It’s the magical time of year when London theatre is at is most dazzling, joyous and plain silly. Ballet kind of family? More up for classic panto? It matters not, our line up of 20 top London shows to see this Christmas has something for everyone. Don’t miss our video of Owen Teale talking about A Christmas Carol. It’s a joy and guaranteed to boost your festive feels. Enjoy!
The Snowman: the perfect first London theatre trip for kids
Sadler’s Wells is staging The Snowman ballet at the Peacock Theatre in London this Christmas. The classic story about a young boy whose snowman comes to life one night and flies with him to the North Pole makes a magical adventure. It’s the perfect first ballet for children and best for kids age 2 and over.
Where and when: Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre. From now until 31st December 2022.
The Nutcracker: a classic Christmas show from the English National Ballet
The tale of an enchanted nutcracker set in Edwardian London invites children to enter fantasy land of sugar plum fairies, hot air balloon rides and the Mouse King. This captivating London show introduces Julia Conway as Clara and Fernando Carratala Coloma as the Nutcracker. Suitable for children of five and over, it’s another classic first ballet for kids.
Where and when: London Coliseum Theatre. From 15 December 2022 to 7 January 2023.
Alice in Wonderland: the one where Brixton becomes the rabbit hole
The classic story of Alice in Wonderland has been brought to life many times on the big screen and stage. However, this adaptation is a twist on the original plot. Rather than tumbling down a rabbit hole, Alice boards an out-of-control tube train at Brixton underground station. The result is a fast-paced family adventure with familiar faces in a new setting. We’re recommending this London show for kids aged seven and over.
Where and when: Brixton House, London. From now until 31 December 2022.
Christmas in the Sunshine: festive London theatre for younger kids
A magical, sun-drenched romp, Christmas in the Sunshine takes Elias to the Caribbean to spend Christmas with his family. He’s a little worried about going, because this time of year is supposed to be frosty. There are fir trees in London and lots of hot chocolate, will Christmas in the Caribbean be quite the same? Happily, he discovers that it’s just as magical in its own way. The party spirit is strong and Santa eats mangoes instead of mince pies! One of the most charming London shows for younger kids this year, it’s ideal for three to six year olds.
Where and when: Unicorn Theatre, London. From now until 31 December 2022.
Crackers: Polka Theatre brings the great family farce tradition to Wimbledon
London shows with a hint of farce are a great Christmas tradition that’s being upheld by the Polka Theatre this year. Come meet the Crackers, an ordinary family trying to get ready for 25 December knowing their pet shop is going out of business. Sounds like a tragedy? Not one bit, Great Gran is expecting a visit from Santa Claus, Napoleon the rat is on the loose and it’s all hilarious mayhem from there. This one’s best for kids aged from five to 12 years and selected Friday performances include special Meal Deals and Workshops.
Where and when: Polka Theatre, Wimbledon. From now until 29 January 2023.
Demon Dentist: more hilarious London theatre from David Walliams this Christmas
You might have guessed from the name that Demon Dentist was another wild adventure from David Walliams. So sit back and wait to find out what happens when you leave a tooth for the tooth fairy and wake to find something odd under your pillow? Of course, intrepid heroes, Alfie and Gabz, investigate. But be warned, the Demon Dentist herself is at the bottom of this mystery! Expect thrills, lots of laughs and kids winning the day, naturally! Ages five and over will love this twist on traditional Christmas shows.
Where and when: Bloomsbury Theatre, London. From 15 December 2022 until 8 January 2023.
Hey Duggee: CBeebies hits the stage at the Southbank Centre
This Christmas, the CBeebies’ show, Hey Duggee, is on stage at the Southbank Centre. If kids are already fans of the Squirrels and Duggee Hugs, they’ll love joining their favourite characters in the Clubhouse, for real. And parents should get ready for plenty of singing and joining in from the get-go! Interactive and great fun, this one works well for all ages.
Where and when: Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London. From 14 December 2022 to 8 January 2023.
