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12 Holiday Shows to Get You in the Spirit of the Season

Date: Nov 22, 2021


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From the Radio City Rockettes to a naughty Nutcracker to family musicals, here are a dozen festive offerings


The holiday season has arrived and while it may not look like 2019, it's certainly an improvement over last year's isolation. Families and friends are once again gathering for meals and merriment, and seeing in-person performances with your loved ones is a great way to celebrate. We've rounded up a dozen festive productions for different types of audiences, so whether you're with the kids, out on a date or looking to laugh, there's a production for you.

In terms of COVID-19 safety protocols, all shows require theatregoers ages 12 and older to show proof of full vaccination with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine. Children ages 5 to 11 must show proof of at least one dose of vaccine and be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult. Children ages 5 to 11 vaccinated less than 14 days before the performance must also provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of showtime, or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within six hours of when the curtain rises. Most venues require masks for all theatregoers, but not Radio City Music Hall or the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Before purchasing tickets, be sure to read the health requirements on the show's listing for the most up-to-date information.

If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to see what we're selling as ticket inventory changes frequently. Not a TDF member? Our Times Square TKTS Discount Booth has reopened and sells same-day tickets up to 50% off to many Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.


New York City Ballet: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza at 62nd Street and Columbus Avenue in Lincoln Square

Begins November 26. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 breakthrough infections, the run ended early. 

NYCB's landmark production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker is back on stage at Lincoln Center with its stunning sets and costumes, massive Christmas tree and dozens of delightful dancers moving to Tchaikovsky's glorious music. There are a few changes this year: Due to vaccines not being available for young children when rehearsals started, all kids involved are ages 12 and up and there are brand-new outfits for the party scene. If you're unable to make the in-person engagement of this Christmas ballet, here's a holiday treat: You can stream the troupe's 2019 mounting at home for just $20 thanks to Marquee TV.


Kiki & Herb SLEIGH at BAM

BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street between Ashland and Rockwell Places in Fort Greene, Brooklyn 

Begins November 30. Closes December 4.

Cabaret's most acclaimed kooks, the Tony-nominated lounge duo Kiki and Herb (the alter egos of Justin Vivian Bond and Kenny Mellman) reunite for a hell of a holiday concert featuring unexpected takes on seasonal classics and heaps of cultural satire. This is your rare chance to see these "octogenarian" icons in person on stage. If you cherish irreverence, prepare to laugh your tuchus off.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Midtown West

Begins December 1. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 breakthrough infections, the run ended early. 

Note: All attendees must be fully vaccinated, no exceptions.

The lauded dance company returns to New York City Center for its annual holiday run. The venerable troupe of breathtaking dancers puts its best footwork forward, including newer pieces by artistic director Robert Battle and resident choreographer Jamar Robert alongside classics by its namesake founder, including his masterpiece Revelations.


Dick Rivington & the Cat

Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street near Pitt Street on the Lower East Side

Begins December 1. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 breakthrough infections, the run ended early. 

Usually, burlesque bigwigs Julie Atlas Muz and her husband Mat Fraser create jaw-dropping entertainment for the 21-and-over set. But for the holidays, this dazzling duo presents fabulous, family-friendly pantos—an interactive musical comedy genre popular in England during the Christmas season. Their last panto, a rollicking reinvention of Jack and the Beanstalk featuring a slew of downtown divas, was a hit with critics and theatregoers. This December, they're putting a Lower East Side twist on the classic panto Dick Whittington and His Cat inspired by a tall rags-to-riches tale about real-life London mayor Richard Whittington. Expect the story to be completely transformed for funky NYC audiences and full of radical joy, progressive politics and enchanting wackiness.


A Christmas Carol

Merchant's House Museum, 29 East 4th Street between the Bowery and Lafayette Street in the East Village

Begins December 1. Closes December 30.

Note: Seating is distanced and no children under 12 allowed.

