17 Best Christmas and Holiday Shows in NYC for Kids and Families in 2022

Vital Theatre Company's Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas provides a joyous celebration of holiday excess courtesy of its namesake character.. Photo courtesy of Vital Theatre Company.
Vital Theatre Company's Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas provides a joyous celebration of holiday excess courtesy of its namesake character.. Photo courtesy of Vital Theatre Company.

'Tis the season to get the gang all dressed up to see some holiday shows in NYC! While the city is lucky to have some of the best Broadway shows for kids any time of year, during the holidays there are even more options for seasonal family fare, including a range of productions, from inexpensive, low-key offerings perfect for fidgety preschoolers, to over-the-top spectacles that are worth the investment.

From live stage adaptations of classics, such as A Christmas Carol, to festive musicals based on popular picture books, to amazing circus, dance, and impossible-to-describe performances, here are our top 17 holiday shows for NYC families in 2022, and of course,  all those beautiful Nutcrackers. You can find more theater picks no matter the season in our Guide to Children's Theater in NYC and more picks for seasonal fun in our Holiday Fun Guide for NYC Kids

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Click through to our listings for all the details, including times and locations. In terms of COVID protocols, rules vary. Few require proof of vaccination but some mandate masks. Before purchasing tickets, please check the official site for the show you plan to see for up-to-date health and safety requirements.

1. Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas — Midtown West

Through Saturday, December 31
Ages 2-7
Masks are optional but encouraged
Vital Children's Theatre is well known for its page-to-stage adaptations, and the troupe has fared particularly well with shows based on Jane O'Connor's couture kid-lit character Fancy Nancy. After doing a stupendous job of musicalizing the first book in the series, Vital followed up with this tuner about the pint-size fashionista's quest to find the most fabulous Christmas arbor ever. Of course, things don't go quite as she plans.

RELATED: Where to See The Nutcracker in NYC in 2022

Holiday shows in NYC: A Christmas Carol on Broadway
Jefferson Mays stars in a one-man show in A Christmas Carol on Broadway. Photo courtesy of A Christmas Carol

2. A Christmas Carol – Midtown West

Through Sunday, January 1, 2023
Ages 10 and older
Masks are optional but encouraged
There are a few versions of Dickens' seasonal ghost story playing around town, but we're particularly excited about this solo adaptation starring Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays. The virtuosic performer plays all the roles, from Scrooge to the spirits to Tiny Tim to a potato (yup, that's in the press release!), complemented by eye-popping design and special effects. The production was a hit in Los Angeles and has now transferred to Broadway's Nederlander Theatre for a limited run through New Year's Day. Discount tickets are easy to come by, although we hear sitting center orchestra is important, otherwise, the sightlines may inspire you to cry, "Bah, humbug!"

RELATED: Best Broadway Shows for Kids and Families

Holiday shows in NYC: Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center
Ringmaster Alan Silva leads a star-studded Big Apple Circus cast at Lincoln Center. Photo courtesy Big Apple Circus

3. Big Apple Circus: Dream Big! – Lincoln Center

Through Sunday, January 1, 2023
Ages 3 and older
Masks are optional but encouraged
Seasonal favorite the Big Apple Circus returns to Lincoln Center for its 45th season with the brand-new spectacle Dream Big! Like last year, Brazilian aerialist and America's Got Talent finalist Alan Silva serves as ringmaster, and the lineup of acts includes high-wire legend Nik Wallenda and his fearless family, comedic daredevil Johnny Rockett, trapeze artist Elli Huber, juggler Gena Cristiani, and Veranica and her cute canines. Note: The run is shorter than in the past, only eight weeks. Thankfully, discounts are still plentiful.

RELATED: 12 Must-Do Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in NYC for Kids in 2022

Holiday Shows in NYC: A Sherlock Carol at New World Stages
A Sherlock Carol combines classic characters for a new take on Ebenezer Scrooge. Photo by Matthew Murphy

4. A Sherlock Carol – Midtown West

Through Sunday, January 1, 2023
Ages 8 and older
Masks are optional but encouraged
A merry mash-up of characters from Charles Dickens' Christmas classic and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic detective stories, A Sherlock Carol finds the title sleuth investigating the strange death of Ebenezer Scrooge at the behest of a grown-up Tiny Tim. Ghosts of the past, present, and future haunt this heartwarming holiday mystery, which returns for its second year to New World Stages and is filled with plenty of "Aha! Humbug." Discount tickets are available and you don't need to be a gumshoe to find them!

5. N O W I S W H E N W E A R E (the stars) – Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Tuesday, November 29-Thursday, December 22
Ages 5 and older
Masks are optional but encouraged
While multimedia artist Andrew Schneider's better-experienced-than-described spectacle at BAM isn't a holiday offering per se, it is a beacon of lights. A mix of technology, installation, and performance, N O W I S W H E N W E A R E (the stars) invites spectators to explore a darkened space that becomes illuminated by 5,000 twinkling lights. An unseen narrator guides you through this dazzling journey, which was inspired by the Milky Way and Yayoi Kusama's infinity rooms.

