What Festive Holiday Show Is For Me?

Nov 5, 2015
With red Starbucks cups and festive store windows comes a plethora of holiday entertainment to choose from. Typically, this is the time of year when even the most casual fine arts fans decide to experience a symphony concert, dance performance, play or musical.

But if you’re the kind of person who only buys this kind of ticket once a year at most, you want to make sure you’re going to enjoy your experience – and how do you know if you never attend these events?

Below is some advice from a girl who starts listening to Christmas carols in October and has a limited edition Nutcracker on her desk, so just saying, it’s not the worst advice you could get. Read on for tips on getting the most out of holiday entertainment.

“The Nutcracker”

Photo from Flickr by Gabriel Saldana

  • What is it? “The Nutcracker” ballet has been performed since 1892, but didn’t gain popularity in the U.S. until the 1960s. Since then, it’s become a holiday institution.
  • Does it take place in my city? Yes. There are some very popular local productions that run throughout December, and also touring production that stop for one or two nights out of the season. Travelzoo has negotiated deals at performances across the country.
  • Will I like it? “The Nutcracker” is very festive and makes for an elegant holiday event. You won’t see a ton of true, highly athletic dancing in the first act, but in the second act, prepare yourself for impressive turns and flying leaps.
  • Is it family-friendly? Yes, but most companies recommend the performance for ages 6 and up, as it is longer than the attention span of kids younger than that.
  • Where should I sit? The scenery is one of the best parts of “The Nutcracker,” so personally, I like to be in an elevated seat so I can see everything.

Holiday Pops/Handel’s Messiah

Dallas Symphony Orchestra
  • What is it? Both are holiday programs traditionally put on by local symphonies. A holiday pops concert typically includes some modern Christmas tunes, where Handel’s Messiah is more classical.
  • Does it take place in my city? If you have a local orchestra or symphony, it probably does!
  • Will I like it? Are you sick of Christmas carols? If not, you’ll probably like it.
  • Is it family friendly? There’s not much to look at during a symphony concert, so it can be tough for kids to pay attention. Check the symphony’s website and see if they make an age recommendation.
  • Where should I sit? Anywhere! You’ll still hear the music regardless.

“A Christmas Carol”

  • What is it? The stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale, in which Ebenezer Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas, is a holiday favorite for many local theater companies.
  • Does it take place in my city? There are not usually touring productions of this show, but if you have a repertory theater they’ll probably do it.
  • Will I like it? Here, it’s all about whether you like the story of “A Christmas Carol” – there isn’t a ton of variation in staging or dialogue between productions.
  • Is it family friendly? Older kids will probably enjoy it, but it’s not for little ones.
  • Where should I sit? It’s fun to be up close for plays since there aren’t large, extravagant musical numbers. This allows you to see the actors’ expressions and be “in the action.”

Holiday Musicals like “Elf” or “White Christmas”

  • What is it? There are a few holiday musicals currently on tour, and conveniently, they’re all also movies, so it’s easy to get the gist of the show.
  • Does it take place in my city? These will take place in your local Broadway touring venue, so the major performing arts center in your town. Check the website to see if they’re bringing in a holiday musical!
  • Will I like it? Musicals are generally pretty fast-paced, and the holiday variety is light-hearted and fun. But remember, it won’t be exactly like the movie.
  • Is it family friendly? This varies by show. “White Christmas” certainly is, but “A Christmas Story” may not be. Check the recommendation on the website.
  • Where should I sit? If you’re familiar with the venue, sit wherever you normally would. The sets are usually larger for musicals, so many seats in the house are good ones.

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