that mimic George Balanchine’s choreography and the scenery from the actual production.

The Magic Flute

Lincoln Center
Opens Dec 10

The Met’s English-language, abridged, family-friendly adaptation of Mozart’s sublime and mystical journey returns in Julie Taymor’s fanciful production featuring giant bear puppets, boys flying on dragons and stunning scenery. Plus grand spiral staircases and chandeliers in the lobby.

* Entertaining for all but the vibe is formal and there is a lot of operatic singing in the 1 hour & 45 minutes, so best for older kids who can sit still.

* $25 rush tickets sometimes available online four hours before curtain

* Listen to this musical audio book to get familiar with the music and characters.

* Everyone must be fully vaccinated (at least two weeks after their final dose) including children 5-11.

Dances Patrelle’s The Yorkville Nutcracker

The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
Opens Dec 11

This annual production at Hunter College’s cozy Kaye Playhouse features dance students, ages 5 to 85, alongside professional artists. The lavish Olde New York settings give this production a more local vibe. Expect ice skating in Central Park, Teddy Roosevelt at Gracie Mansion and a sleigh-ride to the New York Botanical Garden.

Saturday 2 pm & 7 pm
Sunday 12 pm & 5 pm

The Knickerbocker Suite

Manhattan Movement & Arts Center
Opens Dec 11

A New York City themed 70-minute Nutcracker features famous landmarks woven into the time-honored tale. Based on the jocular story by artist Elliott Arkin, the first act opens with a satirical animated film narrated by Tony award winner Michael Cerveris with imaginative contemporary visual scenarios and characters inspired by the Nutcracker story. In the second act, modern NYC arts sports, fine dining, parks and even pigeons are magically and cleverly intertwined with the classic Tchaikovsky movements of Candy Canes, Coffee, Waltz of the Flowers and more.

Cinderella—Holiday Presentation

Lincoln Center
Opens Dec 17

Continuing a treasured holiday tradition, the Met presents a new installment in its series of abridged opera adaptations for family audiences.

* Laurent Pelly’s storybook staging of Massenet’s Cendrillon is presented with an all-new English translation in an abridged 90 minutes, with mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as its rags-to-riches princess. Gorgeous sets, stunning costumes, dancing horses and hilarious step-sisters make this a fun family option.

* Go early to explore the grand spiral staircases and sparkly chandeliers in the lobby that feels like a palace and see stunning Marc Chagall paintings. From your red velvet seats, look up to see the chandeliers rise to the golden ceiling as the lights dim before the show starts.

* Entertaining for all but the vibe is formal and there is a lot of operatic singing in the 1 hour & 45 minutes so best for older kids who can sit still.

* Everyone must be fully vaccinated (at least two weeks after their final dose) including children 5-11.

* $25 rush tickets available online four hours before curtain.




The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City Music Hall
Opens Nov 28

This truly spectacular show is back! A fun treat for all ages, even toddlers, with fabulous dancing by the talented Rockettes, dazzling costumes, special effects, camels, sheep and Santa Clause (many, many Santa Clauses in one of our favorite numbers). Includes a 10-minute Nutcracker section danced by giant bears that little kids love.

* The theater is gorgeous but can get very crowded. Arrive at least 30 minutes early to allow time for long security lines – this show starts right on time.

* Leave time to walk around the gorgeous art deco theater – love the wallpaper in the downstairs ladies lounge – and view the suspended Swarovski crystal  tree from different angles.

* Prices vary by date and time; local families can take advantage of great price and selection for weekday 5 pm shows.

* Can be a bit loud and over-stimulating for some kids, but the noise and bustle are more forgiving for those not behaving perfectly.

* Our favorite seats are a few rows back in the orchestra or center of the first Mezzanine, but the higher seats have bette views of the amazing formations of the dancers, the ceiling projections and snowflake drones. The theater is huge but the stage is big and spectacular enough to be enjoyed from any seat. The ticket purchase page has a great seat map with more info.

* Save up to 30% with code EMNOV. Prices vary greatly by date and time with the best deals in early November. Always save on service fees by buying at the Radio City, MSG or Beacon box offices.

* Drinks and snacks available for purchase in the lobby and can be consumed during the show. Be prepared for tons of tempting merchandise in the lobby. All transactions are cashless.

* Lots of dates and times to choose from, with more options closer to Christmas.

* Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, required for age 12+. Children under age 12 with a vaccinated adult do not need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

* Afterwards skate on the iconic rink or browse interactive Rockefeller Center shops.

