London's awash with theatre shows at Christmas. These are our picks of the best family-friendly productions, both traditional and more modern — all ideal for a festive day out with family. Looking for panto? We've got that covered over here.
1. The Bolds at Unicorn Theatre
Meet The Bolds, an ordinary family living on an ordinary street, hiding a big secret — they're hyenas. Live music and songs come into the mix as they try to navigate life, and Christmas, without giving their secret away, in this show written by comedian Julian Clary.
The Bolds at Unicorn Theatre, 14 November-31 December 2021. Age 6+.
2. Zippo's Christmas Circus at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Acrobatics, aerial stunts and giant inflatable bears appear in Zippo's Christmas Circus, a regular feature of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, inside the largest tent structure in the UK. With a 50-minute run time, there's just enough action to keep the attention of kids of all ages — and there's a lot to see and do in the rest of Winter Wonderland if you want to make a day of it.
Zippo's Christmas Circus at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, 19 November 2021-3 January 2022.
3. The Snowman at Peacock Theatre, Sadlers Wells
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 23rd year (perhaps he won't melt this time around...). Skilled choreography, an enchanting set with fake snow and that famous soundtrack combine for a show that melts the hearts of kids and adults alike.
The Snowman at Peacock Theatre, Sadlers Wells, 20 November 2021-2 January 2022. Relaxed performance on 1 December.
4. Ever After - A Mixed Up Fairytale at Chickenshed Theatre
Here's one for fans of traditional tales. Ever After - A Mixed Up Fairytale blends several well-known fairy stories together into one show. It begins with Hansel and Gretel being left to fend for themselves in the woods, and throws in princesses, a wicked stepmother and other recognisable characters. An impressive 800 performers are involved, though they're split into four rotas so they don't all appear at once. Still, expect a huge, diverse cast, whichever performance you catch.
Ever After - A Mixed Up Fairytale at Chickenshed Theatre, 24 November 2021-8 January 2022. Age 5+. Captioned performances on 7, 9, 10 and 11 December, audio-described performances on 18 and 29 December.
5. Peppa Pig's Best Day Ever at Theatre Royal Haymarket
There's nothing particularly festive in the content of this show, but if you're looking for a guaranteed crowdpleaser with kids of a certain age, you can't go far wrong with Peppa, George and co. Songs and games help move the show along as Peppa's family go on a special day out involving castles, caves, dragons, ice cream and muddy puddles.
Peppa Pig's Best Day Ever, 2 December 2021-2 January 2022.
6. The Tiger Who Came To Tea at artsdepot
Do you think I could have tea with you? So asks the tiger at the beginning of Judith Kerr's The Tiger Who Came To Tea, which is brought to life in this musical play. Sing along as the tiger comes into Sophie's house, guzzles all the drinks and scoffs all the food.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea at artsdepot, 6 December 2021-3 January 2022. Age 3+. Relaxed performances 15, 16, 21 and 29 December. BSL-interpreted performance on 22 December.
7. Wolf Witch Giant Fairy at Royal Opera House
Folk opera Wolf Witch Giant Rabbit is a collaboration between the Royal Opera House and theatre company Little Bulb, which questions what we know about fairytales. Set in a magical wood full of fantastical creatures, it uses music and magic to tell stories of lovers in peril, witches on broomsticks and wolves in disguise.
Wolf Witch Giant Fairy at Royal Opera House, 10 December 2021-3 January 2022. Age 5+.
8. The Gingerbread Man at Churchill Theatre, Bromley
The Churchill Theatre's annual reworking of a traditional Christmas story takes on The Gingerbread Man this year. Puppets and original songs feature in the tale of events in a royal bakery. Run, run, as fast as you can...
The Gingerbread Man at Churchill Theatre, Bromley, 11-23 December 2021. Age 3+.
9. The Fir Tree at Shakespeare's Globe
Hans Christian Andersen's The Fir Tree — which portrays Christmas from the point of view of a Christmas tree — is reimagined at Shakespeare's Globe. Enjoy a hot chocolate (or mulled wine for the grown-ups) as you watch the show under the night sky. As with many shows at the Globe, standing tickets are available from just a fiver.
The Fir Tree at Shakespeare's Globe, 20-30 December 2021.
10. Disney on Ice at 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 Find Your Hero, with characters from Moana, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid on the bill — and we suspect a certain mouse and his chums might make an appearance too.
Disney on Ice at The O2, 22 December 2021-2 January 2022.
11. Frozen The Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Frozen The Musical is a few months into its run now, and continues well into the new year, so it's not a specifically Christmassy show. But it does have a snowman, princesses, and plenty of songs to sing along to, so it's bound to be popular with younger members of the family. If you've not got time to visit before Christmas, it's booking until the summer, so you could always slip a ticket into their Christmas stocking... if you don't, they might never Let It Go.
Frozen The Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, booking until June 2022. Relaxed performance on 19 December.