London's awash with theatre shows at Christmas. These are our picks of the best family-friendly productions, both traditional and more modern, ideal for a festive day out for all the family.
The Canterville Ghost at Unicorn Theatre
Unicorn Theatre is one of the best family-friendly theatres in London, catering exclusively for under-18s and their families. This year's Christmas production for older kiddies is a retelling of Oscar Wilde's 1887 short story The Canterville Ghost. The tale of an American family moving into a haunted castle is brought to life using illusions and special effects, keeping the right side of spooky for the young audience. A great option if your family has previously enjoyed A Christmas Carol.
Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost at Unicorn Theatre, Southwark. Age 7+. 10 November 2019-5 January 2020.
Disney On Ice 2019 at Wembley and The O2
Cards on the table, we were raised on a diet of Disney On Ice, so we tend to get a little over-excited when the all-singing, all-dancing ice show skates back into town. This year's theme is 100 Years of Magic, with more than 50 Disney characters making an appearance. Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Goofy and the gang are there of course, ably supported by more Disney princesses than you can shake a tiara at, plus stars from the Toy Story, Frozen and Lion King films. Get ready to Let It Go and sing along to more than 30 classic Disney songs.
Paddington on Ice at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is back for 2019, and this year's new theatre offering features fictional Peruvian bear Paddington... with added skates.
Paddington On Ice makes its UK debut following a successful run in Germany (that bear's better-travelled than us). A cast of figure skaters acts out the story of Paddington's arrival in London, duffle coat and all, where he meets the Brown family and gets through a heck of a lot of marmalade sarnies.
Paddington on Ice at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. 21 November 2019-5 January 2020.
The Snowman at The Peacock Theatre
Spend an evening walking in the air as the Birmingham Repertory Theatre brings the classic kids' book-turned-animated-film alive on stage for an impressive 22nd year (perhaps he won't melt this time around...).
Skilled choreography, an enchanting set and that famous soundtrack combine for a show that melts the hearts of kids and adults alike. There's a relaxed performance on 4 December for those with additional needs, and the website offers a quiz where kids can find out which character they're most like.
The Showstoppers' Christmas Kids Show at Christmas in Leicester Square
While the entertainment inside Leicester Square's spiegeltent is mainly aimed at an adult audience, children are catered for with a festive edition of The Showstoppers' Kids Show. Join the Showstopper Elves in the Christmas grotto and give them your ideas for a show, before watching them transform it into an all-singing, all-dancing interactive adventure in front of you. One for more outgoing kids who are willing to get involved.
The Showstoppers' Christmas Kids Show. Age 6+. 23 November-1 December 2019.
Christmas Tales at the Museum of Comedy
Here's a treat for younger Londoners. Tales From The Shed ventures out from its north London home for a series of special shows at the Museum of Comedy. Think puppets, singing and dancing, all with a festive slant, lively enough to put a Christmas spring in everyone's step.
Christmas Tales at the Museum of Comedy. Age 0-7 years. 30 November-22 December 2019.
Cinderella - The Rockin' Panto at ArtsDepot
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a panto, but if mum and dad have festive fatigue, how about a panto with a difference? This version of Cinderella has all the usual tomfoolery (oh no it doesn't, etc etc) but with an added soundtrack of 18 pop, rock and soul hits. There are still colourful costumes, slapstick comedy and villains to boo, but with music to get all generations of the family singing along.
Cinderella - The Rockin' Panto at ArtsDepot, North Finchley. Age 5+. 30 November 2019-5 January 2020.
The Little Match Girl at Sadler's Wells
This magical dance production returns to Sadler’s Wells for a sixth year, telling the poignant tale of a young street girl and her bid to leave behind her troubled life. through an atmospheric set and an original score. It may not have a happy ending, but that hasn't stopped The Snowman becoming a Christmas classic.
The Little Match Girl - Arthur Pita at Sadler's Wells. Age 5+. 11-29 December 2019.
Black Beauty at Southbank Centre
Stop horsing around and head to Southbank Centre, where part of the winter programme includes a rendition of classic children's book Black Beauty. Puppetry features heavily, but think pantomime donkey rather than War Horse-style costumes. Storytelling and music also feature in the show, which has received 5* reviews for its performances elsewhere.
Black Beauty at Southbank Centre. Age 5+. 14 December 2019-5 January 2020.
Grandpa's Great Escape Live at SSE Wembley Arena
Don't be fooled by the publicity photo (above) — comedian and kids' author David Walliams doesn't feature in Grandpa's Great Escape Live. Instead, it's a Walliams-free telling of the story of a second world war flying ace, who has to use his skills many years later to plot an escape from a sinister care home.