Have Yourself a Stagey Little Christmas: Festive Shows for Under Fives

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for theatre loving families. London is not lacking in family friendly theatre anyway, but December heralds an influx of seasonal productions. And this can be especially good news for those with very young children, with many West End theatres opening their doors in the daytime to house adaptations of popular picture-books that are perfect for preschoolers. From baby’s first Christmas show to family productions that suit smaller siblings too, we round up what’s on for under fives this festive season.

Scrunch (Unicorn Theatre) 27 November 20 to 22 December 2019. Strictly for ages 6 to 18 months.

This Christmas sees the return of this successful festive production from Sarah Argent and Kevin Lewis, the creators of the long-running Baby Show. A shared sensory experience for the teeniest of audiences and their grown-ups, this is sure to be a highlight of baby’s first Christmas. If you can get a ticket! The show’s a sell-out already, but the elves at the Unicorn Theatre are making a list. So get yourself added if you want to be in with a chance of a return ticket. Tickets are £14 (£12 on weekdays) for one adult + one child. Extra adult tickets can be purchased for £5.

ALL WRAPPED UP (Arts Depot) 10 to 21 December 2019. For under fives.

Oily Cart are bringing their inclusive and multi-sensory show for under fives to Arts Depot this Christmas. With the help of performers Aya Nakamura and Lee Phillips and Creative Enabler Phoebe Kemp, this festive feast for the senses sees wrapping paper transform into mischievous creatures and hidden worlds, ending with the audience unwrapping their own papery worlds of wonder. Adapting to its audience in an inclusive and immersive environment, ALL WRAPPED UP promises to be the perfect present for the smallest of theatre-goers. Tickets from £9. Babes in arms go free but still require a ticket.

Oily Cart. ALL WRAPPED UP publicity photography. Credit: Patrick Baldwin.

Glisten (Half Moon Theatre) 29 to 30 November and 6 December 2019. For ages 6 to 18 months.

Half Moon Theatre also has a production catering to the very smallest of audiences this December. Created by Daniel Naddafy and Phoebe Stubbs, Glisten is a special version of their touring sensory show, adapted for the festive season. Enjoy a Christmas feast for the senses, with added seasonal sparkle, and then stay for an interactive play session on the stage. Tickets are £7 (with adult and child tickets sold separately). Like Scrunch, they’re close to selling out, so don’t delay!

Soundpit (Southbank Centre) 23 November 2019 to 23 February 2020. Suitable for all ages.

Another sensory experience here, this time an interactive exhibition rather than a show. Soundpit features giant sandpits with illuminated graphics which allow adults and children to create music through play. There are seven sessions running each day, each lasting 45 minutes. Tickets are £8 (plus booking fee unless you are a member). Babies under 18 months go free with a paying adult.

The Legend of the Jazz Penguin (Various Venues) London Venues: Pickled Pepper Books: 23 to 26 November 2019, Poplar Union: 1 December 2019 and Royal Albert Hall: 6 December 2019. Recommended for ages 2+

Join the Jazz Penguin in the North Pole Jazz Lounge this Christmas to learn how he got his jazz. Featuring original live music, puppetry and plenty of audience interaction, this is a magical festive celebration of music from family theatre specialists, Goblin Theatre. If you’re not able to catch him in London, the Jazz Penguin will be migrating to Cumbria for the winter, where the North Pole Jazz Lounge will be setting up shop at the Theatre By the Lake, Keswick.

Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever (Duke of York’s Theatre) 29 November 2019 to 5 January 2020. No official age recommendation but presumably all preschoolers love Peppa Pig…..

Parents love Peppa Pig. Everybody loves Peppa Pig. And she’s on a road trip that stops off in London this December. Join Peppa, her family and friends on an adventure filled with songs and games. Tickets start at £14.40. Babies under 18 months go free. And if you don’t manage to catch Peppa in London, check out the rest of the tour dates here.

Me…(Little Angel Theatre) 20 November 2019 to 2 February 2020. Recommended for ages 2 to 5.

Based on the early years picture book by Emma Dodd, Me follows a newborn penguin trying to find her feet. A very visual show with limited verbal language, it is perfect for very young audiences and those with language difficulties. It is also classified as D/deaf friendly. There is a relaxed performance on 11 January and a visual story is available. Tickets are £13.50 for adults and £11.50 for children, with a limited number of £5 tickets for Fridays at 5pm.

My Christmas Orchestral Adventure (Royal Albert Hall) Sunday 15 December 2019. Recommended for ages 3+

Take your little one to the magical Royal Albert Hall this Christmas for their first experience of a full symphony orchestra. Featuring singing, dancing and, of course, Albert’s Orchestra, the show follows the ensemble in their quest to reunite Father Christmas with his map in time for Christmas. Ticket prices change to reflect demand so early booking is recommended. Under 3s are welcome but need a ticket if they will be taking up a seat. No ticket needed for babes in arms.

