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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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', an experience that doesn't as much blow away the Christmas cobwebs as blast them into cold, deathless oblivion. There are such familiar festive entertainments as balloons, clowns, snow, bubbles, but this is as far away from normal, practiced hogwash of childhoods yore as is imaginable. Bridled anarchy holds sway at every turn, and yet proceedings never trip over into silliness, indulgence or mindless mugging. Leading the line is veteran Russian performance artist Slava Poulin, whose quieter moments gives the show a precious respite in which to gather its energy for the next assault of roaming clowns, blaring opera music or – for the rambunctious, rapturous finale – a swirling, blinding blizzard of joyous, unconfined chaos. A blast. In every sense. By Rachel Halliburton
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'.
- Rated as: 4/5
This production of 'The Wind in the Willows' returns Christmas 2014. The Royal Opera House has a cunning plan… It’s brought back last year’s delightful dance theatre smash ‘The Wind in the Willows’ for a West End run. A bold move for a ballet? Not a bit of it: aside from the timeless appeal of Kenneth Grahame’s source book, the family show has been given a bit of celebrity firepower this time out. National treasure Tony Robinson has been coaxed back to the boards to play Grahame, narrator of Will Tuckett’s show. The part of a kindly Englishman isn’t exactly a stretch for the beloved Robinson, but it’s not an undemanding role for a 67-year-old who hasn’t really acted in yonks. As the only speaker on stage, it’s down to him to explain the wordless adventures of Ratty, Mole, Toad, Badger et al. Not only that, he gets stuck in, leaping (gently) on to furniture, breaking into a shuffling dance and half-song, never leaving the stage. It’s nice to have him there, basically, though really the show both stands and falls without him. The Quay Brothers’s cluttered, dusty sets are a real treat, and Tuckett’s choreography is fun and boldly drawn, with big turns from the whole cast, most notably Will Kemp’s swaggering Ratty and Cris Penfold’s preposterous Toad. As a two-hour show, it feels a bit padded – there’s a long section where the gang look around Badger’s house, and rather than go to the interval on any sort of cliffhanger, a bunch of carol singers turn up just as our heroes see
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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