Nutcracker Shows and Other Holiday Performances Kids will Love in Boston

The Nutcracker for Boston Kids at Christmas
Urban Nutcracker. 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, giggle at Elf, root for a red-nosed reindeer, 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 Nutcracker—Boston
Opens November 24, 2017
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 25, 2017
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 25 and the Strand Theater in Dorchester beginning December 15.

Moscow Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker—Boston
December 3, 2017
For one day only as part of its 25th anniversary tour of North America, the Moscow Ballet will return to the Orpheum Theater for two performances of its elaborate Great Russian Nutcracker. Look for wonderful Victorian era costumes and stage sets masterminded by La La Land set designer Carl Sprague.

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

Urban Nutcracker—Boston
Opens December 15, 2017    
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.

Hip-Hop Nutcracker—Boston
Opens December 21, 2017
This isn't grandma's Nutcracker. A contemporary version of the classic Tchaikovsky tale, Hip-Hop Nutcracker comes to Boston for a limited run at the Shubert Theatre, and features all-star dancers, a DJ, and a violinist. Taking place in 1980s Brooklyn on New Year’s Eve, the show is opened by one of hip hop’s founding fathers, MC Kurtis Blow, who performs a short set before rapping the introduction. 

Other Holiday Performances

​A Charlie Brown Christmas—Beverly, Arlington and Boston
Opens November 25, 2017
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 by Boston Children's Theatre and directed by Burgess Clark is a show the whole family (including nostalgic parents) can enjoy. Shows run in Beverly, Arlington, and Boston throughout the season.

Elf: The Musical—Boston
Opens November 28, 2017
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.

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 2, 2017
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 Velveteen Rabbit—Boston
Opens December 2, 2017
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.

The BSO’s Holiday Pops Boston
Opens December 5, 2017
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.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer will remind you of the animated classic movie. Photo courtesy of Shubert Theater.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—Boston
Opens December 14, 2017
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.

Tafuta! A Young Child's Search for the True Meaning of KwanzaaRoxbury
Opens December 15, 2017
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 and 2017

Boston Opera House
539 Washington Street
Boston , MA 42° 20' 57.9624" N, 71° 9' 48.4632" W
Strand Theater
543 Columbia Road
Dorchester , MA 42° 19' 13.7856" N, 71° 3' 25.5564" W
Cutler Majestic Theatre
219 Tremont Street
Boston , MA 42° 21' 5.7492" N, 71° 3' 54.4644" W
Orpheum Theatre
1 Hamilton Place
02108 Boston , MA 42° 21' 22.662" N, 71° 3' 38.8548" W