The best family shows to see this Christmas

    12 November 2019

    Christmas is well and truly on its way, and if you’re planning on taking your family along to a festive show, now’s the time to get those tickets booked. Here’s a rundown of some of the best productions taking place across the country this December suitable for kids and big kids alike…

    Father Christmas, The Lyric

    Father Christmas, The Lyric, Hammersmith

    Father Christmas, The Lyric, Hammersmith

    Pins and Needles’ adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ classic picture book is a Christmas fixture at Hammersmith’s Lyric, and it’s an absolute cracker. Recommended for ages six and under, it tells the story of Father Christmas’s one big night of the year, via inventive puppetry, a clever set and well-judged physical comedy. Nov 20 – Dec 29

    Panto, Various theatres

    Jo Brand will star in Richmond Theatre’s Snow White. Credit: Getty

    Pantos are, of course, still the staple family entertainment at Christmas time, and if this particular festive tradition is not behind you, then there are plenty to pick from across the country. Panto stalwarts Christopher Biggins and Bobby Davro can be seen in Bromley and Woking respectively, while Liverpool’s Everyman is putting on a rock ‘n’ roll version of Sleeping Beauty (sub-titled ‘Bohemian Nap-sody’). Richmond Theatre’s Snow White should be a decent one, too, with Jo Brand as the Wicked Queen.  Dec 7 – Jan 5

    Matilda, Cambridge Theatre

    Rob Compton as Mr Wormwood in Matilda

    If you want to take the kids into London for a day out to see the lights and hit Hamley’s, then catching a show in the West End will round things off nicely. If you fancy an alternative to a full-on Christmas production that is guaranteed to entertain all ages, then the RSC’s still astounding version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda will not let you down. A must-see for those who haven’t caught it yet, and definitely worth a second look for those who have.

    Nativity! The Musical, Hammersmith Apollo

    Sharon Osbourne and Danny Dyer star in the stage version of Nativity! The Musical.

    Sharon Osbourne and Danny Dyer star in Nativity! The Musical.

    Since its release a decade ago, Nativity!, the critic-defying film about rival schools staging Nativity plays, has firmly established itself as a family favourite, and, inevitably, the stage version has followed suit. Something of a modern panto, prepare yourself for sing-a-longs and star turns – this year’s celebs in the cast include Rylan Clark-Neal and Sharon Osbourne, plus Danny and Dani Dyer. Prior to its London run, the show is also touring the UK, albeit with a less starry cast.  It must be said that the tickets are fairly pricey, so watching the original at home on the small screen might seem like a more sensible option. Dec 11-29

    Scrunch, Unicorn Theatre

    Sensory show 'Scrunch' at the Unicorn Theatre

    Sensory show ‘Scrunch’ at the Unicorn Theatre

    One of London’s finest venues for little people presents a performance created for babies aged from six to 18 months. It’s a sensory experience all about Christmas gifts – wrapping paper is the star of the show, so expect the babies in the audience to get stuck in, scrunching, crunching and ripping everything that gets in their path. Nov 27 – Dec 22

    Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall

    Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall

    Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall

    This big budget circus extravaganza is another one to consider for non-festive themed family entertainment. Expect to see contortionists, high-wire acts and life-sized elephants, created by the puppetry wizards behind War Horse. Dec 19 – Jan 5

    Squirrel, The Egg

    This children’s theatre in Bath consistently produces engaging and innovative shows for youngsters, and this new play by Tim Bell and Kate Cross (recommended for ages six months to four years) promises to be another memorable one, telling the story of a squirrel who can’t quite remember where he buried his prized acorn collection. Dec 7 -29

    The Prince and the Pauper, New Vic

    An intriguing prospect in Newcastle as this adaptation of Mark Twain’s novel about two brothers growing up in 16thcentury London in very different financial circumstances, stars real life twin sisters Danielle and Nichole Bird. Nov 16 – Jan 25

     How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Various venues

    How the Grinch stole Christmas

    How the Grinch stole Christmas, showing in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff

    A large-scale musical production of the Dr Seuss classic is heading off on a jaunt around the UK in November and December. Venues include the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, and if you catch it at the Lowry, Salford, or Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, you’ll get Griff Rhys Jones as part of the cast. Until Jan 5

    Disney on Ice, Various venues

    Disney on Ice, various locations

    If you have Disney-obsessed kids, and a high tolerance for cheesy musical numbers, then this all-singing, all-dancing production, which is heading to the 02, Wembley Arena and Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena, sees Mickey, Minnie and Donald Duck taking to the ice alongside an array of characters from films including The Lion King, Toy Story and, naturally, Frozen. Until Jan 5

     Cinderella, Various venues

    Cinderella, performed by The Northern Ballet

    The Nutcracker is the customary ballet to seek out every Christmas, but if you want to ring the changes this time around, try Northern Ballet’s “winter wonderland reimagining” of Cinderella, which is on tour throughout November and December. From Nov 12