Top holiday shows to see in New York on Broadway and beyond
Check out our list of Broadway and Off-Broadway holiday shows to get you in the festive spirit.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, because holiday theatre is back for the season. As festive decorations start to line the streets of New York, many marquees will light up with the names of Christmas shows and holiday spectaculars that are only playing for a few months. Get yourself and your family in the festive spirit with these shows, many of which give fresh twists to beloved tales you know and love, like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. Plus, the holiday season plays a role in a few Broadway musicals that you can watch all year round.
Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes
One of New York's most iconic holiday shows, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular has been celebrating the season for nearly 90 years. The Rockettes perform in their signature precision dancing style as reindeer, Santa Clauses, tourists, and, in perhaps the most famous number, toy soldiers. Classic Christmas tunes come together with modern elements, like a 3D-simulated sleigh flight through the city with Santa and a tale of two young boys trying to find the perfect gift for their sister. Whether you've never seen the Spectacular or go every year, this New York holiday tradition is sure to get you in the spirit.
A Sherlock Carol
A new twist on a Christmas classic, A Sherlock Carol combines the worlds of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes into one holiday mystery. A now-adult Tiny Tim enlists Holmes to investigate the mysterious death of Ebenezer Scrooge. Having had little to do since his nemesis, Moriarty, died, Holmes agrees. On Christmas Eve, as Holmes is working the case, the ghosts of past, present, and future visit Holmes as they once visited Scrooge.
This is one holiday special that's just for the adults. Nutcracker Rouge is a sexy take on the classic tale of The Nutcracker, performed by Company XIV. The company has performed Nutcracker Rouge to acclaim since 2013, and the show includes a mix of burlesque, opera, and circus entertainment in its reimagining of Clara, the Nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and more. Audiences are immersed into the sensual side of the Land of Sweets, and the experience includes cocktails, champagne, and treats.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
The classic TV special comes to life at the Palladium Times Square for four nights only. The Peanuts gang discovers the true meaning of the holiday by putting on a Christmas play, singing carols, and in Charlie Brown's case, sprucing up a tiny little Christmas tree with beautiful decorations. The audience even gets to sing holiday tunes with the cast at the end of the show.
'Twas the Night Before... by Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil reimagines the classic Christmas poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (better known as '"Twas the Night Before Christmas") as a grand acrobatics spectacular. The tale centers around Isabella, a young girl who's no longer thrilled by all the hype around Christmas. She's soon whisked to a whole new world where the poem comes to life, with Cirque performers as colorful, high-flying versions of all the poem's classic characters. As Isabella rediscovers the Christmas spirit, so, too, will audiences of all ages.
Love Actually? The Unauthorized Musical Parody
From the creators of The Office and Friends musical parodies comes a spoof on the beloved Christmas rom-com Love Actually. Beginning five weeks from Christmas, the story follows nine couples whose love stories all intertwine at one point or another at London's Heathrow Airport. In the meantime, they're dealing with all sorts of romantic situations — one person falls for his best friend's wife, another falls for his maid, and the Prime Minister falls for his secretary, to name a few. Now with extra humor and songs like "Keira Knightly Actually" and "The 11 O'Clock Grand Gesture Number," the live musical parody version of the story has a lot more to love, actually.
Caroline, or Change
Caroline, or Change isn't a holiday show, but part of the second act takes place at the Gellman family's Hanukkah celebration. A holiday feast sits at the center of the stage (cooked by the titular Caroline, the Gellmans' maid) and klezmer music plays throughout. (True to life, the celebration also isn't without a few family disputes.) But the rest of the show is fitting for the holiday season, too — it's the season of giving, and Caroline, or Change sees the Gellmans' son leave change in his pockets for Caroline, whose family is poor. Caroline can now better provide for her children and buy them gifts, but she soon finds herself giving into greed, and the show becomes a lesson in overcoming it in favor of true generosity.
Girl From the North Country
Though Girl From the North Country isn't a holiday show, either, its own second act opens on Thanksgiving, when a party is in full swing at the guest house where the musical takes place. Set in Great Depression-era Duluth, Minnesota, the musical follows the Laine family, who owns the inn, and the ensemble of guests that come and go. Girl From the North Country is a somber play, but the Thanksgiving scene offers some holiday joy, complete with dancing and an onstage feast that looks good enough to eat. And the musical is set to the songs of Bob Dylan, which are as classic as Christmas carols.