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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.

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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.

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  

My First Nutcracker

MY FIRST NUTCRACKER

Nov 23-Dec 22 | Midtown | $32.25

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. Pre-show activities before every performance and photo ops with the cast after.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 3-8

nutcracker little

INTERACTIVE NUTCRACKER

Dec 7, 1 pm | Upper West Side | $25

Best for getting in on the action

Become part of the beloved Nutcracker ballet in a relaxed, interactive performance/workshop for all ages. Hear the story, see the highlights danced by a professional ballerina and learn some of the moves.

All ages are welcome to join a festive Christmas party, fight the mouse king and his army - then celebrate with a dance party in the Land of the Sweets. A great introduction to this holiday tradition and a chance for Nutcracker fans to experience the magic.

RECOMMENDED FOR ALL AGES

mozart for munchkins brass

NUTCRACKER & HOLIDAY FAVORITES FOR MUNCHKINS

Dec 7, 4 pm | Chelsea | $32

Best for a relaxed, intimate experience with live music

Hear holiday favorites and selections from the Nutcracker with a woodwind quintet and a special guest dancer. A great introduction to the classic holiday ballet for all ages - the audience is welcome to roll, crawl, squeal and dance along while experiencing professional performances.

Interact with the musicians and dancer throughout and try out instruments after. Holiday bells for all.

RECOMMENDED FOR ALL AGES

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker Tickets on Sale

NEW YORK CITY BALLET PRESENTS GEORGE BALANCHINE’S THE NUTCRACKER

Nov 20-Jan 5 | Upper West Side | $85-$275

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.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 6+

The Knickerbocker Suite

THE KNICKERBOCKER SUITE

Dec 6-15 | Upper East Side | $22.50-$32.50

Best for a unique local twist

A New York City themed 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.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 4+

Navidad Flamenca

NAVIDAD FLAMENCA

Dec 7-8 | Lower East Side | $10-$40

Best for Latin flair

Trade in the sugar plum fairy for a bullfighter in this unique presentation featuring the rich holiday customs of the Spanish-speaking world from Argentina and Mexico to Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 5+

Keith Michael’s The Nutcracker

NEW YORK THEATRE BALLET'S THE NUTCRACKER

Dec 13-15 | 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 6-7 are the same production but with crowded, unassigned seating - arrive at least one hour early.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER

Dec 15 | Brookyln | $30-$50

Best for those more into breakdancing than ballet

At the Kings Theatre on Dec 15th only, 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.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 5+

Dances Patrelle's The Yorkville Nutcracker

DANCES PATRELLE 'S THE YORKVILLE  NUTCRACKER

Dec 14-15 | Upper East Side | $60-$70

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 5+

Peridance Contemporary Dance's The Nutcracker

PERIDANCE CONTEMPORARY DANCE COMPANY'S THE NUTCRACKER

Dec 14-15 | Gramercy | $15-$40

Best for fans of tea parties & contemporary dance

Renowned choreographer Igal Perry presents an innovative contemporary Nutcracker experience. The classic story blended with a fusion of hip hop and contemporary dance set to excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s original score as well as new music.  With over 60 performers including professional dancers and young students.

During a suite tea party between the 12 & 3 pm shows, take photos with dancers, hear the story of the Nutcracker Ballet, enjoy refreshments and create a Nutcracker doll.

RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 4+

Nut:Cracked

NUT/CRACKED

Dec 21 | 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 Radio City Christmas Spectacular has a cute 10-minute Nutcracker section danced by giant bears that little kids love. **


We hope you find the perfect match for you and your family! Special thank to Petite Seat, a parent’s guide to NYC theatre & live entertainment (currently on hiatus) for helping with a previous version of this post.

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.