3 shows to get you in the holiday spirt.

The holiday entertainment season can be very crowded. We’ve done some of the legwork for you and have come up with a list of five shows we think you should not miss this year.

1An East Van Panto: Little Red Riding Hood

The annual East Van Panto is irreverent fun for the entire family. Photo by Tim Matheson.

This ain’t no ordinary telling of the Little Red Riding Hood (until Dec 31) fairy tale. Now in its fourth year, this holiday tradition features live music, a whole lot of local references in an evening of fun for the entire family.

2Hansel & Gretel

This new production of Hansel and Gretel has been abridged from its original length to appeal to young and adult audiences alike.

Vancouver Opera presents a new family-friendly version of Engelbert Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera Hansel and Gretel (Nov 24-Dec 11).  The production will feature larger-than-life puppet creations and costume design from Calgary-based Old Trout Puppet Workshop.

3Mary Poppins

The cast of the 2013 production of Mary Poppins. Photo by David Cooper.

Back at the Arts Club’s Stanley Theatre, Mary Poppins (Dec 3-Jan 7) is practically perfect in every way. This family musical based on the writings of P.L. Travers features the unforgettable songs from the popular Disney film including “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

4The Nutcracker

In The Nutcracker, Clara’s dream comes to life as she embarks on a magical journey.

Goh Ballet presents its annual production of The Nutcracker (Dec 15-20). This year’s production features Guillaume Côté and Jurgita Dronina of the National Ballet of Canada with Tchaikovsky’s memorable score performed live by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.

5A Traditional Christmas

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presents A Traditional Christmas

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presents A Traditional Christmas (Dec 8-18) at various venues around the Lower Mainland. This annual holiday concert features host Christopher Gaze, EnChor, the UBC Opera Ensemble, and the VSO’s new Assistant Conductor, William Rowson.