Christmas in a Nutshell

The Nutcracker by the Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House, London. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

It may often be seen as the Pantomime for the privileged but the Nutcracker is as quintessentially Christmas as stockings on fireplaces, mistletoe and mulled wine.

As one girl told VOL ‘it just wouldn’t be Christmas without it” so why do we love the Nutcracker so much?

Anna Rose O’Sullivan (Clara) and Marcelino Sambé in the Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Photograph: Alastair Mui


Based on ETA. Hoffmann’s 1816 classic the Nutcracker is the embodiment of festive joy, adventure and first love. Twas the night before Christmas and all was quiet until Clara sneaks downstairs to play with her beloved Nutcracker toy. Waiting to whisk the young girl on a magical adventure is the mysterious magician Drosselmeyer, who brings the Christmas toys to life along with the Nutcracker. Not unlike Alice Clara is shrunk to the size of her doll and together they defeat the Mouse King with her shoe. They then fly together through the Land of snow to the Land of Sweets and are greeted by the Sugar Plum Queen herself.

But there are many who come about at this time of year to put a damper on The Nutcracker. Yes, no one can argue that the story and choreography is simple yet effective. Its one of the only Ballets whos main characters (or the two who own the most stage time) aren’t principle dancers.

However, those critics often forget, this time of year is also pivotal for ballet companies as Nutcracker season brings in 40% of their yearly revenue. The success or failure of this season also determines what will be shown in the upcoming year and how experimental a company can afford to be.



This year there are even more ways to enjoy this Christmas classic. With three different renditions across London, there is plenty of choices whether you choose the classic Royal Ballet. Get a slice of Northern pudding at the Royal Albert Hall or the Coliseum. One thing is certain you will be enchanted the whole way through.

If you’ve missed out on tickets to see the show live you can also view it at the cinema. The Royal Opera House stream all over the country in Curzon, Cineworld and view. Plus if you’re around Covent garden why not pop into the newly refurbished Linsbury theatre and get the grandeur of the Opera House for a fracture of the price.


Words: Millie Davy-McVay | Subbing: Tabitha Durrant

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