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Holiday Shows NYC: The Nutcracker, Radio City, and More

New York City is one of the most iconic places to spend the holiday season, and that's nowhere more true than in the city's performing arts scene. For those looking to get into the holidays and get out of the cold, the city’s theatres have plenty of holiday offerings: here are some of the best holiday shows coming up this winter to get you into the seasonal spirit.

Christmas Spectacular

Perhaps the most iconic holiday show is the Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes®, which ushers in the holiday season with the Rockettes and their high-kicking precision dancing. The awe-inspiring spectacle is running at Radio City through January 1.

One of the most classic Christmas tales of all, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, will also come to life on the city’s stages this winter. The Merchant’s House Museum offers a captivating one-man performance through December 29, which evokes Dickens’ own 1867 performance of the story in New York. For a more modern take on the classic tale, the Classical Theatre of Harlem is bringing their A Christmas Carol in Harlem uptown through December 8, which refashions Ebenezer Scrooge into a real estate mogul. Down in the Village at The Players Theatre, you can find a fresh musical adaptation by Sgouros & Bell. Now its tenth year, this take on A Christmas Carol includes updated British pantomime-inspired scenic design, through December 30

the illusionists light balance

Photo by Joan Marcus.

Depart on another trip through time and space — this time with acapella accompaniment — as The Imbible: Christmas Carol mixes cocktails past, present, and future through December 29. For a more magical take on the holidays, join the Illusionists for their special holiday performance The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays (above), which brings together master entertainers performing awe-inspiring illusions and stunts on Broadway through December 30.

Hip-Hop Nutcracker

Hip-Hop Nutracker comes to Kings Theatre Dec. 23, with guest MC Kurtis Blow.

Dance lovers can get into the holiday season this winter with another beloved holiday story: The Nutcracker. New York’s best-known Nutcracker is the New York City Ballet’s iconic production with choreography by George Balanchine, which is currently running at Lincoln Center through December 31. NYCB’s production is far from the only Nutcracker in town, though. Balletomanes looking for a different production of the show can enjoy the New York Theatre Ballet’s Art Nouveau-filled production from December 14-16, or see a New York spin on the classic tale in the Yorkville Nutcracker through December 9. Tired of seeing the dance production in its classic balletic form? Enjoy Mark Morris Dance Group’s beloved modern take on the tale, The Hard Nut, as it returns to BAM December 14-23, or get an even bigger dose of Brooklyn with the Brooklyn Nutcracker December 14, which fuses ballet, hip hop and world dance styles. Hip hop will also be used to bring the classic holiday story to life in the The Hip Hop Nutcracker, which will stop in Brooklyn at Kings Theatre December 23 as part of a broader nationwide tour.

Peter and the Wolf Isaac Mizrahi Guggenheim

Photo: Richard Termine

While these beloved holiday tales continue to enchant audiences year after year, however, there are also other stories that will get you into the seasonal spirit. See the heartwarming true story of World War I troops coming together for the holidays at All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, or celebrate the holiday in Welsh fashion by taking in Irish Rep’s theatrical tribute to Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Both performances are currently playing through December 30. Over on the Upper East Side, the classic story of Peter and the Wolf will return to the Guggenheim Museum from December 7-9 in a child-friendly production featuring a familiar face: fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi. The Guggenheim Museum will also present their annual holiday concert in the museum’s famed rotunda on December 16 and 17, while a few blocks south, the Met will usher in the holidays with a varied slate of their own holiday concerts.

After the Christmas season comes to an end, finish out 2018 on a peaceful note by spending your New Year's Eve at New Year's Eve Concert for Peace, an annual concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine that was first started by Leonard Bernstein in 1984. Another musical icon, opera star Renee Fleming, will end the year at Lincoln Center with a special New Year's Eve concert with the New York Philharmonic.

messiah holiday performance

The New York Philharmonic will also celebrate the holidays with a special Holiday Brass performance on December 16, as well as their annual performances of Handel’s Messiah (above) from December 11-15. A few blocks away at the city’s other iconic musical stage, Carnegie Hall, the New York Pops will ring in the holidays with a performance featuring musical theatre star Ashley Brown on December 21, as well as hosting a festive evening of opera and operetta performances December 23. For a European twist on the holidays, head to Carnegie Hall on December 13 for an Irish Christmas concert with Keith and Kristyn Getty complete with cultural dance, choral performances, and a fusion of musical styles, or take in the Vienna Boys Choir at their Christmas in Vienna concert December 16.

About the Author

Alison Durkee is a New York-based arts journalist and critic with a background in theatre and dance. She currently serves as the Features Editor of London theatre website Everything Theatre and also covers news and politics for

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