London’s West End is always a fun place to be at Christmas – whether it’s for the Christmas lights along Regent’s Street and Oxford Street, ice-skating at Somerset House, shopping in a very festive Covent Garden or seeing Santa at Selfridges.
And this year’s London theatre scene is more festive than ever before, with a range of seasonal shows for children, families and adults. Here’s our selection of some of the West End’s Christmas theatre highlights.
Children-friendly family favourites this Christmas include a revival of the critically acclaimed production of Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol at the Trafalgar Studios (from 21 Dec to 8 Jan). It’s also your last Christmas to enjoy the wildly successful production of The Railway Children in the ingenious setting of Waterloo Station, featuring a real steam train. E. Nesbit’s classic children’s story has thrilled audiences from the moment it opened in London, and must close on 2 January.
Making a welcome return to the Peacock Theatre this Christmas is The Snowman, the magical stage version of Raymond Briggs’ much-loved children’s book. Suitable for children aged two and upwards, this is a captivating mix of dance, stagecraft and music – including Howard Blake’s beautiful “Walking in the air”, and featuring a live orchestra.
There’s also Panto fun this year in the West End as CBBC presenters Dan and Jeff take a madcap ride through the best-loved panto stories in Potted Panto at the Vaudeville Theatre (10 Dec to 9 Jan). This funny new family show, that went down a storm in Edinburgh in the Summer, speeds through an incredible seven classic pantomimes.
For a bit of Glee-inspired fun then The Go! Go! Go! Show at the Leicester Square Theatre (until 30 Dec) promises lots of laughs and audience interaction for kids of all ages, in a story that sees five new pop stars battling it out, singing a series of brand new pop songs. Plus the intriguing sounding, sock-stealing ‘Fluffalope’ makes a guest appearance.
Much-loved cartoon characters are also making guest appearances in Theatreland this Christmas, notably The Gruffalo, who follows his monster-hit show last year with a run at the Garrick Theatre, featuring more songs, laughs and scary fun for children aged 3 and up (until 16 Jan). Also the chance to meet Santa Claus in a West End theatre comes in the shape of magical family show The Night Before Christmas at the Ambassadors Theatre, as his story comes to life in a new musical featuring songs, poems and story-telling (7 – 24 Dec).
If you fancy a great big Christmas sing-along this year then they don’t come much bigger than the Christmas Spectacular at the O2, which sees Myleene Klass present a rousing night of carols, traditional tunes and some cracking Christmas number ones on 23 December at the O2 Arena.
A wealth of dance productions promise to get you and your family into the festive spirit this year, including a brand new production of Matthew Bourne’s dazzling ballet Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, set in London during the Second World War and played against Prokofiev’s haunting score (until 23 Jan). Also English National Ballet present a sumptuous new production of The Nutcracker at the Coliseum, created by Artistic Director Wayne Eagling to celebrate the Company’s 60th birthday (12 – 30 Dec).
Adult shows include a Christmas season for comedian Bill Bailey at the Wyndham’s Theatre, in his acclaimed show Dandelion Mind (until 8 Jan). Plus the stars of La Clique return to London with some new friends for La Soiree at the fabulously opulent new Southbank Big Top. Sexy and funny, this new show is full of awe-inspiring, spine-tingling, jaw-dropping and death-defying acts of circus and magic (until 30 Jan).
AND DON’T FORGET
- See the Oxford Street and Regent’s Street Christmas lights
- Go ice skating in central London at the London Eye Ice Rink, Somerset House Ice Rink, Winter Wonderland Hyde Park Ice Rink,
- Natural History Museum Ice Rink, Tower of London Ice Rink or the Broadgate Ice Rink.
- See the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, donated every year by Norway.
- Visit Santa in his grotto and shop at the same time at the Harrods Christmas Grotto and the Selfridges Santa Express.
- Enjoy a traditional German Christmas market in London at the Cologne Christmas Market on the Southbank until 23 December.