We love a classic Nutcracker, but appreciate variety in the Christmas standard, too. This season the holiday ballet can be seen in trademarked virtuosic style at Lincoln Center; adapted for family audiences in venues across the city; for free at the World Financial Center; in a gay, Latino theatrical version in the Bronx; and a grown-up version by the American Ballet Theatre in a Brooklyn.

The original Nutcracker—Marius Petipa’s ballet based on an E.T.A. Hoffman story with music by Tchaikovsky—first premiered at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, on December 17, 1892. The Sugar Plum Fairy, the dancing rodents led by a mouse soldier, the young heroine Clara (sometimes called Marie) and Tchaikovsky’s score have become a holiday favorite in New York, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to the ballet.

From late November through early January, die-hard fans and first-timers can take their pick of Nutcrackers, or choose to chew them all up.

    Ballet for Young Audiences: The Nutcracker

    Flushing Town Hall


    Sat, Dec 22, 2012, 1:00 pm

    Tchaikovsky’s classic music comes to life and introduces children to the story of Clara’s Nutcracker. Visit the Enchanted Forest with its magical dancing snowflakes, and the wondrously beautiful Sugarplum Fairy in the Kingdom of the Sweets.

    Private: The Bang Group: Nut/Cracked

    New York Live Arts


    Thu, Dec 20, 2012 - Sat, Dec 22, 2012

    A comic/subversive, neo-vaudeville version of "The Nutcracker," "Nut/Cracked" celebrates its 10th anniversary performance with a journey into innocence through sustained fantasy, incorporating an enterprising mix of tap, ballet, contemporary, disco and even toe tap.

    Private: The Christmas Show

    St. George Theatre

    Staten Island

    Fri, Dec 14, 2012 - Sun, Dec 16, 2012

    BALAM Dance Theatre principal ballerina Robin Gilbert and artistic director Carlos Fittante perform the Grand Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker ballet in this family holiday favorite, The Christmas Show.

    Private: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

    David H. Koch Theater


    Fri, Nov 23, 2012 - Sun, Dec 30, 2012

    From the moment the lights dim, you are transported to a wondrous world of magic and wonder. A rousing snowstorm sends a blizzard of ballerinas across the stage, sweeping you to exotic locales in the enchanting Land of Sweets.

    Private: The Knickerbocker Suite

    Manhattan Movement and Arts Center


    Wed, Dec 12, 2012 - Sun, Dec 16, 2012

    "The Knickerbocker Suite," a new holiday classic, has been brought to the stage by Rose Caiola with the Manhattan Youth Ballet. Based on the jocular story by artist Elliott Arkin, this original ballet is a timely tale of American values and folklore with New York City at the center of attention.

    Private: The Nutcracker and The Mouse King

    Theatre Row


    Thu, Nov 29, 2012 - Sat, Dec 15, 2012

    "The Nutcracker and The Mouse King" is not your typical Christmas musical. A somewhat dark comedy, this fantastical show will take you on a journey to another world, where there are life size mice, talking dolls, swords fights, magic, true love and of course a happy ending.

    The Nutcracker in New York

    Die-hard fans and first-timers can take their pick of Nutcrackers this season—or choose to chew them all up. The holiday ballet can be seen in trademarked virtuosic style at Lincoln Center; adapted for young audiences; free in the Winter Garden; as an R-rated cabaret; and many more variations.