For some families, it just wouldn’t be the holidays without attending a special seasonal performance. Fortunately for us, the San Francsico Bay Area has a number of world-class, classic holiday performances for families with children of all ages.
Here are some of our favorite classic holiday performances that we don’t want to miss this winter. Tickets to these special performances often sell out, especially for in-demand dates around Christmas, so make sure you order your tickets soon.
A beloved Bay Area holiday tradition, ODC/Dance’s The Velveteen Rabbit returns to the Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA from November 27 to December 11, 2022, The Velveteen Rabbit celebrates the unique connection between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit, and the enduring power of love. It’s a perfect holiday performance for all ages! Learn more at odc.dance/velveteenrabbit.
Photo: San Francisco Ballet © Erik Tomasson
San Francisco Ballet’s celebrated production of Nutcracker is the one that all others are compared to! San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker features over 150 costumed characters, dazzling scenery, Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score performed live by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and of course the opulence of the War Memorial Opera House decorated for Christmas. Families should consider Passport performances include fun activities throughout the opera house, costumed characters, giveaways, refreshments, and a special keepsake passport to stamp with memories of your trip to Nutcracker. 2022 performances of Nutcracker begin on December 8 and run through December 27. The SF Ballet recommends Nutcracker for children ages 5 and up; no children under 3 are allowed. Learn more at www.sfballet.org.
Photo: Grace Cathedral
This holiday season, San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral offers a variety of concerts for all ages. Families with younger children will love Sing You a Merry Christmas, where you can join the with the toys of St. Nicholas’s workshop in singing along with your favorite Christmas carols. A Cathedral Christmas features the Cathedral’s Choir of Men and Boys, a full orchestra, organist, and guest soloist performing classic Christmas carols and other sacred music for the holiday season. There are even a couple opportunities to sing along, too.
A Christmas concert in this soaring gothic-revival cathedral is a magical holiday experience for everyone! Concerts take place December 10-23, 2022. Make sure you visit the life-size gingerbread house at the Fairmont Hotel while you’re in the Nob Hill neighborhood. Learn more at gracecathedral.org/christmas.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party is an immersive, theatrical holiday experience like no other! Wander the streets of Victorian London and interact with the 800 costumed characters, from Queen Victoria and Prince Alvert to chimney sweeps and sailors, who populate over three acres of twilight-lit shops, pubs, stages, and dance halls. A San Francsico Bay Area holiday tradition for over three decades, the Great DIckens Christmas Fair returns for five weekends to the historic Cow Palace in Daly City from November 19–December 18, 2022.
The Dickens Fair offers constant entertainment: join in at Fezziwig’s Dance Party, hear excerpts from the grand opera and Gilbert and Sullivan at the Victoria and Albert Music Hall, sing along to sea shanties at the Paddy West Stage, and enjoy music-hall songs at Mad Sal’s Dockside Alehouse. You’ll also experience folk dancing and caroling at various spots around the fair. There’s so much to do and see here that you won’t want to leave. It’s fun and absorbing and you’ll really feel like you’ve stepped into another time and place. Come dressed in period costume and really get into the spirit of things! Learn more at dickensfair.com.
Photo: Marin Symphony
Celebrate the season with your friends and family, as the Marin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Alasdair Neale, presents a program of classic holiday-inspired music. This year’s performance features the Marin Symphony Chorus and Marin Symphony Children’s Chorus as well as special guests, sing-alongs, and complimentary post-concert cookies and cider! Youth tickets for ages 6–17 are only $25!
The Marin Symphony Holiday Pops Concert takes place Tuesday, December 13, at 7 p.m. at the Marin Center Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael. Learn more at marinsymphony.org/holiday-pops
Photo: San Francisco Symphony
The renovated San Francisco Symphony offers a variety of holiday performances for families throughout the month of December. Holiday treats from the SF Symphony include Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with the SF Symphony Youth Orchestra and narrator W. Kamau Bell, and screenings of the movies Elf and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with live orchestral accompaniment.
Peter and the Wolf takes place on December 11 at 2 pm, How the Grinch Stole Christmas on December 16 at 7:30 pm and December 17 at 2 pm and Elf in Concert on December 21 at 7:30 pm and December 22 at 2 pm . Get your tickets here.
Photo: Marin Ballet
Marin Ballet’s Nutcracker will transport your family into the lavish rooms of a Victorian-era party, where Clara’s dreams come to life. She encounters mischievous mice, battling soldiers, and the Nutcracker prince who leads her through the forest of the Snow Queen to the Land of the Sweets! Your children will meet the Sugar Plum fairy and all the spices of the land, including Nutmeg, Chocolate, Chinese Almonds, and the Sweet Tooth Fairies. Choreographed by Performance Director Julia Adam, the production features the artistry of 125 young dancers, lavish costumes and sets, and incredible sets including a Christmas tree that grows, sailboats, and a hot air balloon. The Marin Ballet’s Nutcracker takes place December 10 and 11, 2023. Get your tickets here.