RELATED: Macy's Santaland NYC: When and How to See Santa at Herald Square in 2022

Holiday shows in NYC: Dick Rivington and the Cat
Kids get a kick out of the colorful panto Dick Rivington & The Cat, which plays the Abrons Arts Center. Photo by Andrew T. Foster

6. Dick Rivington & the Cat – Lower East Side

Wednesday, November 30-Sunday, December 18
Ages 5 and older
Masks are required
Get ready to boo, hiss, and cheer at this reinvention of the folk story Dick Whittington & His Cat, inspired by real-life London mayor Richard Whittington, who allegedly rose from poverty by renting out his feline to rat-infested neighborhoods. Yes, it's a tall cat tale, but that makes it perfect as a panto, a popular holiday entertainment genre in Britain featuring over-the-top songs, slapstick comedy, gags, and dancing. Reset on NYC's Lower East Side where the Abrons Arts Center is located, this version of the fable comes from the outrageous minds of married artists Mat Fraser, an actor, writer, and disability activist, and Julie Atlas Muz, a feminist burlesque performer, who were behind the popular family panto Jack and the Beanstalk a few years back. Although they usually perform for the 21-and-over set, Dick Rivington & the Cat is strictly PG, with a cavalcade of sparkly downtown divas promoting radical joy, equality, lefty politics, and kookiness to like-minded families.

RELATED: Best Off-Broadway Shows for Kids: Affordable Children's Theater in NYC

Holiday shows in NYC: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Chalvar Monteiro and Yannick Lebrun are among the talented performers on stage for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center. Photo by Dario Calmese

7. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Midtown West

Wednesday, November 30-Saturday, December 24
Ages 5 and older
Masks are required
Every holiday season, New York's venerable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs at New York City Center. While grown-ups can go on any date to see works by the troupe's namesake dance-maker as well as newer pieces by current artistic director Robert Battle and resident choreographer Jamar Roberts, the Saturday matinees are the way to go for families. The programs are little-kid friendly and followed by Q&As with some of the dancers.

RELATED: Where to See The Nutcracker in NYC in 2022

Seven in One Blow, or The Brave Little Kid
Seven in One Blow, or The Brave Little Kid ends with a lesson in love and kindness. Photo by Pavel Antonov

8. Seven in One Blow, or the Brave Little Kid – West Village

Friday, December 2-Sunday, December 18
Ages 4-10
Masks are optional but encouraged
An offbeat stage riff on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, this annual Axis Theatre Company production follows the misadventures of Kid, a young boy who kills seven flies in one shot and gets caught in a tangle of lies surrounding his feat. In the end, he learns about love and kindness with help from the children in the audience and his mom, played by Debbie Harry (yes, from Blondie!) who appears on video. New this year: Tickets are pay-what-you-can starting at $5.

9. An Afrofuturistic Winter Wonderland – Lincoln Square

Friday, December 9-Sunday, December 11
Ages 4 and older
Masks are optional but encouraged
This multicultural music performance is a soulful way to celebrate the season. Michael Mwenso and his band the Shakes headline this jazz-filled program that honors all the winter holidays with classic tunes and original songs. In order to make this event accessible to all families, Lincoln Center is offering pay-what-you-can tickets starting at $5.

RELATED: 50 Things To Do in Midtown Manhattan with Kids

Holiday shows in NYC: Circus Abyssinia Tulu at the New Victory Theater
Circus Abyssinia serves up a circus spectacle for the holidays. Photo by Craig Sugden

10. Circus Abyssinia: Tulu – Midtown West

Friday, December 9-Sunday, January 1, 2023
Ages 5 and older
Masks are required
The New Victory continues its tradition of hosting a circus spectacle for the holidays. And oh, what a circus this is! My daughter and I adored the last Circus Abyssinia extravaganza at the New Victory, which was chock-full of jaw-dropping juggling, contortion, balancing, pole climbing, and tumbling, all backed by catchy African beats. This time around, the Ethiopian troupe honors native Olympian Derartu Tulu, a runner who snagged a gold medal in 1992. Expect thrilling acts that evoke her landmark win. For families with children on the autism spectrum, there is a sensory-friendly performance Sunday, December 18.

11. Dream of Kings/Sueño de Reyes – Lower East Side

Friday, December 10-Saturday, January 7, 2023
Ages 3 and older
Masks are optional but encouraged
NYC's only bilingual Latino children's theatre, Teatro SEA presents the puppet production Sueño de Reyes/Dream of Kings in honor of Three Kings Day. Written and directed by the troupe's intrepid founder, Manuel Morán, and featuring gorgeous, handmade shadow puppets of the three royals, this holiday show has the kings mistakenly arriving in Puerto Rico instead of Bethlehem. It's a whimsical tale with on-stage musicians playing Latin jazz songs.

