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Christmas Theater Shows

Published on: Sep 20, 2023
By: Kathryn Willingham
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Christmas Trees in NYC

Christmas Theater Shows

There’s nothing like the holidays in New York City. From ice skating beneath the giant Rockefeller Christmas Tree to shopping at the holiday markets to drinking hot chocolate and eggnog by the gallon, there’s so much to see and do in New York around the holidays.

And Broadway is no different – in this article we’ll go over the Christmas and holiday themed Broadway shows as well as other performing arts options like The Radio City Rockettes and The Nutcracker, and what other holiday happenings you can enjoy throughout the season.  

Broadway Christmas Shows:

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol – This much-loved classic by Charles Dickens has been adapted and readapted for audiences around the world. One musical adaptation often produced by regional theatres across the country has a book and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Michel Legrand. A more recent adaptation by Jack Thorne played at the Lyceum Theatre in 2019 and yet another adaptation by Jefferson Mays, Susan Lyons, and Michael Arden played on Broadway in 2022 at the Nederlander Theatre. But no matter which version is your favorite, this is one story that will keep being retold year after year.

A Christmas Story The Musical

A Christmas Story The Musical - Based on the holiday comedy of the same name, A Christmas Story The Musical follows Ralphie, who desperately wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. With a book by Joseph Robinette, and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, known for Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman, A Christmas Story originally ran on Broadway at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre in 2012, and The Hollywood Reporter calls it, “a cut above the pack…the show pulses with genuine feeling, which should guarantee return engagements.”

How The Grinch Stole Christmas at the Cadillac Palace Theater

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical – Based on the beloved Dr. Seuss book of the same name, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is narrated by Max the Dog and follows the scheming Grinch as he tries to ruin Christmas. With book by Timothy Mason and Theodor Seuss Geisel, lyrics by Timothy Mason, and music by Mel Marvin, the musical originally played on Broadway in 2006 at the Hilton Theatre, and again at the St. James Theatre in 2007, and was televised on NBC in 2020 starring Matthew Morrison as the Grinch. 

Elf The Musical

Elf The Musical – Based on the beloved film of the same name, this holiday show follows Buddy the Elf as he leaves the North Pole in search of his father. With music by Matthew Sklar, book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, and lyrics by Chad Beguelin, Elf The Musical is full of Christmas cheer and first ran on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2010. TheaterMania called the show “a delight from start to finish…[that] will put smiles on the faces of both children and adults alike.”

Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical

Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical – Based on the classic film of the same name, Holiday Inn follows Jim and Linda who turn a farmhouse into an inn that celebrates every holiday with fantastic performances. This musical includes hit Irving Berlin songs like “Easter Parade,” “Heat Wave,” “Cheek to Cheek,” and “White Christmas.” Holiday Inn played at Studio 54 in 2016, and Variety said, “engaging performances, dynamic dancing, and a lively orchestra make it the feel-good show of the fall.”

White Christmas The Musical

White Christmas

White Christmas – Based on the movie musical of the same name from the 1950s, White Christmas has a book by David Ives and Paul Blake, and music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. The musical follows two old friends and war veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis who bring their hit musical act to a lodge in Vermont owned by their army commander. Songs from this iconic Christmas show include “Sisters,” “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing,” and of course, “White Christmas.” White Christmas played at the Marquis Theatre in 2008 and 2009, and New York Theatre Guide said, ”as a holiday entertainment, it’s light and bright and boasts some great production numbers.”

Other Christmas Shows in New York City:

The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall

The Christmas Spectacular Starring The Rockettes

The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall Starring The Rockettes – This annual holiday tradition is a must-see. The New York Times says “this is a show for Broadway fans who miss the Babylonian scale of the form in its heyday – including a satisfyingly large, finger-snapping orchestra.” Buy tickets now for this year’s production!

The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker – A magical Christmas ballet, The New York City Ballet performs The Nutcracker with 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 40 stagehands, and more than 125 children from the School of American Ballet. This year’s production runs from November 24th through December 31st at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. The New York Times said of last year’s production, “Balanchine’s 'Nutcracker' is wonderful for many reasons, but an essential one is how he brings ballet back to its roots, showing how the art form reinvents itself over and over again.”

