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Photo credit: The Gruffalo (Photo courtesy of Tall Stories)

Theatre to keep children entertained over the Christmas holidays

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

With Christmas plans changing often, it can be tricky to decide activities with children this Christmas. Instead of dwelling on days indoors with nothing to do, we've rounded up theatre streams over Christmas that are perfect for keeping kids young and old entertained. From critically-acclaimed adaptations of classic stories to puppet shows designed for the youngest theatregoers, these shows will stop your kids fidgeting and instead falling in love with the theatre.

The Gruffalo

Sadly, all performances of The Gruffalo's Child scheduled at Alexandra Palace this Christmas have been cancelled. But due to popular demand, your kids can curl up on the sofa and watch The Gruffalo, filmed earlier this month. Based on Julia Donaldson's award-winning story, the production sees four animals search for a mythical woodland creature, trying to catch the glimpse of the Gruffalo. As well as watching the show, all ticketholders can download an activity pack filled with entertaining ideas to give an at-home theatre experience that special Christmas flourish.

Suitable for children aged 3 and over.

Online to 3 January. 

The Snail and the Whale

Last seen in London at the Apollo Theatre in early 2020, a captioned recording of The Snail and the Whale is now available to purchase. The child-friendly show follows a snail and a whale who travel the world together, told through the eyes of a young girl. Captioned recordings include a British Sign Language introduction, so it's accessible to even more children.

Suitable for children aged 4 and over.

Online to 3 January. 

The Wind in the Willows

Staged at the London Palladium in 2017, relive the madness of The Wind in the Willows, which is available to download. Inspired by Kenneth Grahame's beloved book, Rufus Hound leads the troupe as Toad in an attempt to recapture Toad Hall. If it's not the whimsical story, then you'll want to watch for the entertaining songs and dances, with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. In a review for, "Stiles and Drewe set [the musical] to a buoyant score, which draws on an eclectic range of influences from English choral music to more pop sounds. This may be their most fully-realised work yet in a writing partnership that has stretched back across more than 30 years." So, if you want to forget about the world, The Wind in the Willows is perfect escapism.

Suitable for children aged 7 and over.

Online now. 

I Want My Hat Back

In December 2020, the National Theatre launched their new streaming service, National Theatre at Home. So far, there's 13 shows available to watch, including a musical adaptation of Jon Klassen's I Want My Hat Back. Seen at the National Theatre in 2015, the Olivier Award-nominated show features original music by Arthur Darvill, bringing all the illustrations to life.

Suitable for children aged 4 and over.

Online, available now. 

Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales

The Grimm Brothers are the creative minds behind fairytales such as Snow White and Hansel and Gretel. Conjuring up an abundance of festive magic for younger audiences, Philip Pullman has adapted six stories, now presented by the Unicorn Theatre over a series of six readings. Spread the six videos over six different days, with treats including Rumpelstiltskin and Cinderella. If you want to transport yourself to a make-believe world, you'll want to check out these tales which really aren't so "Grimm."

Suitable for children aged 8 and over.

Online, available to 21 Feb. 2021. 

Dick Whittington

If your trip to a local pantomime has been cancelled, why not watch the National Theatre production of Dick Whittington, which was filmed before London went into tier three. Updated by Jude Christian and Cariad Lloyd for 2020, join Dick Whittington as he seeks his fortune in London in a show that's packed with songs, silliness and smiles. It's available for free for just five days, but you won't want to miss this Christmas cracker. 

Suitable for children aged 4 and over.

Online from 23 - 27 Dec. 2020.

Photo credit: The Gruffalo (Photo courtesy of Tall Stories)

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