Christmas isn't really Christmas without an outing to a festive show
It pays to book ahead as the festive season is the busiest one! New shows, classic adaptations, there's something for everyone.
Indulge in this most English of Christmas traditions. Last year Emily really got into the genre by going to three (Hackney, Greenwich and the Lyric Hammersmith) in 24 hours! In general our advice is to stick to your local one as there is always a strong local flavour which makes you feel part of a village community. However the three above are all worth crossing town for. This year Cinderella is losing her slipper in both Greenwich (17 Nov–7 Jan) and Hackney (18 Nov–31 Dec), while Jack and the Beanstalk is in Hammersmith. The big spectacular at the London Palladium is Dick Whittington with a starry cast including Julian Clary, Elaine Paige and Nigel Havers. The double entendres will be flowing!
Christmas is the perfect time to tell a good tale. There are THREE productions of A Christmas Carol this year. We reckon Rhys Ifans will make the perfect Scrooge at the Old Vic from 20 Nov–20 Jan (ages 11+). The ghost of Christmas Past is also in the State Apartments at Windsor Castle from 16–30 Dec and the hugely atmospheric surroundings of Middle Temple Hall from 22–30 Dec.
The National Theatre's Christmas offering is Pinocchio, from 1 Dec. The wooden puppet's journey of discovery takes place on the more intimate Lyttleton stage, so there are less tickets than the last few years Olivier extravaganzas so tickets will sell out fast.
One of our favourite stories of all time, The Velveteen Rabbit, is back at the Unicorn from 17 Nov–31 Dec. If you want a wintery fairy tale, The Snow Queen is at Wimbledon's Polka Theatre from 17 Nov–4 Feb. Ages 5–11. Also in the South West, the Rose Theatre Kingston are putting on Alice in Wonderland from 7 Dec–7 Jan.
First Theatre Treats for Little Ones
Adaptations of favourite picture books make a great introduction for younger children as they have an immediate familiarity. We will be heading to artsdepot to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea (5–31 Dec), The Very Hungry Caterpillar and assorted friends are at the Ambassadors from 13 Dec–7 Jan, while the Gruffalo's Child takes up residence at the Lyric Shaftesbury Avenue from 22 Nov–7 Jan. Also in the West End, Stick Man is at the Leicester Square Theatre until 7 Jan. Raymond Briggs' charming Father Christmas is at the Lyric Hammersmith from 22 Nov–24 Dec and is suitable for under 6s.
There is something truly magical about a festive ballet outing. The Nutcracker is a Christmas favourite and is on at the Coliseum from 13 Dec–6 Jan. The minimum age is 5+ but there is a family-friendly show on 6 Jan when under 5s can go. It is also running at the Royal Opera House (sold out pre-Christmas put there is some availability from 27 Dec) and at the Royal Albert Hall from 28–31 Dec.
Big Stage Spectaculars
McFly front man turned successful author has adapted The Christmasaurus into a musical stage extravaganza which storms onto the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith from 20–28 Dec. It is a full family affair, starring his wife and sister and Busted star Matt Willis as chief baddie. We went to a preview and it looked and sounded fab! The Christmasaurus follows Nativity! The Musical at the same venue from 13–17 Dec while Peter Pan is in the SSE Arena Wembley for two days on 29, 30 Dec.
Small but Perfectly Formed
Don't forsake the smaller venues. The puppets at Islington's Little Angel are always heaven and this year they are running arts and crafts sessions as part of Santa's Little Workshop (1–24 Dec), ages 3–9. We like the sound of Winter's Tales at The Print Room at the Coronet. Running 6–10 Dec, a different performer every evening reads a story of their choice. Mel Giedroyc, Emeli Sande, Toby Stephens and more. And this year we are determined to finally make it up to Finsbury Park to the Park Theatre to see their take on Daisy Pulls It Off! 5 Dec–13 Jan.