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The Zoom of the Sugar Plum Fairy: Virtual Holiday Performances to Brighten the Season

From Scrooge to sugarplums, it’s all happening virtually this year. Here’s where to watch!

Is it really the holidays if Marie doesn’t get a nutcracker from her mysterious grandfather? Of course not! Theaters may be closed due to the ongoing pandemic, but that just means your couch is now a front-row seat to the magic. So check out these virtual performances to bring all the song, spectacle, and delight into your home all season long.

Pennsylvania Ballet presents George Balanchine’s ‘The Nutcracker’

Streaming December 16—25 (Nutcracker Teas on December 19, 20, 22, and 24)



Let’s kick this off in style. In our family, the holiday season just isn’t complete without the Pennsylvania Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. From the  Tchaikovsky score to the timeless story of holiday magic, this ballet is a classic for a reason. The Pennsylvania Ballet presents a digital encore presentation of the company’s production from 2019 beginning on December 16. Tickets to the ballet are $50 for unlimited online viewing for the full 10 days, or a one-time viewing on Christmas Eve for $25.



The ballet will also host a series of virtual Nutcracker Tea Parties for young theatergoers and their families, beginning Saturday, December 19 with the Sugar Plum Fairy. Subsequent teas will be with Candy Cane, Dewdrop, and Mother Ginger. Attendees will get exclusive access to interact with Pennsylvania Ballet dancers, dressed in costume as favorite Nutcracker characters, through Q&A sessions, craft lessons, and more. You can buy tickets for one tea for $15, or all four for $50.

People’s Light presents ‘A Christmas Carol’ in Concert

Streaming December 8—January 3



A joyous, music-filled celebration of Dickens’ beloved classic recently filmed at People’s Light features performances of newly arranged 19th-century English carols, original music, and readings of excerpts from Dickens’ novella.

Quintessence Theatre presents ‘The Little Princess’

Performed live December 9—January 3



Quintessence Theatre brightens the holiday season with a full virtual production of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess. All four actors will perform live from specially designed home studios, with the chance for young viewers to even make a cameo appearance onscreen! This timeless tale of one little girl’s resilience and imagination promises family fun and interactivity. “I’m so excited to be developing The Little Princess for the 21st century, when bridging distance and building connection through the power of storytelling feels more important than ever,” says director Suli Holum. “Our team is concocting a delightful digital experience for audiences of all ages full of magic, wonder, and fun.” General Admission virtual tickets are $29 per household.

The Kimmel Center presents ‘The Hip Hop Nutcracker’

December 12, 7 pm



A holiday mash-up for the whole family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker  (recorded live at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center) is a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, telling the classic holiday tale with a twist. Innovative digital graffiti and visuals transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s beloved story from traditional 19th Century Germany to contemporary New York City.  Tickets available online for the streaming performance. Post-show conversation will be live and will start at 85 minutes after the scheduled showtime.

Arden Theatre presents ‘A Year with Frog and Toad’

Streaming through December 31



Arden is streaming an encore of this charming musical about making and keeping a friend, based on the beloved children’s books. Instead of purchasing a ticket, make a donation of any amount to the Arden for Always Recovery Fund to receive access.

The Rock School of Dance presents ‘Nutcracker 1776’

Recorded live on November 27 this year, the Rock School of Dance presents its signature Revolutionary take on The Nutcracker ballet, virtually. Nutcracker 1776 features outstanding performances by alumni from years past as well as new performances by current students. A donation of $25 or more gets you a “ticket” to a link to watch the performance anytime.

The Philadelphia Orchestra presents ‘Favorites from The Nutcracker’

Live on December 17, 8 pm; streaming through December 31



Debuting live on the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Digital Stage, enjoy selections from Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet, along with other holiday favorites and a sing-along. Digital Stage events begin with a performance premiere streaming in real time, followed by on-demand access. Tickets are $15 per household.

A Philly POPS Christmas Gift

December 18-31



This year, this annual Philly tradition is presented as a gift from the Philly POPS, free to view at home! In this all-new virtual performance recorded at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez returns for her third Christmas with the POPS, along with virtual choir performances from perennial POPS favorites: The Philly POPS Festival Chorus, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas Gospel Choir, and The Philadelphia Boys Choir.

Lantern Theater Company presents ‘A Christmas Carol’

Streaming through December 27



This dramatic retelling of A Christmas Carol is accomplished by just one actor! Anthony Lawton brings the story to life, playing each character. This live performance was filmed at St. Stephen’s Theater in Center City in September 2020, and is available for streaming through December 27. Tickets are $20 per household for 24-hour access.

Philadelphia Theatre Company presents ‘The Wolves’

Streaming November 27—December 20



Recommended for teen audiences and older, The Wolves is centered on a group of nine high school girls navigating the politics of their personal lives as well as the politics of the larger world, gossiping about things like war, menstrual products, genocide, sports, pop culture, and their relationships. This streaming play is Pay What You Can for a two-day rental and can be streamed at philatheatreco.org starting on November 27. The play will no longer be available after December 20.

The Metropolitan Opera’s free Family Holiday Festival, including ‘Hansel and Gretel’

December 17-21



Stream Hansel and Gretel free from December 17-21, then participate in a five-day series of virtual workshops to guide kids and families through this wickedly entertaining adaptation of the classic fairy tale. Activities include crafts, dance parties, and much more! View the opera and activity schedule online.




Lead photograph of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker courtesy of Pennsylvania Ballet.

Contributing Writer

  • Lori Lahnemann December 13, 2020

    The Philadelphia Dance Academy is also presenting a family friendly streaming version of The Nutcracker Re-Imagined through January 4.

    Enjoy The Nutcracker Re-Imagined, a family friendly film version of The Nutcracker that follows young Clara on a magical dream to the Kingdom of the Sweets. This year’s production has been creatively adapted to film to allow this tradition to continue for our dancers in spite of the COVID restrictions in our community.

    Dances were re-choreographed with social distancing and fewer dancers. Students rehearsed masked in small groups. Scenes were filmed separately in a theater and edited together to create a cohesive story line.

    We know these dancers are wearing a bright smile behind their masks. In keeping this magical tradition alive this year, these dancers learned lessons of perseverance, adaptability, and creativity – the true meaning behind #TheShowMustGoOn.

    For a sneak peek;

    For tickets: