Top 10 children's theatre shows this half-term

Our critics' guide to the best shows to take this kids to this school holiday

Not sure what to do with the kids this half-term? Never fear, as we round up all the best children's theatre in London this holiday, from puppet shows to kid-friendly musicals.


Britain's Best Recruiting Sergeant

Fabulous children's theatre the Unicorn manage to find a unique way into an important bit of history. To commemorate the centenary of WWI, they stage this play about Vesta Tilley, the remarkable male impersonator from the music halls of the early 20th century who recruited young men to fight. Who says learning stops when school does? Ages 8-plus.

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Unicorn Theatre Until Sunday March 15 2015

Dotty the Dragon

While the rest of the Lyric Theatre gets a revamp, the space's trusty studio continues to stage great children's shows. This one is Blunderbus's fairytale about the dragon Dotty. Ages 3-7.

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Lyric Hammersmith Until Sat Feb 21

Handa's Surprise

A vibrant puppet and singing tale about a girl on a journey to Kenya with a basket of fruit for her friends. It's based on Eileen Browne's colourful 1995 picturebook. Ages 2-5.

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Greenwich Theatre Saturday March 14 2015 - Sunday March 22 2015

Imagine Children's Festival

The Southbank Centre maintains its status as one of the best cultural hubs to hang out in over half-term with this festival for kids. There's a huge amount on, from dance and music to film and comedy. But the theatre offerings are particularly exciting. A highlight is 'Alice's House of Cards' (Feb 14-22) taking place over half-term, which chimes with the Southbank Centre's celebration of the 150th anniversary of 'Alice in Wonderland'. Led by two actors, children are encouraged to respond to the piece which is a kind of installation and a play all in one. Plus there's classic kids theatre from 'Charlie and Lola's Best Bestest Play' (Feb 16-20) and a new, fantastical retelling 'The Princess and the Pea' by Mike Kenny (Feb 18-19).

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Southbank Centre Until Sun Feb 22

The Insect Circus

Mad, surreal variety performance for kids that love the creepy crawlies. Huge puppet bugs appear onstage alongside their human counterparts.  'The Insect Circus' has been around for a while now, but this half-term there's promise of some zany new bugs to delight in. Ages 6-plus.

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Jacksons Lane Until Sun Feb 22

The Railway Children

Critics' choice

Mike Kenny’s hit stage adaptation of E Nesbit's book chugged back into London to a brand new, specially created stage in King's Cross. It's a big-scale treat for the kids, complete with an actual steam train.

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King's Cross Theatre Until Sunday September 6 2015

Treasure Island

Those salty buccaneers Polly Findlay and Bryony Lavery have taken Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic pirate story by force, and given it quite the refit. There's only two months or so to catch the National's excellent adaptation so half-term may be the perfect time to do so.

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National Theatre Until Wednesday April 8 2015

Red Riding Hood and the Wolf Who Tried to Eat Her

Half-term at the floating Puppet Theatre Barge sees a revival of an old classic where Red Riding Hood has to outwit the big bad wolf. Deborah Jones's retelling of the scary fairytale is expressive and witty. Age 4-plus.

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Puppet Theatre Barge Until Sunday March 15 2015
Nik Palmer

The Three Billy Pigs

A fairytale mash up from kids company Noisy Oyster. 'The  Billy Goats Gruff' and 'The Three Little Pigs' are mixed together with songs and puppetry at London's best puppet theatre. Ages 3-8.

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Little Angel Theatre Until Sun Feb 22

Yeh Shen: The Chinese Cinderella

That classic fairytale 'Cinderella' gets an Asian makeover with excellent Yellow Earth theatre company who performs the tale of the orphaned girl using puppetry, live music and Bejing opera. Ages 6-plus.

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Polka Theatre Until Sunday March 8 2015

Looking for more half-term ideas?

Half-term in London

Wintery weather needn't mean that the kids be stuck in front of the telly all week. This year's February half-term falls on Mon Feb 16 – Fri Feb 20 2015, and luckily London has enough fun lined up to have the family begging to leave the house.

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