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Jack and the Beanstalk, Hackney Empire, 2021
Photo by Manuel Harlan

Christmas pantomimes in London

Pantomime season has finally returned to London – oh yes it has!

Andrzej Lukowski
Written by
Andrzej Lukowski
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Oh yes it is: London panto season returns for 2022, with familiar faces, familiar stories, and yet somehow holding on to a constant sense of anarchic family fun. There are plenty of punters who never set foot in a theatre throughout the rest of the year who make an exception for pantomimes. From the megascale London Palladium show with its filthy figurehead Julian Clary, to Clive Rowe’s brilliant panto purism at the Hackney Empire, London is a city that takes pantomime seriously. Even if the idea of seasonal frivolity fills you with dread, there’s a panto out there for you.

RECOMMENDED: The best London theatre shows to see in 2022.

Pantomimes in central London

  • Theatre
  • Panto
  • Covent Garden

Ian McKellen did a couple of memorable seasons as Widow Twanky at the Old Vic back in the day, but even with his zestful approach to his ‘80s nobody would necessarily imagine he’d commit to a monthslong UK and Ireland tour of panto staple ‘Mother Goose’. But here we are!

Pantomimes in east London

  • Theatre
  • Panto
  • Hackney

Clive Rowe cements his status as the king – or possibly queen – of London panto by both directing this year’s panto and starring in it: this will be his fifteenth outing as dame at the iconic Hackney Empire. 

Pantomimes in west London

  • Theatre
  • Panto
  • Richmond

Telly presenter Matt Baker performed the role of Joey the Clown in the Palladium’s circus-set 2019 panto interpretation of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. And he’s essentially reprising the role in the Richmond Theatre’s 2022 panto, which is produced by the same company and will presumably use broadly the same script. Roll up, roll up for porridge-related antics!

Pantomimes in south London

  • Theatre
  • Panto
  • Bromley

‘Strictly Come Dancing’ veteran Anton Du Beke makes his Bromley panto debut as an older-than-usual but light-on-his-feet Jack in the Churchill Theatre’s ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. A ‘£D giant’ is promised

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