One of our favorite family traditions is to attend The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker at The Warner Theater. The classic story features some DC-centric twists as it is set in Georgetown, features George Washington as the heroic Nutcracker, and sometimes includes local luminaries in select performances. I love the addition of cherry blossoms for the sheer beauty and the cameo appearances by the Racing Presidents that you see at Nationals ball games that make this performance unique to DC. The Washington Ballet performers of all ages do a phenomenal job and the costumes are spectacular and we love going year after year.
The year The Nutcracker is at The Warner Theatre until December 29. Here’s some information about the performance.
“A holiday must-see full of magic and marvels. Septime Webre’s critically acclaimed The Nutcracker transports us back in time to historic Washington, DC and stars George Washington as the heroic Nutcracker. Full of swirling snowflakes, magnificent sets and costumes and Tchaikovsky’s beloved score, the curtain rises and the stage bursts with waltzing cherry blossoms, dancing sugar plums and other enchanting adaptations that have made Webre’s Nutcracker a Washington tradition with raves from critics and sold-out crowds.”
Whether you’re well versed in the Nutcracker tradition or it’s your first family performance, it’s definitely a worthwhile family tradition that puts everyone in the holiday mood. This year will mark our fourth year attending and knowing the story after attending for the past three years makes the experience much more special. Here are some tips for preparing your kids for their first Nutcracker that I’ve put together over the past five years of attending the performance as a family:
Familiarize them with the story by doing any of the following:
- Read Janet Schulman’s The Nutcracker or Diane Goode’s The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet to get your kids acquainted with the story.
- Get to know the characters by printing out free printables like The Nutcracker Coloring Book or Nutcracker Coloring Pages. Please note there are ads on all these sites though!
- Watch The Washington Ballet Videos to show children what to expect at the performance.
- Listen to Peter Tchaikovsky on Starfall to get them ready for the very basics of the story and the incredible music and sounds they’ll hear.
Talk about how to be a good audience member including using a whisper during the performance and being still to not disturb others around you.
- The performance is just about 2 hours long with an intermission halfway through.
- If you attend on a weeknight, street parking tends to opens up at 6 pm and you can often find open spots instead of paying for garage parking before your 7 pm performance.
- Bathrooms are downstairs and the lines can be long for the women’s room. If Dad or another one of the members in your party is male, have your kids go to the mens’ room where the line is shorter.
- There is a dazzling selection of gifts in the lobby that is hard to resist at intermission but if you’re looking for a keepsake, proceeds benefit The Washington Ballet.
- Don’t be afraid to pack some snacks to eat during intermission. There are refreshments available to purchase but it’s also nice to have the snacks your kids love ready when they need them.
- Visit the orchestra pit before the show and during intermission. We had wonderful conversations about the different kinds of instruments and enjoyed watching the musicians tune their instruments before the show.
- If your child can’t see past the head in front of them, fold your coats to serve as a booster seat. Hopefully it will provide just enough height for them to have a better view since The Warner Theater doesn’t have booster seats like other area children’s theaters sometimes have.
For a list of The Nutcracker performances and to purchase tickets for this holiday season, visit The Washington Ballet’s website.
My family received tickets to attend The Nutcracker from The Washington Ballet but all opinions are our own and based on years of attending live performances with our kids.