The Lost Lending Library: pay-what-you-can for top London theatre this Christmas
London theatre shows are notoriously pricy, so the Pay-What-You-Can ticket system at Bernie Grant Arts Centre is a very thoughtful Christmas gift for families.
You might not be paying London theatre ticket prices, but The Lost Lending Library is still top theatre. Covering 314 floors the ‘lending library’ contains the world’s largest collection of stories, although one of its department is completely empty. Children’s imagination is needed to fill its shelves with tales, can you help? There’s a real sense of magic as the spellbinding story unfolds around its young audience. And if you’re struggling to think of a word to describe the experience, ‘mesmerising’ is the one we’re hearing, a lot. An amazing show for six to 11 year olds.
Where and when: Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Tottenham Green. From 13 to 21 December, 2022.
Picture Perfect Christmas Show: a National Gallery first for the festive season
Described as a National Gallery first, this magical Christmas adventure is set in the 1600s. It’s a tale of festive spirit, mystery and friendship which unfolds over an hour and takes place in the world of one of the gallery’s most iconic paintings: Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle by Hendrick Avercamp. Literally a larger than life experience, if you’re looking for unusual Christmas in London theatre, don’t miss this one. Children as young as three are welcome, but it might be better appreciated by older kids.
Where and when: National Gallery, London. Throughout December 2022 on various dates.
Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever: can you call it Christmas in London without Peppa in the mix?
Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever, is the one you need for the vicarious thrill of seeing your kids wide-eyed with wonder. Everyone from Miss Rabbit and Gerald Giraffe to Suzy Sheep are involved in Peppa’s day our. Of course, mummy and daddy and little George are in there too. Less expected, however, are the dragons and dinosaurs. Although we’ve a special fondness for many muddy puddles and heaps of ice cream. It’s Peppa Pig, so there’s no age limit here: come one, come all!
Where and when: Haymarket Theatre Royal, London. Daily throughout December, except for Wednesdays.
Pinocchio: when nothing will do but a happy ending
Sometimes a classic tale is so perfect it doesn’t need any tinkering with. We’re pleased to say that Pinocchio at the Unicorn Theatre is that very thing. The story of the little puppet who longed to be a ‘real boy’ is as charming now as ever. The sting of the moral moments is lightened by love, of course. And there isn’t a kid who won’t be rooting for Pinocchio from the first five minutes. Even although we all know how happily it all ends! Just right lovers of a perfect fairy tale aged seven and over.
Where and when: Unicorn Theatre, London. From now until 31 December 2022.
Jack and the Beanstalk: look behind you, it’s pantomime time
Speaking of classics, what’s Christmas without a good, old-fashioned panto? Jack and the Beanstalk at the London Palladium, stars Dawn French, Julian Clary, Gary Wilmot and Alexandra Burke. Look forward to the usual silliness, loads of fun and audience participation, plus a few cheeky innuendos, of course. If you aren’t feeling Christmassy yet, this might be just what you need. A great family show for children aged five and over.
Where and when: London Palladium. From 10 December 2022 to 15 January 2023.
Pinocchio: a fresh new take on everyone’s favourite ‘real boy’
After last year’s success, the Orange Tree in Richmond are bringing their modern Pinocchio back to the stage for this Christmas. This twist on the classic is the story of lonely Hugo whose mum makes him a puppet to keep him company. Seen through the eyes of a child the adventure takes its young audience from snow capped mountains to the belly of a whale. It’s interactive and enchanting, suitable for all ages and another great value treat for kids this Christmas.
Where and when: Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond. From 14 to 31 December 2022.
Mother Goose starring Sir Ian McKellen as the classic panto dame
The role of Mother Goose is traditionally played by a man, and this year it’s legendary Sir Ian McKellen doing a turn as a panto dame. John Bishop stars as Vic, Mother Goose’s hapless husband and their family home is a disused Debenhams which doubles as an animal sanctuary. If all that sounds suitably weird, we can confirm it’s also pretty wonderful and packed with laughs. All the usual panto interaction awaits you so brush up your ‘look behind you’ game. This perfect Christmas panto is made for kids of four and older.
Where and when: Duke of York Theatre, London. From 15 December 2022 to 29 January 2023.
