8 of the best pantomimes and Christmas shows to take the kids to this winter

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From panto and carols to child-friendly ballet, theatre and more, find out what’s on for the family this Christmas

Start a family tradition, do something different or give the children an experience they'll remember for years to come, with our round-up of Christmas productions

1. Cinderella

Hackney Empire, 18 November 2017–31 December 2017

In classic panto fashion, expect lots of singing, dancing and encounters with talking mice, as well as plenty of audience participation. Against the odds, Cinders tries to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother and stepsisters to go to the ball and find her prince, in this timeless rags-to-riches fairy tale brought to life on stage. 

2. Pinocchio

The National Theatre, 1 December–7 April 2018

In his quest to become a real boy, Pinocchio sets off from the workshop where he was made, with his friend Jiminy Cricket. Along the way they travel from alpine forests to the bottom of the sea. This adaptation of the classic story comes from the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the writer of hit show Matilda the Musical. Familiar songs like When You Wish Upon a Star offer opportunities for a sing-along.  

3. The Bear

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, 12–31 December 2017

Tilly is over the moon when a polar bear climbs through her bedroom window one night, but her new friend is soon causing trouble…So begins The Bear. Raymond Briggs’ winter tale might not be as famous as The Snowman, but it has the same winning ingredients – a loveable, larger-than life character (in this case a giant polar bear puppet), an endearing child and plenty of emotion.

4. The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales

Bristol Old Vic, 30 November 2017–14 January 2018

After a critically acclaimed premiere at Shakespeare's Globe, this enchanting story told with puppets heads to Bristol this Christmas. Freezing on the winter streets, our heroine strikes her matches one by one. Each time, she releases a story inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, including The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor’s New Clothes and Thumbelina. The combination of laughter, puppetry and magic will make this a memorable experience for all the family.

5. Slava’s Snow Show

Royal Festival Hall, London, 18 December 2017–4 January 2018

The multi-award winning international sensation returns to London, weaving together incredible spectacle with skilful clowning that will entertain adults and children, showing that you’re never too old for clowns. A highly renowned company of clowns perform in the magical show, which transports the audience into a dream-like world and ends with a dazzling, snow-filled finale. (Recommended age: 8+)

6. Unicef’s carol concert

St Paul's Cathedral, London, 19 December

Unicef’s annual carol concert will take place under the impressive dome of this historic landmark. This year it will be raising money for the children of Syria, with all proceeds going towards helping to keep them safe and warm this winter. Hosted by Unicef’s president, Kirsty Young (host of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs), it will include choral classics and exclusive performances to put you in the Christmas spirit while supporting a good cause.

7. Disney on Ice: Passport to Adventure

The O2, London, 20–30 December

After attending the pre-show party, little ones are led on a journey by Mickey and Minnie Mouse to see all their favourite Disney characters in one place this Christmas, taken from stories including The Lion King, Frozen, Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid. The arena will be transformed with four unique landscapes and award-winning musical scores, brought to life by world-class skating.

8. The Nutcracker

Royal Opera House, London, 5 December 2017–10 January 2018

Seeing the Royal Ballet performing The Nutcracker is one of those Christmas traditions that childhood memories are made of. Late on Christmas Eve, young Clara goes in search of her enchanted nutcracker doll and is taken on a dream-like adventure where she encounters the Mouse King and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.Tchaikovsky’s famous score is coupled with magical stage effects inspired by a Victorian Christmas.

Members can save on shows this Christmas by buying through Boundless Tickets – find out more here

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