The Metropolitan Opera

The Magic Flute

The Magic Flute – Come see holiday magic at the Met from December 8 through December 30th. This fairy tale from Mozart is a family-friendly production that runs under two hours and has direction from Julie Taymor (The Lion King). The New York Times says “Julie Taymor’s version of Mozart’s opera, a fairy tale of puppets and plexiglass, achieves its finest form in the Met’s condensed version for families.”

Big Apple Circus

Big Apple Circus

Big Apple Circus – The circus returns to Lincoln Center this November. Buy a ticket to see trapeze artists, magic, clowns and more awe-inspiring acts that will wow the whole family! The New York Times called last year’s show “splendid [and] brimming with pizazz.”

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s The Ghost of Christmas Eve

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s The Ghost of Christmas Eve – Touring the country in November and December, The Ghosts of Christmas Eve comes to Albany on November 29th and to Rochester on November 30th. Check out specific cities and dates on the official website. 

Holiday Activities in New York:

Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lit Up at Night

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree – Located in midtown between 5th and 6th Avenues and between 49th and 50th Streets, this gigantic Christmas tree will not disappoint. The lighting ceremony holiday celebration occurs in late November, and the tree remains lit through the holiday season. Come take a picture with a tree and stay for the shops, ice skating, and hot chocolate. Just make sure to plan for crowds! 

Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Skating Rink

Ice Skating

Ice Skating  – In addition to the ice-skating rink at Rockefeller Center, there are also rinks at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, Wollman Rink in Central Park, and the LeFrak Center in Prospect Park. Skates are available to rent.

Holiday Markets

Holiday Markets – Local vendors sell everything from food, artwork, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, and one-of-a-kind crafts. Locals and tourists alike frequent these shops, so expect crowds at peak times. Holiday Markets pop up at Columbus Circle, Grand Central Station, Union Square, Bryant Park, and the Oculus. Stay tuned for more details about the 2023 markets.  

Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden – Come to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden after dark between November 17th and January 1st to see a fantastical holiday light display along with music, food, and drink. The New York Post called it “dazzling,” “magical,” and “jaw-dropping.”

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Dyker Heights Holiday Lights

Dyker Heights Holiday Lights – Take a tour of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn to see amazing light displays created by residents. There are many bus tours to choose from or check it out on your own! The DHCL Tour includes a bus that departs from midtown Manhattan and a guided walking tour through Dyker Heights.

Tavern on the Green


New York is known for its many restaurants, but we’ll point out a few that feel especially jolly during the holiday season: Rolf’s German Restaurant in Gramercy, located at 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue, is known for its over-the-top Christmas decorations, as is Lillie’s Victorian Establishment on 249 W. 49th in Times Square. Tavern on the Green in Central Park also dresses up for the occasion including its own large Christmas Tree and many lights. For more ideas on where to eat in the theater district, check out our article on the Best Theater District Restaurants Near Broadway

Saving Money

The holidays can be expensive. Check out our article on Discount Broadway Tickets to find ways to save on theater shows, and also check out The New York Pass, which can save you up to 50% on sought-after attractions. 

Broadway Gifts

Need help finding a gift for a theater lover in your life? Check out our article on Broadway Gifts and Broadway Gift Cards to find the perfect present!

Kathryn Willingham

Head of Creative Development at Jean Doumanian Productions

Kathryn Willingham has worked in entertainment for over ten years, and recent credits include: Co-producer of SHRINK currently streaming on Peacock, Associate Producer of the independent film UNA, and Creative Executive on multiple theatrical productions including HANGMEN by Martin McDonagh on Broadway, NASSIM by Nassim Soleimanpour Off-broadway and Associate on productions EVERY BRILLIANT THING by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe and THE EFFECT by Lucy Prebble. She was Producer of Todd Almond’s musical travelogue “Wyoming and Parts of Kansas” and Production Coordinator for Karen O and KK Barrett's “Stop the Virgens.”


Education: B.A. in English, Literature & Creative Writing from Rhodes College
Knowledge: Theatrical Production


Sep 20, 2023

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