The Colonel and his wife are giving a party on Christmas Eve for their two children, Clara and Fritz. Friends and family arrive at the house including the children’s uncle and their eccentric old aunts, Angelina and Caterina. Soon the room is filled with delighted faces as the Christmas tree is revealed and the children receive their presents.
However, the mood is suddenly transformed with the arrival of Drosselmeyer – a mysterious magician – and three entertainers that have come to the party to perform for the children. Drosselmeyer has brought Clara a very special Christmas present: a strange nutcracker in the shape of a handsome Prince, which Clara immediately adores. Excitedly, the children dance round the room with their new toys, but Fritz breaks Clara’s nutcracker. An uncle quickly mends it, and Clara wipes away her tears.
After the party, the servants dim the lights and put out the candles on the Christmas tree, plunging the room into an eerie darkness.
Unable to sleep, Clara creeps back into the darkened room to find her nutcracker. She falls asleep on the floor, clutching the nutcracker in her arms. As the clock chimes midnight, Clara wakes with a start to find giant mice running around her. Drosselmeyer mysteriously reappears and transforms Clara’s nutcracker into a real live handsome prince, who leads the toy soldiers into battle with the mice and their leader, the evil King Rat.
Clara strikes a fatal blow to King Rat and the battle is won. As a reward, Drosselmeyer sends Clara and the Prince on a wonderful journey. They travel to an enchanting land of ice and snow, where they meet the beautiful Snow Queen and the Snowflake Fairies. The Prince dances with the Snow Queen and Clara is surrounded by the dancing Snowflake Fairies. The Snow Queen gives Clara her sleigh and everybody waves goodbye as her journey with the Prince continues.