NYC NUTCRACKERS

The Nutcracker ballet is a beloved holiday tradition - here's how to make it one for your family, whatever your kids' ages and interests. Note the age recommendations are subjective, you're the best judge of your kids ability to sit through a show. Feel free to email us with any questions and check our our guide to more NYC holiday shows.

Proof of covid vax for ages 12+ & masks for 3+ required for all shows.

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  GET YOUR KIDS NUTCRACKER READY  

Explain that the performers don't talk

Let kids know the story will be told through dance, movement and music only.

Get familiar with the score

Also watch video clips online. Talk about how different songs make them feel or imagine.

Practice general theatre etiquette

Remind kids to stay seated and that there is no speaking during the performance. They can save their questions and thoughts for intermission or applause between songs. Masks required throughout the show.

Get familiar with the story

New York City Ballet has a picture book that follows their version of the story.

Each production is a little different; look for a synopsis in the program before the show.

Most importantly, pick the right production.  There is no standard Nutcracker; each production varies in length, plot, setting and ideal audience age. Fortunately, we’ve done the research for you…

  NYC NUTCRACKER OPTIONS  

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker Tickets on Sale

NEW YORK CITY BALLET PRESENTS GEORGE BALANCHINE’S THE NUTCRACKER

Nov 26-Jan 5 | Upper West Side | $89-$280

Best for parents looking to splurge on a classic experience for kids who can sit still and quiet for 2 hours

The timeless, gorgeous production that started it all in 1954 is a rightly beloved holiday 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, dancing and theater are stunning but kids can get restless during some lengthy, plotless second act dance numbers. Many of the audience members are grown ups who expect a quiet viewing experience.

Proof of PCR test required for kids under 12.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 6+

The Steadfast Tin Soldier Andersen's Toy Story with Nutcracker Sweets

THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER WITH NUTCRACKER SWEETS

Nov 26 -Jan 2 | Brooklyn | $10-$11

Best for young puppet lovers

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

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 2+

Keith Michael’s The Nutcracker

NEW YORK THEATRE BALLET'S THE NUTCRACKER

Dec 10-12 | Upper East Side | $29

Best for first-timers and young kids interested in a full production

This one hour adaptation, set in Art Nouveau style circa 1907, includes clockwork imps, an owl that flies above the audience, mice dressed in polka dots, and dancers dancing with huge chopsticks. This production takes place at Florence Gould Hall, an intimate theatre space providing excellent views. A popular choice for families that sells out quickly.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 3+
Free performances at Brookfield Place on Dec 6-8 are the same production. There are a few ticketed seats available seats in standby and unticketed standing options on the upper levels- arrive at least one hour early.

Knickerbocker Suite

THE KNICKERBOCKER SUITE

Dec 10-12 | Upper East Side | $25-$35

Best for fun settings starring local kids

A New York City themed Nutcracker features famous landmarks woven into the time-honored tale performed by students of the the Manhattan Youth Ballet. 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.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 4+

The Brooklyn Nutcracker

THE BROOKLYN NUTCRACKER

Dec 11 | Brooklyn | $30-$115

Best for a multicultural vibe

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. rom 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.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 4+

Dances Patrelle's The Yorkville Nutcracker

DANCES PATRELLE’S THE YORKVILLE NUTCRACKER

Dec 11-12 | Upper East Side | $69

Best for spotting a classmate in the ensemble

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.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 4+

bang group nut/cracked

NUT/CRACKED

Dec 18 | Soho | $37-$57

Best for something totally different

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.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 5+

THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER

Dec 19 | Brookyln | $30-$50

Best for those more into breakdancing than ballet

Virtuosic break dancing tells an uplifting, family-friendly story set in the 1980s and today at the opulent Kings Theatre . 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.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 5+

My First Nutcracker

MY FIRST NUTCRACKER

Online

Best for young kids looking for a friendly introduction

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 holiday classic reimagined by New York City Children’s Theater. Clara’s narration throughout the performance helps young theatergoers follow the classic holiday story.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 3-8

** The Radio City Christmas Spectacular has a cute 10-minute Nutcracker section danced by giant bears that little kids love. **

The Nutcracker by New York City Ballet

Prep for the ballet with a gorgeous picture book that mimics George Balanchine’s choreography and illustrations inspired by the backdrops and scenery from the actual production. A holiday favorite with stylish and modern sensibility.