OK, so it is only the beginning of November but I’m already thinking about the holiday season.  Our family has many traditions that begin right after Halloween and end at the beginning of the New Year.

Each year our area raises the bar in terms of festivities and events but my all-time, hands-down timeless must-do is to attend “The Nutracker” and once is never enough!  Because there are a number of options for experiencing Tchaikovsky’s classic and many require advance reservations, I thought I’d broach the subject now, sooner rather than later.  Each venue offers a fantastic performance of this production, so whichever one you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

The Bardavon Opera House
35 Market St., Poughkeepsie
The Bardavon is probably the one theater that you are least familiar with but the time to experience it is during the holiday season. The Bardavon Opera House, opened in 1869 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the oldest continuously operating theater in New York. Located in the heart of old downtown Poughkeepsie, attending “The Nutcracker” here takes you right back in time. There are a few great restaurants and bars within walking distance and you can at once imagine a bustling downtown filled with carolers and merriment. “The Nutcracker” performance, scheduled for Dec. 7 this year, is being performed by the New Paltz Ballet Theatre featuring dancers from the New York City Ballet.  It is classic, elegant and timeless.

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Why I Love It:
Because this production is absolutely stunning.  Full disclosure: My daughter was so mesmerized that she stood for the entire performance.  Because the vintage Bardavon is elegant and perfectly appointed for a glamorous, memorable and affordable night out.

The Paramount Hudson Valley Theater
1008 Brown St., Peekskill
Another great classic theater opened in 1930 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Paramount made the successful transition from movie house to theater and performance space and hosts “The Colonial Nutcracker” this year on Dec. 23. Its performance by the Dance Theatre in Westchester is classic with a twist: It is “The Nutcracker” but set in colonial Yorktown. Located in the heart of downtown Peekskill, it offers plenty of dining options to make this holiday treat complete.

Why I Love It:
Because the performance has all the beauty and majesty of the traditional “Nutcracker” but the colonial aspect really makes it unique. There is also narration so that the littlest guests can have a better understanding of the story.

Westchester Ballet Company at Westchester County Center
198 Central Ave., White Plains
The Westchester Ballet Company, one of the oldest community ballet companies in the country, began in 1951 and is probably best known for its performance of “The Nutcracker,” which features 125 company dancers and guest artists. The annual performance weekend at the Westchester County Center, another fabulous regional venue since 1930, will be on Dec. 15, 16 and 17 this year and is a statement of elegant perfection.

Why I Love It:
Located in Westchester County’s iconic art deco classic, the County Center, the festive and traditional event space is the perfect backdrop a beautiful holiday ballet. Because I have a lifetime of memories of events, including “The Nutcracker,” at the County Center and am always nostalgic about going back.

Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge, Ridgefield, Conn.
I would totally be remiss if I neglected to include the RPH production of “The Nutcracker” featuring the student and professional cast of the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance.  It is also beng performed on Dec. 15, 16 and 17. This magical interpretation is known for its technical precision, beauty and graceful choreography.

Why I Love It:
Because in addition to the breadth and depth of talent on stage, the oversized Christmas tree deserves its own credit in the program.