how old should my child be to attend the ballet?

  • To ensure an enjoyable and relaxed experience for everyone, we recommend that children be at least 5-years-old to attend Nutcracker. Please note that we do not allow children under 3, including babes in arms.
  • For Repertory Season performances, including story ballets, we recommend that children be at least 8-years-old. Programs are often more than two and a half hours long and are not always ideal for younger children. Please note that we do not allow children under 3, including babes in arms.
  • Everyone entering the Opera House, regardless of age, must have a ticket, and children must be seated with an accompanying adult. No lap sitting.

Is My Child Ready?

If you answer "yes" to these three questions, you should be good to go:

  • Has your child already enjoyed a two-hour movie or another form of live entertainment without talking or moving around?
  • Is your child comfortable and happy sitting in her or his own seat without disturbing others nearby?
  • Has your child demonstrated the ability to hold a question for later?

HoW DO I Prepare My child for a Performance?

  • Consider selecting an aisle seat in case an exit is needed for an unavoidable visit to the restroom or restless child. Anyone of any age creating a disturbance will be asked to leave the auditorium.
  • Explain to your child that in a live performance we are very quiet so as not to disturb the performers or other audience members.
  • Introduce your child to the program or story ballet they will see and the music they will hear. Visit Backstage, our online magazine, to find synopses of story ballets, videos from our rehearsals and productions, ultimate guides to Nutcracker and the Repertory Season, and much more.

What Should We do when we Arrive?

  • We suggest you arrive early to grab a bite to eat in our neighborhood or at one of the restaurants or concessions kiosks located throughout the Opera House.
  • Allow time to visit the restroom before taking your seat. Restrooms are located on all levels except the Main Floor/Orchestra level.
  • Pick up a program book, and if you're seeing a story ballet, read the synopsis to your child.

What should we do once we're seated?

  • Before the performance begins, please remind your child not to talk or ask questions during the performance and to remain seated without touching or kicking the seat in front of them. When the lights dim, and the music begins, it's quiet time.
  • Eating food, including candy, is not allowed in the auditorium. If you think you'll need cough drops, please unwrap a few before the performance starts.
  • Out of consideration for other audience members, we ask that you quickly remove a child who creates a disturbance during the performance.
  • If you must leave the theater because your child was unhappy or disruptive, unfortunately, there are no refunds or exchanges.


Take a Break During the Performance in the Family Viewing Area

SF Ballet provides a special place for a pause from the show inside the Opera House during Nutcracker and all performances throughout the Season. Visit the 3rd floor, north Dress Circle hall, to find this child-friendly area. Whether your child needs a break during a performance, you cannot return to your seat due to needing to use the restroom during the performance, or you arrive late to the Ballet, the Family Viewing Area provides a tv monitor to watch the stage and self-serve activities for children. Activities in the Family Viewing Area will entertain children until they’re ready to get back to the show.