Family Christmas shows in London
Our guide to the best family-friendly shows and children's theatre this Christmas
Make Christmas more magical with a trip to one of London's many family-friendly Christmas shows. There's theatre big and bright enough to keep little ones enthralled and performances sweet and subtle enough to entertain the whole family. Find the one that all of your lot will love and book tickets so you don't miss out.
The ancient Elizabethan Middle Temple Hall (where all the lawyers hang out) hosts this musical adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic. Following the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts who try to change his ways, 'A Christmas Carol' is a festive must. Here Antic Disposition makes their fourth visit to Middle Temple.
Matthew Bourne's classic dance adaptation of Tim Burton's gothic film starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder 'Edward Scissorhands' returns to Sadler's Wells this Christmas. It tells of the poor creature who has hands from scissors who struggles for acceptance in a small town. Bourne has taken a fresh look at the show for its first major revival since its premiere production in 2005. Danny Elfman's music and Terry Davies's sets remain, as will, presumably, Bourne's accessible, exciting choreography.
Battles, talking lions, royal children and faraway lands: what's not to like about CS Lewis's classic Narnia tales? Here the second in the series, and probably the most famous, is adapted by Theresa Heskins for this production at the Rose Theatre over Christmas. An army of young actors make up the cast alongside professional actors, all directed by Ciaran McConville. Tumbling through an old dusty wardrobe, the Pevensie children discover a world like no other.
Brilliant choreographer Arthur Pita stages his dance show for kids at Sadler's Wells over Christmas. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's tale of a homeless girl trying to sell her matches on the streets on Christmas eve, this dance theatre show should bring a tear to the eye of even the most bah-humbug of punters. Ages 5-plus.
Kate Prince's hip hop dance company ZooNation perform this new commission, and will run it alongside Christopher Wheeldon's big, returning 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' on the main stage. 'The Mad Hatter's...' is set in an old mental asylum where many of the characters from Lewis Carroll's stories reside and a young psychotherapist who decides to host a T for Therapy party... See where it's going with this? Josh Cohenand DJ Walde's new score and Prince's choreography should certainly make this a good alt-Christmas treat.
It's a Christmas must. The classic ballet about a Christmas eve where a magician arrives to cast a spell under the tree and brings little Clara's dolls, presents and more to life returns for London families to savour. English National Ballet's version is choreographed by master Wayne Eagling and Tchaikovsky's beautiful music will be fully in attendance.
Less your regular panto and more Christmas show affair, Polka Theatre offer up an adaptation of JM Barrie's classic tale by artistic director Peter Glanville. Catch singing, flying and dancing as they bring the tale of lost boys and girls, fairies and pirates to life. Ages 6-plus.
Subversive experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment team up with visual artist Vlatka Horvat on its first show for young people. 'The Possible Impossible House' has constantly shifting rooms containing complaining beds, singing plumbing and talking doors. The company create the house through live sound and performance. Ages 7+.
The first ever staged production of the classic illustrated Christmas children's book, about the lovely fat Father Christmas and his annual routine to get presents to the world, returns to the Lyric after a successful run last year. Forty years on and this classic is still warming the cold Christmas cockles. Ages 0-6.
- Rated as: 4/5
Some people are wary of Christmas for good reason. Others – and this camp could really do us all a favour by giving themselves a stern talking to – bemoan things like 'the fuss' and 'those pesky pine needles that fall off the tree'. Well, even these embattled souls – as well as those more traditionally ga-ga for festive frippery – would find it difficult to withstand the full-bore Beckettian lunacy of 'Slava's Snow Show'.
A family-friendly Christmas show with songs, nursery rhymes and stories where kids get to meet Father Christmas himself after the show and maybe, if they've been very good, get a present. Ages 2-plus.
Birmingham Repertory Theatre's stage show for all the family based on Raymond Briggs's modern classic. A delight for kids, using dance, music and storytelling to summon up the feeling of walking in the air, with choreography by Robert North and featuring a full live orchestra.
The quintessential ballet is all swans pirouettes and tutus and the English Ballet deliver on all of the above with their production of 'Swan Lake'. Derek Deane's choreography is set to Tchaikovsky's classic score with designs by Peter Farmer. The whole shebang is accompanied by ENB's full orchestra.
- Rated as: 4/5
Forget leotards and lithe bodies; they’re for sissies. There’s a new type of circus in town and it’s all about the white vests and bushy beards.
The National Theatre's annual family friendly Christmas epic this year isn't exactly unheard of. Robert Louis Stevenson's classic 'Treasure Island' is one of the most dramatised novels ever. Thankfully, the big bods at the National have commissioned Bryony Lavery to adapt the piece. Lavery is a versatile, surprising writer and regular collaborator with experimental physical theatre company Frantic Assembly, so chances are this will a 'Treasure Island' unlike any you've seen before. Polly Findlay directs the play which tells of pirates, gold and swashbuckling adventure. Ages 10+.
The currently folorn-looking Dominion Theatre (once home to 'We Will Rock You') is taking this seasonal show in over Christmas. Welsh singer Aled Jones and 'Strictly Come Dancing' winner Tom Chambers star as Bob Wallace and Phil Davis in Irving Berlin's musical 'White Christmas'. It's the story of two ex-army friends who put on a show to help out their former general. The tunes are aplenty - from 'Let Yourself Go' to 'Sisters' to 'The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing'.
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After a classier alternative to TV time? Get the kids hooked on culture with a visit to one of these great family-friendly shows
See our guide to children's theatre in London