Insider’s Guide to Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker

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Kids can try on tutus in the lobby before the performance.

Are visions of sugarplums dancing in your child’s head?  Pacific Northwest Ballet is putting on a spectacular performance of the all-time holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. With sets by Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) and various adaptations to the traditional (think Peacocks instead of Arabian dancers), this production will leave your you and your child with a new holiday tradition to follow year after year.

Don your fancy clothes and pirouette your way to the ballet –  this event is kid friendly, gender-neutral, and a wonderful holiday experience. There are plenty of show times to choose from; performances start the day after Thanksgiving and end on December 27th. The opening weekend tends to offer lots of kid-friendly activities (instrument petting zoo, craft tables, magicians, etc), but you can find multiple lobby activities guaranteed to keep the little ones busy throughout the entire season. A PNB staffer shows up on a regular basis to show the kids some dance moves, pass around pointed shoes, and hand out genuine ballet tutus for the little ones to try on. If you feel in need of a souvenir, duck into the gift shop for a few minutes and browse at your leisure.

During the Intermission, take the chance to stretch your legs, snap a photo at the provided sets, and grab a cookie and some hot cocoa from the snack stand before the second act.

Insider Tips:

  • Warn your kid about the cannon; it’s not that loud, but it can be startling. The Rat King might also be upsetting to small children.
  • You can watch a video of this performance (frequently aired on PBS) to prepare.
  • Booster cushions can be acquired on the main floor (behind the stairs) for free on a first-come first-served basis and binoculars can be rented for $5
  • Come early to enjoy the lobby activities and avoid the rush; don’t panic! There are monitors in the lobby in case your mini-ballerina has a mini-melt-down.
  • The parking lot across the street has decent rates (for downtown) and a sky-bridge to carry you safely over Mercer.  If you’re super lucky, you may find street parking on Roy or another side street.
  • If you want to save some dough, get a group of 15 or more to commit and get up to 25% off! PNB also offers a few family pack options, and there is a child rate for kids under age 12.
  • There are excellent viewing seats on the main floor sides (called the Gallery Upper) which are close to the stage and offered at relatively low prices.

If you’re in the mood for a more traditional rendition of the holiday classic, you might want to think about checking out the Olympic Ballet Theatre at the Edmonds Center for the Arts. This performance comes complete with growing Christmas trees, cannons, and has further been recognized for its artistic and educational value. Sit back, and prepare to enjoy.

—Joia Port