5 Live Holiday Shows Your Kids Will Love (2023)

If you love the holiday season, and you love live theater, let this list be your go-to guide.

Milwaukee is home to a very merry handful of live holiday shows that are family-friendly this season, and we’ve got the lowdown for you below:

1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

November 24 – December 24, 2023
Presented by First Stage at the Marcus Center, Todd Wehr Theater (929. N Water St.)

The horrible Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. The entire town panics when these rowdy six siblings are cast in the church’s annual Christmas pageant. 

It’s up to good-hearted Mrs. Bradley to help the Herdmans – and the rest of the town – discover the true meaning of Christmas before it’s too late. Silent night? Not a chance, but sometimes a little joyful noise is just right for Christmas.  

75 minutes + brief intermission. Suggested for adults, teens, and children ages 5-6, 7-9, 10-12.

Get Tickets >>

2. Back To The Future: Film With Orchestra

December 31 @ 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Bradley Symphony Center, 212 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
More info

Recharge your flux capacitor … and get ready to celebrate this unforgettable movie classic as you’ve never seen and heard it before! 

Back to the Future is the 1.21-gigawatt blockbuster that topped the 1985 box office chart, spawned two wildly successful sequels, and stamped an enduring imprint on pop culture.

Join Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), and a time-traveling DeLorean for the adventure of a lifetime as they travel to the past, present, and future – setting off a time-shattering chain reaction that disrupts the space-time continuum! Now, fans old and new will experience the thrill of Back to the Future like never before – on a big hi-def screen with a full symphony orchestra performing Alan Silvestri’s dazzling musical score live in sync with the movie.

Audiences will also be in for an exclusive treat: approximately twenty minutes of brand-new music added by award-winning composer Silvestri to the film’s score especially for these unique live orchestra presentations.

3. Rock & Roll Playhouse: Music of Grateful Dead

December 31, 2023 at 12:00 p.m.
Turner Hall

The Rock and Roll Playhouse, a family concert series hosted at historic music venues across the country, allows kids to “move, play and sing while listening to works from the classic-rock canon” (NY Times).

Performing songs created by the most iconic musicians in rock history, The Rock and Roll Playhouse band offers its core audience of families with children age ten and under games, movement, stories and an opportunity to rock out in an effort to educate children and explore their creativity.

More info >>

4. A Christmas Carol 

November 28 – December 24, 2022 at the Pabst Theater

A Christmas Carol is one of the best-known and loved stories in the English language.

During the course of one memorable Christmas Eve, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future help Scrooge discover that it is never too late to change his miserly ways. 

Enchanting music, dance, costumes, scenery and special effects will once again fill the theater to tell this timeless tale of love, hope and redemption.

Get tickets to A Christmas Carol >>

5. The Nutcracker

December 8 – 26th at the Marcus Performing Arts Center

Randy Crespo and Annia Hidalgo. Photo Mark Frohna

After a year of eager anticipation, Michael Pink’s brand-new interpretation of The Nutcracker is here for the holidays. 

Updated choreography, lavish new costumes,awe-inspiring sets, and more make this revamped classic one of the grandest debuts Milwaukee Ballet has ever celebrated! 

Join the Milwaukee Ballet for the world premiere of The Nutcracker: Drosselmeyer’s Imaginarium and experience Milwaukee’s favorite holiday tradition like you never have before. 

Get tickets to The Nutcracker >>

6. ‘Twas the Night Before Cirque de Soleil

November 24-25, 2023 at the Miller High Life Theatre

‘Twas the Night Before… is Cirque du Soleil’s first holiday show, based on the classic poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore. Memorable lines from this cherished classic inspired Cirque’s story about a jaded young girl who rediscovers the magic of the holidays.

A festive flurry of love and cheer created especially for families, ‘Twas the Night Before… features thrilling acrobatics, lovable characters – and a soundtrack including holiday classics re-invented by Cirque du Soleil. The show was conceived and is directed by Cirque du Soleil Senior Artistic Director James Hadley, a 25-year veteran of circus productions and live theater.

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7. Elf in Concert

November 24-26, 2023 | Bradley Symphony Center

Experience your favorite Christmas film transformed with the music of a live symphony orchestra in Elf™ in Concert!

For the first time ever, audiences can rediscover the magic of this holiday classic while a live symphony orchestra performs John Debney’s wonderful score and Santa Claus soars across the big screen in high-definition.

Get Tickets >>

8. Festival City Symphony Pajama Jamboree

Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 at 7:00pm
Marcus Performing Arts Center

Gather your family, friends and the neighbor kids for what many consider an annual tradition; The Festival City Symphony Holiday Pajama Jamboree! This year will feature old standards and traditional favorites that highlight the sounds of the winter season.

This hour-long, kid-friendly performance will include Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, Lucas Richman’s Hanukkah Festival Overture and end with Anderson’s A Christmas Festival sing-along. Tis the season to be jolly! 

More Info >>

About the author

In 2013, Calie Herbst, a former teacher with three little ones, saw a need for a “One Stop Shop” for family fun in Milwaukee. So she founded Milwaukee With Kids. Her goal was to find the best this city has to offer families and share it with other parents. In one place. In 2019, she published "Exploring Milwaukee WIth Kids", a comprehensive Milwaukee travel guide for families and kids. She appears regularly on WISN News, Fox 6's 'Real Milwaukee', B93.3, and Wisconsin Morning News. She has been featured in Medium, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NPR, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, and on CBS 58 News. Calie is available for hosting, moderating and media appearances.

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