A nodal discontinuous Galerkin finite element method (DG-FEM) to solve the linear and nonlinear elastic wave equation in heterogeneous media with arbitrary high order accuracy in space on unstructured triangular or quadrilateral meshes is presented. This DG-FEM method combines the geometrical flexibility of the finite element method, and the high parallelization potentiality and strongly nonlinear wave phenomena simulation capability of the finite volume method, required for nonlinear elastodynamics simulations. In order to facilitate the implementation based on a numerical scheme developed for electromagnetic applications, the equations of nonlinear elastodynamics have been written in a conservative form. The adopted formalism allows the introduction of different kinds of elastic nonlinearities, such as the classical quadratic and cubic nonlinearities, or the quadratic hysteretic nonlinearities. Absorbing layers perfectly matched to the calculation domain of the nearly perfectly matched layers type have been introduced to simulate, when needed, semi-infinite or infinite media. The developed DG-FEM scheme has been verified by means of a comparison with analytical solutions and numerical results already published in the literature for simple geometrical configurations: Lamb’s problem and plane wave nonlinear propagation.