Whether your family has a taste for the classics or prefers a little irreverence and innovation; is building new traditions or celebrating old ones; or is on a budget or up for a splurge, this is your go-to list for all the holiday art happenings in the Puget Sound area.
Note: Shows with regular adult ticket prices of $15 or less are marked BARGAIN.
‘Nutcrackers’ and ‘Christmas Carols’
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s staging of the 1952 classic “George Balanchine’s Nutcracker” is the local production that sets the standard. Ian Falconer, creator of the kids’ book character Olivia the Pig, designed the fanciful sets. Throughout the run, PNB hosts special holiday events for families ranging from free mini dance lessons in the lobby to an extravagant cocoa bar during intermission (separate ticket required).
Nov. 23–Dec. 28. $25–$178. McCaw Hall, Seattle.
‘The Nutcracker’ by Evergreen City Ballet
SPLURGE: Evergreen City Ballet is celebrating its 25th-anniversary season with a period production of the classic ballet. Choose the traditional, full-length production or attend one of the select one-hour shows for young children at each venue.
Nov. 30–Dec. 16. $40–$55. Venues in Bellevue, Auburn and Renton.
A favorite among Seattle families, all Ballard performances of “Nutcracker Sweets” have sold out for the past 13 years. ARC Dance brings the magic of “The Nutcracker” alive for families in this hour-long version of the holiday classic ballet specifically designed to appeal to young audiences. “Nutcracker Sweets” showcases ARC School of Ballet students along with members of the professional company, ARC Dance.
Dec. 7–9. $18–$28. Venues in Seattle and Shoreline.
Presented alongside the original Russian version of “The Nutcracker,” Tacoma City Ballet’s annual production of “The Tale of the Hard Nut” includes the obscure Nutcracker backstory of the magical Krakatuk nut. Performances are accompanied by the Tacoma City Ballet Orchestra. Consider buying a ticket to attend the Sugar Plum Tea before your matinee performance. Note: There will be two performances of “The Nutcracker Suite” (a one-hour version; Dec. 8–9) only at Pantages Theater in Tacoma.
Dec. 15–23. $25–$95. Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center, Federal Way.
‘The Nutcracker’ by Olympic Ballet Theatre
Olympic Ballet Theatre presents its annual, full-length performance of the holiday favorite. Abridged performances on Dec. 13 and 21 are perfect for younger viewers and include a special behind-the-scenes demonstration of scenery, costumes and technique.
Dec. 13–23. $24–$48. Venues in Everett, Lynnwood and Edmonds.
‘The Nutcracker’ by International Ballet Theatre
International Ballet Theatre puts on the Eastside’s biggest production of the beloved ballet in traditional Russian style with elaborate sets and costumes from Ukraine, plus Arabian dancers and a fierce battle scene.
Dec. 14–23. $25–$53. Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue.
‘The Nutcracker’ by Ballet Northwest
Last year, Ballet Northwest premiered all-new sets for its production, which has been a South Sound tradition for more than 30 years. More than 200 dancers, including guest artists from New York City, join Clara and her Nutcracker Prince on their magical journey.
Dec. 7–16. $14–$35. Washington Center for the Performing Arts, Olympia.
This is ACT’s 43rd annual production of Gregory A. Falls’ adaptation of Dickens’ classic holiday tale. Join the curmudgeonly businessman and his spectral guides on a journey to understand the true meaning of Christmas and life. Note: This show has proven too scary for some kids; consider the age and sensitivity of yours before attending this show.
Nov. 23–Dec. 28. $27–$87. Ages 5 and older; no babes in arms. ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, Seattle.
BARGAIN: This original adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is presented as story time at the North Pole. Mrs. Claus and her zany kittens bring the story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge to life, replacing scary ghosts with play-acting cats.
Dec. 2–22. $12. Ages 5–12 with families (Sunday shows are all ages, with half-price toddler tickets). SecondStory Repertory, Redmond.
More than 100 years ago, 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun and received a timeless editorial response printed on the front page of the respected newspaper. Lakewood’s poignant production will share the exchange with the whole family.
Nov. 23–Dec. 16. $20–$26. All ages. Lakewood Playhouse, Lakewood.
The 5th is putting on an all-new production of the classic show, but you’ll still get to see all the characters you love — and those you love to hate — as well as hear the unforgettable songs that made “Annie” so beloved in the first place.
Nov. 23–Dec. 30. $29–$120. Ages 4 and older; no babes in arms. The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle.