The ultimate old-school version of Charles Dickens' holiday classic, this one-man Christmas Carol is mounted in the 19th-century Merchant's House Museum. In this historic setting, actor John Kevin Jones plays Dickens performing all of the characters, just like the Victorian author did back in the day. It's an intimate show and tickets usually sell out in advance, so if you want to go, get buying. Can't make it in person? No need to "bah, humbug." You can watch a recording online at home!


Tinsel: A Global Holiday Celebration

Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street between Bleecker and Hudson Streets in the West Village

Begins December 6. Closes December 31.

Instead of just one holiday show, Off Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre is presenting a stockingful of festive offerings. The lineup includes live music and dance performances, including cabarets by Broadway favorites Telly Leung and Jelani Remy; tapping by Jared Grimes and African dance and drumming; and Holidelic!, the seasonal funk revue headlined by rock percussionist Everett Bradley, which we're also selling on TDF. It's worth perusing the entire schedule to see which performances put you in a holiday state of mind.


Cirque du Soleil: 'Twas the Night Before...

Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Seventh Avenue at 32nd Street in Midtown West

Begins December 9. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 breakthrough infections, the run ended early. 

Note: Masks are not required for fully vaccinated audiences.

Cirque du Soleil's Christmas show centers on a young holiday hater named Isabella, who journeys to a fantastical land where she connects with characters from Clement Clarke Moore's iconic poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Although the story is slight, the evening is full of spectacle, including jaw-dropping acts and dazzling design that will leave you as wide-eyed as a kid on December 25.


New Victory Theater: Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in Midtown West

Begins December 10. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 breakthrough infections, the run ended early. 

Note: All seating is socially distanced. 

This family musical at the New Victory Theater will enchant elementary schoolers while stoking nostalgia in parents. Based on Muppet master Jim Henson's 1977 made-for-TV movie of the same name, this show centers on the poor but loving Emmet Otter and his mother, who both decide to enter a talent contest in the hope of winning prize money to buy each other Christmas gifts. It's a sweet story about following your dreams and being thankful for what you have, with songs by Paul Williams, direction and choreography by Tony winner Christopher Gattelli and eye-popping puppets courtesy of Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Can't make it in person? The New Victory is streaming a recording of the stage production from December 17 to January 2, 2022


A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage

Palladium Times Square, 1515 Broadway between 44th and 45th Streets in Midtown West

Begins December 21. Closes December 24. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.

With its brief running time, beloved Peanuts characters and familiar story, this stage adaptation of the holiday TV special is a great option for very young audiences. Once the 30-minute tale wraps up, stick around for a Christmas carol sing-along with the cast.


Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes

1260 Sixth Avenue at 50th Street in Midtown West

Already open. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 breakthrough infections, the run ended early. 

Note: Masks are not required for fully vaccinated audiences.

Although Santa, the Three Kings and lots of local landmarks put in appearances, this extravaganza is all about The Rockettes and their stunning synchronized dance numbers, like the awesome Toy Soldiers. A New York City tradition since 1933, this iconic Christmas show truly jump-starts the seasonal feels—just walking into the bedazzled Radio City is sure to put you in a holiday mood.


A Sherlock Carol

New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in Midtown West

Already open. Closes January 2, 2022. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.

An inventive twist on a holiday classic, this new play combines characters and plotlines from Charles Dickens' Christmas tale and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories, as an adult Tiny Tim asks Sherlock Holmes to solve the murder of Ebenezer Scrooge. A merry theatrical mystery for bookworms.


Company XIV: Nutcracker Rouge

Théâtre XIV, 383 Troutman Street between Wyckoff and Irving Avenues in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Already open. Closes January 30, 2022. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.

Note: Masks are not required for fully vaccinated audiences. The show is for ages 21 and up.

Leave the kids at home and your inhibitions at the door! Company XIV's burlesque and circus-filled, NC-17-rated take on the classic Nutcracker tale returns for its annual holiday run. With sumptuous design, liberal libations and lots of sex appeal, this show is sure to heat up your holidays.


Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.

Top image: New York City Ballet in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Photo by Erin Baiano.