Your Guide to Holiday Theater

Christmas is coming upon us all pretty quickly, which means one thing for theater lovers: HOLIDAY SHOWS ARE HERE!

That’s right, it’s that time of year again when lights twinkle from every window and rooftop, and every theater in town puts on their own rendition of anything filled with Christmas cheer. Holiday theater is a serious change of subject matter for actors, actresses, and show-goers, highly popular showtime for so many performers across the U.S, not to mention highly popular showtime for holiday and theater lovers in general!

We have picked out our4 very favorite American cities for quality holiday theater and listed the top shows in each one, guaranteeing you and your theater-loving group will have a chance to see the holiday’s best this year.  

**Red highlighted shows are meant only for adults, green highlighted ones are well-suited for children especially.


  • New York

New York is a city full of theater sensations, from well-known Broadway hits to hot new up-and-coming performances, making it our top choice for quality holiday theater.

  • Radio City Christmas Spectacular - This is NYC’s most iconic Christmasperformances of them all, the Radio City Rockette’s performing their traditional high-kicking toy soldier routine over 200 times during the season (up to 6 times a day!). Enjoy a live orchestra with the dancers through January 2nd at Radio City Music Hall on 6th in NYC.
  • Broken Christmas Carol - This more melancholy choice follows 2 Jewish children in the search for the true meaning of Christmas, a refreshing change of pace following Bob Cratchit through the stages of Charles Dickens’ classic. This one plays through December 31st.
  • NYC Ballet Presents the Nutcracker - The NYC Ballet is a classic holiday choice in the city, and the Nutcracker is a classic Christmas show anywhere! See George Balanchine's standard sugar plum classic November 25-December 30th, a total of 45 performances each season since 1954.
  • The Eight: Reindeer Monologues - This raunchy new NYC classic is probably best for just the adults in your group, the comic satire scooping out North Pole gossip that would make your mother's toes curl. See this November 18th through December 17th.
  • Scrooge - The Musical - Scrooge The Musical is our favorite choice for children simply because it is a classic tale that we think the younger crowd always loves. This one in particular Phillip Stearns adaption of the Dickens’ classic, taking you all on the ghost-guided journey we all know and love, playing at the Walt Whitman Theater November 27th.
  • Branson

What is considered to be the ‘live music capital of the world’ will surely not be a disappointing choice for great holiday shows, this city packing in the entertainment choices like no other!

  • Maxine’s Christmas Carol - While this show isn’t by any means inappropriate for children, we just happen to think the ‘Queen of Crabbiness’ is more enjoyed by seasoned cynics. See Maxine through the stages of Christmas denial November 19th through December 10th at the Andy Williams Center.
  • Christmas Wonderland - This is one of Branson’s biggest holiday shows of all, the Christmas Wonderland full of more singers, dancers, and festive holiday cheer than you can handle. Well, almost, anyway. See this one play out at King’s Castle Theater all season long.
  • Christmas at the Dixie Stampede Dinner Show - If you love Dolly Parton’s regular dinner show, then there is no way you aren’t going to like her Christmas dinner show. Witness a live nativity, hear holy holiday music, and enjoy a visit from Santa as you feast on a 4-course Christmas dinner unlike any other all throughout the month of November and December. Andy’s Christmas Extravaganza - This is another Branson classic happening at the Andy Williams Center November 19th through December 10th, this one the variety show once ran by Andy Williams himself. Enjoy the Osmond Brothers and Lennon Sisters in song, dance, and even illusion (plus plenty of Christmas cheer!).
  • Hamner’s Unbelievable Variety Show - This is our favorite choice for the kiddos, Hamner Variety Show known for being upbeat, full of holiday spirit, and perfect for fans of children's Christmas classics, like Charlie Brown and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Classic clips, holiday dances, and even plenty of comedy. This one plays November 15th through December 31st.
  • Chicago

The Windy City can hold its own in the world of great theater, that’s for certain. Enjoy a midwestern twist on all the holiday classics!

  • The Nutcracker - The House Theater of Chicago will put on its 5th annual rendition of The Nutcracker, a more modern tale of a brave young one vs the Rat King, the puppetry, and dialogue here full of magic and hope. See this one November 6th through December 28th.
  • A Christmas Carol - What’s so special about Chicago’s A Christmas Carol? How about over 35 years of production experience, the cast at Goodman Theatre taking this Charles Dickens’ story to the next level with seriously experienced Christmas spirits (and spirit).
  • It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago - For 15 years now the American Blues Ensemble has presented a live 1940’s radio broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life, one of the best holiday shows in the entire city. Let the cast transport you to Bedford Falls as you enjoy milk and cookies during the show, happening November 18th through December 31st.
  • Barney the Elf - This is DEFINITELY an adult-only kind of holiday show, though it is gaining popularity so quickly we feel we have to at least mention it. Barney the Elf is a new-age holiday tale full of ‘queer holiday cheer’, the story following a drag queen named Barney, an elf in search of a new life in the big city of Chicago.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas - This one is one of our favorites on the whole list, Chicago’s A Charlie Brown Christmas covering all the holiday and classic Peanuts bases perfectly. Enjoy this kid-favorite production as you watch the gang search for the true meaning of Christmas, showing each November 11th through January 8th.
  • Los Angeles

Maybe you don’t first think of L.A for great theater, but you probably should, especially when it comes to great holiday shows!

  • A Christmas Carol - This ‘lively new adaption’ of the Charles Dicken's classic is in its 4th year at the Long Beach Playhouse, the tale of redemption and forgiveness becoming a quick local favorite, playing December 11th through 20th.
  • Cinderella Christmas - Head over to the Pasadena Playhouse to see this ‘Panto at the Playhouse’ production, an easy quick hit bringing the British Panto form to life again. See small stars and long-time cast members come together to put on one of the best productions in L.A, oftentimes frequented by performers Ariana Grande and Sabrina Carpenter.
  • 1966 Holiday Variety Extravaganza - Time travel will be required for this next show choice, or at least it will seem like it, as you enjoy the Santa Monica Playhouses groovy holiday improv production December 15th through 17th. You will be in the warmest homes of the Cold Era with the cast, the show an overall really hilarious good time.
  • Blood Alley Christmas - This is another one of those, best-seen-by-adult-eyes, productions, the theater actually only letting in 15-year-olds and up. This is a Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater Group production, a new holiday horror that takes you to the most gruesome ghosts of Christmas past and present. Be prepared to be creeped out, but in a Christmas-y way.
  • All About Santa - Younger kids really seem to enjoy this one, the Santa Monica Playhouse putting on several ‘Musical Matinees’ throughout the seasons showing the story of Rudie, Mrs. Clause, and the big North Pole disappearance. Enjoy this one December 3rd through the 18th.