Nutcracker Shows and Other Holiday Performances Kids will Love in Boston

The Nutcracker for Boston Kids at Christmas
The Urban Nutcracker is a jazzy twist on the classic. Photo by Peter Paradise Michaels.

The Nutcracker Ballet: It's among the most enduring of holiday family traditions in these parts. And just as there are many kinds of Boston families, there are different Nutcrackers appealing to different tastes, from the Boston Ballet classic to a high-energy, hip-hop interpretation. But Tchaikovsky's beloved confection is hardly the only holiday-themed stage performance delighting kids across Boston this month and next. Families can carol with the Pops, root for the Whos, giggle at Elf, and more. All the shows are terrific, but tickets will go faster than cookies at Christmas Eve, so we'd advise booking sooner than later. Want to make a special day or evening of it? Reserve a table at one of these family-friendly restaurants nearby, too.


The Boston Ballet's Nutcracker is a tradition for many Boston families. Photo by Liza Voll courtesy of The Boston Ballet.

A Sampling of Nutcrackers

Boston Ballet’s The NutcrackerBoston
Opens November 29, 2018
Boston Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker, choreographed by Mikko Nissenen, is a traditional holiday event for the whole family. Join Clara on her magical journey through an enchanted winter wonderland to a palace of sugary confections at the Boston Opera House. Kids must be age 2 to attend the performance. See our tips for watching the show with preschoolers.

Jose Mateo’s The Nutcracker—Boston and Dorchester
Opens November 30, 2018
With an emphasis on classical dance technique over stagecraft, the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre presents the classic holiday tale at the Cutler Majestic Theatre beginning November 30 and the Strand Theater in Dorchester beginning December 14.

Hip-Hop Nutcracker—Boston
Opens December 15, 2018
This isn't grandma's Nutcracker. A contemporary version of the classic Tchaikovsky tale, Hip-Hop Nutcracker returns to Boston for a limited run at the Emerson Colonial Theatre. Taking place in 1980s Brooklyn on New Year's Eve, it features all-star dancers, a DJ, and an electric violinist. 

Moscow Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker—Boston
December 18-19, 2018
The Moscow Ballet brings it's elaborate Great Russian Nutcracker to Massachusetts for two performances at the Boch Center Wang Theatre on December 19th and at the UMASS Amherst Fine Arts Center on December 18th. Your kids will love the larger than life puppets, nesting dolls, and hand-crafted costumes. 


The Urban Nutcracker's party scene is colorful and playful. Photo courtesy of the show

Urban NutcrackerBoston
Opens December 20, 2018    
Tony Williams’ Urban Nutcracker puts a modern spin on the 19th Century fairy tale, fusing Tchaikovsky’s classic score with Duke Ellington’s jazz interpretation and more than 100 local dancers performing classic ballet, urban tap, hip hop, swing, flamenco, step, and jazz. Read our review to find out why it's our pick for a child's first trip to the ballet.

Other Holiday Performances


The Grinch takes the stage in Boston this year. Photo courtesy of the Boch Center

How the Grinch Stole Christmas—Boston
Opens November 28, 2018
The show that broke box office records on Broadway comes to the Wang Theater for a limited engagement at the start of the holiday season. A eye-popping set based on Seuss's original illustrations, along with familiar song favorites, captivates kids.

​A Charlie Brown Christmas—Boston
Opens November 29, 2018
Staying true to its television roots, A Charlie Brown Christmas features Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and all the Peanuts gang as they produce their own Christmas pageant and ultimately learn the true meaning of Christmas. Complete with the little Christmas fir tree, this production is a show the whole family (including nostalgic parents) can enjoy. 

Elf: The Musical—Worcester
Opens November 29, 2018
Based on the movie starring Will Ferrell, Elf tells the tale of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With the permission of Santa (played by Cheers alum George Wendt!), Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. Cue the giggles from kids of all ages.

The Velveteen Rabbit—Boston
Opens December 1, 2018
A Boston Children's Theatre production of the classic children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit is a touching story about friendship and love that is guaranteed to warm children’s hearts. Read our review of the show.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The MusicalLowell
December 2, 2018
This adaptation of the animated classic from our childhoods brings everyone's favorite reindeer to the stage. Rudolph teaches the importance of friendship and respect, while getting everyone very excited for Christmas in the process. This Boston production at the Shubert features a mixture of adult and young performers, and carols kids will recognize.

​A Christmas Carol—Beverly
Opens December 7, 2018
Discover the true spirit of the holidays at this classic Christmas story. Your little ones will love the dazzling special effects and singing along to traditional songs like “We Wish You A Merry Christmas".

Dwayne Burgess of Voices of Black Persuasion performs a rousing solo during the song "Christ is Born" in Black Nativity. Photo by Edgar Troncoso.

Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity Boston
Opens December 7, 2018
Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity tells the original story of the Nativity in scripture, verse, music and dance. This show is based on the Gospel of St. Luke, combined with the poetry of Langston Hughes.

The BSO’s Holiday Pops Boston
Opens December 7, 2018
Symphony Hall is transformed into a winter wonderland as Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops perform the most beloved holiday music in these BSO Holiday Pops concerts. Special family matinee concerts include a children's sing-along and post-concert photos with Santa.

Tafuta! A Young Child's Search for the True Meaning of KwanzaaRoxbury
December 15, 2018
This original play was written and directed by Shaumba-Yandje Dibinga and tells the story of a young boy's search for the meaning of Kwanzaa.


Originally published November 2012; Updated 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018

Area/Neighborhood: