1 Love It

Children's theatre in London

Keep the kids quiet with a bit of culture at one of London's family-friendly shows

'Grandad Me and Teddy Too'

Even the smallest members of the family enjoy the odd stage show. Here are the Time Out theatre team's recommendations for kids' theatre and which performances will suit the very little ones, the nearly big ones, and the grown ups too. If you're planning ahead for the school holidays, check out top 10 children's theatre shows this half-term and our 101 things to do in London with kids. Or for treats the whole family can enjoy, have a look at our favourite West End theatre shows.

Theatre for children (5+)

Lullaby Lane

Join Katie as she returns to her childhood home on Lullaby Lane in search of forgotten friends, much-loved toys and the special gift of music-making her dad gave her. A live music show for ages 3-7.

Read more
Watermans , Brentford Sunday March 6 2016

Roald Dahl And The Imagination Seekers

An interactive adventure for children, inspired by the works of Dahl. All around the world, the popular author's works are disappearing from youngsters' minds. The audience must try and help the Ancient Guild of Tale Tenders bring them back.

Read more
Southbank Centre , South Bank Until Sunday February 21 2016

The Assembly of Animals

The title might sound like a Noah's Ark pageant, but there's nothing saccharine about this performed sculpture for children. An imagined laboratory brings animals to life, combining found objects, puppets, and scientific demonstrations. Because you're never too young to start experimenting with contemporary art...

Read more
The Vaults , Waterloo Until Sunday February 14 2016

Minotaur

As part of The Unicorn's Greeks season, playwright Adam Peck's playful retelling of the minotaur legend tells the story of a lonely beast trapped in a labyrinth. His sister Ariadne is his only friend, but when she makes a bid to escape, disaster threatens them both.

Read more
Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Until Saturday April 2 2016

Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore

Acclaimed playwright Gary Owen ('Violence and Son') and director Tim Crouch ('An Oak Tree') aren't the likeliest of candidates to write a kid's show. But this typically bold bit of programming from The Unicorn sounds like an intriguing bit of children's comedy with clear adult crossover appeal. The three title characters clown around as they get to grips with the world's complexities - with only a few words to make sense of it all. Ages 3+

Read more
Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Until Tuesday March 15 2016

Old Mother Hubbard

Garlic Theatre present a children's puppet show based on the popular nursery rhyme, full of slapstick humour, invention and musical fun. Ages 3-6

Read more
Little Angel Theatre , Islington Monday February 15 2016 - Wednesday February 17 2016
See more kids theatre recommendations

Theatre for young children (0-4)

The Paper Dolls

A little girl makes a string of paper dolls, then sets off on a whimsical adventure. An adaptation of a book from 'The Gruffalo' author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Rebecca Cobb, this gentle story about childhood, memory and the power of imagination features stunning puppetry and original music. Ages 3-6.

Read more
Polka Theatre , South Wimbledon Until Sunday March 13 2016

Lullaby Lane

Join Katie as she returns to her childhood home on Lullaby Lane in search of forgotten friends, much-loved toys and the special gift of music-making her dad gave her. A live music show for ages 3-7.

Read more
Watermans , Brentford Sunday March 6 2016

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Stuff and Nonsense theatre company stage this show over half-term for ages 3-plus. It's about the naughty Goldilocks who messes up the bears' house and eats Baby's porridge. Ages 3-plus.

Read more
Jacksons Lane , Highgate Monday February 15 2016 - Friday February 19 2016

Puzzle

The team of Lithuanian choreographers and dancers behind this innovative dance piece are fascinated with how babies see the world. Dressed in brightly coloured padded costumes that they assemble and reassemble to make abstract forms or familiar fruits and vegetables, they play and dance to a soundtrack specially designed for tiny ears. Ages 0-3.

