Christmas shows are on everyone’s mind as the mercury drops and we bundle up in anticipation of snow. How can you have Christmas in New York without a new edition of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular and more Nutcrackers and Christmas Carols than anyone could possibly see? We scoured our listings to find appropriate shows for those who want their stage entertainments Christmas-themed (or can't make it to a winter carnival). For those with literary tastes, there’s a site-specific adaptation of James Joyce’s short story, “The Dead,” which takes place around the holidays in Dublin, Ireland. Find the Christmas show that’s right for you and maybe the family, too!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in NYC
Christmas shows to see in NYC
This magical 1954 production, set to Tchaikovsky's incredible score, includes the full New York City Ballet company and two casts of School of American Ballet students, as well as an onstage blizzard and a Christmas tree that grows from 12 to 40 feet. In the end, however, Balanchine's choreography is what holds it all together. It's enchanting.
You’ll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the leggy, dazzlingly precise Rockettes. In recent years, new music, more eye-catching costumes and advanced technology have been introduced to bring audience members closer to the performance.
Austin McCormick and his risqué neo-Baroque dance-theater group Company XIV present a lavish erotic reimagining of the classic holiday tale, complete with circus performers, operatic singers and partial nudity. The word nutcracker has customarily conjured innocent wonder; now be ready to add glitter pasties, stripper poles and comically large stuffed penises to the toys in wonderland. Definitely leave the kids at home.
In late 1867, Charles Dickens trekked across the Atlantic to spend a month performing his Christmas classic here in NYC. The Merchant’s House Museum is reenacting this one-hour performance by candlelight in a 19th-century home. (Bonus: Come early for mulled wine and snacks!).
The company offers its annual performance of The Yorkville Nutcracker, set in 1895 New York. This year once again features guests Abi Stafford and Stephen Hanna—both of whom have been New York City Ballet principals—as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier; Maximilien Baud and Therese Wendler perform the Snow Pas de Deux.
The entertaining 2010 Broadway musical adaptation of the Will Ferrell film comedy returns for a holiday run. No one can match Ferrell in the role of Santa’s least helpful helper, but the show follows the same hilarious tale of a human boy raised as an elf at the North Pole. His confused identity leads him to a wintry New York City, where he sings and dances his way through Central Park and Rockefeller Center in search of his family. In the show's latest New York encore run, George Wendt (Cheers) plays Santa.
NYTB presents a family-friendly, hour-long Art Nouveau version of the holiday ballet, complete with clockwork elves and an owl that flies over the audience.The set design is by Gillian Bradshaw-Smith and the costumes by Sylvia Taalsohn Nolan.