5 ways to enjoy ‘The Nutcracker’ with your little ones

For some families, “The Nutcracker” is a magical holiday tradition and it’s even more exciting when you’re introducing the ballet to your child. The Joffrey Ballet’s spectacular version makes a great first-time experience. Here are some ways to make the day out more memorable with kids in tow.

Know the backstory.

“The Nutcracker” is a timeless tale, but it doesn’t hurt to introduce the story to your kids before the performance. Consider reading a book to explain the plot and characters to children. Worried about spoiling the magic? Don’t worry, Joffrey Ballet brings a recently new twist to the show by setting it right before the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Discuss theater etiquette.

According to The Joffrey Ballet, performances are recommended for ages 4 and up. It’s important to set expectations on how to behave during their performance. Tell them they need to stay seated, be quiet and clap at the right times. While there is no specific dress code, dressing up to the nines might be a great way to enforce these rules. Plus, how cute will your littles look in bow ties and ballerina skirts? 

Arrive early. 

We think the matinee is the perfect timing for a first Nutcracker performance. It gives you plenty of time to head downtown a few hours before the show to grab some lunch and see some holiday decorations. The Christmas tree in Millennium Park and the Art Institute lions dressed up with holiday wreaths are only a short walk away! Make time to take a photo with the backdrop located in the Auditorium Theatre’s lobby. You might also catch some carolers, too!

Keep busy during intermission.

The Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” runs for approximately 2 hours. For the 15-minute intermission, head to the lobby to stretch your legs and grab some kid-approved snacks from the concessions. There’s even a small activity section from page 50-51 in the program with a word search, a nutcracker coloring sheet and some fun facts about the World’s Fair. Did you know that the Ferris wheel and spray paint were some of the many inventions that made a debut at the fair? 

Review the performance.

When leaving the theater, ask your kids what their favorite parts were and if they have any questions. There are so many moments in the ballet that kids will love from the child performers to the visually-striking sets. Start a new holiday tradition with your kiddos with “The Nutcracker” and don’t forget to check out more Nutcracker performances in the Chicagoland area


If you go

The Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

Through Dec. 30

Auditorium Theatre, 50 Ida B. Wells Dr, Chicago

Tickets start at $35


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