Pantomimes in east London
Hackney Empire's much-loved panto mixes swoon-worth handpainted backdrops with bold, crowd-pleasing performers. After a whopping two decades at its helm, the theatre's former artistic director and London's unofficial spirit of panto Susie McKenna is turning her hand to 'Aladdin'. Pop songs, a diverse cast, and loads of rude jokes will fill this story of an orphan who falls in love with a princess, and meets a magical genie along the way. Casting tba.
Theatre Royal Stratford East's annual panto is typically one of London's best. Under the reign of new boss Nadia Fall, the panto's retained the services of Robert Hyman, who's writing the music and lyrics for its signature original songs. 'Sleeping Beauty' will have a book by seasoned panto writing team Sarah A Nixon and Mark Chatterton, who've reset the story in the Far East. Matthew Xia directs.
Hoxton Hall is a lively, community-focused venue with a panto that's bound to delight local families. This year, Enfield's Millfield Arts Centre are rocking up at this atmospheric theatre with their own spin on 'Rapunzel', the story of the girl with the flowing locks and an evil witch to outwit.
Pantomimes in west London
Lyric Hammersmith's panto is known for being an edgy, offbeat alternative to festive kitsch: each year, they get hot up-and-coming playwrights to put their own spin on a classic story. This year, they've invited director Jude Christian and comedian Cariad Lloyd to do the honours. They'll stage a song-stuffed, knockabout take on the tale of a lad and his moggy, both striving to make their fortune in London.
Richmond Theatre's plushy surrounds play host to one of London's more trad annual pantos, and they typically come with a minor national treasure attached as star. This year, they're rigging out the venue with flying gear, ready to bring the story of 'Peter Pan' to soaring life. There are mermaids, pirates, leopards... oh, and one of panto's most hiss-worthy villains, too, the crocodile-fearing Captain Hook. Casting tba.
Pantomimes in south London
If you like your pantos bold, brash, bright and with a big star attached, then New Wimbledon Theatre's annual offering's the one for you. 2018's 'Aladdin' has telly quiz show maestro Paul Merton getting dolled up in a wig as Widow Twankey - and doubtless bringing a bit of sardonic improv humour to the unlikely role of Aladdin's mum. Judging by previous years, there'll also be tons of pop songs, a chorus of kiddy stars, traditional panto audience participation, and jokes so rude you'll drop your ice cream.
Pantomimes in central London
Best known for playing a lovable village priest in 'The Vicar of Dibley', Dawn French is going over to the dark side with a turn as The Wicked Queen in this year's Palladium panto. She'll star alongside Julian Clary, who's back for his third bite at the (poisoned) apple after appearing in both of Qdos Entertainments' previous West End pantomimes. Going by previous form, 'Snow White' is likely to offer big budget, traditional panto fun that's stuffed full of old-school comic turns and very rude jokes. It'll retell the fairytale story of a beautiful princess who falls asleep, then finds a home living with seven dwarfs. This year's cast also includes Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot, and 'Strictly' Latin dance stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace-Mistry.
Is this panto suitable for kids? Oh no it isn't! Is it loads of ribald fun? Oh yes it is! Vauxhall's gay theatre Above The Stag is back with the latest instalment in their much-loved series of adult pantos, penned by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hopper. Titled 'Mother Goose Cracks One Out', it's a filthy-minded take on the classic festive fairy story, staged with abundant saucy costumes, scantily clad men, pop songs, and very, very rude jokes.
More family Christmas shows
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.
Moored at lovely Little Venice, this intimate water-borne theatre is the setting for quality puppet shows that put a modern twist on traditional tales and kids’ classics. Movingstage, a touring puppet company established in 1979, anchored here in 1982 and has since produced critically acclaimed marionette and animation shows for a mini 55-seat audience. The barge is here from October to July, with regular performances on Saturday and Sunday and a daily schedule during school holidays. The barge moves to Richmond from August. Discover more great things to do in Little Venice