RELATED: Polar Express Train Rides and Christmas Trains near NYC in 2022

Holiday shows in NYC: The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera
The Magic Flute reprises its stunning seasonal run at the Metropolitan Opera. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera

12. The Metropolitan Opera: The Magic Flute – Lincoln Center

Friday, December 16-Friday, January 6, 2023
Ages 6 and older
Masks are optional but encouraged
For the holidays, the Metropolitan Opera revives its family-friendly version of Mozart's masterpiece. Director Julie Taymor (of Broadway's The Lion King fame) incorporates fantastical costumes and puppets into the production, which is whittled down to just 105 minutes with no intermission, and sung in English. It's played the Met before and always receives rave reviews from critics and, more importantly, kids.

13. You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown – Upper East Side

Saturday, December 17-Sunday, December 18
Ages 7 and older
Proof of vaccination is required for ages 5 and older but masks are optional
The 92NY's Theater for Young Audiences presents a streamlined revival of this Tony-nominated musical based on Charles M. Schulz's iconic comic strip characters. Essentially a series of vignettes and awesome songs including "Suppertime" and "Happiness," this hour-long adaptation is the perfect introduction to the Peanuts gang for kids.

14. The Joyce Theater: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Chelsea

Tuesday, December 20-Sunday, January 8, 2023
Ages 6 and older
Masks are required
What's taller and sparklier than the grandest Christmas tree? The drag queen ballerinas of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo! This venerable troupe is made up entirely of men who dance on pointe in tutus. I've been with my daughter and even though it's a comical company, these dudes can really dance. In between laughing you'll find yourself marveling at their technique. Although they're performing seven times a week at The Joyce Theater, they're hosting a special family matinee on Saturday, December 24.

RELATED: Best Children’s Theaters in the US: Why Bringing Young Kids to the Theater Is Important

Holiday shows in NYC: A Charlie Brown Christmas
A Charlie Brown Christmas takes the stage at the Palladium Times Square. Photo by Richard Termine

15. A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage— Midtown West

Thursday, December 22-Saturday, December 24
Ages 5 and older
Masks are optional but encouraged
More Peanuts fun! The beloved animated TV special comes alive on stage at Palladium Times Square. Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and their pals as they sing, dance, and discover the true meaning of the holiday. Afterward, audiences are invited to croon Christmas carols with the cast.

16. Inertia – West Village

Tuesday, December 27-Friday, December 30
Ages 8 and older
Masks are optional but encouraged
Artist and educator Drew Petersen, who's worked with some of the most innovative theaters for young audiences in town (the New Victory, Trusty Sidekick, New York City Children's Theater) is behind Inertia, an interactive experience for families, presented by New Ohio Theatre for Young Minds. An intergenerational piece that delves into the nature of theater-making, Inertia invites audiences to get in on the action as actors and authors, helping to create the show and explore the magic of live performance as it happens. An unforgettable hour out!

RELATED: 20+ Christmas Towns and Santa's Villages That Absolutely Sparkle

Holiday shows in NYC: Baby Shark Live! The Christmas Show
See Baby Shark and family on stage at the Kings Theatre. Photos courtesy of the Kings Theatre

17. Baby Shark Live! The Christmas Show – Flatbush, Brooklyn

Friday, December 30
Ages 3-8
Masks are optional but encouraged
The things we "do-do-do-do-do-do" for our kids! Young Baby Shark fans will eat this live show up like chum. The oceanic star and his pal Pinkfong bring the seasonal spirit to Brooklyn's Kings Theatre with sing-alongs of holiday tunes as well as "Five Little Monkeys," "Wheels on the Bus," "Monkey Banana Dance," and, of course, "Baby Shark."

A version of this post first published in 2021.

Places featured in this article:


A Sherlock Carol at New World Stages

Big Apple Circus at Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center

Dick Rivington & The Cat at Abrons Arts Center

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center

Seven in One Blow, or the Brave Little Kid at Axis Theatre Company

Circus Abyssinia: Tulu at New Victory Theater

The Magic Flute at The Metropolitan Opera

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at The Joyce Theater

Baby Shark Live! The Christmas Show at Kings Theatre

Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas at AMT Theater

Dream of Kings/Sueño de Reyes at Teatro SEA

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Kaufmann Concert Hall

An Afrofuturistic Winter Wonderland at Clark Studio Theater

A Christmas Carol at the Nederlander Theatre

Now Is When We Are (the Stars) at BAM Fisher
Lunar New Year Celebration
The New-York Historical Society - 1:00 PM Pick
Young People's Chorus: Brundibar
The Museum of Jewish Heritage - 3:00 PM Pick
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