You don't have to go to New York City to see The Nutcracker this holiday season—there are at least a dozen productions of the beloved ballet happening right here in New Jersey. We've looked into all of them to help you figure out which one is right for you and your kids, whether it's a full-length, traditional production featuring swirling snowflakes and waltzing flowers; a hip-hop retelling led by a rap legend; or an abridged version designed with little ones in mind. You'll even find one starring kids' book faves Max and Ruby. If ballet isn't your thing but you'd still like to see a holiday performance, be sure to check out our roundup of non-Nutcracker shows. And look to our holiday guide for even more ways to celebrate the season.
Note that "full-length" means about two hours plus an intermission, while abridged versions run about one hour. Use your judgment to figure out what would be most appropriate for your child. Some companies will be performing at multiple venues; all are listed below. Click on each listing for more information, including prices and show times.
The soldiers prepare for battle in American Repertory Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. Photo by Leighton Chen.
The company celebrates its 53rd year of Tchiakovsky’s classic with a cast of more than 100 dancers, including students from Princeton Ballet School, as well as stunning new sets. American Repertory Ballet's Nutcracker is one of the longest continuously running productions of the ballet in the U.S. The company will perform its full-length production at the following venues:
Union County Performing Arts Center – Rahway
*An abridged, sensory-friendly performance will take place on November 20. The hour-long performance is geared toward children and adults with special needs.
McCarter Theatre – Princeton
November 23, 25–26
Patriots Theater at the War Memorial – Trenton
South Orange Performing Arts Center – South Orange
The State Theater of New Jersey – New Brunswick
Like American Repertory Ballet, New Jersey Ballet presents a traditional, large-scale production that brings top-quality dancers together with spectacular costumes, set, and special effects. The runtime is two hours, with one intermission. There will be performances throughout New Jersey as follows:
Middle Township Performing Arts Center – Cape May Courthouse
*Online ticketing not available; tickets can be purchased by phone or in person at the box office.
Levoy Theater – Millville
Bergen Performing Arts Center – Englewood
*Audio described performance at 1pm on December 4.
Mayo Performing Arts Center – Morristown
December 9–11, 16–18, 22–24
*Performances feature live accompaniment by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
Kendall Main Stage, College of New Jersey – Ewing
November 26–27, December 3–5
The Roxey Ballet presents its 22nd annual Nutcracker, a kid-friendly production that features more than 150 performers, from local dancers to international ballet stars. This year's production also will include appearances by community leaders, as well as a visit from Santa. A sensory-friendly performance will take place at 2pm on December 3.
Voorhees Middle School Community Theater – Voorhees
November 26–27, December 2–4
This full-length production features dancers from Ballet X and Pennsylvania ballet, as well as an array of international guest artists.
Wellmont Theatre – Montclair
Beloved bunny siblings Max and Ruby become characters in The Nutcracker in this musical production. The 90-minute performance is geared toward ages 3–8.
Moscow Ballet makes two stops in New Jersey – in Wayne and Somerville – during its annual North American tour. The lavish, full-length production features the company of 40 dancers plus local New Jersey students, as well as Russian touches such as life-size matryoshka dolls and and a troika sleigh ride through the magical snow forest.
William Paterson University – Wayne
Raritan Valley Community College – Somerville
For its 34th annual Nutcracker season, AC Ballet presents a full-length production featuring members of its classically trained, international company.
Stockton Performing Arts Center – Galloway
Circus Maximus Theater at Caesars – Atlantic City
The Strand – Lakewood
*Features live accompaniment by the Garden State Philharmonic.
Count Basie Theatre – Red Bank
Soloists from New York City Ballet join local pre-professional dancers in this full-length production, now in its 24th year.
New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble in the Snow Forest scene. Photo by Tony Turner.
Memorial Auditorium, Montclair State University – Montclair
New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble brings its acclaimed full-length production of The Nutcracker to Montclair for its 47th anniversary season. The production features 55 dancers ages 7–18 from across New Jersey, as well as guest artists from San Francisco Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, and more.
The Lackland Center's Sitnik Theater – Hackettstown
This narrated production helps younger children follow along as Clara travels to the Land of the Sweets with her Nutcracker Prince. Children under 3 not permitted.
Kelsey Theater, Mercer County College – West Windsor
This abridged, family-friendly version of The Nutcracker is fully narrated and and danced almost entirely by children and teens. All shows are followed by a meet-and-greet with the dancers.
NJPAC – Newark
The Sugar Plum Fairy ditches her pointe shoes in this urban twist on The Nutcracker at New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The performance features rap legend Kurtis Blow as special guest MC, along with a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, electric violinist, and digital scenery.
Top image: American Repertory Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. Photo by Leighton Chen.
Updated November 2016.