Read more
The Vaults , Waterloo Until Sunday February 14 2016

Old Mother Hubbard

Garlic Theatre present a children's puppet show based on the popular nursery rhyme, full of slapstick humour, invention and musical fun. Ages 3-6

Read more
Little Angel Theatre , Islington Monday February 15 2016 - Wednesday February 17 2016
See more of the best London shows for little ones

Theatre for all the family

Billy Elliot the Musical

Critics' choice

Six years after it first stamped, swore, and pirouetted into audiences' hearts, 'Billy Elliot the Musical' continues to mark itself out as one of the best nights in town. Both as tough as a miner's fist after a Friday night booze-up and as soaringly sensitive as one of Tchaikovsky's swans, it's a gritty story of hope that works its magic by defying sentimentality and slaying stereotypes.

Read more
Victoria Palace Theatre , St James's Park Until Saturday April 9 2016

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Critics' choice

A luminous roller-coaster ride of colour, spectacle and fantastical happenings, Sam Mendes’s stage version of Roald Dahl’s adored children’s book is still as entertaining as ever, two years and a couple of casts down the line. And though a lot of that comes down to the show’s garishly-hued stage tricks, it’s also due to the main attraction.

Read more
Theatre Royal Drury Lane , Covent Garden Until Saturday December 3 2016

The Railway Children

Critics' choice

E Nesbit’s book-turned-cult movie about three exceptionally well-mannered Edwardian children is essentially ‘Brief Encounter’ for families. But this lively version is more than just a ticket for the nostalgia express, thanks to some strong performances and a thrilling staging including a real 60-tonne steam engine.

Read more
Until Sun Oct 30

Goodnight Mister Tom

The heartwarming story of evacuee William Beech and elderly recluse Tom Oakley's burgeoning friendship is a nuanced and witty enough to appeal to adults and children alike. Chichester Festival Theatre's smash hit production 'Goodnight Mister Tom' brings Michelle Magorian's novel to life in David Wood's Olivier award-winning adaptation.

Read more
Duke of York’s Theatre , Covent Garden Until Saturday February 20 2016

Minotaur

As part of The Unicorn's Greeks season, playwright Adam Peck's playful retelling of the minotaur legend tells the story of a lonely beast trapped in a labyrinth. His sister Ariadne is his only friend, but when she makes a bid to escape, disaster threatens them both.

Read more
Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Until Saturday April 2 2016

Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore

Acclaimed playwright Gary Owen ('Violence and Son') and director Tim Crouch ('An Oak Tree') aren't the likeliest of candidates to write a kid's show. But this typically bold bit of programming from The Unicorn sounds like an intriguing bit of children's comedy with clear adult crossover appeal. The three title characters clown around as they get to grips with the world's complexities - with only a few words to make sense of it all. Ages 3+

Read more
Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Until Tuesday March 15 2016

Matilda the Musical

Critics' choice

'My mummy says I'm a miracle,' lisps a pampered mini-me at a purgatorial kiddies' birthday party at the outset of this delicious, treacly-dark family show. The obnoxious ma and pa of its titular, gifted, pint-sized heroine are not, of course, quite so doting. But 'Matilda' has been scoring hit reviews and even a Broadway run: its creators, playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian-songsmith Tim Minchin, must be a pair of very proud parents. 

Read more
Cambridge Theatre , Covent Garden Until Sunday May 29 2016
See more recommended family shows

Comments

6 comments
Lucy Limon
Lucy Limon

Which play does that top photo show, the one with the train steaming down the middle of the theatre?? That looks amazing. Thanks

Lucy Limon
Lucy Limon

Which play does that top photo show, the one with the train steaming down the middle of the theatre?? That looks amazing. Thanks

Andrzej
Andrzej

Re: Elaine: the smaller theatres tend to be represented more by the 'for children' and 'for young children' tabs at the top of the screen - if you click on them you'll see shows at the Little Angel et al, it's just that the genuinely 'family friendly' shows (ie anyone of any age could see them) tend to gravitate towards the West End while the specialist children's theatre tend to put on shows that are actively aimed at children only. Might rethink this one if it's not clear!

elaine turner
elaine turner

this sight is too west end based- what is needed is some information regarding small theatres that we can take our kids to without getting a new mortgage