Starlight Express, Troubadour Theatre, 2024
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Children's theatre in London - the best shows for kids of all ages

From tiny tots to older kids, we've got your next family theatre trip covered with the best children’s theatre in London

Andrzej Lukowski
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It's never to early to introduce kids to the magic of theatre: there are literally shows for babies. But if your kids are a bit older than that, don’t worry: London kids theatre is bursting with shows that'll delight junior audiences of all sorts. There are gentle puppet shows for toddlers. Bright and shiny, song-stuffed adventures for young kids. Smart dramas that are sure to hold teenagers rapt. And spectacular musicals that are perfect for the whole family (or just adults looking for a great night out)

Our London kids’ theatre page normally contains information for all the main children’s shows running in London theatres this month and next month, and is broken down into three categories.

Theatre for all the family is suitable for any age, including adults without children.

Theatre for older children is specifically aimed at school-age children and teenagers.

Theatre for babies, pre-schoolers and younger children does what the title suggests, and also includes shows suitable for younger school-age children.

See also:
101 things to do in London with kids.
The best child-friendly restaurants in London.
The top 9 museums in London for kids.

Theatre for all the family

  • Musicals
  • Covent Garden
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Michael Grandage’s stage musical adaptation of the Disney smash is deeper and darker than the original film.

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  • Musicals
  • Covent Garden
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
The Lion King
The Lion King

Nothing prepares you for the sheer impact of 'The Lion King's opening sequence…

  • Children's
  • Soho
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

We tend to think of New Yorkers as pathologically grouchy souls. But primary schooler-orientated NYC wizard Mario the Maker Magician is defined by his infectious elan…

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  • Musicals
  • Seven Dials
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Matilda the Musical
Matilda the Musical

Matthew Warchus's RSC production of Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin’s Roald Dahl adaptation remains a treat.

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  • Musicals
  • Strand
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Six the Musical
Six the Musical

This short musical romp through the (after)lives of Henry VIII’s six wives is perfect for adults and secondary school kids alike.

  • Drama
  • Covent Garden

This stunning-looking Japanese adaptation of the Studio Ghibli classic is probably a touch more frightening than the RSC’s recent ‘My Neighbour Totoro’, but official age advice is a reasonably lenient seven-plus.

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  • Musicals
  • Wembley
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Quite possibly the most aggressively ‘80s artefact in existence, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Starlight Express’ is a musical about anthropomorphic roller skating trains that often feels like being forced to watch ten consecutive episodes of some trashy Saturday morning action cartoon…

  • Musicals
  • Covent Garden
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

This high-octane 'Wizard of Oz' promises to obliterate the wicked witch of school holiday boredom, banishing her memory in an all-consuming explosion of video projections, perky songs and old-fashioned sap. 

Theatre for primary school children and older

  • Kids
  • Drama
  • Regent’s Park
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Brainiac Live!
Brainiac Live!

Unless you’re hoping your kids grow up to have a career in blowing stuff up and electrocuting people, it’s probably worth stating from the off that ‘Brainiac Live!’ isn’t really an educational show – you’ll probably learn more about science from a Harry Potter novel.

  • Children's
  • Kingston

The team behind the Little Angel’s recent West End transfer hit ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ – that’s Barb Jungr and Samantha Lane – join forces again for another major adaptation of a picturebook by colossally beloved writer-illustrator duo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. 

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  • Children's
  • Islington

The only London kids’ theatre that programmes work throughout the summer holidays (weird, right?), the Little Angel takes a slightly different tack this summer: rather than just staging a single show in each of its theatres, it’s instead opting for a month-long festival features numerous different short-run puppet-based plays over the course of August.

  • Immersive
  • Wembley

Punchdrunk Enrichment – aka immersive theatre legends Punchdrunk’s family spin-off – return with the first show in its brand new Wembley home Punchdrunk Enrichment Stores. ‘Enitan’s Game’ is aimed at six to 11 year olds, and follows Enitan and Ged, two friends who collect objects and stories – including the titular game invented by Enitan’s grandmother.

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  • Kids
  • Shaftesbury Avenue

Birmingham Stage Company presents its entertaining, live stage adaptation of Terry Deary's lurid children's history books, which have even gained a cult, clandestine adult audience thanks to the fantastic sketch-based TV show. 

  • Children's
  • Islington
Prince Charming
Prince Charming

This new kids' musical centres on an anxious prince who can't stop worrying. He's got a kingdom to run but he can hardly get out of bed - until someone comes to his rescue. Ages six-to-11.

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  • Children's
  • South Bank

The new project from the team behind the Globe’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ spin-off ‘Midsummer Mechanicals’ is another play for kids loosley based on a work of Shakespeare, in this case ‘Macbeth’…

  • Children's
  • Wimbledon

Stage adpatation for ages six to 12 of Kevin and Katie Tsang’s best-selling book about a scaredy cat child forced to confront some alarming situations. In Julie Tsang’s theatre version, a trip to the Science Museum gone terribly wrong leads to Sam having to prove his mettle as a space explorer.

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  • Kew

The manicured surrounds of Kew's botanical gardens will become the Wild Woods of Kenneth Grahame's beloved children's story, in this outdoor performance. Australian Shakespeare Company will stage the tale of four animal friends messing about in boats, and adventuring on the riverbank. Suitable for all ages.

Theatre for babies and pre-schoolers

  • Children's
  • Leicester Square

Pre-school YouTube sensation Blippi settles in at the West End for the summer with a new live show for ages two-plus. With best friend Meekah in tow, we’re promised that they will ‘discover what makes different cities unique and special’ and also we can expect ‘monster trucks, excavators, and garbage trucks galore’. 

  • Children's
  • Kew

This cute outdoor spin off from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for young kids is part of the Australian Theatre Company’s summer season at beautiful Kew Gardens. In it, four of Shakespeare’s fairies encounter Peter Pan’s pal Tinkerbell. Little audiences are invited to dress up as fairies or pirates.

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  • Children's
  • Shaftesbury Avenue
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Tall Stories’ stage version of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s classic kids’ picturebook ‘The Gruffalo’ is now something of a classic itself…

  • Drama
  • Wimbledon

A new stage adaptation of Irish playwright Oliver Jeffers’s bestseller about a little boy who dreams of having a star as a friend and sets out to catch one. sets out to catch a star. A puppet-based retelling from Galway-based company Branar, it’s aimed at ages three to five. 

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  • Children's
  • Tower Bridge

A shy little mouse wishes he could become as brave as a lion – but ends up learning that even lions aren’t always brave. Puppet-powered stage adaptation of Rachel Bright and Jim Field kids’ book from Sarah Punshon, who also directs. For ages three-plus.

  • Children's
  • Leicester Square
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
The Tiger Who Came to Tea
The Tiger Who Came to Tea

David Wood's stage adaptation of the book beloved by children for 40 years is a delight from start to finish…

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  • Children's
  • Belgravia

The return of the stage adaoptation of ‘Zog and the Flying Doctors’, the sequel to Julian Donaldson and Scheffler’s much-loved ‘Zog’. Followinbg their meeting in the first book, the eponymous dragon and his pals are happily operating as a flying ambulance service – until a landing at the wrong palace leads to Princess Pearl being locked away for abandoning her royal duties in for the medical profession. 

New theatre this month

Encore

See the brightest stars on stage with Time Out

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