What to See in London This Christmas
The festive season is a fantastic time for a London theatre trip to get together with friends and family and celebrate with a show full of seasonal goodwill, or just great drama, music, laughs and spectacle.
Christmas is one of the most popular times to go to the theatre so seats do book up quickly. Plan your trip ahead of time, get your tickets booked, and start thinking about transport and accommodation, if you’re coming in from out of town.
Looking for theatre inspiration? Here are some of the best seasonal shows!
A Christmas Carol
The Old Vic’s Charles Dickens adaptation has proven such a hit that it’s back in town for a third year running. And no wonder: It combines a heartfelt script from Jack Thorne (who also wrote the script for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”) with stirring music and delicious mince pies. The new Scrooge for 2019 is Paterson Joseph.
What’s Christmas without panto? And the Palladium panto is the grandest of them all, with its lavish production design, special effects, and comedy – plus big names like Paul O’Grady, Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot, and Matt Baker. This year’s offering also boasts leading circus acts, including stunt riders and illusionists.
The Bridge hosts Leeds Playhouse’s acclaimed stage adaptation of C. S. Lewis’s beloved children’s book. Step into the wardrobe and embrace Sally Cookson’s magical world, with puppetry, original music and innovative theatrical storytelling. The cast includes Wil Johnson as wise Aslan and Laura Elphinstone as the White Witch.
Lyric Hammersmith’s annual panto is always a treat, with the wittiest script in town and plenty of fun for the whole family. This year, expect a clever modern take on the iconic fairy tale from Jude Christian, plus a cast that includes Timmika Ramsay, Jodie Jacobs, Shobna Gulati, and Lauren Samuels.
An Act of God
Comedian Zoe Lyons is the Almighty, here to answer some of mankind’s most pressing questions – and to provide a new set of rules for the modern world. This irreverent Broadway hit is written by David Javerbaum of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and has been revised with material tailored to Lyons and British audiences.
Another take on the girl with the glass slipper – this time, Luke Barnes sets the action in a bespoke theatre pub created within The Vaults beneath Waterloo station. This immersive jukebox musical version is a must for the adventurous adult theatregoer. Grab a pint, enjoy the action, and sing along.
Disney’s classic tale continues to delight stage audiences, thanks to the gripping story, Elton John and Tim Rice’s indelible songs, and Julie Taymor’s spectacular musical production – with incredible puppetry and special effects evoking the wonders of Africa.
Another big cat story, this time Judith Kerr’s beloved picture book come to life. This hit stage adaptation re-creates the original’s charming aesthetics and teatime mayhem, with added songs, dances, magic tricks, and delightfully silly humour. At just under an hour, it’s the perfect length for little ones.
Mike Bartlett (“Doctor Foster,” “King Charles III”) offers something a bit different: a Christmas play for a divided Britain, featuring a father hoping to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Balancing generational conflict with witty observations, this play is warm, funny, and provocative – engaging the mind as well as the heart.
Back in the West End, this Olivier Award-winning cabaret features incredible new talents and established favourites, in a bill teeming with subversive, cheeky vaudeville. Mistress of mayhem Bernie Dieter stars as the MC, and the acts include fire-breathing, sword-swallowing Heather Holiday, gentleman juggler Florian Brooks, and acrobat Stephen Williams.
This iconic area of central London becomes a winter wonderland over the festive season, with plenty of enticing entertainment options – all housed in a traditional 1920s spiegeltent. Highlights include jazz singers The Puppini Sisters, cabaret selection Lickable, and family-friendly fare like Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure for Kids and The Showstoppers’ Christmas Kids Show.
Dick Whittington and His Cat
Hackney Empire’s pantos are rightfully renowned (oh yes they are!), with Susie McKenna putting a contemporary twist on well-known stories, and a production full of music and heart. Clive Rowe makes his 13th pantomime appearance as Sarah the Cook, alongside “Hamilton’s” Tarinn Callender, Annette McLaughlin, and Kat B.
Nativity! The Musical
Those who loved the genial film will adore this stage version, which features all of the madcap antics and toe-tapping songs. Simon Lipkin reprises the role of Mr Poppy, and he’s joined this Christmas by the legendary Sharon Osbourne, father and daughter Danny and Dani Dyer, and TV presenter Rylan Clark-Neal.
Revisit the golden age of circus in this charming show, returning to the Southbank Centre this winter. The thrills of turn-of-the-century entertainment are evoked by fearless acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, and trapeze artists, plus life-sized elephant puppets. One new addition for 2019 is the Brazilian Wheel of Death.
We’re dreaming of a joyful Irving Berlin musical! This irresistible production is teeming with stars – “Strictly Come Dancing” finalist Danny Mac, Dan Burton, Danielle Hope, Clare Halse, Brenda Edward, and Michael Brandon – plus it features classic songs, uplifting dances, and timeless romance.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
Those comic rascals at Mischief Theatre have provided a family-friendly seasonal outing guaranteed to have you howling with laughter. Gracing Alexandra Palace this winter, it’s a riotous spin on a classic show. You can also catch “The Play That Goes Wrong,” “The Comedy About A Bank Robbery,” and new show “Magic Goes Wrong” in the West End.