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Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Photograph: Courtesy MSG EntertainmentRadio City Christmas Spectacular

The best Christmas shows in NYC this holiday season

Our guide to holiday stage fun in 2022, with plenty Christmas Carols and Nutcrackers to yuletide you over

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman
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Christmas shows are on everyone’s mind as New Yorkers prepare for the holidays. How can you make a yuletide gay in New York without a generous array of Nutcrackers and A Christmas Carols? With that in mind, we've found the best holiday-themed theater and dance shows to help you stay in high spirits this year, from shows aimed at kids to a few that are definitely not. Check out our chronological list of holiday shows and find the ones that are right for you. We'll be updating and filling out this page as show dates become available.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Christmas in NYC

Christmas Shows in 2022

  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Midtown West

You’ll get a kick out of this holiday stalwart, which still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the dazzling Rockettes. In recent years, new music, more eye-catching costumes and advanced technology have been introduced to bring audience members closer to the performance. Whatever faults one may find with this awesomely lavish annual pageant (it's basically a celebration of the virtues of shopping), this show has legs. And what legs! In the signature kick line that finds its way into most of the big dance numbers, the Rockettes’ 36 flawless pairs of gams rise and fall like the batting of an eyelash, their perfect unison a testament to the disciplined human form. This is precision dancing on a massive scale—a Busby Berkeley number come to glorious life—and it takes your breath away.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

  • Dance
  • Ballet
  • Upper West Side

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.

 

 

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  • Theater
  • Drama
  • Midtown West

The marvelous Jefferson Mays, who played a mere eight characters in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, ups the ante to 50 in this solo version of Charles Dickens’s yuletide chestnut, adapted by the Tony-winning actor with Susan Lyons and director Michael Arden (Spring Awakening). The show—let’s call it I Am My Own Ghosts—premiered at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse in 2018 and now moves to Broadway for a holiday run. 

  • Theater
  • Comedy

Guided by audience suggestions, the Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble whips up a spontaneous 1980s-style sitcom adventure for a Small Wonder–ful android girl in an apocalyptic holiday edition of the group's Wow Wee! series. Conceiver Nannette Deasy plays the feisty central android, Robert Baumgardner directs and John Munnelly provides live music.

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  • Dance
  • Bushwick

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.

  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Hell's Kitchen

A six-year-old girl with aspirations to elegance must adjust to a less-than-posh family Christmas in Vital Theatre Company's reprise of its 2014 kiddie musical, adapted from the popular illustrated book by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser. The adaptation is by Cara Lustik and Matthew Hardy, with lyrics by Hardy and music by Randy Klein. 

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  • Theater
  • Drama
  • Hell's Kitchen

Playwright-director Mark Shanahan has come up with a relatively novel spin on A Christmas Carol: a mash-up of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Long after Ebenezer's ghost-induced epiphany, the title detective (Drew McVety) is engaged to solve his murder. Shanahan's wreathing of these icons is fun—a haunted Holmes is visited by the specter of Scrooge—though it never really transcends its inspirations. The show returns for a second season in 2022 with Allen Gilmore as Ebenezer but the rest of the original cast intact.—Raven Snook 

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  • Theater
  • Drama
  • Noho

John Kevin Jones goes to the Dickens in this one-hour account of the novelist's classic holiday ghost story, adapted with director Rhonda Dodd. The Merchant's House Museum, formerly the home of a wealthy 19th-century family, provides an atmospheric candlelit setting for Jones's tenth annual engagement. Select performances include a preshow reception at which the audience sips mulled wine and Jones recites Clement Moore's “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Midtown West

This Christmas-themed experience is nestled amid the shopping and restaurant complex at Hudson Yards. Attendees travel through seven immersive installations before arriving at a speakeasy that includes live music, yuletide cocktails and a variety show built around holiday-themed ballet and burlesque. 

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  • Theater
  • Children's
  • Lower East Side

Having delighted audiences with Jack & the Beanstalk in 2017 and 2018, the company ONEOFUS—led by veteran downtown artists and spouses Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz—teams up with Abrons Arts Center once again to present a new holiday spectacle: Dick Rivington & the Cat, which gives a Lower East Side immigrant twist to the British panto favorite Dick Whittington & His Cat, the inspiring tale of a lad and his rat-hunting feline companion. Fraser wrote the script, and Muz directs; although much of their past work has had an adults-only slant, this is family fare with an irreverent, exuberant, communitarian soul.

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  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Lower East Side

Angela Harriell and her louche dance-cabaret troupe, the Love Show, ventured into Christmas territory a decade ago with their adults-only Nutcracker: Rated RNow they get back into the holiday spirit with a site-specific dance-theater adaptation of Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands, the bittersweet tale of a razor-sharp boy, staged weekly at the Lower East Side rock club Arlene's Grocery. Harriell, who cowrote the show wth David F. Slone and Julie Megan Smith, also directs and choreographs it; Corn Mo serves as musical director. 

