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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Chris Wiegand Stage editor

It’s ahead of you! 25 festive UK shows to book for Christmas

Evlyne Oyedokun will play Ella in Cinderella: A Fairytale at Northern Stage.
Evlyne Oyedokun will play Ella in Cinderella: A Fairytale at Northern Stage. Photograph: Mark Savage / Velcrobelly

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Bath Theatre Royal, 6-11 December; Lyric theatre, London, 23 November-13 January; then touring
Mischief Theatre returns with another immaculately ham-fisted comedy, as Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society stage JM Barrie’s classic with their traditional technical hitches. Tinkerbell’s tutu isn’t the only thing that might go up in smoke.

Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas

Lyric, Belfast, 1 December-6 January
And a hairy new year! Co-writers Conor Grimes and Alan McKee invite audiences to a night of frightening festivities with their tale of a TV psychic spending Christmas Eve at a spooky ancestral estate.

Treasure Island

Barn, Cirencester, 20 November-6 January
The Barn’s timbers are set to shiver in this musical version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure, adapted by playwright Alan Pollock, who puts the “yo” into “ho ho ho”. It’s billed as Pirates of the Caribbean meets Fishermen’s Friends.

Callum Balmforth in the RSC’s The Box of Delights adapted by Piers Torday.
Callum Balmforth in the RSC’s The Box of Delights adapted by Piers Torday. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

The Box of Delights

Royal Shakespeare theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until 7 January
The RSC’s Christmas shows have often ushered in young talent and this year Callum Balmforth takes on the role of orphan Kay Harker, on a mission to save Christmas in an adaptation of John Masefield’s bedtime favourite.


Tramway, Glasgow, 6-16 December
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of baking. Tortoise in a Nutshell’s interactive puppet show for children aged three to seven follows a gingerbread hero and includes a session of biscuit decorating.

Sleeping Beauty

Theatr Clwyd, 30 November-6 January
This year, Clwyd’s rock’n’roll panto is in a circus big top (yes, it’s heated) outside the theatre. Writer Christian Patterson returns and there’s a raucous song list with no room for Silent Night.

Cinderella: A Fairytale

Northern Stage, Newcastle, 2 December-6 January
Cinders has a busy Christmas, popping up in different versions in Ayr, Chester and Huddersfield. Sally Cookson’s typically invigorating take, co-directed by Katy Weir and Jake Smith, stars Evlyne Oyedokun as Ella.

The Scouse Dick Whittington

Royal Court theatre, Liverpool, 10 November-20 January
Streets paved with gold? Liverpool’s Dick Whittington has his doubts in the Royal Court’s panto but nevertheless heads off for the Big Smoke with a live band backing him up. For over-16s.

The Toymakers’ Child features an epic cast
The Toymaker’s Child features an epic cast Photograph: PR

The Toymaker’s Child

Rayne theatre, London, 22 November-13 January
You’ll be hard pressed to find a bigger festive cast than Chickenshed’s annual Christmas show. More than 200 performers put on this year’s extravaganza about a magical 3D printer that produces an AI child. Its serial number? PIN:OCch10.

Sleeping Beauty

His Majesty’s theatre, Aberdeen, 2 December-7 January
Gary: Tank Commander star Greg McHugh storms the stage in “the pantomime of your dreams” with an OTT mix of songs, gags and magic.

Midnight Mole

The Egg, Bath, 7 December-7 January
Last year’s hit comes up from underground for another run, reworking Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard from the perspective of the animals. For under-fours, from the team behind Snow Mouse.

The Night Before Christmas

The Mac, Belfast, 29 November-7 January
Lots of creatures are stirring here: principally pigs, a duckling and the Big Bad Wolf. Plus the Little Match Girl joins the mix in a show that mashes up many characters from different stories.

Ugly! A Cinderella Story

Cumbernauld theatre, 25 November–30 December
Why should Cinderella hog the limelight? Gary McNair reclaims the tale in favour of one of her ugly sisters, who gets her own transformation from the fairy godmother.

The Snow Queen

Polka theatre, London, 11 November-21 January
Jude Christian is a fantastic writer for children – as her whistlestop one-hour version of Hamlet proved. She takes on Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale of chills and thrills.

Patricia Zhou stars in Nutcracker at the Tuff Nutt jazz club.
Patricia Zhou stars in Nutcracker at the Tuff Nutt jazz club. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian


Southbank Centre, London, until 6 January
Clara becomes Clive, the doll is an Action Man figure and the setting is the pop-up Tuff Nutt jazz club in Drew McOnie’s swinging and inclusive new version of the sugary staple.

Peter Pan

Sherman theatre, Cardiff, 27 November-6 January
The Sherman teams up with Theatr Iolo for a new adaptation by Catherine Dyson that sees the story through Wendy’s eyes and has songs by Gwyneth Herbert.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

Sheffield Crucible, 9 December–13 January
Grace Mouat was a superb Cinderella at Manchester’s Hope Mill last Christmas. Now she returns in the role made famous on screen by Rosemary Clooney in the romantic musical set in a ski lodge. All together now: “I’m dreaming …”

Beauty and the Beast

Stephen Joseph theatre, Scarborough, 1-30 December
Nick Lane’s fairytale relocations are always spirited and full of local flavour. This year, he invites you to Scarbolopolis and the Everdark Forest. An in-the-round setting amps up the goodwill cheer.

Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime

Jermyn Street theatre, London, 23 November-31 December
Nothing says Christmas like Odysseus, Cyclops and the wine-dark sea, right? Charles Court Opera and Jermyn Street theatre join forces for an unlikely festive epic.

Alison Spittle’s Glacier is a tale of wintry wild swimming.
Alison Spittle’s Glacier is a tale of wintry wild swimming. Photograph: Simon Vail


Old Fire Station, Oxford, 4-23 December
The Old Fire Station has a fine tradition of original and unsentimental Christmas plays by acclaimed writers including Mike Bartlett and Chris Bush. This year, comedian Alison Spittle delivers a tale of three friends wild swimming in winter.


Hull Truck, 24 November-31 December
Mike Kenny, one of our very best writers for young audiences, turns his attention to the wooden wonder and his cricket pal in a new musical version.

A Christmas Carol

Minack theatre, Porthcurno, 21-22 December
You can catch up with Scrooge around the UK this winter – at Nottingham Playhouse, Lancaster’s Dukes and (in female form) at the Tron in Glasgow – but the most striking backdrop comes at Cornwall’s clifftop Minack for David Mynne’s one-man show.

Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Pig

JW3 London, 10 December-7 January
Billed as Britain’s first professional Jewish panto, this adventure brings together storytelling traditions and is set over Hanukkah, the festival of light. Nick Cassenbaum’s rollicking story will unfold with a live band on stage.


Theatre Peckham, London, 5-24 December
Let your hair down morning, noon or night with this musical twist on the fairytale, staged at various times of the day. Book and lyrics by Geoffrey Aymer, music by Jordan Xavier and directed by Suzann McLean, recently made an MBE.

The Snow Queen

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, 23 November-31 December
Morna Young’s new version of Hans Christian Andersen’s frozen fairytale promises an Edinburgh heroine, some spirited songs and a pink unicorn.

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