a crystal clear overview of london & greater london's pantos this christmas. but then that's what Time Out does best. now all we have to do is figure out which one to go to! :)
Christmas pantomimes in London
It wouldn't be Christmas without a pantomime. Oh no it wouldn't...
Where's the best pantomime in London this Christmas? It's behind you! Sorry, no, it isn't. It's in the list below. We've gathered the brightest, brashest pantos coming to the capital this winter, so take your pick from the grown-up silliness and childish fun featuring comedians, celebrities and hairy-legged dames.
Central | North | South | East | West | Adult
Hackney Empire's yearly festive offering is London's flagship panto, and this year's is extra exciting as it sees the return of the great Clive Rowe, the best dame in the business.
The Christmas show at Theatre Royal Stratford East is usually mad, inventive and – whisper it – probably a little better than the Hackney juggernaut.
Classic panto play 'Aladdin' is staged at the Shaw Theatre with Ben Richards as Abanazar and Britain's Got Talent semi-finalist La Voix as Widow Twankey. It's a strong musical theatre cast and promises heaps of glittery happy endings, so this should be a family panto of the classic kind - complete with z-list 'clebs.
That Park Theatre celebrates the end of a successful second year with a second panto and the tale of the boy who sold his beloved cow for some crappy beans.
Charles Court Opera's madly-inventive boutique pantos are easily the best on the fringe. Expect a whip cracking cowboy story that'll be a splash naughtier for evening performances.
The battle of good over evil commences as Aurora is awoken from 100 years of sleep by a kiss in Millfield's new panto 'Sleeping Beauty'.
Once known for its completely insane celebrity casting, the New Wimbledon panto has settled down into a marginally classier affair of late. Matthew Kelly, Matthew Rixon, 'Dallas's Linda Gray, comedian Tim Vine and some live Shetland ponies star..
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.
Always a strong, unflashy contender, Greenwich Theatre steps up to the London pantomime table this year with a show from Andrew Pollard about the Giant Bonecrunch who is terrorising villagers with his rising taxes.
Here's a soap opera star-tastic panto for you, this year's Churchill Theatre knees up stars 'Coronation Street's Marc Baylis as the prince and pop mistress Sonia (remember her?) as the good fairy.
Musical theatre crooner and TV competition star Gareth Gates plays Prince Charming.
He had big fame, if fleeting, in the '90s and early noughties, but comedian DJ, rapper and, increasingly, actor Richard Blackwood is still managing to claw his way through the world of celebrity. Following his stint as Donkey in 'Shrek' he heads up the cast of this classic panto as Muddles. It's usually masses of family fun and no doubt London-born Blackwood will add to that.
Fast-rising writing star Tom Wells returns to the Lyric for their Christmas panto, pennning a new version of 'Dick Whittington and His Cat'.
Who could be better to play the wicked witch thanerstwhile girlfriend of Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall? Richmond Theatre pull in their patron for a stint on the stage this Christmas as Hall stars in her first panto.
This year's Portabello Panto arrives in West London's most chic venue. The usually under-the-radar show often surprises with it's line up of celebrity appearances. In past years, Lily Allen, Ray Winstone and Harry Enfield have all appeared in the Christmas stalwart.
A sort of comedy/science/theatre/Christmas crossover, 'The Santa Claus Science Experiment' is performed by Comedy Club 4 Kids in association with UCL's science department. It's a raucous science-inspired panto where elf magic gets banned in lapland and Santa has to use science to save Christmas. Comedians Bec Hill, Richard Sandling and Joanna Neary star.
This new panto is an adults only affair, filled with saucy puns and dubiously-named characters. There's Widow Wankey, Princess Nymomaniac and an exceptionally camp genie. This follows Simon Gross's 'Sinderfella' from last year.
The annual adult panto at Above the Stag manages to outdo itself each year in the witty title department. This year is no exception, and Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper's panto romp promises to have all the usual semi-naked guys, outrageous double entendres. It follows Jim Hawkins who is tired of listening to the stories of sea adventures and decides to embark on his own swashbuckling experience. NB: this panto is for adults only.
The Leicester Square Theatre cheerfully steps up to lower the tone (even more) for London Christmas shows with this adult panto. When Evil Mangelina (Miss Dusty O) wreaks havoc on Pantoland until a chavtastic ladette Booty arrives with her magical booty to fix things. Fairy Muff helps proceedings along.