The 10 Most Kid-Friendly Theaters Around Boston
Take your whole family out for a show this holiday season!
The meaning of dinner and a show has probably changed drastically since having kids -- from glitzy nights out on the town to reheated leftovers and Netflix. That doesn’t always have to be the case! There are plenty of local theaters around Boston offering kid-friendly spaces and shows that aim to engage the whole family.
That’s never more true than during the holiday season, when there are myriad shows targeted at families -- from ballets to concerts. This winter vacation, bring your little one to see live entertainment, which is, after all, one of the great perks of living in such a vibrant city. Kids of all ages will enjoy these theater offerings, so you’re able to save their favorite babysitter or nanny for a real parents’ night out later in the week!
Address: Performances at the Larcom Theatre in Beverly, the Regent Theatre in Arlington, & various theaters on Tremont Street in Boston.
Contact: 617-424-6634 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Fees: Tickets start at $10. | View seasonal performances here.
The Boston Children’s Theatre is a nonprofit that aims to bring professional-quality theater instruction to Boston’s youngest performing artists. They typically put on kid-friendly productions, making this the perfect destination for your first theater outing as a family. Boston Children’s Theatre performs at the Larcom Theatre in Beverly, the Regent Theatre in Arlington, and various theaters on Tremont Street in Boston, so you can pick a date and location that work best for your family.
This season, the Boston Children’s Theatre is offering three family-friendly shows. “The Velveteen Rabbit” will run through Dec. 17, “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” runs through Christmas Day, and “The Cat in the Hat” hits stages in February. The shows are all about 50 minutes long and may or may not include an intermission. You can always find more information on upcoming shows by visiting the organization’s website. If your little ones love the show, you might consider purchasing a tax-deductible family membership, which will provide you with 12 tickets to shows during the 2018 season.
Address: 180 Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
Fees: Tickets start at $20. | View upcoming season’s calendar here.
The Wheelock Family Theatre, on the campus of Wheelock College, provides opportunities for children interested in theater, and it puts on some great family-friendly shows. Right now, the theater is preparing for it’s next big show, “Beauty and the Beast,” which will run from Feb. 2 to March 4. If your child is like a lot of kids, they’ve seen “Beauty in the Beast” in the last year and are familiar with the story, so this is a great way to introduce them to a live theater show that will really engage them.
Although the Wheelock Family Theatre isn’t putting on any holiday productions, the organization runs classes during school vacation weeks and throughout the year. Kids as young as preschool can learn the basics of storytelling and acting, which are important skills to have for a lifetime of loving the theater.
Finding holiday theater outings can be a little overwhelming if your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Luckily, the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) in Cambridge offers a great non-holiday-focused show that all families will enjoy. “Charlotte’s Web” runs from Dec. 17 - Jan. 7. Kids of all ages will love seeing this beloved book brought to life on stage, even if they haven’t yet read about Fern and Wilbur on their own.
The A.R.T. recommends this show for kids ages 4 and older, although younger ones may be able to sit through it if they’ve had theater experience in the past. If your child has sensory issues, be sure to check out the special sensory-friendly performance on Dec. 29 at 2 p.m. During that show, the lights will remain on and sound will be less intense. In addition, trained volunteers and staff will be on hand to help parents and children navigate the show.
Address: 539 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111
Fees: Tickets for “The Nutcracker” start at $35.
You can’t mention winter theater events in Boston without bringing up the Boston Opera House, home to Boston Ballet’s renowned performance of “The Nutcracker.” This is one of the most beloved theater traditions in Beantown. While youngsters will delight in the beautiful costumes and theatrics, this outing might be best saved for children who have some theater experience and are able to sit quietly through a long show.
If your child is at that level, however, this is an event that should not be missed. The opera house, which seats nearly 3,000 guests, is impressive in and of itself, and kids will love getting dressed up to attend the ballet. For many families, going to “The Nutcracker” becomes a yearly tradition that children eagerly await being old enough to partake in. Once you go, you’ll understand why Bostonians are so enthusiastic about this particular brand of holiday magic.
Address: 290 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 02446
Fees: Live shows are $13 for adults, $11 for children. | Films are $9 for adults, $7 for children. Kids sitting in a parent’s lap are free.
The Coolidge Corner Theatre hosts live shows and films that are perfect for families, and the intimate space is always welcoming for kids learning how to behave in a theater. Most of the shows are aimed at kids ages 3 through 10, and exceptions will be noted. The best part about the Coolidge Corner Theatre is that the venue hosts events you wouldn’t find elsewhere, offering an outing that’s full of quirky, family fun.
