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Holiday Nutcrackers: Our Family Guide to Puget Sound-Area Performances

A sampler of fantastic Nutcrackers around Seattle, the Eastside and South Sound

Nancy Chaney

Published on: December 03, 2019


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 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.

And if you're ready to change up your Nutcracker routine, check our family holiday arts guide for lots more ideas.

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: December performances at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Auburn Performing Arts Center and Renton Ikea Performing Arts Center.
Tickets: Buy online 

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

International Ballet Theatre

This classic, Russian-style production of the ballet 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
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 accompaniment. All performances are matinees.

Where and when: Dates in December at the Northshore Performing Arts Center, Bothell
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 creator of the popular children's book character Olivia the Pig. If you were a die-hard fan of PNB's previous Maurice Sendak sets, read ParentMap's review of the current 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.
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.
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. 
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 for schools and groups that 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.
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 4–18; a perfect introduction to the ballet for young children. 

Where and when: Glacier Peak Performing Arts Center in Snohomish in December.
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 Tacoma's Pantages Theater.
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 scenes.

Where and when: December dates at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Olympia
Tickets: Buy online

Editor's note: This article was originally published several years ago and updated most recently in 2019.

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