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.
When she falls down the rabbit hole, Alice discovers a strange fantasy world, with Cheshire cats and mad march hares. Simon Reade's thrilling adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic features original songs. Ages 6-11.
A new take on the age-old fairly tale Cinderella, which was nominated for an Olivier Award this year. Ella is brought up by her father when her mother dies but when her father marries again, the only place she can find happiness is with the woodland birds that surround her house. Ages 6+.
Zippos Circus perform their new show, complete with wheel of death, spinning acrobats, knife throwing and high wire acts at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park this year.
This fast-paced musical comedy sprints through Charles Dickens's towering classics, from 'Great Expectations' and 'David Copperfield' to 'Nicholas Nickleby'. Over 90 minutes, a cast of five attempt to lay bare Dickens's stories and also tell some interesting facts about the man himself.
- Rated as: 4/5
It’s a delight to come face to face with the genuinely unexpected in Australian company Erth’s thoroughly entertaining kids’ show.
Dancing on Ice meets Eurodisney, and does it's best to borrow the general magic of Christmas, in the latest Swarovski-encrusted Disney on Ice extravaganza. This time characters otherwise entirely unrenowned for their skating prowess will include favourites from 'Snow White', 'Tangled' and 'The Princess and the Frog', with highlights including Cinderella's slipper and Rapunzel's bountiful barnet.
The big, bright red stage infront of the National continues to throw out exciting, slightly more quirky offerings while the Cottesloe is shut for renovation. The latest is this Christmas show, Ben Power's adaptation of Ross Collins's book for children and adults about a girl whose friend - the ghost of an elephant - arrives in her house and causes havoc. Associate director of puppetry on 'War Horse' Finn Caldwell works on the elephant. Price, dates and times TBC.
- Rated as: 4/5
Erich Kästner’s ‘Emil and the Detectives’ is one of the all-time great adventure stories and an inspired choice for the National Theatre’s big seasonal show – a crowdpleasing leftie alternative for families who don’t fancy being bossed about by a creepy bloke with big tits this Christmas.
- Rated as: 3/5
Ian Ashpitel and Jonty Stephens’s pleasant Morecambe and Wise tribute show was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Now it’s been promoted – probably a splash beyond its means – as it settles in to the West End for a seasonal stint. It’s a lo-fi affair that weaves a host of Eric and Ern’s classic lines and routines into a sweetly understated scenario in which a recently deceased Ernie Wise (Ashpitel) is greeted in the afterlife by the puckish spectre of his former partner in crime, Eric Morecambe (Stephens).
There's more circus on the Southbank this Christmas, in the form of this show from European company Enfila't. Acrobats perform in a paper covered set, with mechanical contraptions which keep the live music playing, while actors dance, spin and hang above them. Expect high-wire banjo playing. Ages 7+.
Taking their inspiration from the work of Charlie Chaplin, Dr Seuss and Pina Bausch, theatre company Told by an Idiot perform their mischievous show for children with dance, music and visual comedy. Ages 4+.
Both children and adults will be catered for in BAC's ambitious site-specific theatrical adventure, which returns in revamped form after last year's successful run. It's an exploratory affair that aims to reveal a little about BAC's stunning Victorian building as audiences join George Neighbour on a quest to recover his lost memory. There are two version of the show – the standard, fanily version (ages 6+) and also a (not very) 'hidden' vesrion of the show for adults (age 14+) only.
- Rated as: 4/5
Tom Cruise, Ronnie Corbett and, since 1999, ‘The Gruffalo’s Mouse – Julia Donaldson’s massively successful picture book is further proof that size really doesn’t matter. It’s a lesson firmly endorsed by youngsters all over the world. Millions of children have loved the story of the bright mouse who outwits all manner of adversaries, including the monstrous Gruffalo.
Watch the animated films of Julia Donaldson's 'The Gruffalo' and 'The Gruffalo's Child' on a big-screen with an orchestra performing Rene Aubry's score live. Terry Davies conducts The Northern Sinfonia during this chance for young children and families to enjoy the experience of listening to an orchestra in the flesh.
Lewis Carroll's poem about the hunt for a strange, impossible to find creature gets a stage adaptation here from Gemma Colclough. Puppetry, songs and rhyme come togethter in this fun family show for the kids. Ages 8+.
A new adaptation by Adam Dechanel and Simon James Collier of Rudyard Kipling's classic jungle set story about the tale of Mowgli the teenage raised by wolves. In Giant Olive's production, Shere Kahn, the tiger in charge, challenges Mowgli so the audience have to help him to safety.
A brand new family musical from London's charming puppet theatre, which updates and adapts the old classic poem by Clement Clarke Moore. When Laura makes a Christmas wish it comes true with near disastrous consequences which pushes Santa to the edge. A comedy from the team behind the Little Angel's 'The Mouse Queen'. Exact times TBC.
Mischief Theatre adapt JM Barrie's classic children's play about the lost boys and Peter Pan for the Pleasance Theatre's Christmas show. From the creators of 'The Play that Goes Wrong' which had a recent transfer to the West End, here the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society stage 'Peter Pan' but with a plethora of terrible disasters.
'X Factor' survivor and professional Iceland mum Stacey Solomon is to play the fairy Tinkerbell in this no-holds-barred musical extravaganza based on the perennial tale of the boy who never grew up. Musical director Matt Dunkley - the man behind the scores to the films 'Moulin Rouge', 'Black Swan' and 'Inception' – will be adapting songs by Robbie Williams, Seal and Rod Stewart. And spare a thought for the poor actor/acrobat in the title role: he'll be catapulted into the air without a harness, courtesy of an enormous wind turbine. Apparently this is the first time such technology will be used on stage. Let's hope they've got the safety nets ready. The aerial acrobatics could also bring a new meaning to Solomon's rendition of 'You Raise Me Up'.
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.
Christmas is a-coming and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer has gone AWOL – small audiences are invited to help Santa salvage something out of the whole sorry mess in this jolly interactive kids' show.
This dreamily anarchic clowning spectacular returns to the UK for the third time in three years, pitching up at the Royal Festival Hall for a Christmas season. Ages 8+.
- Rated as: 3/5
It’s all gone a bit ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ over at the Rose Theatre Kingston. Its festive show features a remarkably lifelike, hulking, hairy real-sized gorilla. Oh, and he talks. With the voice of Brian Blessed. Gor the gorilla is part of the story of young orphan Sunny who runs away to the struggling Marigny circus, where he discovers the prodigious primate locked up in the back yard.
Scamp Theatre returns with its splendid puppet-driven family adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's popular book. The hapless Stick Man's domestic idyll – living up a tree with his Stick Lady Love and their trio of stick sprogs – is shattered when an enterprising dog mistakes him for a common or garden piece of wood. Ages 3+.
Michael Rosen once performed a half-hour fundraising version of his classic children's book, which began life as a summer camp song, at this theatre. Now the Little Angel has produced its own show, which follows Sally Cookson's hectic, high-profile 2009 West End adaptation. Ages 2+.
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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