Best Holiday Shows in New York City

Brian Sloan

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for festive shows in NYC. Each winter, a host of holiday-themed entertainment pops up all over the City. There’s something to satisfy everyone’s tastes and needs, from family-friendly shows like the Rockettes at Radio City to more adult fare like a burlesque take on The Nutcracker. Performances take place at all kinds of venues, including landmarks like Carnegie Hall and under-the-radar spaces in Bushwick.

Below is our guide to some of the best holiday shows around town this season, organized into six helpful categories.

Radio City Rockettes. Courtesy, MSG

Big, Classic Shows

Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes
Through January 5, Radio City Music Hall

The biggest and longest-running of the City’s holiday offerings, the spectacular lives up to its name with the Rockettes, Santa, a live nativity scene and even an indoor snowstorm.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
November 29–January 5, David H. Koch Theater

Seeing this classic version of The Nutcracker, choreographed by the founder of the New York City Theater, is a longstanding tradition for many families. The production has brought the story of Clara and her toys to life for more than half a century.

Slava’s Snowshow
Through January 5, Stephen Sondheim Theatre

Created in 1993 by Slava Polunin, a Russian clown of considerable renown, this wintry show has delighted audiences from Moscow to London to NYC with its quirky charms and climactic blizzard.

’Twas the Night Before…
December 12–29, Hulu Theater at MSG

Cirque du Soleil brings their first Christmas show to Midtown Manhattan, taking inspiration from former Chelsea resident Clement Clarke Moore’s famed poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

Handel's Messiah. Photo: Chris Lee

Music of the Season

Christmas in Italy
December 8, Carnegie Hall

Hosted by Brooklyn’s own Italian-American superstar Cristina Fontanelli, this annual show celebrates Christmas Italian-style, mixing holiday classics with operatic arias, children singing and dancing, and an appearance by ol’ Saint Nick.

A Soulful Christmas
December 14–15, Actor’s Temple Theatre

This funky period show set in the 1970s is back for a third holiday season in Hell’s Kitchen, with a Soul Train–style take on the holidays.

Handel’s Messiah
December 17–21, David Geffen Hall

Sing “Hallelujah!” as Handel’s epic 1741 oratorio for a full orchestra and massive choir returns for its annual holiday engagement at Lincoln Center.


Michael Feinstein: Home for the Holidays
December 23–30, Feinstein’s/54 Below

The venerable pianist and singer croons American songbook standards and holiday faves at an intimate Midtown cabaret.

Yeti, Set, Snow! Courtesy, City Parks Foundation. Photo: Justina Wong

Just for Kids

Yeti, Set, Snow!
November 12–February 23, The Swedish Cottage

See a marionette show about kids, snow and friendship in a quaint Central Park venue.

My First Nutcracker
November 23–December 22, Theatre Row

If you’re nervous that the kids won’t sit still for a full show, this 50-minute version of the famed ballet is a great choice—its short length is specially geared toward little ones 8 and under.

The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood
November 23–December 15, TADA Youth Theater

This children’s theater production puts a new spin on the classic fairy tale—telling it from the Wolf’s wacky point of view and with original songs from Bob Merrill and Jule Styne.

Salzburg Marionette Theatre’s The Nutcracker
December 4, Flushing Town Hall

This acclaimed, century-old Austrian troupe presents a one-hour version of The Nutcracker using marionettes.

Vienna Boys Choir
December 8, Stern Auditorium

This world-renowned choral group, which was founded in the late 1400s, brings folk songs and holiday hits to NYC for one night only.

A Christmas Carol, Merchant's House Museum. Photo: Joey Stocks

So Many Christmas Carols

A Christmas Carol
Through ­January 5, Lyceum Theater

Campbell Scott steps into the role of Scrooge (which his father George C. Scott memorably played) in Matthew Warchus’ (Matilda) new Broadway production about Christmases past, present and future.

A Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House
November 29–January 5, Merchant’s House Museum

Actor John Kevin Jones portrays Charles Dickens as if the author is telling his Christmas tale in a New York City house in the 1800s.


The Imbible: Christmas Carol Cocktails
November 22–December 28, The Producers Club

Conceived as a loose sequel to A Christmas Carol, this boozy show has Scrooge throwing a party. He enlists the spirits he’s befriended to concoct three specialty cocktails, which the audience gets to sample.

A Christmas Carol: The Musical
December 1–30, The Players Theatre

Now in its 11th year, this is a more kid-friendly version of the show with original music and a shorter-than-average running time.

A Christmas Carol in Harlem
December 4–21, The City College of New York

Set in today’s Harlem, this retelling of Dickens’ timeless tale casts Scrooge as a real estate mogul (natch).

Nutcracker Rouge. Photo: Mark Shelby Perry

Adults Only

Nutcracker Rouge
November 14–January 26, Théâtre XIV

To say this is not your mother’s Nutcracker would be an understatement; the show is a sexy burlesque version of the ballet with contemporary beats and borderline-scandalous looks.

Love Actually?
November 15–January 14, The Theater Center

This unauthorized musical spoof of the beloved/be-hated 2003 holiday film premieres off-Broadway, with lots of awkward moments and sappy declarations of love (on cue cards!) all set to music.

Ana Gasteyer. Courtesy, Joe's Pub

Sugar and Booze: Ana Gasteyer
November 30 & December 20–21, Joe’s Pub

Saturday Night Live and Broadway star Ana Gasteyer hosts a cute, boozy celebration of her new holiday album and tells some personal tales of the season.

Sandra Bernhard: Sandy’s Holiday Extravaganza
December 26–31, Joe’s Pub

Sandra Bernhard (FX’s Pose) is back for her annual post-Christmas residency, during which she waxes about the “holidaze” while belting out seasonal standards along with her own soulful classics.

Drag and LGBTQ+

All I Want for Christmas Is Attention
December 11, The Town Hall

RuPaul’s Drag Race queens BenDeLacrème and Jinkx Monsoon bring their annual holiday show, which continues the battle royale between their sugar and spice personas, to the next level.


John Waters’ Christmas
December 16, Sony Hall ­­

The self-described “Pope of Trash”—filmmaker, artist and cultural critic John Waters—puts the “X” in Xmas with a wacky monologue covering his extremely naughty take on the season.

A Murray Little Christmas. Photo: Karl Giant

A Murray Little Christmas
December 18–21, Joe’s Pub

One of NYC’s most popular entertainers, Murray Hill puts a downtown spin on the Christmas pageant with the help of performers like burlesque fave Angie Pontani and cabaret-cum-movie star Bridget Everett.

Jackie Beat: Illuminati or Nice?
December 20–22, Laurie Beechman Theatre

Drag superstar Jackie Beat is known for her hilarious holiday shows, where she takes classic Christmas songs and twists them in her own wicked way (see “Santa’s Baby”).