A Sherlock Carol

New World Stages
Opens Nov 28

Two beloved classic tales come together in a holiday-themed mystery. Reunite with beloved the characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in a story of intrigue and suspense, with a helping of holiday cheer. When a grown-up Tiny Tim asks Sherlock Holmes to investigate the peculiar death of Ebenezer Scrooge, the Great Detective must use his tools of deduction to get to the bottom of the crime. But it is a dark and treacherous Christmas Eve, and once again the holiday is haunted by the spirits of the past, present and future.

Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, including intermission.

Ajkun Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker

Opens Dec 05

A small local ballet company presents the classic Nutcracker story in an intimate studio setting featuring new choreography by artistic director Chiara Ajkun.

Includes complimentary photos with the dancers.

Keith Michael’s The Nutcracker

Florence Gould Hall
Opens Dec 10

New York Theatre Ballet performs a kid-friendly, one-hour version of the Tchaikovsky’s beloved holiday ballet set in Art Nouveau-style circa 1907 with innovative choreography by Keith Michael. Feautures clockwork imps, an owl that flies above the audience, mice dressed in polka dots, and dancers dancing with huge chopsticks. The intimate theatre providing excellent views from every seat (and sells out quickly).

Friday 6 pm
Saturday & Sunday 11 am, 1 pm & 3:30 pm

Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas: A New Musical

The New Victory Theater
Opens Dec 10

Based on Jim Henson’s beloved television special, this tuneful tale takes audiences to Frogtown Hollow where Ma and Emmet Otter risk what little they have to make each other’s holiday dreams come true. Featuring a lovable cast of performers with puppets from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and a toe-tapping score by legendary songwriter Paul Williams.

Performances are reduced capacity with social distancing in all spaces. Lockers, cafe and gift shop are all currently closed.  Interactive pre & post-show family activities will be online only.  Digital versions of the productions will be available to stream on demand.

Proof of COVID vaccination required for ages 12+. Kids under 12 must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of performance start time or a negative Covid-19 antigen test taken within six hours, performed by a medical professional or by using an over-the-counter testing kit. Only ages 4+ allowed at this time.


‘Twas the Night Before… by Cirque du Soleil

Madison Square Garden
Opens Dec 11

Cirque du Soleil’s spin on the beloved Christmas poem ‘Twas the Night Before… follows a curious girl who’s become jaded by the hoopla surrounding Christmas as she is whisked away to an upside-down, inside-out world to meet acrobatic characters inspired by the original timeless poem.

* Lots of options for dates and times.

* Children less than 1 year old don’t need a ticket for lap seating.

* Arrive early to leave time for security lines.

* Buy at the MSG, Radio City or less-crowded Beacon box offices to avoid hefty online service charges.

Wonderspark Puppets: The Gingerbread Man

Hudson Yards
Opens Dec 12

See the classic story of a little running cookie with a Christmas twist in a free family friendly puppet show from Wonderspark Puppets. Watch the Gingerbread Man outwit and outrun various hungry animals.

See our guide to Shine Bright  Hudson Yards for more all-ages fun.


Scandinavia House Holiday Concert

Scandinavia House
Opens Dec 12

See a festive concert featuring Scandinavian and American holiday favorites as well as a traditional Saint Lucia procession, replete with traditional gowns and glowing candles.

Learn about the history of Lucia, one of the most popular holidays in Sweden, while enjoying music from members of the Swedish Church Choir in New York.

Mozart for Munchkins: Nutcracker and Holiday Favorites

Hudson Yards
Opens Dec 18

Ballet, bells, holiday tunes –  this free interactive concert features holiday favorites and selections from the Nutcracker for woodwind quintet with holiday bells for all. A family friendly experience featuring live world class musicians. Each child receives a goodie bag and gets a close up look at beautiful instruments, plus special offers from The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards.

Online RSVPS encouraged.

See our guide to Shine Bright at Hudson Yards for more all-ages fun.



New York Theatre Ballet Nutcracker

Brookfield Place
Opens Nov 28

See a ticketed performance of New York Theatre Ballet’s kid-friendly, one-hour version of the Tchaikovsky’s beloved holiday ballet The Nutcracker in the Winter Garden benefitting Brookfield Place’s charitable partner, City Harvest.

Set in Art Nouveau-style circa 1907 with innovative choreography by Keith Michael, this production features clockwork imps, an owl that flies above the audience, mice dressed in polka dots, and dancers dancing with huge chopsticks.

Advanced registration required. Seating is first come, first served and early arrival is strongly suggested. There is some standby tickets; and you can watch from the un-ticketed upper levels. The stunning Luminaries are up to admire.

Guaranteed seating at ticketed performances the following weekend.

