The best London family shows to book this Christmas

From festive favourites like Elf to seasonal pantomimes and wintry musicals, here are our picks of family-friendly London shows for the Christmas season.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

It’s wonderful to spend quality time with your family over Christmas, and the perfect way to entertain everyone together – from kids all the way up to grandparents – is by booking tickets to a London show.

Whether it’s a traditional pantomime, a spectacular musical, an exciting play, a side-splitting comedy, or a show aimed specifically at a children's audience, there are tons of great options in the West End and beyond.

This Christmas features a modern Cinderella panto, a fresh take on the classic story of Hansel and Gretel, an exciting interactive adventure, and Disney favourites like Frozen and The Lion King that will bring generations together. That's what Christmastime is all about, after all.

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Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Let it snow! Disney’s Frozen is a joyful family theatre outing year-round, but it’s particularly magical at Christmas. You’ve got Elsa’s magical touch, which transforms Arendelle into a snow-capped wintry wonder, and the musical’s focus on the enduring love between siblings.

Younger theatregoers will love all the inventive touches in Michael Grandage’s production, such as the puppet Olaf and Sven and the clever theatrical magic Elsa performs. Add in beloved songs love “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “Let It Go,” and Frozen is a spellbinding trip.

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The Snowman, Peacock Theatre

This is the incredible 26th year of The Snowman at Sadler’s Wells’ West End house, and no wonder: It’s still a gem of a show, accessible to audiences of all ages (there’s no dialogue, and the story is easy to follow), and bound to move nostalgic parents to tears.

See the Snowman come to life, lead you on various adventures, and, of course, fly to the music of “Walking in the Air” in this beautifully crafted dance show. The Snowman is the perfect event to get the whole family into the Christmas spirit.

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The Lion King

The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre

Disney classic The Lion King remains a fantastic introduction to theatre, thanks to Julie Taymor’s inventive adaptation of the brilliant animated film. Jaw-dropping puppets bring to life the animals of the African Pride Lands, including rising young ruler Simba.

Elton John and Tim Rice’s catchy songs are all here, including “Hakuna Matata,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” and of course “Circle of Life.” The Lion King is a lovely show that emphasises family: both the one you’re born into and the one you make.

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My Neighbour Totoro, Barbican

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s incredible adaptation of the Studio Ghibli movie is back by popular demand. It centres on two sisters who move to the country while their mother is in hospital and encounter all the spirits of the forest.

Although not specifically Christmas-themed, My Neighbour Totoro is definitely a heart-warming family show. The play celebrates the bonds between us, how we can help each other through tough times, and the magic all around. Plus, the titular Totoro is the most amazing puppet.

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Wishmas: A Fantastical Christmas Adventure, The Old Bauble Factory, Waterloo

If you’re on the hunt for an interactive show this Christmas, look no further than London’s exciting new adventure Wishmas. Enter a festive realm and meet the Wishkeepers, who are charged with delivering everyone’s Christmas wishes to Father Christmas. It's your job to join them and make sure no one's wishes get lost or forgotten — and make yours come true in the process!

Climb aboard the flying Wishmas Train, which uses cutting-edge technology to help you journey over London and to the North Pole. There are fun tasks, food and drink, and you can even have a private audience with Santa.

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Elf the Musical, Dominion Theatre

Will Ferrell charmed cinema audiences as Buddy, the human who accidentally crawled into Santa’s sack and was raised as an elf at the North Pole. Now his story is a stage musical, once again following this lovable misfit as he seeks his real father in New York.

Elf is now back in the West End, this time starring Matthew Wolfenden, Georgina Castle, Tom Chambers, Rebecca Lock, and Kim Ismay. The musical is sure to have your family laughing along and embracing its heartwarming Christmas message.

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The Witches, National Theatre

Roald Dahl’s spooky tale comes to rip-roaring life in this phenomenal new musical by Lucy Kirkwood and Dave Malloy. Can 10-year-old Luke and his Gran stop the witches from enacting their evil plan to turn all children into mice?

There are a few scares in here, so it’s for slightly older children (the theatre’s advice is 8+), but so much to enjoy too – from big song-and-dance numbers to slapstick, magic, and a thrilling tale. Grown-ups will love the razor-sharp script packed with hilarious one-liners.

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Back to the Future The Musical (Photo by Sean Ebsworth Barnes)

Back to the Future: The Musical, Adelphi Theatre

Expect 1.21 gigawatts of incredible adventure at this spectacular stage version of the beloved 1980s movie comedy. There’s definitely something for the whole family here – even boys (or dads!) who claim not to like musicals will love seeing the DeLorean travel through time, and even take flight.

Join teenager Marty McFly as he accidentally lands in the 1950s and has to figure out how to get home – and to save his family. The fun pop-rock score, which includes favourites from the film like “Johnny B. Goode” and “The Power of Love,” adds to this high-voltage romp with the best special effects in town.

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Peter Pan, Rose Theatre Kingston

The Rose Theatre is staging JM Barrie’s enduring classic as its big Christmas show. Reunite with Peter, Wendy, Tinkerbell, and Captain Hook as – with a sprinkle of fairy dust – you journey to Neverland.

This charming new adaptation is by Evan Placey, with original songs by Vikki Stone, and it features members of the Rose Youth Theatre. Peter Pan is sure to be a hit with your family, whether you’re encountering the story for the first time or the 100th.

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Hansel and Gretel, Shakespeare’s Globe

Welcome back to the Snow Globe: the winter wonderland version of Shakespeare’s Globe. As is now tradition, the theatre has an entrancing family show on offer, complete with music, magic, and other treats.

This year’s offering is a fresh take on the classic tale Hansel and Gretel by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage. The brother and sister venture into the forest, where they discover a strange old lady – can they save one another and find their way home?

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Cinderella, Lyric Hammersmith

The Lyric Hammersmith always has one of the most energetic, creative, and downright hilarious pantomimes in town, thanks to its modern updates of familiar stories. This Cinderella is a boss-lady who meets a disguised Prince Henry – with the paparazzi hot on his tail.

So begins an unlikely romance amid comedy from Cinderella’s stepsisters Muffy and Gusset and her stepmother Lady Jelly Bottom. Expect loads of jokes, audience interaction, pop songs, love, and a festive happy ending.

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