There are few ways to celebrate Christmas like a good festive theatre show. Granting you the chance to step out of the cold and immerse yourself in a heart-warming story, London theatre’s Christmas scene is something of a Winter Wonderland in itself, as the West End lights up with exciting seasonal shows.
It’s the perfect way to get yourself in the spirit. And, with many shows adding extra matinee performances, there’s never a better time to sample the festive fun of theatre. Here are 10 hot theatre shows opening this Christmas that we reckon you’ll want to book tickets for today.
Now playing; Peacock Theatre
For ages 3+
Robin: Everybody can recall the first time they encountered the magic of The Snowman as a child, and the theatre show, back on the West End stage for an incredible 20th year, is more majestic than ever in 2017. With eye-popping costumes and sets, beautiful orchestral music, and an enchanting story for all ages, there’s something to have every member of the family Walking In The Air.
Book The Snowman tickets.
From 5 December; Trafalgar Studios 1
For ages 12+. Contains dark subject matter.
Dan: Based on The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo (author of Les Misérables), The Grinning Man is a tragicomic musical that might be the weirdest and most wonderful thing you’ll see this Christmas. This one is ideal for anyone looking for a delightfully macabre respite from all the season’s goodwill. The production’s original run at Bristol Old Vic was hugely acclaimed and picked up a nomination for Best Musical Production at the prestigious UK Theatre Awards – it’s not to be missed!
Book The Grinning Man tickets.
From 9 December; London Palladium
Rachel: There’s little I love more than a panto, and this will be one of epic proportions. Qdos Entertainment return once again to the London Palladium, and if last year is anything to go by, it will be big, bold and brash, packed full of magic, hit songs and more than a light sprinkling of innuendo. With a star line-up including Julian Clary, Elaine Paige, Paul Zerdin and Nigel Havers, this is the one to beat this Christmas.
Book Dick Whittington tickets.
From 9 December; Sadler’s Wells
For ages 5+
Jim: Matthew Bourne. Cinderella. Sadler’s Wells. Three factors that guarantee a magical night at the theatre. The show is mostly sold-out in December, with best availability at the end of the month and in January, but the show is being broadcast on the BBC this season as well. Bourne’s version of Cinderella has a war-time feel to it, and gives a subtle darkness to the saccharine story of Cinderella.
From 13 December; London Coliseum
For ages 5+
Sinead: No Christmas is complete without a trip to Nutcracker, a classic that oozes Christmas glamour and magical adventure, not to mention Tchaikovsky’s fabulous score! The English National Ballet bring the story to life with glistening sets, breathtaking dance and beautiful music from the popular score featuring The Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy. This is bound to be an unforgettable Christmas treat for the whole family.
Book Nutcracker tickets.
From 13 December; Arts Theatre
For ages 12+
Robin: Everybody has their favourite Christmas movie – we’re talking your Home Alones, your Muppets’ Christmas Carols, your Miracles On 34th Streets – but I reckon at Mischief Movie Night you might just find your new pinnacle of festive film this month. The company behind The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery are going back to their improvised comedy roots to ingeniously invent movies based on audience suggestions, and having been lucky enough to see the company perform a similar feat when they’d just started out, I’m confident in predicting this might just be their funniest West End show yet. Mischief Movie Night’s the best kind of Christmas gift.
From 13 December; Ambassadors Theatre
For ages 1+
Dan: “One for all the family” is an overused phrase, but seeing as Eric Carle’s book has sold over 43 million copies since it was released in 1969, it’s safe to say that this is a tale beloved by every generation. Plus, a story about lepidoptera over-eating actually feels apt during a season where we all consume far too much. Catch this show before it transforms into a butterfly and flies out of the West End.
Christmas With The Rat Pack: from 13 December-6 January;
The Rat Pack – Live From Las Vegas: from 9 January
Theatre Royal Haymarket
Jim: Head to the Hippodrome, drop a couple pounds on the roulette, drink a martini and smoke a cigar (okay, no one smokes anymore) and chill out to the classic hits of the Rat Pack. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Las Vegas in the 60s. It’s a perfect way to ring in the holidays, before it takes on a different theme from 9 January.
From 15 December; Vaudeville Theatre
For ages 5+
Sinead: Fancy fairy tales this Christmas? Wilde Creatures could be just for you! Oscar Wilde’s beautiful fairy tales are retold in this imaginative, funny, fantastical journey. From the producers who brought The Gruffalo to the West End, this sparkling new musical adventure is perfect for anyone who falls between the ages of 5 and 105. These Wildean stories are set to capture the hearts of theatre lovers old and new.
Book Wilde Creatures tickets.
From 18 December; Southbank Centre
Recommended for ages 8+. No children under 3.
Rachel: With the exception perhaps of the John Lewis ad, nothing heralds the arrival of Christmas quite like the news that Slava’s Snow Show is back on the Southbank. A unique and comedic masterpiece, Slava’s Snow Show transports audiences to a joyous dream-like world that leaves you (literally!) knee deep in snow with a breathtaking blizzard finale. Clown-phobics should avoid, but this is otherwise perfect for anyone aged 8+.