Adapted from Frank Capra’s beloved film, the musical follows George Bailey’s life in Bedford Falls as he discovers what the world would be like if he had never been born. The story is familiar, but all the seats are new this year at the refurbished Renton Civic Theatre.
Dec. 7–22. $10–$26. All ages. Renton Civic Theatre, Renton.
See the Christmas story through new eyes — specifically, the eyes of the Herdmans, the worst kids in the history of the world (according to their neighbors). A buoyant musical adaptation of the modern holiday classic.
Dec. 7–16. $14–$22. Auburn Avenue Theater, Auburn.
Heavier Than Air Family Theatre presents “Scrooge, The Musical,” adapted from the 1970 musical film based on the plot of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Dec. 14–22. $16–$20. Ages 5 and older; no babes in arms. Green River College, Auburn.
BARGAIN: Before “The Nutcracker” was a ballet, there was a book. Now see the story that inspired “The Nutcracker” performed by local youth in this theatrical production.
Dec. 7–16. $15. All ages. Bellevue Youth Theatre – Crossroads, Bellevue.
In this film-noir-inspired thriller, hard-boiled detective Nick Holiday investigates the truth about Big Red. A glamorous elf, a used-Christmas-tree salesman, a muckraking reporter and a quick-thinking cab driver round out this nontraditional holiday mystery.
Nov. 23–Dec. 24. $17–$34. All ages. Seattle Public Theater, Bathhouse Theater at Green Lake, Seattle.
Based on the classic 1983 movie and presented by Manestage Theatre Company, the story takes place in 1940s Indiana, where a kooky leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a cranky department store Santa and a triple dog dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the obstacles to Ralphie’s Christmas dream.
Nov. 30–Dec. 16. $25. Ages 3 and older. Liberty Theatre, Puyallup.
This classic features 17 Irving Berlin songs, including “Blue Skies,” “I Love a Piano” and the perennial favorite “White Christmas.” Based on the movie “White Christmas,” Bob and Phil have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. When they follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, romance and high jinks ensue.
Nov. 23–Dec. 16. $22–$31. Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma.
BARGAIN: Camp TMP’s Honor Camp program presents the award-winning 1965 CBS special adapted for the stage. After Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism he sees during the Christmas season, he gets Linus’ help in discovering the real meaning of Christmas. Warning: May inspire a lifelong love of scraggly Christmas trees in your child.
Dec. 15–23. All ages. $10. Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma.
Taproot Theatre’s musical production of the cartoon classic is perfect for all ages. Only 40 minutes long with no intermission, this show also has two sensory-friendly performances. If you have older kids (12 and older) and are looking for something a bit more sophisticated, consider Taproot’s other holiday production, “Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley,” about the plain middle sister from “Pride and Prejudice.” $5 “lap child” ticket for children ages 2 or younger.
Nov. 30–Dec. 27. $5–$25. Taproot Theatre’s Isaac Studio Theatre, Seattle.
Belly laughs are in order for Studio East’s 18th annual spin on the classic Christmas Eve poem. This year, the infamous mother-in-law, Vera, is back as the Big family awaits the arrival of St. Nick.
Dec. 1–23. $20. Ages 4 and older. Studio East Mainstage Theater, Kirkland.
Comic Romps and Nut-Free Fun
In a beloved annual tradition, Centerstage turns a well-known fairy tale on its head with English panto twists. Expect corny songs and a few surprises.
Nov. 30–Dec. 23. $12–$35. Ages 5 and older. Centerstage Theatre, Federal Way.
BARGAIN: The Fremont Players and Fremont Philharmonic return with their annual panto production, full of outrageous characters, original songs and jokes aimed at young and old. Expect audience participation, slapstick, innuendo and more from this wacky fairy tale.
Dec. 8–Jan. 6. $7–$15. All ages. Hale’s Palladium, Seattle.
Travel around the world and connect cultures with the ever-curious Syd the Solstice Kid. Why are the days so short in December? Where does the sun go? Join Syd, courtesy of StoryBook Theater, and explore a collection of solstice legends and celebrations from around the world.
Dec. 2–22. $18. Ages 3–10 with families. Venues in Renton, Seattle, Shoreline and Kirkland.
BARGAIN: Kaleidoscope Dance Company presents its family-friendly holiday performance featuring dancers ages 7–16 who helped choreograph this showcase of imaginative modern dance. Sharing a message of peace and cooperation rather than celebrating any particular holiday tradition, Kaleidoscope dancers impress audiences with their talent and professionalism, despite their young ages.
