Top theatre to see in London in December

Find out the best shows to see in London in December 2023, including hilarious pantos, festive classics like A Christmas Carol, and starry new plays.

Marianka Swain
Marianka Swain

We might be heading into the coldest, darkest time of the year, but it’s the most festive season for theatre – so banish the December chill with a trip to a London show. There’s so much to choose from, whether you’re looking for the perfect Christmas outing or the latest must-see play or musical.

You can also celebrate Christmas at pantomimes like Cinderella and Aladdin, or seasonal shows such as the Globe’s Hansel and Gretel. Plus there’s a theatrical Peppa Pig to keep youngsters entertained during the school holidays.

Musicals include the return of Only Fools and Horses to the West End and Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures, while plays range from Pinter’s The Homecoming and Stoppard’s Rock ‘N’ Roll to Woody Harrelson in Ulster American and spooky true story The Enfield Haunting.

Book tickets to London shows in December on London Theatre.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG

Ulster American - 1200 - LT

Ulster American, Riverside Studios

Jeremy Herrin directs an exciting trio of actors in this revival of David Ireland’s celebrated satire: Hollywood stars Woody Harrelson and Andy Serkis, and Derry Girls’s Louisa Harland.

Harrelson plays an American actor who’s starring in a new play, but the rehearsal period descends into chaos, as Ireland digs into power dynamics and cultural identity.

Book Ulster American tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Pacific Overtures - 1200 - LT

Pacific Overtures, Menier Chocolate Factory

This is a rare chance to see Stephen Sondheim’s 1976 musical set in 19th-century Japan, exploring the arrivals of the Americans and the country’s contentious modernisation. It’s a co-production with Umeda Arts Theater in Japan.

You might recognise some of the gorgeous songs from the show, such as “Someone in a Tree,” “Pretty Lady,” or “A Bowler Hat.” Matthew White directs this production at the Menier.

Book Pacific Overtures tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Stranger Things The First Shadow - 1200 - LT

Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre

We’re back in Hawkins, Indiana, but this story is set in the 1950s rather than the 1980s – so some of the Netflix series’ favourite characters, like Joyce and Hopper, are still in high school.

This prequel tale will also dig into the origin story of villain Henry Creel aka Vecna, which means crucial hints for the show’s final season. It’s created by Kate Trefry and Jack Thorne, and directed by Stephen Daldry.

Book Stranger Things: The First Shadow tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

A Christmas Carol - LT - 1200

A Christmas Carol, Old Vic

Jack Thorne’s stirring adaptation of Charles Dickens’s seasonal favourite is beautifully staged by Matthew Warchus, with everything from a Victorian choir to fresh mince pies for the audience.

Christopher Eccleston is the latest to play the miserable Ebenezer Scrooge. When he’s visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve, will the miser learn to change his ways?

Book A Christmas Carol tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Hansel and Gretel Globe 2023 - LT - 1200x600

Hansel and Gretel, Shakespeare’s Globe

Welcome to the “Snow” Globe, which becomes an enchanting site of storytelling come the festive season. Snuggle up with a warm drink and get lost in a timeless fable – which is told with music, magic, and wonder.

In 2023, the Christmas tale is the Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel. Poet Laureate Simon Armitage gives us his fresh take on the story of the siblings’ adventures in the woods.

Book Hansel and Gretel tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Aladdin Hackney Empire - LT - 1200x600

Aladdin, Hackney Empire

Hackney Empire’s panto is reliably one of the best in town – especially when Clive Rowe is their pantomime dame. Happily, he’s not only playing Widow Twankey in Aladdin; he’s also directing.

Expect an energetic, zany, and smartly updated version of the tale in this production, which also features Natasha Lewis, Ruth Lynch, Fred Double, Isabella Mason, George Heyworth, Rishi Manuel, and Kat B.

Book Aladdin tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Cinderella - LT - 1200x600

Cinderella, Lyric Hammersmith

Another brilliant annual panto treat is the Lyric Hammersmith’s dynamic offering, which is always chock-full of west London gags and clever contemporary twists. This Cinderella, scripted by Vikki Stone, is no exception.

Stone’s Cinderella is a boss lady who runs her own business, while the Prince is on the run from the paparazzi. Can true love – and a massive party – conquer all?

