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Is Your Child Ready for The Nutcracker? What to Know Before You Go

The Richmond Ballet’s holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, returns to the Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Energy Center, December 9 through 23, 2022, with the Richmond Symphony playing Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score for all the performances.

School of Richmond Ballet students apply finishing touches as they prepare to take the stage as Dolls in the Battle scene of The Nutcracker.

From a battle beneath the branches of a mystical Christmas tree, to a winter white forest, and then off to a far-off kingdom of delectable sweets, this dazzling production is sure to bring joy to everyone’s December. With choreography by Stoner Winslett,  the Richmond Ballet holiday classic has been heralded as “one of the country’s most perfect [Nutcracker productions]” by The New York Times and this season will feature the company’s full roster of professionals, as well as twenty-nine trainees and more than 195 accomplished students from the School of Richmond Ballet and Minds in Motion.

With its leaping Russian bear, giant Mouse King, floating Butterfly and other dreamlike characters, Winslett’s choreography is filled with humor, excitement, and magical energy.

“At Richmond Ballet, we realize that attending The Nutcracker is a tradition for so many families,” notes Brett Bonda, Richmond Ballet managing director. “Our rendition of The Nutcracker has become a multigenerational experience, with parents, grandparents and children alike entranced by the magical story. This experience is a tradition we feel so honored to uphold.”

Are you thinking of heading to The Nutcracker for the first time? Perhaps you’re wondering if it’s time to make this production a part of your family’s holiday experience. Read the tips below to get the most out of your Nutcracker experience.

Introducing your child to The Nutcracker – Read The Nutcracker book at bedtime, listen to the soundtrack by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and show your children photos of the production found on the Richmond Ballet Facebook page. Familiarize yourself with the plot and characters so you can answer any questions they may have.

Preparing your children for the performance – Each performance is approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission during which you will have time to purchase nutcracker sweets and visit the restroom.

Afraid of the dark? – Reassure your children that the candelabras inside the theatre stay lit for the duration of the show.   Let your child know there are a few moments in the performance that may be considered “scary,” such as the Mouse King (however in the Richmond Ballet version he is a comedic character) and the loud noises during the battle scene.

Getting the best tickets – The most popular performances for young children are matinees – order early as these performances sell out quickly!

Dog lover? – Dog lovers may be interested in purchasing tickets to a Pupcracker performance (December 15 and 20 at 2 p.m.). For the eighth year in a row, Richmond Ballet will partner with Richmond SPCA for a meet and greet with adoptable animals at intermission and after the show. The dogs will also make an appearance on stage during the performance!

Selecting your seats – Parents of young children may want to consider aisle seats close to an exit in case of a bathroom emergency or a restless child who might want to dance in the aisle. Please note that every family member age, 4 and over, must have a ticket.

Planning your outfit – Some people enjoy making their special visit to the ballet a dress-up occasion, but many others dress casually. Most importantly, wear something you are comfortable in, and enjoy the performance!

Thinking of coming without a child? – The Nutcracker is a magical holiday experience for audience members of all ages. Reach out to your friends and family and start a new holiday tradition!

Tickets to The Nutcracker can be purchased online at, by phone at 804.344.0906 x224 or in person at the Richmond Ballet Box Office, 407 East Canal Street, Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 6:00pm. 


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