Dec. 2, 3:30 p.m. $7–$12. Shorewood Performing Arts Center, Shoreline.
Enjoy Chinese food and watch the documentary film “Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas,” about the immigrant Jewish musicians who composed the indelible, mainstream pop-culture soundtrack to Christmas.
Dec. 25, 5 p.m. $20–$25 dinner and movie, $10–$15 film only. Stroum Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island.
Orchestras, Singers and Choirs
BARGAIN: Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Tacoma Musical Playhouse elves will kick off the holiday season with favorite holiday carols, live accompaniment, and a special story-time read by St. Nick himself. After the sing-along, children can meet Santa and give him their holiday wishes, with professional photography available.
Dec. 8. $10. All ages. Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma.
Celebrate the holiday season with the Swing Reunion Orchestra. This 18-piece big band will play traditional standards and swing hits from Christmases past.
Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m. $25. All ages. Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma.
The Seattle Men’s Chorus offers fresh takes on the classics in this year’s “Jingle All the Way” show, featuring “Silver Bells,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Dec. 9–23. $15–$81. Venues in Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.
BARGAIN: On the evening of Dec. 7, revel in the holiday spirit while dozens of caroling teams try to outsing one another on street corners around Westlake Center in downtown Seattle in an effort to raise money for the Pike Place Market Foundation. All ages. Listening is free, forming a team costs $75.
SPLURGE: An all-ages Christmas tradition, the Coats quartet’s annual Christmas concerts display an awe-inspiring vocal range with harmonies and catchy, danceable music.
Dec. 21–23. $42.50. Benaroya Hall, Seattle.
Three generations of the Boulding family join the Tara Academy Irish Dancers, fiddler Jocelyn Pettit, Dublin guitarist Colm MacCárthaigh and others to present vocals and sing-alongs accompanied by Celtic harp, hammered dulcimer, cello, violin, whistles, accordions and concertinas. This is a festive gala of music, dance, storytelling, juggling, a colorful costumed processional and songs of the season.
Nov. 25–Dec. 29. $12–$32. Venues in Kent, Bellevue, Tacoma, Seattle and beyond.
Sno-King Community Chorale presents “Dreamweaver” by Ola Gjeilo, a holiday tale of adventure and redemption. The chorale will also present fun, festive selections for your enjoyment.
Dec. 8, 3 and 7 p.m. $15–$25. Edmonds Center for the Arts, Edmonds.
BARGAIN: Enjoy Raymond Briggs’ classic children’s film “The Snowman” at Seattle Symphony’s Family Concert designed for ages 6–12. Arrive one hour before the performance for pre-concert activities, including an instrument zoo and a craft.
Dec. 1. $15–$20. Ages 6–12 with families. Benaroya Hall, Seattle.
The Seattle Symphony, along with its chorale and talented soloists, presents this annual tradition that includes the magnificent “Hallelujah” chorus. This year’s performers include conductor, violinist and countertenor Dmitry Sinkovsky, with soprano Yulia Van Doren, tenor Colin Balzer and baritone Michael Kelly.
Dec. 14–16. $24–$89. Benaroya Hall, Seattle.
SPLURGE: Geoffrey Castle’s virtuoso violin performances are not what you expect from a fiddler. This year, besides his electric six-string violin, the show features the Seattle Irish Dance Company, the All-Star Celtic Night Band, special guests from the Seattle Opera and singer-songwriter Dan Connolly.
Dec. 13–14. $44. Kirkland Performance Center, Kirkland.
As Unique as Your Family
A “Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour” is a hilarious performance featuring contestants from the VH1 reality TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” As you would expect, there will be adult humor, but the show is open to all ages.
Dec. 12, 8 p.m. $21.50–$160.50. Moore Theatre, Seattle.
BARGAIN: Beginning Nov. 23, see some of cinema’s best and most beloved classics on ice. From the family-friendly “The Mighty Ducks” and the outrageous hockey goonery of “Slap Shot” to the star-crossed lovers in “Cutting Edge”, these films will make you want to lace up your skates! Keep an eye out as well for SIFF’s long-running holiday tradition of a sing-along screening of “Fiddler on the Roof.” $11–$25, depending on the show.
SIFF Film Center, Seattle.
Danny Vernon presents classic Elvis and traditional Christmas selections in his own “Illusion of Elvis” show.
Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m. $22–$25. Auburn Avenue Theater, Auburn.