Want to see The Nutcracker this holiday season? Here’s where you can do it

Courtesy of Mike Watson
Artists of the Colorado Ballet in the Act II Finale of “The Nutcracker.”

Find a list of the 2023 holiday performances of the "Nutcracker" here.

The Nutcracker, a two-act ballet about a family's Christmas Eve party and a young girl's Christmas Eve awakening to the world and love, has become a festive tradition for ballet fans and families alike.

In Colorado, and indeed throughout much of the world, the holiday season is synonymous with stagings of the famous ballet.

The Tchaikovsky score and Marius Petipa choreography were commissioned by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, director of Moscow's Imperial Theatres, in 1891 and premiered in 1892. Western ballet companies began performing the Nutcracker in the 1940s, making it a Christmas favorite. Before the ballet's 1892 premiere, the composer chose eight of the most popular compositions to make what is now called the Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a. The suite became popular immediately, but the full ballet didn't become a Christmas tradition until 100 years later.

Here’s where you can catch some performances of it around Colorado this year.

Denver’s Ballet Melange 

The goal of the company is to give young dancers who are on their way to having successful careers a place to express themselves artistically. For The Nutcracker, talented young students from the Classical Ballet Academy perform alongside trained professionals from Ballet Melange and other companies. With costumes imported from Europe and projection designs made especially for its Nutcracker, Ballet Melange creates a special opportunity for the dancers and audiences. Performances at the following locations.

Lakewood Cultural Center
  • Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 19, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 20, 2 p.m.
  • Glenmoor Country Club in Cherry Hills
  • Wednesday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. 
Valley Country Club in Arapahoe County
  • Sunday, Nov. 27, 5:30 p.m.
Chesterton Academy  
  • Friday, Dec. 2, Time TBA
Pinehurst Country Club Nutcracker & Sugar Plum Tea in Denver
  • Saturday, Dec. 3, Time TBA
Saint Vincent de Paul in Denver
  • Thursday, Dec. 15, Time TBA
"The Nutcracker" by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.

The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle in Denver

From the creators of Immersive Van Gogh, a reinvented Nutcracker will be shown at the Lighthouse ArtSpace in central Denver. It opens  Nov. 19. The music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, including such renowned pieces as "The March of the Toys" and "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," becomes an immersive holiday magical event with projections, special effects, and a lifesize nutcracker.

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic presents "The Nutcracker: Short & Sweet” 

This version is designed for families and is 60 minutes long. This production includes the Oklahoma City Ballet and the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale with performances from Nov. 25–27 at the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts

Boulder Ballet’s The Nutcracker in Boulder, Longmont and Estes Park

This version brings in the Christmas season with The Nutcracker at CU’s Macky Auditorium with a cast of more than 80, including the professional company and young student dancers with the Boulder Philharmonic. Tickets range from $25 to $36 for the Macky Auditorium performances on CU Boulder’s campus on Friday, Nov. 25, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 27, at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $29 and up for concerts on December 3 and 4 at Longmont's Vance Brand Auditorium and for performances on Dec. 10 and 11 at Estes Park's Stanley Hotel.

Belliston Ballet's production of The Nutcracker 

It stars students from the greater Denver region, ranging in age from eight to 18. The dancers spend more than 250 hours practicing, providing these young dancers with a whole theatrical experience, and teaching them the importance of working together. Performances run Nov. 25-27 at DU’s Newman Center. 

The Dance Conservatory of Denver, "The Children's Nutcracker" 

This version is a condensed one of the original Nutcracker that is appropriate for audiences of all ages, with dancers spanning the ages from 3 to 18, and colorful, upbeat animations. Tickets are $30 for performances Nov. 26 and 27 at the Lakewood Cultural Center.

Courtesy of Greg Hughes
Herr Drosselmeyer in the Canyon City Ballet's "The Nutcracker."

The Nutcracker by the Littleton Youth Ballet

It will be performed by over 140 children, pre-professional dancers, and guest artists, presented by Littleton Youth Ballet, which is the only nonprofit youth ballet company in Littleton. Shows are Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.​ at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts in Denver and then at the Joanna Ramsey Theatre at Westminster High School. Performances are Friday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 18 at noon and 4 p.m.

Colorado Ballet presents the largest Nutcracker production in the state

The Colorado Ballet will be accompanied by its orchestra performing Tchaikovsky's stunning arrangement live. This is the second year the production will feature new sets and costumes. See where the familiar tale will take you this year. Performances begin Nov. 26 and run through Dec. 24.

Colorado Ballet will also perform "The Nutcracker" for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, on the autism spectrum, and with other sensory sensitivities. This includes keeping house lights on at 30 percent, eliminating or reducing potentially startling special effects, lighting and sounds and "relaxing traditional house rules" like allowing attendees to move freely within the theater during the performance. Earmuffs and manipulatives will be provided. The performance will be held on Nov. 27 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver at 5:30 p.m.

Canyon Concert Ballet and the Fort Collins Symphony at The Lincoln Center Fort Collins 

It’s the group’s annual performance of The Nutcracker. There is a Nutcracker VIP pre-show experience available starting an hour and a half before each performance. The production runs Dec. 9-11.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's The Nutcracker

This Nutcracker production has been part of the holiday season for more than 30 years. This fully-professional presentation features over 70 dancers, including Aspen Santa Fe Ballet School students. Ukrainian and Mexican dances join traditional Chinese and flamenco dances this year. Boston Ballet and Washington Ballet guests. 

In Aspen at Aspen District Theater

Friday, December 9: 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 10: 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m
Sunday, December 11: 1:00 p.m.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the Lensic Performing Arts Center

Saturday, December 17: 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 18: 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Ballet Ariel's The Nutcracker

Ballet Ariel presents their production of The Nutcracker directed and choreographed by artistic director, Ilena Norton, with pas de deux choreography and direction by Oleg Dedogryuk. Performances are at the Lakewood Cultural Center Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 22 at 2 p.m., and Friday, Dec. 23 at 2 p.m.

The Nutcracker presented by Parker Arts and Denver Ballet Theatre 

The pair are teaming up to offer eight performances of The Nutcracker between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20 at the PACE Center in Parker

"The Nutcracker" by the Wonderbound contemporary ballet company.

Centennial State Ballet stages The Nutcracker

The 11th season of Centennial State Ballet is named "Strength, Elegance, Passion" in honor of the company's anniversary. This version of The Nutcracker is performed with a live orchestra by aspiring professionals, academy students, and special guests. Attend either the live performance or watch the livestream on Dec. 17 and 18. Concert tickets at the Niwot High School Auditorium cost between $22 and $30. Two hours before the start of each live show, online sales will close. They will accept orders for the livestream up to half an hour after the performance has started.

Colorado West Performing Arts Company presents The Nutcracker in Grand Junction 

The fledgling company will perform the show Dec. 22–24 at the Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction. The seven professional company members will also dance with students.

A Colorado Nutcracker by the Colorado Ballet Society and Colorado Youth Ballet 

This performance also features the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs. It shows Dec. 20 and 21 at the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts.  

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