18 New York City Holiday-Themed Shows for the Whole Family
Check out this guide for theatre the entire family will enjoy during the 2018 holiday season.
Visiting NYC for the holidays? No trip is complete without a trip to the theatre. But at this time of year, there are over a dozen productions tailored specifically to deliver holiday cheer.
From Broadway special engagements—like Ruben & Clay's Christmas Show to Off-Broadway productions of A Christmas Carol—here are 18 suggestions for shows appropriate for theatregoers big and small throughout the five boroughs.
WANT TO SEE A BROADWAY SHOW WITHOUT THE HOLIDAY THEME? BE SURE TO CHECK OUT PLAYBILL’S CHRISTMAS WEEK 2018 PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE FOR ADJUSTED DATES AND TIMES.
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular
November 9 – January 1, 2019
Radio City Music Hall
No other holiday show is more iconic than the long-running Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Radio City Rockettes. Since 1933, the Spectacular has been an institution of singing, dancing, and Yuletide cheer. Though some routines are a staple (the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”), the show presents a fresh story and new material each year. For tickets and more information, click here.
The Ride: Holiday Edition
November 15 – January 6, 2019
New York City
The Holiday Ride returns for its seventh year, giving a whole new meaning to the idea of a holiday sleigh. Celebrating the lights of Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza, the floor-to-ceiling glass windows of the luxury motor coach turn New York City streets into a stage as passengers enjoy seasonal music and curated holiday-themed sidewalk performances timed to the bus route. For tickets and more information, click here.
The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays
November 23 – December 30
Marquis Theatre on Broadway
This year’s family-friendly show features illusions, close-up magic, mentalism, escapes, and a seasonal technological spectacle. Performers include Darcy Oake (The Grand Illusionist), Adam Trent (The Futurist), Colin Cloud (The Deductionist), Shin Lim (The Manipulator), Chloé Crawford (The Sorceress), and the dance group Light Balance. For tickets and more information, click here.
November 23 – December 30
New York City Ballet, David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center
The beautiful Company once again presents George Balanchine’s stunning choreography in its annual presentation of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet—featuring 90 dancers, 62 musicians, and 40 stagehands just to mount it. Dress in your holiday finest and watch the tale of young Clara as her dreams come to life onstage with marching toy soldiers, mischievous mice, glimmering snowflakes, and delightful desserts. For tickets and more information, click here.
A Christmas Carol in Harlem
November 25 – December 8
Aaron Davis Hall
Set in modern day Harlem, this reimagination of the classic Christmas tale follows Ebenezer Scrooge as a real estate mogul who has gotten rich at the downfall of others. Adapted by Shawn Rene Graham and directed by Steve H. Broadnax III, the show features choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher. Instead of revitalizing his Harlem community, Scrooge counts his coins alone, until he gets a visit from the three classic ghosts. The production encompasses both timelessness and contemporary relevancy. For tickets and more information, click here.
A Christmas Carol The Musical
November 25 – December 30
The Players Theatre
Now in its tenth year, this take on the classic Christmas tale includes British pantomime-inspired scenic design. Written by husband and wife duo Michael Sgouros and Brenda Bell, this fresh take has proved itself as an NYC holiday staple. For tickets and more information, click here.
A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House
November 27 – December 29
Merchant’s House Museum in Manhattan
Watch Charles Dickens, as played by John Kevin Jones, tell his timeless story of A Christmas Carol in the landmark 1832 Merchant’s House Museum. The production is an immersive experience, featuring period holiday decorations, candlelit seating, and lavish furnishings. Performances play Tuesday through Sunday, with two shows on Monday, December 24 in lieu of December 18 and Christmas Day performances. At select shows, guests can partake in a pre-show reception with mulled wine, cider, and traditional Christmas fare. For tickets and more information, click here.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales
November 28 – December 30
The Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage, Irish Repertory Theatre
An Irish Repertory Theatre tradition, A Child’s Christmas in Wales is a musical interpretation of Dylan Thomas’ story of the same name. The production features both classic and contemporary Christmas songs intertwined with storytelling. The cast features Nicholas Barasch (She Loves Me), Dewey Caddell, Margaret Dudasik, Polly McKie, Naomi Louisa O’Connell, and Ashley Robinson. For tickets and more information, click here.
