Take a break from the holiday rush when you sit down to one of these magical shows in Seattle that were made for families
The winter holiday season is always a busy time for families. Between school events and days off, parties with friends and family, and experiencing all the city has to offer during the season, it’s a wonder there’s time left to do anything else. There’s one surefire way to slow the pace and take a much-needed break with the fam—head out to see one of our favorite shows in Seattle that will put you in the holiday spirit. From classic Christmas productions like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol to new shows you’ve never seen and those you can’t wait to see, these Seattle shows have a little something for everyone. So, get out your calendars and starting checking dates, because these productions are here to spread holiday cheer.
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Shows in Seattle: Where to see The Nutcracker
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
The Pacific Northwest Ballet is celebrating its 50th season this year. We couldn’t think of a better time to plan a family outing to see George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The production features the ever-mesmerizing choreography of Balanchine, plus lavish sets and costumes designed by Ian Falconer (yes, that Ian Falconer, creator of Olivia the Pig) that pique the senses. Kids will be awed by the production elements, like a 40-foot-tall Christmas tree and more than 30-cubic-feet of snow that falls on stage during the snow scene in Act One. They’ll be glued to their seats. And oh, the costumes. With more than 154 different costumes to gaze at—including Mother Ginger’s magical skirt that weighs more than 60 pounds—they’ll be dying to play dress-up when they get home from the ballet.
This full-length show is best suited for school-aged kids, but theatergoers of all ages will be riveted during the two-hour performance (that includes a 25-minute intermission), as they bask in the care and craftsmanship of this delightful event. If you want to avoid lobby lines during the brief intermission, consider reserving a Nutcracker Suite for your family ($40). It includes Nutcracker-inspired hot and cold snacks, desserts, and drinks to fill hungry tummies mid-show.
Good to Know: There is a sensory-friendly performance of the Nutcracker scheduled for Dec. 20 at 2 p.m.
Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 27, 2022
Digital access: Dec. 19-27, 2022
321 Mercer St.
ARC Nutcracker Sweets
If you’re not quite sure your kids are up to seeing the larger-than-life performance at PNB, grab tickets to ARC Dance’s Nutcracker Sweets. With a run time of just 90 minutes, this family favorite is lovingly referred to as “the fastest Nutcracker in the West.” Specifically designed for younger audiences it’s a perfect starter Nutcracker (a.k.a. gateway show). The fact the Sweets showcases some of ARC’s student dancers alongside members of their professional company is an inspirational bonus for kids in the audience. In other words—don’t be surprised if this show has your Little asking for lessons afterward.
Good to Know: Families can enjoy this performance in Seattle or Shoreline.
Dates: Dec. 9-11 & 17, 2022
Shorewood Performing Arts Center
17300 Fremont Ave. N.
Excerpts from the Nutcracker
Another local production with kids in mind is Island Youth Ballet’s Excerpts from the Nutcracker. Kids will be gob-smacked when they see kids their own age dance in the fantastical all-youth production. Equal parts sweet, fanciful, and full-on spectacular, this show is performed by the school’s students (from preschoolers to high schoolers) and is notable for its gorgeous costumes and spectacular sets, and of course, the adorable youth dancing all the parts.
Dates: Dec. 10, 11, 17 & 18, 2022
3801 E. Mercer Way
Mercer Island, WA
These are just a few of our favorite kid-friendly performances of The Nutcracker, but they are just a handful of the local performances being offered. Families can also enjoy ballet performances at Emerald City Ballet's The Nutcracker, International Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker, DASSdance’s modern version of The Nutcracker, Evergreen City Ballet’s The Nutcracker, and more.
Fantastic Productions of A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol
Now in its 47th year, ACT’s beloved production of A Christmas Carol is a local favorite for families. It’s the story everyone knows about the original grumpy old man himself, Ebeneezer Scrooge, and his remarkable transformation from heartless villain to redeemed savior. It’s a story of hope that most of us can relate to, even if we’re not visited by ghosts from our past, present, and future like Scrooge. But if there’s one thing parents and kids can relate to it’s that “bah, humbug” feeling eventually being replaced by a feeling of contentment and joy once we take stock of the gifts in our lives. Gorgeous costumes and music make this production a truly magical one for families. The show run time is 90 minutes with no intermission, and it has matinee productions that work well when theater-going with kids.
Good to Know: Kids ages 5 and up are invited to enjoy this family-friendly production. Younger children are not permitted.
