While there are dozens of ways to create family memories this holiday, one of our favourite options is taking the kids out to experience some live music or a theatrical performance. Besides supporting local artists, this activity is a great way to incorporate some arts and culture into your children’s world (plus it usually involves sitting).
Here are 12 family-friendly performances happening in Toronto this holiday season. And while the bulk of our suggestions do tie into Christmas, we’ve also included a few non-holiday options in case your family has had its fill of “Jingle Bells.”
A Christmas Story | tickets.ticketwise.com
Now-December 29, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Lower Ossington Theatre, 100 Ossington Ave
Since it debuted in 1983, the movie A Christmas Story has been entertaining countless families with the holiday antics of young Ralphie Parker and his colourful kin. Now you can watch them, and that notorious leg lamp, on stage in this comedic play that is aimed at audience members four and up. Several performances are already sold out so if you want to treat your family to this laugh-fest, be sure to reserve your tickets, which cost around $60, ASAP.
Lil’ Red Robin Hood | rosspetty.com
November 29-January 4
Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St
Ross Petty’s annual pantomime is a holiday tradition, even though its productions don’t necessary explicitly tie directly into Christmas. Instead, it takes a well-known fairy tale and spins it into a laugh-out-loud musical comedy that kids of all ages will enjoy. This year’s performance is based around Robin Hood and features, “pop tunes, ad libs and raucous audience participation.” Evening and matinees are available, with a number of performances scheduled for the winter break. Tickets start at $27 and a four-ticket family pack is available.
Cavalcade of Lights | toronto.ca
Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St W
Looking for some free family entertainment? Then consider heading downtown and taking in the City of Toronto’s deluxe spin on its annual Christmas tree lighting. This event features a wide range of music including electropop by way of Nunavut, a hip hop DJ and a headlining performance by “Toronto’s original guerrilla-folk party-punk massive,” the Lemon Bucket Orkestra. There will also be live performances by two different circus troupes.
A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play | tickets.ticketwise.com
November 29-December 24, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, plus Christmas Eve
Lower Ossington Theatre, 100 Ossington Ave
This story-within-a-story will take your family to Christmas Eve in 1947, where a radio studio is staging its live broadcast of one of the most famous holiday stories out there. Listen to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol come to life in an inventive show that is described as, “the perfect holiday outing for the entire family!” Well, so long as the entire family is age four and up. Tickets run around $60 and the theatre’s small size means that every seat offers great sightlines.
Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical | meridianhall.com
December 7-December 24
St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St E
The acclaimed 2002 movie comes to life in its North American stage debut. After earning five stars during its London West End run, this production is now ready to wow Toronto audiences with catchy songs and endearing performances. While the subject matter won’t appeal to little ones, Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical is perfect for that hard-to-please tween and teen girl age group. Evening and matinee shows are scheduled, with ticket prices starting at $49.
Toronto Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops | tso.ca
Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St
Even the most Scrooge-like personality will be filled with festive cheer after attending one of the TSO’s annual Holiday Pops concerts. This year, acclaimed Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman and a full choir, composed of talent local high school students, will accompany the orchestra as they perform beloved holiday songs. Four performances —three at night and one matinee —are scheduled and tickets start at $58. Each show is roughly two hours long, with a 20-minute intermission to let your family stretch its legs.
The National Ballet of Canada: The Nutcracker | national.ballet.ca
December 12-January 4
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St W
Lush set designs, gorgeous costumes and of course mesmerizing dancing make the National Ballet of Canada’s classic take on this beloved holiday story one that your family will cherish for years to come. To enhance your children’s experience, arrive 45 minutes before curtain time and take in the Nutcracker Story Time, an “interactive telling of the magical holiday story that allows children to have a better understanding of the performance they are attending.” Tickets start at $80 and both matinee and evening performances are available.
Cinderella: The Family-Friendly Musical Panto | tickets.ticketwise.com
December 14-January 5
Annex Theatre, 730 Bathurst St
Are your kids more into princesses than merry men in tights? Then this pantomime staging of Cinderella might be a better fit for your crew. While you already know the story, this production promises fun music (including audience singalongs) and lots of laugh-out-loud silliness. Recommended for kids age four and up, Cinderella: The Family-Friendly Musical Panto runs 90 minutes in length, including an intermission. Ticket prices start at $30 apiece and an under $100 family four-pack is also available.
Toronto Children’s Chorus: Celestial Celebrations | roythomsonhall.com
Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St
Looking to inspire a budding, young performer? Then this event, with its all kids and youth lineup, is a most-do. Over 400 children choristers, as well as the TCC’s Alumni Choir and the Toronto Youth Choir, will take to Roy Thomson’s famed stage where they will perform a wide range of classic seasonal songs. The singers will be backed by some of the talented musicians from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Tickets for this matinee performance start at $46.
Good Lovelies Christmas | masseyhall.com
Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave
For 13 years, the pop-folk trio of the Good Lovelies has been performing a special Christmas show that combines classic songs and original material in a family-friendly package that will appeal to kids of all ages (though the 8 pm start time makes this show better suited to school-aged kids). New this year will be fresh material from the band’s latest holiday album, Evergreen. Tickets start at $42.45 and due to the Danforth Music Hall’s smaller size and great sightlines, pretty much seat at this venue is a great one.
The SpongeBob Musical | meridianhall.com
December 17-December 22
Meridian Hall, 1 Front St
Crazy, colourful and highly entertaining, The SpongeBob Musical is a great family outing for those preschool age and up. Featuring original music by the likes of John Legend, the Flaming Lips and members of Aerosmith, this critically acclaimed show is sure to also leave the adults smiling. Individual tickets start at $35 with special family pricing also available, starting at $99.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve & Other Stories | ticketmaster.ca
Scotiabank Arena, 40 Bay St
Traditional Christmas carols not quite your family’s thing? Then consider this rock and roll take on familiar holiday songs. Featuring multiple guitars, a string section and a ton of colourful lasers, this concert is one that your kids won’t forget anytime soon. Note that this show can get loud so if you’re bringing little ones, pack some ear protection. Two performances are scheduled for Monday, December 30, one for 3 pm and another at 8 pm and tickets start at around $66 each.