BEAUTIFUL, gorgeous, festive and fabulous, this tale of snow and Christmas with a young girl and her doll is an absolute delight.

The Nutcracker is playing at Windsor's Theatre Royal until Saturday, but you had better get in quick because this is a wow of a show - forget ballet, this is more than ballet.

This is a cracker of a show by the Vienna Festival Ballet for young and old for mums, dads and children, for anyone who likes life and the dream of Christmas.

The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the story The Nutcracker and the King of Mice written by ETA Hoffman, the story of a young girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads.

It is Christmas Eve in a grand house with the most beautiful Christmas tree. A family is hosting their annual Christmas party, welcoming the arrival of their family and friends. The children, Clara and Fritz, are dancing and playing as they welcome their friends too.

The party grows festive with music and dance as their godfather arrives. He is a skilled clock and toy maker and always full of surprises. He draws everyone's attention as he presents two life-size dolls. They are the delight of the party, each taking a turn to dance.

He gives Clara a beautiful Nutcracker that becomes the hit of the party. Fritz becomes jealous and grabs the nutcracker from Clara and promptly breaks it. Clara is heartbroken looking on as the doll is quickly repaired. As the evening grows late, the guests depart and the family retires for the evening. Clara, worried about her beloved Nutcracker, sneaks back to the tree to check on him, falling asleep with him in her arms.

As the clock strikes midnight strange things begin to happen. Clara begins shrinking as her beautiful Christmas tree grows high above her. The toys around the tree come to life while the room fills with an army of mice, led by the fierce Mouse King. As the Nutcracker awakens, he leads his army of toy soldiers into battle with the mice.

The Mouse King corners the Nutcracker and battles him one-on-one. The Nutcracker seems to be no match for the Mouse King. The Nutcracker and his army can go on no longer and are captured by the mice and their King. Clara makes a final daring charge throwing her slipper at the mouse king, hitting him square on the head.The mouse king drops to the floor and the mice run away, carrying off their leader's lifeless body.

The Nutcracker turns into a prince and takes Clara on a journey to the Land of Snow, an enchanted forest wonderland where they are welcomed by dancing snowflakes.

The prince escorts Clara to the land of sweets where they are greeted by the sugar plum fairy. The prince tells her about their daring battle with the army of mice and she rewards them with a celebration of dance. As a finale, the sugar plum fairy and the cavalier dance a beautiful pas de deux.

Clara awakens from her dream and finds herself by her Christmas tree with her beloved Nutcracker.

This ballet is full of music that we all know and love, it's quite amazing how much you will know and enjoy. The dancing by the Vienna Festival Ballet is high grade and technically brilliant while still conveying the theatrical excellence associated with this fun and wonderful story.

It's truly a delight. If Christmas was now you wouldn't be upset you'd be overjoyed.

Here we go...ditch the tellybox or set to record and get on down to the 'Royal' for this festive cracker of a show.

The Nutcracker, Windsor Theatre Royal until Saturday, November 11. Box office 01753 853888 or