By Jan Carabeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–It’s a big night for the Pennsylvania Ballet  as George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” returns to the Academy of Music.

With colorful sets, opulent costumes and a bit of magic, the Nutcracker is a holiday tradition for many families across the Delaware Valley.

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“It’s like having a hot chocolate in front of the fire with your family, and sitting in front of the presents,” said artistic director Angel Corella.

But before opening night, CBS 3 stepped behind the scenes.

The Pennsylvania Ballet now boasts dancers from nearly a dozen countries, with holiday traditions of their own.

Working so far away from home, some of their holiday favorites are near impossible to duplicate.

“My nan creates the an amazing Christmas pudding every year that you have to bake in October,” said Russel, who’s from the United Kingdom.

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For Ana Calderon, the big holiday is Three Kings Day — celebrated in January.

“We leave water for the king’s camels and coffee and cookies for the kings because they have a very busy night,” she says.

Dominic Ballard from Australia has adopted a tradition. He builds gingerbread houses that become more elaborate by the year—even using lights.

In their upcoming two dozen shows they say those who come to see them dance feel like family.

Pennsylvania Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” opens Friday night and runs through December 31st.

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You can get tickets HERE.