As one of the theatre capitals of the world, the range of child-friendly Christmas shows in London is second to none. Here are our crowd-pleasing picks
For children, Christmas will always be a time of excitement and wonder. Naturally, the best Christmas shows are the ones that manage to capture this wide-eyed sense of anticipation – after all, few places can do this as well as the theatre, where magic is the stock in trade. As a global performance capital, London definitely delivers when it comes to festive theatre for kids. And while there’s a long history of pantomime in the UK, the range of Christmas shows in London goes far beyond panto dames and celebrity guest stars. Joining seasonal favourites such as The Snowman at The Peacock Theatre and Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas is a great range of productions encompassing ballet at the London Coliseum, blockbuster musicals, puppetry and physical theatre. Who could avoid getting swept up in the Christmas spirit?
Many leading institutions take great pride in their kid-friendly programmes, with some flagship productions returning year after year. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of The Snowman is one of those productions, with the 2015 season marking its 17th year at The Peacock. The reason for its longevity is simple: the story of one boy and his enchanted snowman is both timeless and incredibly moving. Tissues at the ready.
The enduring popularity of the Nutcracker can be chalked up to its chocolate box vision of Christmas, with its gift-giving and candy canes, tin soldiers and famous Tchaikovsky score. This production, by the English National Ballet, puts on family-friendly performances on certain dates, meaning that even the youngest attendees get to experience this classic piece.
What better way to capture the imagination than with J.M. Barrie’s children’s classic, Peter Pan? Explore Neverland along with Wendy and the Lost Boys, right on the banks of the River Thames.
Younger audiences will be enchanted by this extremely likeable story that follows Father Christmas as he grumpily goes about his job on Christmas Eve. In fact, this tried and tested Lyric Hammersmith production has become something of a tradition, having first been staged at the theatre in 2012. The show brings the classic Raymond Briggs story to vivid life – and even captures the distinctive aesthetic of the much-loved illustrations – with eye-catching stage design, imaginative puppetry and great music.