Family Christmas shows in London

Our guide to the best family-friendly shows and children's theatre this Christmas

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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 Cat In The Hat

A revival production of Katie Mitchell's National Theatre adaptation of Dr Seuss's 'The Cat In The Hat' arrives at the Pleasance in time for Christmas. Based on the madcap evocative children's books, the show follows Sally and her brother who meet a mischievous cat. Ages 3-plus.

  1. Pleasance Theatre Carpenter's Mews, North Road, Islington, N7 9EF
  2. Mon Dec 8 - Sun Jan 4
More info

A Christmas Carol

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. 

  1. Middle Temple Hall
  2. Sat Dec 20 - Tue Dec 30
More info

Edward Scissorhands

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 exciting choreography. 

  1. Sadler's Wells Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN
  2. Tue Dec 2 - Sun Jan 11
More info

Eric and Little Ern

  • 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.

  1. St James Theatre 12 Palace St, SW1E 5JA
  2. Tue Dec 16 - Sun Jan 11
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Grimm Tales

  • Rated as: 4/5

A gorgeous production that crackles and glows like an autumn bonfire, this immersive journey through Philip Pullman’s versions of classic fairytales is a haven of dark enchantment in the cellars of Shoreditch Town Hall. Director Philip Wilson conjures up a firecracker of a production, as punchy and lucid as Pullman’s adaptations, where magic is made all the more magical because it seems so sensible and self-evident.

  1. Bargehouse Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse St, SE1 9PH
  2. Fri Nov 21 - Sun Feb 15
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The Hidden House

Take a magical tour through the enchanted woods and into this fairytale house which holds a dark secret. As you try to discover the truth behind Red Riding Hood's disappearance, the maze you explore will rustle and whisper and you'll be immersed in the sounds and smells of the forest. Could the Big Bad Wolf be right behind you? Hopefully a 15-minute journey is long enough to find out, though to be honest it sounds like only the steel-nerved could stick it out for longer. 

  1. Westfield Stratford City Great Eastern Road, E20
  2. Thu Nov 20 - Sun Jan 4
More info

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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.

  1. Rose Theatre Kingston 24-26 High St, Kingston, KT1 1HL
  2. Fri Nov 28 - Sun Jan 4
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One Snowy Night: Christmas Show at Discover

Snow is all around when Percy the Park Keeper finds a squirrel, a fox, a badger and a hedgehog on the doorstep of his hut, shivering with the cold. How will he get them all to sleep? An enchanting immersive production for 3- to 6-year-olds of Nick Butterworth's popular books. The performance lasts about an hour.

  1. Discover Children's Story Centre 383-387 Stratford High St, E15 4QZ
  2. Fri Nov 28 - Wed Dec 24
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The Possible Impossible House

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+.  

  1. Barbican Theatre Barbican Centre, EC2Y 8DS
  2. Wed Dec 17 - Sun Dec 28
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The Railway Children

It was a big smash hit when Mike Kenney adapted E Nesbit’s much-loved children’s book ‘The Railway Children’ and Damian Cruden staged it actually on a platform at Waterloo in 2011. Now it returns, but not to Waterloo. Instead it’s arriving at a specially built 1,000 seater theatre built behind King’s Cross station. Railway tracks and platforms will be created specially for the production, which tells of a group of children who move from London to a cottage in the country with their mother after their father is mysteriously taken away.

  1. King's Cross Theatre King's Cross, N1C
  2. Tue Dec 16 - Sun Mar 1
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Singin' In The Rain

It's one of the most feel-good movies of all time so this revival of the musical version should be a good fuzzy Christmas treat. John Plews directs the piece, which has classics such as 'Good Morning' and 'Make 'Em Laugh'.

  1. Upstairs at the Gatehouse Hampstead Lane, Highgate Village, N6 4BD
  2. Wed Dec 17 - Sun Jan 25
More info

Slava's Snowshow

  • 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'.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Wed Dec 17 - Mon Jan 5
More info

The Snowman

  • Rated as: 3/5

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.

  1. Peacock Theatre Portugal St, WC2A 2HT
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Sun Jan 4
More info

Timber!

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.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sun Dec 21 - Wed Dec 31
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Treasure Island

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 be a 'Treasure Island' unlike any you've seen before.

  1. National Theatre, Olivier South Bank, SE1 9PX
  2. Wed Dec 3 - Thu Feb 19
More info

White Christmas

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. 

  1. Dominion Theatre 268-269 Tottenham Court Road, W1T 7AQ
  2. Sat Nov 8 - Sat Jan 3
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