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Cracking the Nutcracker Code: Guide to Seattle-Area Performances

From one-hour versions perfect for tots to the PNB spectacular, a sampler of 'Nutcrackers' around Seattle, the Eastside and South Sound

Published on: November 20, 2017


Up and down the Sound, there’s a "Nutcracker" in nearly every town. To help you figure out which one suits your family’s holiday tastes, here’s a sampler of local productions, with information on type of production, price and length (an important consideration for little ones).

Tips: Many productions offer group discounts. And book now: Many of the best/most affordable/most tot-friendly productions sell out quickly. Also, make it special with our guide to enjoying a Nutcracker performance with kids.

Evergreen City Ballet
Credit: Evergreen City Ballet

Eastside-area Nutcrackers

Evergreen City Ballet

For the first time ever, the Heritage Symphony Orchestra will be playing live during select shows in November. Run time is two hours with an intermission. For the little ones, they offer one-hour performances. Bonus: After the production, performers will come out to the lobby in costume to greet the audience. 

Where and when: Dates in November and December at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Auburn Performing Arts Center and Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center.
Price: Tickets start at $18
Tickets: Buy online 

International Ballet Theatre. Photo by Rex Tranter
Credit: International Ballet Theatre. Photo by Rex Tranter

International Ballet Theatre

A classic, Russian-style production of the ballet that features the original choreography from 1892. Expect Russian dancers, plus sets and costumes from the Ukraine. Total run time is just shy of two hours, with an intermission. 

Where and when: Playing throughout December at the Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue
Price: $25–$50 
Tickets: Buy online

Emerald Ballet Theatre. Photo by Heninger Fotografik
Credit: Emerald Ballet Theatre. Photo by Heninger Fotografik

Emerald Ballet Theatre

Emerald Ballet Theatre's annual production of "The Nutcracker" is a staging of the classic ballet with professional dancers and 150 students from the ballet school. The Rainier Symphony Orchestra plays beautiful accompaniement. All performances are matinees.

Where and when: Dates in December at the Northshore Performing Arts Center, Bothell
Price: $22–$43
Tickets: Buy online

Pacific Northwest Ballet's George Balanchine's 'The Nutcracker'
Credit: Pacific Northwest Ballet's George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker"

Seattle-area Nutcracker productions

Pacific Northwest Ballet

PNB's is the gold standard Nutcracker in our region: famous, pricey and worth it. The production is entering its third year of using George Balanchine choreography and newer sets by Ian Falconer, the creater of the popular character Olivia the Pig. If you were a die-hard fan of PNB's previous Maurice Sendak sets, read ParentMap's review of the new production to be ready. Check out PNB's website for special events and activities. 

Where and when: McCaw Hall, Seattle Center: Dates in November and December. 
Price: $25–$170; everyone, even babes in arms, needs a ticket; group rates available.
Tickets: Buy online 

ARC Dance

This north Seattle dance school produces a very popular, family-friendly one-hour show called "Nutcracker Sweets" that caters to young audiences and their families, and showcases the talents of ARC’s student dancers, alongside its youth and professional company dancers.

Where and when: Dates in December at ARC Dance Space in Seattle and Shorewood Performing Arts Center in Shoreline.  
Price: $15–$43
Tickets: Buy online

The Cornish Preparatory Dance Company

Cornish dancers, ages 6–18, showcase their talents in a fun and fanciful version of the holiday ballet.

Where and when: Dates in December at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. 
Price: $16–$20
Tickets: Buy online

Olympic Ballet Theatre
Credit: Olympic Ballet Theatre

North Sound Nutcracker productions

Olympic Ballet Theatre

The Edmonds ballet company presents its annual, full-length performance of the holiday favorite, featuring a newer backdrop and staging. OBT also offers a shorter performance designed for schools and groups, which includes a behind-the-scenes look at the production designed for kidsThe public can also attend these group shows, which are a bargain and perfect for younger children.

Where and when: Dates in December at Everett Performing Arts Center and Edmonds Center for the Arts. 
Price: $25–$39
Tickets: Buy online

Washington School of Dance

This Bothell dance academy’s "Nutcracker" is narrated, one hour in length, and features 70-plus dancers ages 4 to 18; a perfect introduction to the ballet for young children. 

Where and when: Glacier Peak Performing Arts Center in Snohomish in December. 
Price: $15
Tickets: Buy online

Tacoma City Ballet
Credit: Tacoma City Ballet

South Sound Nutcrackers

Tacoma City Ballet

Tacoma City Ballet performs "The Nutcracker and The Tale of the Hard Nut"with Tchaikovsky’s beloved music played by the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra. ParentMap reviewers have praised the production's "sumptuous sets, floaty costumes and skilled dancing."

Where and when: Dates in December at the Federal Way Performing Arts & Event Center
Price: $18–$104
Tickets: Buy online

Dance Theatre Northwest

This Pierce County ballet company has been performing "The Nutcracker" for over a decade. The full-length production runs about two hours.

Where and when: Dates in December at the Mount Tahoma High School Auditorium, Tacoma.
Tickets: Buy online

Ballet Northwest

Olympia's long-running ballet company presents its annual production of "The Nutcracker," featuring talented local dancers — some 200 of them. This year's show features new sets for the snow and land of sweets scences.

Where and when: December dates at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Olympia
Price: $14–$33 
Tickets: Buy online

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2012 and updated for 2017. 

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