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  • Music
  • Cabaret and standards

All you'll want for Christmas is this concert tribute to Mariah Carey, featuring a dozen Broadway vocalists performing new arrangements of songs from Carey's two holiday albums, backed by a 14-piece jazz orchestra. The lineup in this latest edition of producer-director Corey Mach's Broadway Sings series includes Girl from the North Country's Jeannette Bayardelle and Caroline, or Change's Tamika Lawrence as well as Amber Ardolino, Angela Birchett, Castrata, Alysha Deslorieux, Keri René Fuller, Alexa Green, Aisha Jackson, Lindsay Joan, Nya and Samantha Pauly.

  • Theater
  • Comedy
  • West Village

Comedians Maria Russell, Diana Yanez and Sandra Valls add a little spice to your eggnog in a holiday show about friendship, family and the experience of living as first-generation Latina-Americans. The show, which was at the Soho Playhouse in 2019, returns this year for a one-week encore.

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  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Chelsea

On Site Opera brings back its ;a modernized take on Gian Carlo Menotti's brief, beloved Christmas classic—about a disabled boy who encounters the Magi on their way to bring gifts to Baby Jesus—in an appropriate site-specific location: the Holy Apostles Soup kitchen. Professional opera singers perform alongside a Shepherds Chorus composed of New Yorkers who were once homeless. Geoffrey McDonald conducts the 45-minute show, and Eric Einhorn directs. Audience members are encouraged to bring a donation of nonperishable food to support the soup kitchen's work with those in need.

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  • Dance
  • Folk & world
  • Queens

The folk-dance company, guided by artistic director Alberto Lopez Herrera, reprises a 2018 piece that celebrates the holiday season as it is experienced by a child of Mexican-American immigrants in New York City. In styles that range from Aztec-inspired movement to ballet, and to music from mariachi to Tchaikovsky, 16 dancers perform sequences created especially for this show by Mexican and Mexican-American choreographers. 

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  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • Williamsburg

Pig Brooch Theatre Company's annual pageant, a faithful recreation of the 1965 Charlie Brown TV special, has spent the last 14 years roving among different venues in Brooklyn. The scrappy show, directed by Mollie Vogt-Welch, plants its Peanuts at the newly restored Opera House in Williamsburg this year, with a live jazz trio playing Vince Guaraldi's beloved music.

  • Theater
  • Comedy
  • Lower East Side

Random Access Theatre’s boozy-geeky Drunk Texts series muddles classical texts—or modern ones reimagined as classical—into a cocktail of drinking games, improv and audience interaction, in which the audiences chooses which thespians take shots. Now the gang toasts the holiday season with its annual spirited version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol

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  • Theater
  • Musicals
  • East Village

The piquant writer-actor Angela Di Carlo, of the long-running musical Mad Men spoof The Mad World of Miss Hathaway, switches decades to play a 1970s country star freshly sprung from the sanitarium and ready for her comeback on a televised holiday special. Directed by the witty Justin Elizabeth Sayre, the show features a bevy of downtown delights in supporting roles as family members and local hicks: Amber Martin, Nora Burns, David Ilku, Louisa Bradshaw, Carmine Covelli, Jack Bartholet and Robby Reynolds.

  • Dance
  • Contemporary and experimental
  • Tribeca

Choreographer David Parker and his Bang Group reprise their neovaudevillian version of The Nutcracker, a comedic deconstruction of the holiday classic that mixes tap, ballet, contemporary dance and disco. The cast for this 20th annual production includes students from Steffi Nossen School of Dance and e.g. dance.

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  • Theater
  • Drama
  • Woodside

Queens' Secret Theatre, which had a near-death experience during the pandemic, decks the halls of its new Woodside venue with its version of Charles Dickens's haunted tale of a pinchpenny's redemption. Company founder Richard Mazda, who wrote the adaptation, leads the cast as Scrooge. 

  • Dance
  • Contemporary and experimental
  • Flatbush

Brooklyn Ballet's take on The Nutcracker, choreographed by artistic director Lynn Parkerson, emphasizes cultural and artistic diversity. Alongside sequences that hew to the classic 19th-century tradition are interludes featuring street dance, flamenco, belly dancing, Chinese dance, hoop dance, hip-hop and—new for this year's edition—the Hopak, a traditional Ukrainian dance.

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  • Dance
  • Hip-hop
  • New Jersey

This production interprets the classic with hip-hop choreography and an updated version of the holiday story; directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber and adapted by Mike Fitelson, the production features onstage DJs, an amped-up version of the Tchaikovsky score and a short opening act by rap pioneer Kurtis Blow. 

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  • Theater
  • Children's
  • Midtown West

Eric Schaeffer pays homage to a gentle holiday classic with a family-oriented stage adaptation of the 1965 Peanuts television special. Directed by Robert Coulson, the show is accompanied by a jazz trio playing the Vince Guaraldi score, while live actors mimic the voices and physicality of the cartoon characters. An audience sing-along of carols and yuletide favorites follows the performance.

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