'The Nutcracker' Holiday Dance Tradition Returns to Orange County

Last year, just 10 days before one of the only in-person performances of "The Nutcracker" in Orange County was set to take the stage, another COVID-19 stay-at-home order was announced – interrupting yet another decades-long holiday tradition.

Festival Ballet Theatre, who had been preparing for the show on a makeshift proscenium stage on the Irvine Barclay Theatre loading dock, tried to keep the sugarplums dancing, but "The Nutcracker" of 2020 was destined for the small screen.

"We brought in all the props and backdrops and set up pods for the audience to sit safely, but everything closed and all we could do was Zoom again," said Festival Ballet Theatre artistic director Salwa Rizkalla.

This year, despite a looming threat of a new COVID variant, venues across the country are holding strong with their plans to present the ballet this December.

Venezuelan Pianist Gabriela Montero Improvises, Stands Up for Human Rights

Gabriela Montero is not only one of the most talented pianists of her generation, but she is also one of the most innovative. The Venezuelan-born classical musician has won many awards for her recordings, compositions and performances, including a Latin Grammy in 2015 and the 2018 Heidelberger Frühling Music Award, given by the annual festival of the same name in Germany.

Montero has exhibited tremendous skill and creativity in her performances of the masters: Bach, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Prokofiev. But she also possesses a rare talent for improvising, based on tunes or themes suggested by audiences, or to accompany other media, such as silent films.

Panoringan: UC South Coast Educates, Collaborates with 200 Acres of Farmland

Situated near the intersection of Irvine Boulevard and Modjeska Road, UC South Coast is neither part of UC Irvine nor Costa Mesa's South Coast neighborhood. It's associated with the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) division. The site's primary purpose is to serve as a research facility for UC scientists in the region.

Holiday art and culture events are blossoming all over Orange County - lights, carols, and nutcrackers are in abundance. For the next few weeks, we'll be featuring just a few of the many opportunities to celebrate that you can learn about at SparkOC.com. For any in-person events, be sure to check the venue's audience guidelines in advance for the latest health and safety protocols. 


Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

In one of the funniest holiday traditions in Orange County, the Maverick Theater presents their madcap "adaptation" of the ludicrous Christmas B-movie where aliens kidnap jolly old St. Nicholas  DETAILS »


Merry & Bright: Family Reunion

The first live performance in nearly two years by the beloved chorus MenAlive OC will bring their traditional holiday musical celebration to the Irvine Barclay Theatre  DETAILS »


Pasos Adelante

A thrilling filmed performance from Orange County's renowned folklorico dance troupe Relámpago del Cielo can now be streamed on-demand  DETAILS »


Nutcracker for Kids

Pacific Symphony's special, 45-minute "condensed" version of the holiday classics is geared towards children, finishing with a visit from Santa Claus  DETAILS »


Hikari - Festival of Lights

Wagon rides, a gingerbread forest, and over a million twinkling lights are just part of the festivities as Tanaka Farms merges Japanese holiday traditions with American ones  DETAILS »

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Voice of OC is Orange County's nonprofit newsroom with a mission to consistently deliver fair, focused and thorough journalism on critical quality of life and local issues for Orange County communities.


Arts Orange County builds appreciation of, participation in and support for the arts and arts education throughout Orange County. Event information provided by SparkOC, an Arts OC program.