In front of the house there is an ice-skating rink and a vendor of roasted chestnuts. One after the other, the guests arrive to celebrate together with the family.
The Christmas party
The guests gather around the beautifully decorated Christmas tree, where a great number of presents are waiting for the children. Marie's Uncle Drosselmeier also arrives, accompanied by his nephew, and entertains the guests with a little home puppet show. The performance is about the battle fought between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King over the Princess (who is portrayed by Marie's sister, Louise). Drosselmeier gives the nutcracker doll to Marie, who happily dances with her new favourite. Fritz thoughtlessly grabs the nutcracker doll from Marie, breaking it. Fortunately, Drosselmeier is able to fix the toy. The Christmas festivities close with everybody joining in a dance. The guests go home, and the children get ready to retire for the night. Marie goes to bed holding her new toy.
Full of happiness and joy, Marie falls sound asleep in the children's room, naturally with the Nutcracker doll she has received beside her. The clock strikes midnight. As Marie dreams, everything seems to grow to an enormous size: the Christmas tree, the gifts, and the furniture. Even Marie herself is transformed: into a Princess. The puppet show comes to life. The Mouse King leads mice and rats in preparations to attack the house and Christmas tree. In her fright, Marie hopes that the Nutcracker (who is none other than the Nephew) will come to her aid. At the head of an army of lead soldiers who have come to life, the Nutcracker defeats the Mouse King.
Journey to the Land of Snow
The room and the house transform into a forest winter wonderland. Marie – now Princess Marie – and the Nutcracker Prince delight in the Waltz of the Snowflakes together and then dance a lovely, lyrical duet to show their feelings for each other. They then bid farewell to the flurrying snowflakes.
Drosselmeier accompanies the Princess and the Nutcracker Prince to the Snow Crystal Palace.
The Snow Crystal Palace
The inhabitants of the fairy-tale realm adoringly welcome the prince and his bride, Marie, to Drosselmeier's Snow Crystal Palace. A series of dance divertissements, in which the "residents" of the realm introduce themselves, ensues. A lively Spanish trio is followed by an Oriental snake-charming dance. Three Chinese dancers then entertain the guests with jumps and fast spins before the magnificent Russian dance is opened with a male solo.
In this version, the pas de trois is a brilliant variation for “rococo” ballerinas, which leads, as the greetings conclude, to the climax of these divertissements: the Waltz of the Flowers.
After the waltz comes the grand pas de deux between Princess Marie and the Nutcracker Prince, a duet constructed in keeping with classical tradition as an adagio, two variations and a coda testifying to the fulfilment of their love. In the finale, they are joined by the entire corps de ballet and the enchantingly lovely inhabitants of the Snow Crystal Palace.
But as this marvellous and dizzying dream ends, we are returned to Marie’s room, where it is Christmas morning. Fritz rushes in to join her, and they tell each other their dreams.
Marie herself is unable to say whether the Christmas magic was something she dreamed or actually experienced.