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.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Christopher Wheeldon's 2012 'Alice' was the first new full-length ballet to be commissioned by the Royal Ballet for 16 years, and the first with a new score (by Joby Talbot) for 20 years. So it's safe to say it's a big deal. The result is visually stunning, thanks to designer Bob Crowley's OTT imagination.

  1. Royal Opera House Bow St, WC2E 9DD
  2. Sat Dec 6 - Fri Jan 16
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Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Actor legend Clive Francis brings his one-man 'A Christmas Carol' for families to the Print Room. Francis re-inacts the book about redemption and plays every main character for its pages. 

  1. Print Room 103 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3LB
  2. Sat Dec 6 - Sun Dec 7
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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
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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. 

  1. Sadler's Wells Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN
  2. Tue Dec 2 - Sun Jan 11
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Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain - Part Two

  • Rated as: 4/5

I’m not totally sure how much the average six-year-old is going to appreciate the cheeky trashing of overrated Frenchman Richard the Lionheart that takes place early in this latest stage outing for Terry Deary’s ‘Horrible Histories’ franchise – but I sure as heck enjoyed it.

  1. Garrick Theatre 2 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0HH
  2. Sat Dec 13 - Sat Jan 3
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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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The Little Match Girl

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.

  1. Lilian Baylis Studio Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN
  2. Sat Dec 13 - Sun Jan 4
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The Mad Hatter's Tea Party

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?

  1. Linbury Studio Theatre Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DD
  2. Sat Dec 6 - Sat Jan 3
More info

Nutcracker

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.

  1. London Coliseum St Martin's Lane, WC2N 4ES
  2. Thu Dec 11 - Sun Jan 4
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Peter Pan

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.

  1. Polka Theatre 240 The Broadway, SW19 1SB
  2. Fri Nov 21 - Sat Feb 14
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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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Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas

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.

  1. Lyric Hammersmith Lyric Square, King Street, W6 0QL
  2. Fri Nov 14 - Wed Dec 31
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Room on the Broom

  • Rated as: 3/5

Tall Stories's production of 'Room on the Broom' returns to the West End over Christmas this year. 'Room on the Broom' is one of the growing stable of books by children's writers Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler that have been adapted for the stage. But its plot is probably the 'Gruffalo' authors's weakest in terms of theatrical narrative, resulting in an entertaining but not wholly successful performance. There are fun moments in abundance, including an amusing opening scene in which a group of campers who are spending the night in a forest are kept awake by one of the company's snoring, whilst the later appearance of a disco-dancing dragon is hilarious. Clever lyrics and energetic performances from the puppets in the show also ensured that chuckles were never far away. But the piece suffered from a lack of focus and over-fussy direction which made the plot difficult to follow at times. Throwaway lines and asides that most young children wouldn't have been able to follow meant that the show had difficulty maintaining the audience's attention. It's a shame, because the actors were obviously working hard to keep the momentum going, but it never felt as if they were fully in command of the show.

  1. Shaftesbury Theatre 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8DP
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Sun Jan 11
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Santa Claus and the Magical Christmas Journey

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.

  1. New Wimbledon Theatre The Broadway, SW19 1QG
  2. Mon Dec 1 - Wed Dec 24
More info

Slava's Snowshow

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

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
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Swan Lake

Swans, pirouettes and tutus – 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.

  1. London Coliseum St Martin's Lane, WC2N 4ES
  2. Wed Jan 7 - Sun Jan 18
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

Usagi Yojimbo

Films based on comic books are all the rage at the moment, but plays based on comic books are a little harder to realise. Which means it will be interesting to see what this new adaptation of Stan Sakai's 30-year-old comic that featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks like. Adapted by Stewart Melton for Southwark over Christmas, 'Usagi Yojimbo' follows the adventures of a young rabbit that leaves home to try to become a samurai warrior. Amy Draper directs. Ages 8-plus.

  1. Southwark Playhouse Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD
  2. Fri Nov 28 - Sun Jan 4
More info

The Wind in the Willows

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.

  1. Vaudeville Theatre 404 The Strand, WC2R 0NH
  2. Wed Nov 26 - Sat Jan 17
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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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