10 opera and ballet shows to catch this Christmas

Celebrate the festive season with these wintery offerings

Ashley Shaw in The Red Shoes
Ashley Shaw in The Red Shoes
© Johan Persson

It wouldn't be Christmas without a trip to the opera or the ballet. So as winter draws in and the big day gets closer, keep warm and cosy with this selection of shows guaranteed to fill you with festive cheer:

A selection of operatic delights

The Magic Flute

If you want a light-hearted opera this holiday season, look no further this Mozart classic. It's a fantastical journey of dancing animals, flying machines and fairytales aplenty. Look out for the Queen of the Night and her vocal acrobatics!
Playing at the Royal Opera House until 27 November

Orpheus in the Underworld at the London Coliseum
Orpheus in the Underworld at the London Coliseum
© Clive Barda

Orpheus in the Underworld

Emma Rice's company Wise Children has branched out into opera. Rice, who was recently presented with the Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre award at the UK Theatre Awards, has turned her hand to the classic Greek myth. With music by Offenbach, the English National Opera production is a fun-filled party in the Underworld.
Playing at the London Coliseum until 28 November in rep with The Mikado

The Mikado

Who can miss this whimsical poster of an inflated man against a bright pink background on the London Underground? Gilbert and Sullivan's classic operetta is perfect for those looking for a bit more oomph in their opera. And with names like Nanki-Poo, Ko-Ko and Poo-Bah, how can you resist?
Playing at the London Coliseum until 30 November in rep with Orpheus in the Underworld

Death in Venice

How better to celebrate a British Christmas than with a British composer? Death in Venice was the final opera that Benjamin Britten (the clue's in the name) wrote and is a true ensemble effort – lots of opportunity for opera singers and dancers alike to show off their skills.
Playing at the Royal Opera House until 6 December

John Tomlinson and the cast of The Mikado
John Tomlinson and the cast of The Mikado
© Genevieve Girling

Some spectacular ballet

The Sleeping Beauty

Another classic for this time of year, The Sleeping Beauty is a staple in The Royal Ballet's repertoire. Be enchanted by the fairytale of Aurora and the evil Carabosse, as Tchaikovsky's music entrances you before the prince wakes you up with a kiss.
Playing at the Royal Opera House until 16 January

The Snowman

It's back for its 22nd year – the quintessentially Christmas tale of a snowman and a child having a magical adventure. Be transported through the air and fly away with this show of dance, live music and storytelling that warms the heart on a cold wintery day.
Playing at the Peacock Theatre from 21 November to 5 January

The English National Ballet's Nutcracker
The English National Ballet's Nutcracker
© Laurent Liotardo

The Nutcracker

It wouldn't be Christmas without The Nutcracker! One production sees the English National Ballet return to the London Coliseum – over 100 musicians and dancers bringing the classic tale to life for another year. Another can be found up at the Birmingham Hippodrome, as the Birmingham Royal Ballet continues a tradition that started in 1990. Dance along to the sugar plum fairy and battle the mouse king with Clara once again!
Playing at Birmingham Hippodrome from 22 November to 14 December
Playing at London Coliseum from 11 December to 5 January

The Red Shoes

Matthew Bourne jointly holds the record for the most Olivier Awards (eight, the same as Dame Judi Dench) and watching his choreographed production of The Red Shoes, it's not hard to see why. This two-time Olivier Award-winning show is back after selling out performances around the world and tells of a dancer's obsession to be the best at any cost.
Playing around the UK, including at Sadler's Wells from 3 December to 19 January

Scottish Ballet's The Snow Queen
Scottish Ballet's The Snow Queen
© Nicola Selby and Eve McConnachie

The Snow Queen

The Scottish Ballet have opted for this frosty tale as a world premiere ballet to close out their 50th year celebrations. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's much-loved tale – which was also the basis for Frozen – Christopher Hampson's new choreography meets Lez Brotherston's design in this production, which will be set to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov and performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
Playing at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh from 7 to 29 December

The Little Match Girl

Arthur Pita's dance-theatre show is perfect for all the family. Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, the eponymous Little Match Girl wanders the streets of an imaginary Italian town, with one final match to keep her warm. Check out a classic story of kindness and friendship this Christmas time.
Playing at Sadler's Wells from 11 to 29 December