Welcome to Time Out's guide to Christmas theatre in London – from pantomimes to family shows to something a little more alternative, our guides will help you find the festive show that your lot will love. More will be added as the shows are announced, plus keep an eye out for the latest theatre openings and specialist listings for October, November and December.
RECOMMENDED: Get ready for Christmas in London with our guide
Seriously festive shows in London
And for the little ones...
Our Christmas theatre show highlights
The first pantomime to grace the stage of the London Palladium in nearly 30 years, this lavish-looking telling of rags-to-riches classic 'Cinderella' certainly comes with an interesting cast. Paul O’Grady as the Wicked Stepmother, Amanda Holden as teh Fairy Godmother, Julian Clary as Dandini, 'Any Dream Will Do' winner Lee Mead as Prince Charming, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin as Buttons, Nigel Havers as Lord Chamberlain and Count Arthur Strong as Baron Hardup. And in the title role – surely at least partly symobilically cast – is Natasha J Barnes, who rose to prominence earlier this year as Sheridan Smith's acclaimed 'Funny Girl' understudy. The ensemble has definitely got the air of a variety show line-up to it, which is probably all to the good on the storied Palladium stage.
Kiki's Delivery Service
Fans of the Studio Ghibli film watch out: Southwark Playhouse's Christmas show is based on the book that inspired it, a novel by Japanese author Eiko Kadono, rather than the luscious animation itself. But it should still offer plenty of charm, as it follows a 13 year old witch who leaves her family to start a new life alone. Jessica Sian's adaptation is suitable for everyone aged seven-plus.
The Little Match Girl (and Other Happier Tales)
An actual proper Christmas show for Shakespeare's Globe this year, as new boss Emma Rice directs Joel Horwood's adptation of a smorgasboard of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved stories, including the titular weepie. We're promised 'music' puppetry and candlelight' and it's billed as being 'for adults and brave children alike'.
Sally Cookson, the director behind the NT's acclaimed 'Jane Eyre' adaptation, returns with this inventive take on the story of the boy who would not grow up. 'Peter Pan' is JM Barrie's fantastical take on growing pains, featuring well-loved characters like Wendy, Captain Hook, and Tinker Bell. This family show should be a bit sharper than the hordes of 'Peter Pan' pantos that fill theatres at Christmas. It's a revival of Cookson's 2012 Bristol Old Vic production, which scooped some rave reviews for its subversive, dressing-up box aesthetic. This time round, the production's cast will include Lois Chimimba (who played the lead Aly in the NT's disastrous festive offering Wonder.land last year) and Sophie Thompson, in the dual role of Captain Hook and Mrs Darling .
With heaps of zany energy, lurid costumes, a chortle-worthy dame (in previous years Clive Rowe has done them proud) and budget East End prices, Hackney's panto is typically one of the best out there. This year, panto-writing dream team Susie McKenna and Steve Edis are spinning the yarn of Princess Aurora, who pricks her finger on a spindle and sends everyone into an enchanted slumber. Fear not, kids and adults are likely to stay wide awake for this festive treat, though - if past form is anything to go by, you can expect heaps of high-energy dance routines, fresh comedy, and plenty of surreal touches.
The Red Shoes
The Academy Award-winning movie 'The Red Shoes' is a dark story of obsession and ambition, pirouetting around one girl's increasingly desperate dream to be the world's greatest dancer. Matthew Bourne and his company New Adventures are bringing this Hollywood golden age story to the stage, using music by the film's original composer, Bernard Herrmann. It's a risky proposition: although the film's a mega-hit, the Broadway version was one of the biggest flops in NYC theatre history. But it's refreshing to see Bourne break with his run of fairytales to delve into the real world of backstage romance. Mixing surreal, cinematic style with the everyday life of a touring dance company, this should be a ravishing visual treat. New Adventures principal Ashley Shaw will create the central role of Victoria Page, after leading the company as Aurora in their hit 'Sleeping Beauty'.