Book Cinderella tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Diana 1200 LT

Diana, Eventim Apollo

Don’t miss this right royal romp. It was a Broadway flop but has been embraced as a camp classic – and this West End concert version of the Princess Diana musical will only increase its fervent fanbase.

Kerry Ellis and Maiya Quansah-Breed star as Diana, while Denise Welch plays the late Queen, Alice Fearn is Camilla Parker Bowles, and Andy Coxon is Prince Charles.

Book Diana tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Peter Pan Rose Theatre - LT - 1200x600

Peter Pan, Rose Theatre Kingston

J.M. Barrie’s yarn seems to be a particular favourite this Christmas. As well as the Palladium’s panto, and Mischief’s hilarious Peter Pan Goes Wrong, you can catch this more faithful theatrical version featuring the Rose’s youth theatre.

Evan Placey provides a new adaptation, with original songs by Vikki Stone. Do you believe in fairies? Join Peter on a magical flight to Neverland this Christmas.

Book Peter Pan tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

The Homecoming - LT - 1200

The Homecoming, Young Vic

Matthew Dunster directs a bold revival of Harold Pinter’s electrifying power struggle between a sinister family and a new arrival. Who will come out on top?

The excellent cast features Jared Harris (Mad Men, Chernobyl), Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders, Gangs of London) and Lisa Diveney (Call the Midwife).

Book The Homecoming tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Rock 'N' Roll - LT - 1200

Rock ‘N’ Roll, Hampstead Theatre

There’s another modern classic at the Hampstead this December: Tom Stoppard’s play about the 1968 Communist invasion of Czechoslovakia, and an ensuing tangle of love, politics, identity, and music.

Nina Raine directs Nancy Carroll, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Nathaniel Parker, Colin Tierney, Hasan Dixon, Phoebe Horn, Anna Krippa, Georgia Landers, Emily Mytton, and Brenock O’Connor.

Book Rock ‘N’ Roll tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Enfield Haunting - LT - 1200x600

The Enfield Haunting, Ambassadors Theatre

Paul Unwin’s wintry chiller of a play dramatises the true story about a north London family who claimed to be terrorised by a poltergeist.

Catherine Tate stars as single mum Peggy Hodgson, whose young daughters witness the supernatural happenings, while David Threlfall is the paranormal expert who comes to investigate. Will it make you a believer?

Book The Enfield Haunting tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

A Christmas Carol - Ghost Story - LT - 1200

A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story, Alexandra Palace

There are more otherworldly goings-on in Mark Gatiss’s version of the Dickens tale, which puts the emphasis on the spookiness of the visiting spectres.

Keith Allen plays Scrooge and Peter Forbes is his dead partner Marley in this atmospheric production, which comes to Alexandra Palace for Christmas.

Book A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Peppa Pig Fun Day Out - LT - 1200

Peppa Pig’s Fun Day Out, Theatre Royal Haymarket

You’re invited to join Peppa – plus her family and friends – on a fun-packed day out, from a zoo trip to a beach party and more.

Peppa Pig’s Fun Day Out joyfully translates the beloved cartoon to stage, adding songs, dances and plenty of muddy puddles to keep young audiences engaged. This could be the perfect introduction to theatre.

Book Peppa Pig’s Fun Day Out tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Only Fools and Horses - LT - 1200

Only Fools and Horses The Musical, Eventim Apollo

The Trotters of Peckham are back – again! This musical version of the hit sitcom had a four-year West End run, and now it’s returning for an encore at the Eventim Apollo. Pukka!

Jim Sullivan, son of the show’s creator John Sullivan, brings Del Boy, Rodney, Grandad, and all the gang to stage, with original songs by Chas and Dave. Only a 42-carat plonker would miss out on this lovely-jubbly Christmas treat.

Book Only Fools and Horses The Musical tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

Christmas by Candlelight - LT - 1200

Christmas by Candlelight, St Giles-in-the-Fields

Enjoy a very special concert at this beautiful London venue, as a live string quartet plays festive music by candlelight.

It’s an intimate, serene experience – the perfect antidote to a busy time of year, and a memorable musical outing to share with friends, family and loved ones.

Book Christmas by Candlelight tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

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