Navidad: A Mexican-American Christmas
November 30 – December 16
Thalia Spanish Theatre in Sunnyside, Queens
This production explores the classic holiday traditions of Mexico and the United States; following a child of Mexican immigrant parents growing up in New York City who dreams about the two cultures, the piece is a celebration in music and dance and includes Aztec, Mariachi, and ballet influences. The company of 16 dancers perform an entirely new program with routines choreographed by Mexican and Mexican-American guest artists specifically for the production at the Queens-based theatre. For tickets and more information, click here.
Christmas in Hell
December 4 – December 30
Find a little evil this holiday season with the tale of a Christmas gone horribly wrong. When eight-year-old Davin is brought down to hell and misses Christmas, his father has to make a deal with the devil to make things right. The original musical, with book and score by Gary Apple (The Simpsons), comes from director-choreographer Bill Castellino. The cast features Brandon Williams, who recently made his hilarious Broadway debut in Gettin’ the Band Back Together. For tickets and more information, click here.
A Christmas Carol
December 7 – December 23
Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows, Queens
Now in its fifth year, Titan Theatre Company’s acclaimed musical adaptation of the Christmas cornerstone brings the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the meaning of Christmas to the stage. For tickets and more information, click here.
Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Show
December 7 – December 30
Imperial Theatre on Broadway
Catch American Idol stars Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken reunite in celebration of the 15th anniversary of their American Idol Season 2 finale with a limited engagement of holiday favorites. Featuring songs and sketches inspired by Dean Martin, Andy Williams, and Carol Burnett, it’ll be an intimate evening of holiday cheer. For tickets and more information, click here.
Watch: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM AMERICAN IDOL STARS RUBEN STUDDARD AND CLAY AIKEN ON BROADWAY
December 11 – December 15
David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center
Take in a touch of Christmas history with Handel’s Messiah. Enjoy the unabridged masterpiece performed by the world-class New York Philharmonic Orchestra. For tickets and more information, click here.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker
December 13, 14, 23
The production is on tour, but will be in the tri-state area on December 13 (Paramount Theatre in Asbury, New Jersey) , 14 (NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey), and 23 (Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York). A contemporary interpretation for the whole family, Mike Fitelson has reworked Tchaikovsky’s score to accompany Jennifer Weber’s re-envisioned hip-hop choreography. Featuring 12 dancers, a DJ, and an electric violinist, this Nutcracker comes to life in today’s Manhattan. For tickets and more information, click here.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
December 13 – December 30
Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden
See the classic Dr. Seuss tale live on stage! This seasonal favorite boasts the grouchy Grinch and his mission to cancel Christmas. The Grinch is played by two-time Tony Award nominee Gavin Lee fresh from his role as Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical. “I am thrilled to step in to the furry, stinky green shoes of the world’s most beloved Christmas bad boy this holiday season,” Lee says. Featuring classics like “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas”, you won’t want to miss the animated favorite in person. For tickets and more information, click here.
The Magic Flute
December 19 – January 5
Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center
If you’re looking for grandiose yet groundbreaking art, the Met Opera’s production of The Magic Flute is your number. Directed by Tony and Oscar winner Julie Taymor (The Lion King), the English-language production has been shortened to a high-energy 100 minutes. The story follows Prince Tamino, who was saved from a serpent’s wrath by the Queen of the Night and must repay her by rescuing her daughter with a magic flute. This production—and the libretto itself—is a great one for opera newbies. For tickets and more information, click here.
Home Alone in Concert with the New York Philharmonic
December 20 & 21
David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center
Watch the holiday classic starring Macaulay Culkin with live orchestral accompaniment by the New York Philharmonic! Don’t miss John Williams’ score played alongside the beloved holiday blockbuster. The event is currently sold-out, but interested parties can call Customer Relations to be put on the waitlist. For more information, click here.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
December 14 – December 30
Secret Theatre, Long Island City
Charlie Brown and his Peanuts gang star in this musical based on the animated classic, as they search for the true meaning of Christmas. Featuring a jazzy score by Vince Guaraldi, the performance also includes some original song and dance. For tickets and more information, click here.