The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, and Other Holiday Shows in San Francisco

Bay Area Holiday Music, Dance, Comedy & Theater

Smuin Ballet
Courtesy of Smuin Ballet

'Tis the 2017 season of The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, caroling concerts, and other holiday shows in San Francisco. Since this is the Bay Area, there are productions faithful to the originals as well as zany spin-offs. If you're on a budget, be sure to check our Free Christmas and Holiday Events guide. Nearly all of the offerings in that guide and below are suitable for kids.

  • 01 of 17

    Clever, sensuous, humorous and beautiful vignettes composed of dance ranging from classical ballet to flirty jazz to rollicking tap, set to music as varied as Mozart and Elvis.

    Dates & Locations: For 2017, November 17 & 18 at Lesher Center for the Performing Arts, Walnut Creek;  December 1 & 2, Sunset Center, Carmel; December 6-10, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts; December 14–24, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco.

    Cost: Ticket prices vary

  • 02 of 17

    Victorian London is recreated with decorated lanes, shops full of Christmas finds, roving carolers, pubs, high tea, games, dance and stage performances for all ages, and characters such as Father Christmas, Tiny Tim, Scrooge, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and even Charles Dickens.

    Dates: Five Weekends including the Friday after Thanksgiving: November 23, 24, 25, Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 2018; 10:00 am - 7:00 pm

    Location: Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City

    Cost: Adult/General Admission (13+): $30.00; Children (5-12yrs): $14.00 (Children under 5 are always free); Pickwick Club 2017 Season Pass: $105.00 (a $330.00 value); Adult Twilight Tickets, available after 3:00 PM: $18.00 (available only at the box office); Child Twilight Tickets, available after 3:00 PM: $10.00 (available only at the box office)

  • 03 of 17

    ODC/Dance’s adaptation of the Margery Williams classic about a child’s stuffed toy rabbit that becomes real. The tale of love, hope and loyalty moves even cynical adults.

    Dates: Sat, Nov 25 at 4 p.m.; Sun, Nov 26 at 2 p.m. (Milk & Cookies Party); Thu, Nov 30 at 11 a.m.; Fri, Dec 1 at 11 a.m.; Sat, Dec 2 at 1 p.m. & 4 p.m.; Sun, Dec 3 at 2 p.m.; Thu, Dec 7 at 11 a.m.; Fri, Dec 8 at 11 a.m.; Sat, Dec 9 at 1 p.m. & 4 p.m.; Sun, Dec 10 at 2 p.m.

    Location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard St., San Francisco

    Cost: Tickets vary


  • 04 of 17

    In this autobiographical one-man show,  Brian Copeland returns to his childhood in Oakland one Christmas, when he searched town for the perfect present for his mom and then set out to earn the money to buy it.

    Dates: Fridays and Saturdays, December 8 to 23, 2017 (except December 16)

    Location: The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., San Francisco 94110.

    Cost: Tickets $20-100. Ages 10+.

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  • 05 of 17

    Four drag queens (Heklina, Cookie Dough, Matthew Martin, Pollo Del Mar) perform two Christmas episodes of the 1980s sitcom/cult classic.

    Dates: Through December 23, 2017

    Location: The Victoria Theatre, 296116th Street, San Francisco

    Cost: Tickets $25-40.

  • 06 of 17

    Scrooge (and any humbugs in the audience) learns important lessons from the Christmas ghosts and Tiny Tim, in Dickens’ immortal story.

    Dates: December 1 to 24, 2017

    Location: American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St., San Francisco

    Cost: Tickets vary

  • 07 of 17

    San Francisco Symphony's specials include a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas accompanied by the symphony, the SFS Chorus, dancers and narrators, plus pre-concert activities and a New Year’s Eve celebration featuring Seth MacFarlane.

    Dates: December 2017

    Location: Davies Symphony Hall, Grove St. at Van Ness Ave., San Francisco 94102

    Cost: Tickets $15 and up; some concerts half-price for ages 17 and under

  • 08 of 17

    Holiday music is heightened in Grace Cathedral's grand setting. The concert series features the cathedral's Choir of Men and Boys (which turned 100 years old in 2013); a carol sing-along ideal for children, with "toys" that have come alive; and Grace's giant organ and a brass ensemble.

    Dates: Through December 23, 2017

    Location: At Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., San Francisco 94108

    Cost: Tickets vary

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  • 09 of 17

    A Chanticleer Christmas

    The Grammy-winning, home-grown, all-male ensemble sings music of peace and inspiration, ranging from carols to Renaissance pieces, in churches and cathedrals around the Bay Area.

    Dates: December 10 to 23, 2017

    Location: In San Francisco, Berkeley and other Bay Area cities

    Cost: Tickets vary

  • 10 of 17

    San Francisco Ballet has special claim to the magical Christmastime ballet that's produced in cities nationwide: it was the first company to dance Nutcracker in America, in 1944. Artistic director Helgi Tomasson's production is set in San Francisco in 1915.

    Dates: December 13 to 30, 2017

    Location: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco 94102

    Cost: Tickets vary

  • 11 of 17

    The huge cast of about 175 includes guest soloists, dozens of local ballet students and Marin Ballet alumni.

    Dates: December 9 & 10, 2017 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

    Location: Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael 94903

    Cost: Adults: $44, Youth and Seniors: $28 

  • 12 of 17

    Nutcracker meets Pirates of the Caribbean in this unique performance. The audience dances along with the cast in the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band's annual twist on the classic tale.

    Dates: December 9 (3 p.m. and 7 p.m) & 10 (11 a.m. and 3 p.m.), 2017

    Location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco

    Cost: Adults - $30; Child, Student and Senior - $18

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  • 13 of 17

    Mark Foehringer Dance Project|SF performs a Nutcracker catered to kids (over age 2): Packed with action and live music. Condensed to 50 minutes. All performances are matinees. Afterward, the cast meets the audience for pictures.

    Dates: December 9 to 23, 2017

    Location: At Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina Blvd. at Buchanan St., San Francisco 94123

    Cost: ​$20.50 to $42.50

  • 14 of 17

    San Jose's traditional-style Nutcracker features choreography by former principal dancer Karen Gabay and sets and costumes from American Ballet Theatre. 

    Dates: Awaiting 2017 details

    Location: San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Blvd., San Jose

    Cost: Awaiting 2017 details

  • 15 of 17

    This show includes acrobatics, juggling, contortions, trapeze stunts and other exciting circus acts, plus comedy, music, and high jinks. Performers include veterans from Teatro Zinzanni, Circus Bella, and the New Pickle Circus.

    Dates: December 22 to 28, 2017

    Location: Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., San Francisco 94110

    Cost: $18-60

  • 16 of 17

    If you want a classic Nutcracker at prices less than in San Francisco, head to the East Bay. The Oakland Ballet performs in the historic  Paramount Theatre, accompanied by the Oakland East Bay Symphony. Choreography is by artistic director Graham Lustig.

    Dates: December 22, 23, & 24, 2017

    Location: The Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland 94612.

    Cost: Adults: $23 to 90; Seniors (62+): $19.50 to $76.50; Children: $19.50 to $76.50

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  • 17 of 17

    During Christmas, what’s a Jew supposed to do? Go for food and Jewish comedy at a Chinese restaurant. Cathy Ladman, Wendy Liebman, and Gabe Gulman headline a dinner and a cocktail show each night.

    Dates: December 23 to 25, 2017; 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

    Location: New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific Ave., San Francisco. Not recommended for those under age 13. 

    Cost: 5 p.m. Dinner Show (7-course set menu): $72; 8:30 p.m. Cocktail Show (vegetarian dim sum): $52