Alternative Christmas shows in London

Festive culture without the clichés: take your pick of the capital's best alternative Christmas theatre



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Going to the theatre this winter doesn't have to mean nutcrackers and camp men dressed as Marie Antoinette. There are plenty of alternative shows that will help to quell the Christmas overload. This page will get updated as more shows are announced, but you can see all shows in December here.

Apocalypse Meow: Crisis Is Born

In the hands of singer Meow Meow, this should be a Christmas cabaret like no other. The performer's new show 'Apocalypse Meow: Crisis Is Born' takes place as part of the Southbank Centre's Winter Festival and should offer Meow Meow's popular brand of saucy songs, satire and comedy. Ages 14-plus.

  1. Purcell Room South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Tue Dec 16 - Mon Dec 29
More info

Cinderella and the Beanstalk

Say, what now? Isn't that supposed to be 'Jack and the Beanstalk'? Apparently not, in Theatre 503's Christmas offering, which follows a mash up of fairy tale pantomime characters including Rumple Stiltskin, Cinderella, beanstalks and golden eggs. All performed by only three actors who sing, dance and fight. Tom Attenborough directs.

  1. Theatre 503 503 Battersea Park Rd, SW11 3BW
  2. Tue Dec 2 - Sat Jan 10
More info

Don Quixote

Brilliant Cuban dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta staged his 'Don Quixote' in 2013 and revives it now as part of the Royal Ballet's autumn season. Acosta's version of the tales about the bumbling knight and his trusty squire Sancho Panza is inspired by Marius Petipa's version and has music from Ludwig Minkus. Acosta himself dances Basilio, along with Steven McRae and Matthew Golding while Marianela Nunez dances Kitri alongside Natalia Osipova and Fumi Kaneko.  

  1. Royal Opera House Bow St, WC2E 9DD
  2. Tue Nov 25 - Thu Jan 22
More info


Screenwriter, actress and novelist Rosie Heiney turns her hand to the stage with black comedy 'Elephants'. Set at 5.53pm on Christmas Eve, a couple is waiting for friends and family and festivities to start. But will last year's surprising revelations over the festive period overshadow the current Christmases fun? The third of three plays to run at the Hampstead Theatre's downstairs 60-seat theatre this season.

  1. Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue, NW3 3EX
  2. Thu Dec 11 - Sat Jan 17
More info

Fascinating Aida – Charm Offensive

Hard to credit, but Fascinating Aida have been at it for 30 years now and remain at the top of their game. Adèle Anderson, Liza Pulman and founder member Dillie Keane deliver witty, musically nimble tunes that hark back to music-hall classics while remaining devilishly up to date: recent subjects include Tesco, dogging and cheap flights (now familiar to millions of YouTubers).


  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Thu Jan 1 - Sun Jan 11
More info


Theatre company 1927 wowed audiences in London and beyond with their macabre hit 'The Animals and Children Took to the Streets'. Here they create a brand new piece as the Christmas show in the Young Vic's 2014 programme. The company use animation, songs, humour and live performance to explore the relationship between man and machines.

  1. Young Vic The Cut, SE1 8LZ
  2. Tue Dec 9 - Sat Jan 17
More info


The winning team behind this year's massive hit 'Let the Right One In' reunite on this new play 'Hope'. It sounds pretty different to that vampiric fairytale, though: 'Hope' is a political play about the squeezing government cuts where leaders of the council Hilary and Mark are on a mission to save 22 million pounds. Excellent John Tiffany directs following his winning touch on'LTROI' and earlier hit 'Black Watch'. Ages 14-plus.

  1. Royal Court Theatre Sloane Square, SW1W 8AS
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Sat Jan 10
More info

Last Christmas

Welsh theatre company Dirty Protest bring their somewhat sad Christmas monologue to Soho Theatre for the festive season. 'Last Christmas' follows Tom who is heading home for Christmas in order to escape his current problems. But a whole bunch of other issues pop up from his past.  

  1. Soho Theatre 21 Dean St, W1D 3NE
  2. Tue Dec 9 - Sun Dec 21
More info


Daring, experimental Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed return with this piece featuring six women exploring  what it means to be female in the 21st century. Personal experience imbues the piece, which uses a striking soundscape. The company's previous shows include breathtakingly anarchic 'Once and For all We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen' and the weird date show 'Internal'. Their work is infinitely testing and surprising and the reports from its Edinburgh festival run of 'Sirens' are promising.

  1. Soho Theatre 21 Dean St, W1D 3NE
  2. Tue Dec 2 - Sun Jan 4
More info

A Show For Christmas by Daniel Kitson

Judging by the pre-show blurb, Daniel Kitson clearly hasn't entirely decided what his Christmas show is going to be about - although he probably wouldn't tell us even if he did. There may well be snow, he says, and he may also wear a costume, but that's basically about it. Who needs more, though, than to know that 'A Show For Christmas by Daniel Kitson' is a new piece by Daniel Kitson? The left-field comedian, story teller and theatre-maker has been responsible for some of the funniest, most poignant and entertaining evenings ever. Period. On for only six days at the beginning of December, best to snatch up tickets to this as soon as they go on sale on October 22.  

  1. Battersea Arts Centre Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN
  2. Mon Dec 1 - Sat Dec 6
More info

La Soirée

The whole audience is treated to a breathtaking melée of burlesque, vaudeville and circus sideshow. Some performers astound with feats of physical nerve and endurance; others charm with character sketches and slapstick. The seamless production allows no time for you to pick your jaw up from the floor before the next act takes to the stage.

  1. Spiegeltent at the South Bank Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
  2. Wed Nov 5 - Sun Jan 11
More info

Tiger Country

  • Rated as: 4/5

The surroundings are uncomfortably familiar: ugly blue lino, banal curtains shielding horrors, sinister beeps from complex machinery. Only the hospital smell is missing. Patients walk in or are wheeled off; doctors suture and argue.

  1. Hampstead Theatre Eton Avenue, NW3 3EX
  2. Mon Dec 8 - Sat Jan 17
More info

Usagi Yojimbo

Films based on comic books are all the rage at the moment, but plays based on comic books are a little harder to realise. Which means it will be interesting to see what this new adaptation of Stan Sakai's 30-year-old comic that featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks like.

  1. Southwark Playhouse Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD
  2. Fri Nov 28 - Sun Jan 4
More info

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Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho
Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho

I'm sure you only missed me off to give the other shows a chance. Yes, that's right, I'm back and more fabulous than ever! In a brand new drag musical comedy satirical extravaganza. Ever wondered what might have happened if I, Margaret Thatcher, had got lost in Soho on the eve of the vote for section 28, reversed all my views, and become an overnight cabaret sensation? Then wonder no more! Written and directed by award winning playwright Jon Brittain and co-written by and starring Matt Tedford as the lady herself, Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho is a hilarious tongue in cheek Christmas show that's running at Theatre503 from 10th December - 4th January. There'll be music, laughter and free school milk for all! Where there are discos, may we bring harmony! Trailer here... Tickets here...