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13 Holiday Shows for the Whole Family See in New York City

The holiday season is upon New York City. More than hot cocoa and skating at Rockefeller Center, that means it’s also the most wonderful time of the year to catch cheery Christmas-themed entertainment. Whether you’re looking for the best in dance, classical music, Broadway, family theatre, or pop stars, this list of 13 experiences will be your guide to navigating the chaotic joy of Yuletide offerings.

Here’s our list of special holiday engagements in chronological order of their opening:

The Radio City Rockettes
The Radio City Rockettes

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular
November 10–January 1
Radio City Music Hall
No other holiday show is more iconic than the long-running Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Radio City Rockettes. Since 1933, the Spectacular has been an institution of singing, dancing, and Yuletide cheer. Though some routines are a staple (the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”), the show presents a fresh story and new material each year. For tickets and information, click here.

The Ride: Holiday Edition
November 16–January 7
New York City
The Holiday Ride returns for its sixth year, giving a whole new meaning to the idea of a holiday sleigh. Celebrating the lights of Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza, the floor-to-ceiling glass windows of the luxury motor coach turn New York City streets into a stage as passengers enjoy seasonal music and curated holiday-themed sidewalk performances timed to the bus route. For tickets and information, click here.

Home for the Holidays
November 21–December 30
August Wilson Theatre
For a special limited engagement, the winners of America’s top reality television singing competitions (Candice Glover of American Idol, Josh Kaufman of The Voice, and Bianca Ryan of America’s Got Talent) join together to celebrate the holidays in this concert extravaganza hosted by The Bachelorette’s Kaitlyn Bristowe. For tickets and information, click here.


November 22–December 31
Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, New Jersey
Starring Tony winner Beth Leavel as Miss Hannigan and two-time Tony nominee Christopher Sieber as Daddy Warbucks, the beloved musical inspired by “Little Orphan Annie” comes to the Tony-winning regional theatre. Featuring songs like “Tomorrow,” “New Deal for Christmas,” “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here,” and more, Annie is the perfect first musical for new theatregoers and a cozy favorite to return to again and again. For tickets and information, click here.


<i>The Nutcracker</i> at City Ballet
The Nutcracker at City Ballet Photo by Paul Kolnik

The Nutcracker
November 24–December 31
New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center
The beautiful Company once again presents George Balanchine’s stunning choreography in its annual presentation of the classic ballet—featuring 90 dancers, 62 musicians, and 32 stagehands just to mount it. Dress in your holiday finest and watch the tale of young Clara as her dreams come to life onstage with marching toy soldiers, mischievous mice, glimmering snowflakes, and delightful desserts. For tickets and information, click here.

The Magic Flute
November 25–December 9
Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center
If you’re looking for grandiose yet groundbreaking art—that’s not necessarily holiday-themed—the Met Opera’s production of The Magic Flute is your number. Directed by Tony and Oscar winner Julie Taymor (The Lion King), the English-language production has been shortened to a high-energy 100 minutes. The story follows Prince Tamino, who was saved from a serpent’s wrath by the Queen of the Night and must repay her by rescuing her daughter with a magic flute. This production—and the libretto itself—is a great one for opera newbies. For tickets and information, click here.


Elf The Musical
December 13–29
The Theatre at Madison Square Garden
For lovers of the Will Ferrell movie of the same name—and those who love humor around the holidays—Elf The Musical returns to the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. The show first bowed on Broadway in 2010 and continues to deliver the flash, splash, and heart of its Main Stem roots and the spirit of the film. From the bubble “Sparkjollytwinklejingley” to the jazzy “Never Fall in Love,” the music and choreography will put a smile on your face. The extended run at MSG is just one stop on its national tour, so check to see if the production is playing in a city near you. For tickets and information, click here.

A Christmas Carol
November 24–December 17
Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row
In this production from MOD Theatre Company, seven actors play 57 characters of the classic Charles Dickens story. As grumpy Ebeneezer Scrooge rues Christmas, visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, turn his cold heart to loving one. For tickets and information, click here.

Kris Kringle the Musical
November 24
The Town Hall
Tony nominees Cathy Rigby (yes, that Cathy Rigby) and Pamela Myers, as well as Andrew Keenan-Bolger, will bow in this original holiday musical for two performances only. The story follows “starry-eyed toymaker Kris Kringle (Keenan-Bolger), who crosses paths with an evil New York City toy company CEO and finds himself wrapped up in a magical curse with the power to destroy Christmas. From the top of the world in the North Pole, Kris Kringle teams up with Santa and Mrs. Claus, the beautiful Evelyn Noel, a band of hilarious Apprentices and Elves, and magical Toys to remind us what Christmas is really about.” The performances benefit The Singing Angel, a charity dedicated to promoting youth culture through the arts. For tickets and information, click here.

Handel’s “Messiah”
December 12–16
New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center
The annual performance of the classical opus will play David Geffen Hall. Conducted by Gary Thor Wedow, the Orchestra performs the masterpiece that first debuted in Dublin circa 1742. For tickets and information, click here.


A Middle Eastern Christmas
December 13
Carnegie Hall
Renowned Lebanese-American tenor Amine J. Hachem presents a program dipping into an array of styles—from Latin to jazz to American pop to European classical. Along with Christmas favorites, Hachem will sing tunes influenced by great operatic tenors and rock icons. For tickets and information, click here.

Hip Hop Nutcracker
December 14
United Palace Theatre
For an edgier take on the classic tale, the Hip Hop Nutcracker is the pump of adrenaline you’ve been waiting for. The modern take has earned acclaim from the New York Times, CBS, and Elle Magazine, which calls it a “one-of-a-kind experience filled with high-powered choreography.” So if you’re ready for a revamp, this has your name written all over it. (Plus, check out the national tour schedule here.) For tickets and information, click here.

The Snow Queen
December 30–January 7
New Ohio Theatre
Award-winning theatre company Blessed Unrest presents this take on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a young woman trying to save her friend from “a frozen world devoid of feelings, featuring the troupe’s signature physicality, magical transformations, extravagant costumes, and modern humor.” Recommended for kids age 7 and up, the show by Matt Opatrny was written with families in mind. For tickets and information, click here.

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