Friday 7 pm
Saturday 1 pm & 7 pm
Sunday 1 pm

Roaming Carolers @ The Oculus

Westfield World Trade Center
Opens Dec 02

Look for roaming carolers (The Songful Artists) performing on the festively-decorated Oculus floor and the South Concourse balcony.

Also shop local artists at Chashama at The Oculus Holiday Market.

Seven in One Blow, or the Brave Little Kid

Axis Theatre
Opens Dec 03

See Axis Company’s winter show for children, adapted from the classic fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm. An interactive play with music features Axis’ signature blend of advanced technology and live performance. Though the poignant tale was created for kids, the Axis production—which teases out some of the many plausible subtexts and includes timely pop cultural references—resonates equally well for adults.

Children in the audience are encouraged to participate in many of the kid’s challenges with singing and organized “shout outs.” Adults enjoy the timely pop cultural references and subtexts. And the actors pass out candy at the end.

Tickets are free for veterans & active U.S. service members and their families. All proceeds for the performance on Saturday, December 11 at 3pm will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Holiday Adventures from The Shed

14th Street Y
Opens Dec 04

Talented Chickenshed teaching artists lead preschoolers and their families through a holiday-themed immersive and inclusive performance with puppetry, music, movement, storytelling and a bit of American Sign Language.

Proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test required for ages 12+


Holiday Impromptunes

Brookfield Place
Opens Dec 05

Enjoy the magic of the season and experience free holiday music performances by The Mistletones and Jason Green throughout Brookfield Place,

Check out the gorgeous Luminaries plus art & decor throughout the shopping center. Eat at an array of yummy food options including French market Le District,

Ajkun Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker

Opens Dec 05

A small local ballet company presents the classic Nutcracker story in an intimate studio setting featuring new choreography by artistic director Chiara Ajkun.

Includes complimentary photos with the dancers.


The Flea Theater
Opens Dec 18

The Bang Group’s beloved, witty response to The Nutcracker  takes inspiration from all corners of the dance canon, from tap riffs to en pointe ballet, by way of bubble wrap, disco, and Chinese take-out noodles.

Choreographer David Parker finds beauty in the ridiculous, waltzing through many incarnations of Tchaikovsky’s score, including versions by Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller, as well as the traditional orchestral suite. Sets and costumes are minimal, instead props like bubble wrap, sunglasses and a long stemmed red rose provide comic inspiration.


The Steadfast Tin Soldier with Nutcracker Sweets

Opens Nov 28

See classic Christmas tales – The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen’ and Tchaikovsky’s ‘Land of Sweets’ dances- adapted for hand-painted marionettes
Masks required.

Call or email in advance for reservations.

Also at 2:30 pm.

The Brooklyn Nutcracker

Kings Theatre
Opens Dec 11

A culturally inclusive production of the beloved holiday ballet fuses ballet, hip-hop and a myriad of world dance genres to create a new tradition for today’s audience. From the landscape of the old Dutch Brooklyn to the iconic Flatbush Avenue,  familiar Nutcracker characters and scenes transform to represent the diverse traditions and vibrant culture of melting pot Brooklyn.

Also at 7 pm.

O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi

Queens County Farm Museum
Opens Dec 19

Bundle up to enjoy special outdoor holiday reading of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. Renowned actor and raconteur, Queens native Kevin R. Free will lead socially distanced story time in the farm’s 3-acre pasture.

Also explore 47-acres of the longest continuously farmed site in New York State (since 1697). See historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex,  farm vehicles and implements, planting fields, an orchard and herb garden and livestock including cattle, sheep, chickens and llamas.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

Kings Theatre
Opens Dec 19

Virtuosic break dancing tells an uplifting, family-friendly story set in the 1980s and today. The music is still mostly Tchaikovsky’s classic score, though some songs are sonically updated with live electric violin.

This version of the Nutcracker is much louder than its traditional counterparts with a pre-show by hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow. For families with younger children, consider seats further back for less of an auditory overload.

Also at 5 pm.


My First Nutcracker

Join Clara and the Prince as they travel to a magical kingdom filled with delicious treats, dancing flowers and a pesky mouse king in this 45-minute filmed version of the holiday classic reimagined by New York City Children’s Theater for theatergoers ages 3-8. Clara’s narration throughout the performance helps young theatergoers follow the classic holiday…

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

The lavish New York City Ballet Nutcracker that started it all in 1954 is a rightly beloved American tradition – and now available on your TV. Watch a broadcast filmed at Lincoln Center in 2019 featuring Maria Kowroski as the Sugarplum Fairy, Tyler Angle as Her Cavalier, Megan Fairchild as Dewdrop, and more than 50…