Whether it’s a family tradition to visit London for a pre-Christmas show, or you’re visiting from abroad and have heard wonderful tales of British theatre, this guide is for you. From ballet to children’s shows, comedies to cabaret and pantos to West End classics, we’ve got them all. There’s something for everyone here. In fact, there are so many to choose from that we recommend you make a weekend of it or even a week. Book yourself into one of our London serviced apartments and make the most of the London pre-Christmas season.

What’s A Panto?

Before we get stuck into our listings, let’s quickly explain the bizarrely British tradition of the pantomime, fondly known as ‘panto’. Christmas in Britain goes hand-in-hand with a trip to the panto. It’s a family outing which pleases the young and the old, and forms part of the festive traditions for many families. A panto is musical comedy theatre found during the festive season. There tend to be some common elements. They are typically based around a traditional fairy tale. So you’ll see Peter Pan, Jack and the Beanstalk, or the Wizard of Oz, for example. The principal boy is usually played by a girl, whereas the main older woman’s role is played by a ‘panto dame’ – an older man in drag. Nowadays, panto dames are often played by celebrities. On top of this there are comedy animals and a sidekick. You can expect a whole heap of audience participation and a lot of topical jokes. There will likely be elements which fly over the heads of the younger audience, whilst leaving parents and grandparents in fits of laughter. We’ve listed several pantos amongst our shows below. If you’ve never been before, then make sure you get on board with this cultural experience with a difference.

1. Goldilocks and the Three Bears – London Palladium

With big name stars like Paul O’Grady and Julian Clary, it’s safe to assume that Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a must-see panto this year. Goldilocks and the three bears

2. Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers – Battersea Arts Centre

Goldilocks again, but this time with a different spin: a swashbuckling adventure with plenty of chance for the audience to get involved. Goldilocks and the three musketeers

3. The Nutcracker by the English National Ballet – Coliseum

In stark contrast to a panto is the immensely beautiful and perfectly choreographed Nutcracker by the English National Ballet. A magical ballet loved by many, where Christmas toys come to life. The Nutcracker by the English National Ballet - Coliseum

4. The Snowman – Peacock Theatre

Ballet again, but with quite a different feel, The Snowman is a much-loved tale which will leave you tingling with Christmas spirit. The Snowman - Peacock Theatre

5. Nativity! The Musical – Eventim Apollo

Expect a laugh a minute and a good few feel-good teary moments with Nativity! The Musical. It’s based on the huge film hit.

6. Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever – The Duke of York’s Theatre

One for adoring toddler fans, Peppa, George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig may just give your little one the best day ever, in Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever. Peppa Pig Best Day Ever - The Duke of York's Theatre

7. Circus 1903 – Southbank Centre

Christmas on the South Bank is simply magical. Add in a trip to Circus 1903 after an amble around the market and you’ll have a perfect Christmassy experience. Circus 1903 - Southbank Centre

8. Peter Pan Goes Wrong – Alexandra Palace Theatre

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a true farcical comedy which lurches from one hilarious disaster to more hilarious disasters. This is a great one for all the family, including those bah-humbug teens. Peter Pan Goes Wrong - Alexandra Palace Theatre

9. Disney on Ice – SSE Arena, Wembley and The O2

Celebrating 100 years of magic, Disney on Ice is always a huge hit with pre-schoolers and primary aged children. It includes everyone’s favourite character from various Disney shows and classics. Disney on Ice - SSE Arena, Wembley and The O2

10. Cinderella: A Wicked Mother of a Night Out! – The Vaults, Waterloo

One for teens and above, Cinderella: A Wicked Mother of a Night Out! is staged in a pub! With music and dancing and laughs a-plenty, this is the big-kids’ Christmas night out. Cinderella A wicked mother of a night out The Vaults, Waterloo

11. Mary Poppins – Prince Edward Theatre

It will be a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious night out at Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre this winter.

12. A Christmas Carol – The Old Vic

A Christmas Carol is a chance to see Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge in action. It’s a true classic and not one to let pass by.

13. White Christmas – The Dominion Theatre

A musical version of the well-known Bing Crosby film, White Christmas will leave you feeling utterly ready for Christmas.

14. Dick Whittington and His Cat – Hackney Empire

Expect some East End corkers and riotous laughs, with award-winning Clive Rowe as the star of the stage in Dick Whittington and His Cat.

15. Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall

Not just one show, but a chance to enjoy a range of delights from an awe-inspiring performance of Handel’s Messiah through to sing-a-long carols, Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall is a jam-packed programme.

16. Cinderella – Lyric Hammersmith

A very different Cinderella to the one previously mentioned, this Cinderella will have the classic Lyric edgy twist. Not suitable for very young children, but good for those over 6.

17. Sleeping Beauty – Greenwich Theatre

A classic fairy tale panto, Sleeping Beauty at Greenwich Theatre is perfect for all the poisoned-apple fans.

18. The Nativity Panto – A Not-So Silent Night – King’s Head Theatre

The Nativity Panto – A Not-So Silent Night is described as a ‘boutique’ panto and “respectful yet irreverent” in how it spins the classic nativity story. The Nativity Panto - A Not So Silent Night

19. Jack and His Giant Big Stalk – Sanctum Soho Hotel

Firmly one for adults only, Jack and His Giant Big Stalk is sure to be naughty but nice and a grown-up start to the festive season.

20. Stickman – Leicester Square Theatre

Back at the other end of the scale, the lovable Stickman and his family will be on stage at the Leicester Square Theatre.

21. Black Beauty – Southbank Centre

Puppetry at its best is here to entertain the whole family in Black Beauty.

22. The Snow Queen – Park Theatre

Discover a completely different telling of Hans Christian Anderson’s famous tale in the Snow Queen in Finsbury Park. Much fun and wonder is to be had with snowball fights but it’s not a brash panto.

23. The Little Match Girl – Sadler’s Wells, Clerkenwell

Again, Hans Christian Anderson is being taken to the stage once more with this heart-rending story of The Little Match Girl.

24. La Clique – Christmas in Leicester Square

Recommended for over-16s only, La Clique is an edgy adult cabaret taking place in the Spiegeltent at Christmas in Leicester Square. Expect jugglers, sword-swallowers and plenty of cabaret acts with a side-helping of smutty humour.

25. Christmas Carol: A Fairy Tale – Wilton’s Music Hall, Wapping

Christmas Carol at Wilton’s Music Hall is quite a different take on this Dickensian classic. Scrooge is set to be played by a woman and there are plenty of puppets jostling for attention on the stage. So what will you see? Check out our best accommodation in London for theatre goers or give us a call on +44 (0) 208 004 0007. You can also find a London serviced apartment close to any of these theatres by using the search button at the top of this page.