Ages: 5 & up
Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 24, 2022
700 Union St.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol
We can’t wait for this new take on A Christmas Carol that’s making its stage debut at the Seattle Rep this holiday season. Rather than telling the same old same old, this play takes a different perspective. Based on the novel by Samantha Silva, it centers Dickens as the main character of this play and fictionalizes the events going on in his life when he wrote it—past, present, and future (see what they did there?). Filled with comedy and the poignancy of the play Dickens writes, the whole family can enjoy this production.
Good to Know: A sensory-friendly production is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 2 p.m., and pay what you choose tickets are available for this production.
Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 23, 2022
155 Mercer St.
There are a few other A Christmas Carol productions worth a mention for families. The first is the show at SecondStory Repertory in Redmond. Running from December 2 to 23, it’s a show that will appeal to audiences of all ages. The second is Arts West’s hip-hop production, Q Brothers Christmas Carol. It’s recommended for kids ages 12 and up, and promises to put a different spin on a holiday favorite. The show opens on November 25 and runs through December 23.
Other shows in Seattle to see this winter
Paddington Saves Christmas
Even the tiniest theater lovers will be able to enjoy this holiday show, starring their favorite clumsy Bear, Paddington. With his telltale red hat and blue coat, they’ll fall for Paddington’s innocent antics as he works to save Christmas from being a total disaster. It all starts out simply enough—with Paddington and Mrs. Bird making the holiday marmalade (for Paddington’s sandwiches, of course). But oops!—they’ve run out of sugar. A trip to borrow some from grumpy neighbor, Mr. Curry, turns into more than Paddington bargained for when he agrees to help out with household chores in exchange. Things sort of snowball from there, leaving poor Paddington to fix it all before December 25. The show runs for 70 minutes with no intermission.
Good to Know: There is a sensory-friendly performance scheduled for Dec. 11 at 11 a.m.
Ages: 3 & up
Dates: Nov. 15-Dec. 31, 2022
201 Thomas St.
Winter Shows with Seattle Symphony
Benaroya Hall is where you’ll find not one, not two, but three family-friendly shows your kids will want to see this winter. It all kicks off with a favorite Christmas movie (or is it a Halloween movie?)—Disney in Concert: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas—on December 1, 2022. One of Seattle Symphony's signature shows that mixes big screen favorites with live accompaniment, Seattle Symphony brings to life Danny Elfman's hauntingly good movie soundtrack while you and the kids take in this multi-sensory experience from your comfortable seats. The experience includes the whole movie, so sit back and relax. Shows on Dec. 1, 3 & 4.
Then on December 3, another family favorite returns to Benaroya Hall for a morning performance. Bring the kids to watch and listen to The Snowman. Before the journey to the North Pole begins, it starts with your favorite holiday songs (including sing-a-longs), performed by the symphony. Then it's on to the story, and a full sensory experience that brings to life not only a snowman, but winter's magic too.
The final show, for the littlest music lovers (ages 0-5) takes place on December 10, 2022. It's the Tiny Tots winter performance, The Woodwinds: Winter Wonderland. This engaging and interactive family experience includes music, of course, but it's also a chance for kids to sing songs, play games, and learn about orchestra instruments. The show time is just 30 minutes, perfect for the little listeners. Get tickets for the 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. performance.
200 University St.
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‘Twas the Night
How do you turn a beloved poem into a memorable stage production? With a lot of creativity and humor—that’s how! Chaos, craziness, and cuteness reign in this favorite Eastside production where everyone gets in on the action. In just 90 minutes, you’ll see Santa, his reindeer, mice who are most certainly not stirring, and some suspect cats helping out with the poem’s retelling. By the time it’s all over, your kids won’t know what hit them. But they’ll definitely remember tons of giggles, great costuming, and the general gist of this holiday production.
Dates: Dec. 2-4, 2022
Kirkland Performance Center
350 Kirkland Ave.
Related: Merry, Merry! 10 Eastside Holiday Attractions for Families
Ease on down the road with the 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of The Wiz, starring Kataka Corn as Dorothy. This isn’t the Wizard of Oz of your youth (or maybe it is if you grew up watching the ‘70s movie starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson or the recent Live! version). It’s a reimagining of the classic that “celebrates and centers Black joy.” And from the minute you sit down to this production, let’s just say you’re not in Kansas anymore. The traditional score is replaced with soulful R&B and gospel-inspired songs, and Dorothy and Toto are on their way to see the Wiz, not the Wizard. The Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow are all along for the trip down the Yellow Brick Road. And you can still count on the two witches battling it out, as Dorothy and her entourage make their way to the Emerald City, hoping The Wiz can return school teacher Dorothy home.
Ages: 4 & up
Dates: Nov. 20-Dec. 23, 202
5th Avenue Theatre
1308 5th Ave.
Additional reporting by Jeffrey Totey