The best children's shows to book this Christmas: from The Snow Queen to Bluey

Here are the best festive shows for kids that London has to offer in 2023
Nick Clark2 minutes ago

As the school holidays approach, what better way to keep your little ones from trashing the house than take them to a Christmas show?

London has a wealth of great theatre, dance and other performance aimed at children of all ages, and our pick – not including pantos, which will come later in the week – is below...

The Witches at the National Theatre

Cian Eagle-Service (Bruno) and Bertie Caplan (Luke) in The Witches at the National Theatre
Marc Brenner

This brand new adaptation of Roald Dahl's twisty classic is an absolute triumph (hear our critics rave about it on the Standard Theatre Podcast here). Candy coloured, with a witty script from Lucy Kirkwood and a fantastic score from Dave Malloy, it's as much fun for adults (often slightly more, if you listen carefully) as for children. And the kids' performances are just knock-out. Recommended for ages eight to 88.

To January 27; buy tickets here

The Snow Queen at Polka Theatre

Finlay McGuigan in The Snow Queen
Ali Wright

Wimbledon’s wonderful children’s theatre hasn’t looked back since reopening in 2021 after an £8.5m refurbishment. This Christmas it has pulled off something of a coup with rising theatre star Jude Christian adapting Hans Christian Andersen classic The Snow Queen. Christian promises a show that’s “noisy and caring and masses of fun, inspired by this beautiful story about best friends and the adventure of growing up together”. For ages six to 12.

To January 21;

Solstice at the Battersea Arts Centre

Wild Rumpus

The BAC is a wonderfully atmospheric building full of nooks and crannies, ripe for inquisitive visitors to explore – just ask those who saw Punchdrunk Theatre’s immersive show Masque of the Red Death. This festive season there is an immersive experience for the whole family with Solstice, created by the company Wild Rumpus. This brand-new show takes the audience on an enchanting journey through the BAC’s corridors and hidden spaces, which double as a winter wonderland with magical woodland characters appearing at every turn. Recommended for ages three and up.

From December 1 to 24;

Bluey’s Big Play at the Southbank Centre

Madison Square Garden

Bluey is one of the few children’s TV shows that has the ability to delight parents and their offspring in equal measure, and over the Christmas period, she’s taking up residency at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Everyone’s favourite blue Heeler from Oz will be brought to life in puppet form, alongside the rest of the family, in a brand new story by Bluey creator Joe Brumm. For all ages.

From December 20 to January 7;

Hansel and Gretel at the Globe Theatre

In the magical space of the Globe comes a new adaptation of the classic fairy tale by poet laureate Simon Armitage. "Filled with music, magic, songs and a sprinkling of hope," this will be a treat for anyone over five.

From December 8 to January 7; buy tickets here

Peter Pan at the Rose Theatre

What better time to return to the magical realm of Neverland than at Christmas. After Peter Pan crashes through the open window of Wendy Darling's bedroom a miraculous adventure awaits. In a brand new take on JM Barrie's much-loved classic, this production promises to have audiences – from five years old and up – completely hooked.

From December 1 to January 7; buy tickets here

Rapunzel at Theatre Peckham

Theatre Peckham is offering audiences the chance to let their hair down with this "modern day hairy-tale with a few twists". In what it describes as a musical-inspired, pantoesque Christmas show, this new take on Rapunzel is set in a vibrant Peckham hairdresser's. This year's show follows the theatre's previous festive treats including Scroogelicious, inspired by A Christmas Carol, and The Wonderful, based on The Wizard of Oz. Suitable for all ages.

From December 5 to 24;

The Toymaker’s Child - Chickenshed 

Pioneering theatre company Chickenshed have an updated take on the Pinocchio story in which the toymaker 3D prints an AI child, serial number PIN:0Cch10, but things quickly get out of control. It promises that the stage will be filled with "wonder, beauty, and just a touch of delightful chaos". It's sure to be joyous.

From November 29 to January 13;

Peppa Pig’s Fun Day Out at the Theatre Royal Haymarket 

Barry Rivett

Peppa Pig, the being that seems to hold complete control over all children under five, is returning to the West End. There will be much singing, dancing and, presumably jumping in muddy puddles. More than two million people have seen Peppa Pig in the UK, and she has played 11 West End Christmas seasons... a veritable Theatreland stalwart. Suitable for all ages.

From November 30 to December 31; buy tickets here

Wishmas at the Old Bauble Factory

In this hour-long walk-through adventure, families head into the magical world of Wishmas (in the slightly less magical location of Waterloo), where no wish is ever forgotten, and where they may even come face to face with Father Christmas himself. Suitable for all ages

To January 7; buy tickets here

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler: from the page to the stage

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s work doesn’t just dominate bookshops, now they are dominating London’s stages as well. The author and illustrator, who have sold more than 17 million books, have four, yes four, adaptations of their work running in London next month…

The Smartest Giant in Town at St Martin’s Theatre 

Little Angel

Nominated for an Olivier Award for best family show, the story of friendship and helping those in need returns to London next month.

From December 2 to January 7; buy tickets here

Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book at Little Angel Studios

Ellie Kurttz

This reunites The Smartest Giant’s director Samantha Lane and adapter Barb Junger in the story of Charlie attempting to convince his sister that reading isn’t boring.

From December 1 to February 4,

The Gruffalo’s Child at the Garrick Theatre

Charles Flint

The sequel to Donaldson and Scheffler’s blockbuster book The Gruffalo is also by theatre company Tall Stories, and heading to the West End.

From December 1 to January 7; buy tickets here

Stick Man at the Leicester Square Theatre

Dance and opera for children

Christmas is the perfect time to introduce children (and adults) to ballet or opera, with plenty of delightful family shows to choose from.

The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House

If you're in search of Christmas magic this one of several Nutcrackers is definitely the OG. Encased in the vast jewel box that is the Royal Opera House, the Royal Ballet's traditional production is dripping with sweetness and laden with sparkle, and it has an actual, growing, magic Christmas tree. What more can you ask for?

From December 6 to January 13; 

Edward Scissorhands at Sadler's Wells

Edward Scissorhands
Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne's dance version of the film would work well for older children, with its American gothic aesthetic (designed by Lez Brotherston) and its message of accepting difference. It doesn't hit the emotions particularly hard, but it's a lot of fun.

From December 13 to January 20; buy tickets here

Pirates! at The Place

Scottish Dance Theatre's new production, a dance/theatre/storytelling hybrid commissioned by The Place, is a gutsy, energetic story of identity and friendship, and the fact that the greatest treasure might be just under your nose. Oh and there are zombies.

December 16-24;