“The Muppet Christmas Carol” and “The Muppet Movie” are being shown in upcoming weeks ahead of Christmas. In January, there will be a screening of “Willy Wonka,” accompanied by a kid-friendly talk about rainforest animals that are essential to chocolate production. Kids will get a kick out of learning that monkeys can help cocoa grow! On Jan. 7, there’s a live singalong that is perfect for kids ages 2 and older.
Address: 265 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116
Fees: Tickets for “Rudolph” start at $38.
The Shubert Theatre has been hosting shows in Boston since 1910, so when you take your kids to a performance at this playhouse, you’re introducing them to Boston’s rich theater history. This year, that history takes on a modern twist when “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” comes into town Dec. 14-17.
Kids will love seeing their favorite characters, like Rudolph, Clarice, and the Misfit Toys on stage. The costumes in this show are familiar enough that even young children will be able to connect the performance with the classic Christmas TV special, which they’ve probably already watched at home. Of course, parents will also love watching because Rudolph, whose story premiered on television in 1964, was probably a beloved part of their childhood Christmas traditions, as well. The Shubert Theatre is also home to “The Hip Hop Nutcracker,” a good fit if your family is looking for a modern alternative to the traditional ballet.
Address: 32 Station St., Brookline, MA 02445
Fees: Tickets start at $12. | Click here to view performances.
With a name like the Puppet Showplace Theater, you know it has to be kid-friendly, and your little ones are bound to love the shows at this venue. With more than 300 performances each year, plus special events like classes and puppetry workshops, you’re sure to find something that’s a fun fit for your family.
Upcoming shows this winter include “Cinderella,” a holiday singalong, “The Frog Prince,” and “Hansel and Gretel.” There are shows leading up to the holidays and throughout winter break, so you have plenty of options to find a time and a story that will work best for your kids. The theater has performances throughout the year, making this a wonderful kid-friendly activity to add to your rotation.
Address: 40 Prospect St., Cambridge, MA 02139
Fees: Adults, $14 | Kids ages 12 & under, $8
If you’ve been in Boston long enough, chances are you’ve gone for a date night at ImprovBoston. If so, you’re probably raising your eyebrows, wondering how on earth this can be considered a family-friendly venue. However, it’s a little known fact that each Saturday at 4 p.m., ImprovBoston puts on a family show that’s perfect for kids ages 4 to 12. That means you can pack up the whole family and head out for a hilarious and slightly unpredictable late afternoon of live performances.
In addition, the company also puts on All Access Improv shows Saturdays at 6 p.m. While not specifically designed for kids, these are family-friendly shows where you don’t need to worry about any curse words or inappropriate humor. The best part about taking the kids to improv is that every show is different, so if they like it, you can return as often as you want without having to worry about getting bored.
Address: 270 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116
Fees: Tickets start at $25. | View performances here.
The Wang Theatre is one of the most well-known venues in Boston. It’s also nationally recognized, with one of the five largest stages in the country. The theater is absolutely gorgeous, and with 3,500 seats it certainly offers the full experience, which is why this outing is best reserved for older kids who have theater experience.
If you’re looking for a holiday show, the theater will be hosting the “Pentatonix Christmas Tour” through Dec. 16. The a cappella group has recently become a holiday favorite, but this show is best reserved for older children. If you want to give your little ones a taste of the Wang Theatre, wait until March, when “Paw Patrol Live” comes to town, bringing little ones a chance to have a theater experience designed just for them!
Address: 925 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215
Fees: Tickets to “Disney On Ice” start at $10.
Boston University’s Agganis Arena might be more closely associated with hockey than family programing in your mind, but the arena has some wonderfully kid-friendly programming coming up this winter and spring. Top on the list is “Disney On Ice,” which has been delighting young kids for decades. This year, the show is in Boston from Dec. 22 through Jan. 1, and with tickets starting at just $10, it’s worth taking a gamble on bringing even the youngest kids to the show.
In April, this venue hosts “Sesame Street Live,” giving toddlers another chance to build up their theater skills. While there’s usually plenty of street parking available around Agganis (especially when the college kids are gone during winter break), you may need to walk a bit, so consider bringing a stroller. And because this venue holds more than 7,000 people, it can feel huge, especially to young viewers. Consider getting closer seats to give your little one the best view possible.
What are your favorite places to see live shows with kids around Boston? Let us know in the comments below!
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