'Tis the 2014 season of The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, caroling concerts and other holiday shows in San Francisco. Since this is the Bay Area, we get productions faithful to the originals as well as zany spin-offs, which are listed in chronological order below. 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
Nov. 21-Dec. 27
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.
Nov. 21 & 22 at Lesher Center for the Performing Arts, Walnut Creek; Dec. 5 & 6, Sunset Center, Carmel; Dec. 10-14, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts; Dec. 18–27, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Ticket prices vary.
02 of 17
Nov. 22-Dec. 21, Saturdays & Sundays, at 10 am-7 pm
Victorian London is re-created 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.
At Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Ave., Daly City 94014. Ticket prices vary.
03 of 17
Nov. 28-Dec. 14
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.
At Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard St., San Francisco. Tickets $15-75.
04 of 17
Nov. 28-Dec. 20, Thursdays through Saturdays; and Dec. 27
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.
At The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., San Francisco 94110. Tickets $30-100. Ages 10+.Continue to 5 of 17 below.
05 of 17
Dec. 4-21; Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 7 pm
Four drag queens (Heklina, Cookie Dough, Matthew Martin, Pollo Del Mar) perform two Christmas episodes of the 1980s sitcom/cult classic.
At Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St., San Francisco 94103. Tickets $30.
06 of 17Dec. 5-28
Scrooge (and any humbugs in the audience) learns important lessons from the Christmas ghosts and Tiny Tim, in Dickens’ immortal story.
American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St., San Francisco 94102. Tickets $10-180.
07 of 17
San Francisco Symphony's specials include evenings starring composer Burt Bacharach (Dec. 10-11); Peter and the Wolf with Rita Moreno narrating (Dec. 14); Handel's Messiah (Dec. 18-20); a screening of A Charlie Brown Christmas accompanied by the symphony, the SFS Chorus, dancers and narrators, plus pre-concert activities (Dec. 19-24); and New Year’s Eve featuring Seth MacFarlane.
At Davies Symphony Hall, Grove St. at Van Ness Ave., San Francisco 94102. Tickets $15 and up; some concerts half-price for ages 17 and under.
08 of 17Dec. 9-21
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.
At Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., San Francisco 94108. Tickets $5-50.Continue to 9 of 17 below.
09 of 17Dec. 12-22
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.
In San Francisco, Berkeley and other Bay Area cities. Ticket prices vary.
10 of 17Dec. 12-29
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.
At War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco 94102. Tickets $29-415.
11 of 17
Dec. 13 & 14, at 1 & 5 pm
The huge cast of about 175 includes guest soloists, dozens of local ballet students and Marin Ballet alumni.
At Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael 94903. Tickets $26, 42.
12 of 17
Dec. 13 at 2:30 & 7 pm; Dec. 14 at 11 am & 3 pm
Nutcracker goes tropical, as Clara and Uncle Drosselmeyer head to Hawaii and search for Frosty the Snowman. Expect Tchaikovsky mixed with island tunes. The audience dances along with the cast in the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band's annual twist on the classic tale. Grass skirts welcome.
At Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco. Tickets $10-50.Continue to 13 of 17 below.
13 of 17
Dec. 13 & 14 at 11 am & 2 pm; Dec. 20 & 21 at 11 am, 2 pm & 4 pm
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.
At Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina Blvd. at Buchanan St., San Francisco 94123. Tickets $18.50 - $28.50.
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.
At San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Blvd., San Jose. Tickets $25-110.
15 of 17
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 Pickle Family Circus.
At Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., San Francisco 94110. Tickets $15-65.
16 of 17Dec. 20 & 21
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,
At the Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland 94612. Tickets: General admission $22-70.50; 15 percent off for ages 12 & under and 62 & above.Continue to 17 of 17 below.
17 of 17
Dec. 24-26, at 5 & 8:30 pm
During Christmas weekend, what’s a Jew supposed to do? Go for food and Jewish comedy at a Chinese restaurant. Jeremy Hotz and Ophira Eisenberg headline a dinner and a cocktail show each night.
At New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific Ave., San Francisco. Not recommended for those under age 13. Tickets: 5 pm dinner show (includes 7-course Chinese dinner), $65; 8:30 pm cocktail show (includes dim sum), $45.