If you’re spending Christmas in London with kids, a sure way to make it special is to see one of the excellent London Pantomimes 2019 has to offer.
From super-sized dames with flashing bloomers to dastardly villains that the crowd love to hate, pantomime is the festive season lived large. The art form isn’t for everyone. If you’re not a fan of crowd participation and audience sing-a-longs, you might end up cringing in places. But the kids go wild for pantos.
Here are a few Christmas shows in London that are tipped to be excellent (and if you want to save some pennies for extra snacks in the interval, check out my feature on free things to do in London at Christmas).
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Don’t forget to check out our guide to the best theatres for kids in London.
Sleeping Beauty at Greenwich Theatre
Sleeping Beauty will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Greenwich Theatre. It stars perennial favourite Andrew Pollard, described by the Sunday Times as ‘an A-list Pantomime dame’. As well as starring, Andrew Pollard has also written and directed this show, performed in traditional panto style. The Greenwich performances are usually feted as being among the best-quality London pantomimes of the year. We were blown away by Cinderella, the Greenwich pantomime from 2017. You can read about it here.
22 Nov 2019-12 Jan 2020. Adult tickets £30, children (16 and under) £15.50.
Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Hackney Empire
This Hackney-style reimagined Panto of the classic rags-to-riches tale features a stellar cast. Grande Dame Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe will make his 13th pantomime appearance, as Sarah the Cook. Dick Whittington himself is played by Tarinn Calendar, who made his West End debut in the original London cast of Hamilton. Beginning his journey in Jamaica, Dick embarks on the adventure of a lifetime: fighting rodent royalty, meeting an eccentric fairy and winning the heart of his true love. All while trying to find those elusive gold-paved streets.
23 Nov 2019-5 Jan 2020. Ticket prices range from £10 to £42. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Cinderella at the Lyric, Hammersmith
This Cinderella Pantomime by Jude Christian, directed by Tinuke Craig, is sure to be an inventive, entertaining take on the old tale. It stars Timmike Ramsay as Cinderella. Pundits at the Lyric say of the show: “Expect the usual Lyric twist on Wicked Stepmothers, Ugly Stepsisters, pumpkins, mice and more.”
16 November 2019–5 January 2020. Ticket prices increase with demand, so book early for the best seats at the best prices. £75 family tickets are available.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the London Palladium
Tickets sell out super-quickly at the London Palladium Panto, so if you don’t mind paying for what’s possibly THE most star-studded of all London Pantomimes, get in quick. This year, household names include Julian Clary, Nigel Havers, Paul O’Grady and Gary Wilmot. Goldilocks and the Three Bears will be full of extraordinary special effects, hair-raising stunts and international circus acts. Plus barrels of laughs, judging by the super-star cast.
7 Dec 2019-12 Jan 2020. Ticket prices vary.
Cinderella at The Vaults
Waterloo’s atmospheric subterranean theatre space is the venue for this alternative take on the story of Cinderella. Aimed at older children (over-12s) and adults, the action takes place in a local pub. Actors from award-winning theatre company Not Too Tame invite the audience to join in at the heart of the action, witnessing pints spilled, mates pulled and hearts poured out on the karaoke. An on-stage bar sells drinks. This show toured to critical acclaim, and is described as “The Royle Family meets Elf”.
Please note that this performance is for older children and adults. It’s suitable for those aged 12 and over.
22 Nov 2019-12 Jan 2020. Tickets range from £20-£35.
Beauty and the Beast at Catford Broadway
Remember Mica Paris, the soulful singer from the 1990s? Well, if you’re a fan, you can see her in the south-east London Pantomime, Beauty and the Beast. Even if you’ve never come across Paris before, you’re likely to be wowed by her voice in this adaptation of the tale featuring Belle and her errant Prince. The show features energetic dance routines as well as plenty of jokes, slapstick and heaps of audience participation.
20-29 Dec 2019. Ticket prices start at £15.
Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre
With a capacity of over 1,500, the Grade II listed New Wimbledon Theatre consistently hosts some of the most lavish, star-filled Pantomimes in London. This year, the tale of Cinderella features Eastenders actor Samantha Womack as the Wicked Stepmother, opera singer Lesley Garrett as the Fairy Godmother, and Melody Thornton from band the Pussycat Dolls as Cinderella herself.
7 Dec 2019-5 Jan 2020. Tickets from £13.
Wendy’s Awfully Big Adventure at Theatre 503, Battersea
The all-female writing and directing team of Louise Beresford, Anna Spearpoint and Carla Kingham showcase their high-spirited, hilarious family friendly show in this small south London theatre. A champion of new and emerging writers, Theatre503 is hosting this brand new tale from the writers of last year’s successful Pantomime, Cinderella and the Beanstalk. It features characters you know, as well as characters you think you know…
4-31 Dec 2019. Ticket prices vary, with a discounted family ticket available for £56
Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers at Battersea Arts Centre
Critically acclaimed theatre group Sleeping Trees present a mash-up of some familiar tales. The story begins as the mischievous Goldilocks flees from the Three Bears into the deep, dark wood. As she stumbles down a rabbit hole to escape, she finds herself in Wonderland. The Three Musketeers and other family favourites join her mission to save Wonderland. Expect bags of audience participation, and original songs.
30 Nov-31 Dec 2019. Tickets £10-£24, family tickets £50-£62.
Cinderella at the artsdepot
Songs are plentiful in this co-production with The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. The cast of actor-musicians rock through numbers like It’s Raining Men, I Gotta Feeling and We’re Gonna Make you Wanna Shout. Will Baron Hardup’s feisty daughter Cinderella survive the hostilities of the wicked Rubella De Zees, and her two dangerous daughters, Hernia and Verruca?
30 Nov 2019-5 Jan 2020. Cinderella tickets from £18.
Dick Whittington at Stratford East
From Stratford to Catford, Dick Whittington and his feline friend head to London, where a villainous rodent has taken control. Will he win out and save the day? Featuring original songs and maybe even a sprinkling of snow, this performance is full of laughs.
23 Nov 2019-11 Jan 2020. Tickets from £10.
The Nativity Panto at the King’s Head Theatre
Charles Court Opera present a ‘respectful but irreverent’ spin on the story of the Nativity. It’s the 13th boutique Christmas Panto for the theatre group, and this year’s is set to be full of magic, whimsy and Christmas cheer. The pub venue makes it well-placed to present some different versions of the performance. The run includes family matinees, all-age-welcome shows, and adult-only performances. Under 14s aren’t allowed to stay in the pub before or after the performance, but under-5s go free if they sit on an adult’s lap.
29 Nov 2019-11 Jan 2020. Tickets from £10.
Do you have a London Christmas Pantomimes to add to the list? Please let me know, in the comments below!
Hoxton Hall and Wilton’s Music Hall are taking a year off Panto for 2019.
If you want to read about more Christmas theatre London, check out these reviews: