When I think about things to do during the holidays in New York City, two things come to mind. The first is visiting the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. The other is traveling about .1 miles from the tree to Radio City Music Hall for the annual Christmas Spectacular, starring the world famous Rockettes.
The Christmas Spectacular is an annual stage show that stars the Rockettes, a precision dance troupe that actually got its start in St. Louis. The 90-minute show was first performed in 1933, when Radio City Music Hall would put on live shows and the latest Hollywood films. This first show included the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (pictured above!) and the Nativity Scene, both of which have been in every production throughout the years.
While the Christmas Spectacular has gone through changes throughout the years (different songs/dances), the overall premise remains the same. Audience members are treated to a full show of singing and dancing by Santa, the Rockettes, and a complete company of performers. Unlike at Broadway shows, you can take photos and videos at the Christmas Spectacular.
Throughout the years, the Christmas Spectacular has become a major part of the holiday season. Shows are performed up to four (!!!) times per day, and tickets are available between early November and January 1st. There is even a touring production that goes around the country, adding some extra holiday cheer throughout the nation.
I had never been to the Christmas Spectacular, so I wanted to make sure I caught it before tickets sold out. The closer it gets to Christmas, the more expensive tickets become.
Chase Bank, one of the major sponsors of the Christmas Spectacular, was offering free popcorn vouchers for cardholders. Since I don't turn down free food (ever), I took that as my cue to buy a ticket for a show. I used TodayTix to get a pretty good deal on a seat (again, the earlier you buy, the better), and headed over to the show.
All the reviews I read advised to get to Radio City Music Hall as early as possible to get through security. They take security seriously here - bags are searched, and everyone has to go through a metal detector.
This was also my first time at Radio City Music Hall! I loved all the holiday decor, and the chandelier in the main lobby was beautiful.
So let's be clear about something. The Christmas Spectacular will bleed your wallet dry. This is a show built for tourists, and Radio City charges an insane amount of money for everything. Popcorn ranges from $9 to $16, and it costs $35 to take a photo with a Rockette. If you have the money to spend, go for it. For those of you on a budget, be warned.
I got to my seat with about 10 minutes before showtime. I chatted with a really friendly couple next to me who were visiting from Florida. It was their first Christmas Spectacular as well, and we were all excited to see what the show would hold.
I have to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the Christmas Spectacular. I was expecting a lame and cheesy show (it is Christmas after all), but I was getting really into it! The music was fun, the costumes (reindeer! snowflakes! wooden soldiers!) were gorgeous, and the singing and dancing from the company was awesome. "New York at Christmas" was my favorite performance, from the beautiful backgrounds to the songs and dancing.
The standout, of course, were the Rockettes. They were absolutely incredible! I have zero coordination, so I'm always impressed when I see good dancers. But these girls? They blew me away. Every step was in sync, every kick in line, and every dance was flawless. I can't imagine how they have the energy to do this four times a day, but I now understand why the Rockettes are considered to be part of New York royalty.
If you've never been to see the Rockettes and the Christmas Spectacular, I definitely recommend checking it all out! Tickets are still available for this year, but there is always next year if you miss out. This show is a New York tradition for good reason, and I'm excited to go see it again next holiday season!