Cinderella rips up all the pantomime rules this Christmas
Wherever you assumed the original Cinderella fairy story was set, it probably wasn’t Egypt. No such geographical etiquette for East Stratford this Christmas, as their Cinderella is all Sphynx and Cleopatra and Pharaohs and very much Ancient Egypt. Turns out the spirit of Panto works anywhere and this a great fun frolic laden with dazzle and laughs. It’s suitable for all ages, so kids can decide for themselves whether an Egyptian Cinderella is a fantasy too far.
Where and when: Theatre Royal Stratford East. From now until 7 January 2023.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears: circus meets classic fairy tale this Christmas
Goldilocks and the Three Bears is another classic tale reworked this Christmas. In the Richmond Theatre version, the Goldilocks circus has come under threat from an evil rival and all looks lost. However, right at the last minute, three amazing bears arrive to rescue the Big Top from ruin. Matt Baker stars as Joey the Clown and Jessica Martin is villainous Countess Von Winklebottom! A real family show, kids of all ages are welcome, although anyone not prepared to boo and hiss loudly at the baddies should just stay home!
Where and when: Richmond Theatre. From now until 31 December 2022.
Little Red Robin Hood: fairy tale, folk tale and fabulous London theatre
Little Red Robin Hood is a clever and unexpected mashup of fairy tale and folk tale. Find out what happens when Robin Hood collides with Red Riding Hood and creates a panto. We’re not giving too much away to say there are plenty of laughs as the feisty scarlet cloaked heroine outfoxes the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham and comes to the rescue of Robin Hood. Expect twists galore in this smart production. This is another Christmas show with pay-what-you-can performances and it’s recommended for kids aged three and over.
Where and when: Battersea Arts Centre. From 6 December 2022 to 8 January 2023.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves: possibly the fairest pantomime of all
If you like your panto traditional, a little star-studded and with outstanding production values, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is the one to pick this Christmas. Starring Ruthie Henshall and Lee Mead, as well as Dick and Dom alongside Matthew Kelly, it says it’s the ‘fairest pantomime of all’ and who are we to argue with a mirror on the wall? Again it’s suitable for all ages, and unless we’re very much mistaken, the Wicked Queen is where to aim your boos and hisses!
Where and when: New Wimbledon Theatre. From now until 31 December 2022.
Bugsy Malone the Musical: London theatre all the way from 1920’s New York
Bugsy Malone the Musical takes kids back to New York’s prohibition era. The days when kids were mobsters and showgirls, the tunes were earworms and Fat Sam and Dandy Dan went toe-to-toe with splurge guns and custard pies. Bugsy Malone is as lovelorn as ever, Tallulah is still a temptress and the feelgood factor is vast. Suitable for kids from age eight, and anyone who’s ever seen the original Alan Parker movie!
Where and when: Alexandra Palace, London. From now until 15 January 2023.
The Old Vic Christmas Storytelling: a night to remember with Michael Rosen
The legendary Michael Rosen is inviting kids to get comfy for some Christmas Storytelling at the Old Vic. He’ll be reading from his own books and anyone who’s ever heard him spin a tale will tell you it’s as close to magic as it gets for kids. And a book signing after means young bibliophiles age six and over have a chance to say ‘hi’, to the man who wrote, ‘We’re Going On a Bear Hunt’.
When and Where: The Old Vic. One night only show on 17 December 2022.
A Christmas Carol: straight from Southwark where Charles Dickens lived and worked
A Christmas Carol has been staged and screened in countless ways over the years. But whether you’re in the Scrooged camp or more of a traditionalist, the classic festive morality tale is always worth hearing again. The Old Vic adaptation sticks pretty close to the original script, and stars Owen Teale as miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. The haunting sets are fabulously atmospheric and if your heart doesn’t lift at the “Merry Christmas One and All” finale, check it isn’t made of stone. This is another great first London theatre trip for kids, and it’s best for ages eight and over. Watch the video of Owen Teale talking about the production, it will melt your heart!
When and where: The Old Vic. From now until 7 January 2023.