Under the Frozen Moon (Half Moon Theatre) 21 December 2019. Recommended for ages 3+

Half a String bring this wonderful wintry production to Half Moon Theatre as part of a UK wide tour (full tour dates here). It tales the tale of a winter so cold that the moon has frozen, and a brave little girl who goes in search of the dragon who has gobbled up all the heat and light. Filled with puppets, poetry and live music, it looks like an absolutely enchanting show for young audiences. Tickets are £7 (with under 12 month old babies going free on a combined ticket with an adult).

Humbug! The Hedgehog Who Couldn’t Sleep (The Albany) 1 December to 29 December 2019. Recommended for ages 3+

Join Humbug the hedgehog in her quest to find a quiet place to hibernate. Will she succeed in finding somewhere to bed down until spring? This family friendly production from Dumbshow, in association with the Albany and ARC Stockton, promises to be a wintery treat to please even the prickliest of audiences. Tickets are £12 (£8 for concessions). There is a BSL performance on 5 December.

Oi Frog & Friends (Lyric Theatre) 29 December 2019 to 5 January 2020. Recommended for ages 3+ (Early Years, Reception and Key Stage 1 )

The musical production of Oi Frog & Friends makes its West End premiere this Christmas, as part of a national tour. This family show brings together Kes Gray and Jim Field’s bestselling and award-winning picture books Oi Frog!, Oi Dog!, Oi Cat! and Oi Duck-billed Platypus!, published by Hachette Children’s Group.  Filled with songs, puppets, laughs and, of course, rhymes, this exciting new show is an ideal introduction to theatre for preschoolers and their families. Tickets from £15.50 with family tickets for £66. There is a BSL and Relaxed Performance on Thursday 12th December at 11am.  We’ll be attending the press performance, so look out for our review!

Simon Yadoo and John Winchester as Frog in Oi Frog & Friends. Credit: Pamela Raith Photography.

The Cat in the Hat (The Turbine Theatre) 11 December 2019 to 11 January 2020. Recommended for ages 3+

The first family show at the shiny new Turbine Theatre is the acclaimed National Theatre adaptation of the Dr Seuss classic The Cat in the Hat. Watch the chaos unfold as the mischievous feline visitor entertains Sally and her brother while their Mother is out. Tickets range from £7.50 to £17.50 with family tickets available at £55.

Captain Flinn and The Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass (Christmas at Leicester Square) 7 December 2019 to 5 January 2020. Recommended for ages 3+

Les Petits return to London with their fun sequel based on the popular children’s book by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto. A school play takes an unusual turn when the children are kidnapped and whisked away for another swashbuckling adventure filled with live music and puppets. Will they manage to outwit the pirate dinosaurs or will everyone be turned into sausages? Tickets start at £12 (including a £1.50 booking fee). There is a relaxed performance on 13 December.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea (Theatre Royal, Haymarket) 9 December 2019 to 19 January 2020. Recommended for ages 3+

This Olivier-nominated adaptation of the beloved Judith Kerr picture book returns to the West End for Christmas. Join Sophie and her stripey feline friend as they sing and dance their way through a very unusual teatime. Tickets range from £14.50 to £25. No ticket needed for babes in arms or babies under 18 months sitting on laps.

Father Christmas (Lyric, Hammersmith) 20 November to 29 December 2019. Recommended for children under 6.

Is there anything more festive than a Raymond Briggs picture book? Pins and Needles Productions are bringing their adaptation of the Briggs classic Father Christmas back to the Lyric, Hammersmith this December and we are very excited about it! We don’t even care that both munchkins are outside the recommended age range. Even Auntie Poppins is coming along. You should too. Ticket prices increase with demand, ranging from £12 to £20.

The Nutcracker (Let’s All Dance Tour – Various Venues) London Venues: Blackheath Halls: 1 December 2019. Stanley Halls: 7 December 2019. Mycenae House, Blackheath: 20 and 21 December 2019. Sadler’s Wells, Lilian Baylis Studio: 30 November 2019 to 5 January 2020. Suitable for all ages

Family friendly ballet company Let’s All Dance are touring this Christmas with the festive classic The Nutcracker. Have a magical Christmas night with Clara as toys come to life, then join the cast on stage for a photo opportunity. We saw last year’s Christmas ballet, Sleeping Beauty and also recently caught the company’s production of The Princess and The Frog. Check out our review here. Tickets for The Nutcracker vary by venue.

Stick Man (Leicester Square Theatre) 22 November 2019 to 26 January 2020. All Ages Welcome.

Scamp Theatre’s adaptation of the Julia Donaldson favourite returns to Leicester Square Theatre this Christmas. Stick Man’s morning jog turns into a nightmare when he becomes a dog’s plaything, building material for a swan’s nest and even kindling! Join him in his musical quest to get back to the family tree. With puppetry, songs and live music, this promises to be a show the whole family can enjoy. A good option for those who need to entertain a range of ages. Tickets range from £16 to £24, with family tickets available for £75. Children under 18 months go free.

The Snowman (Peacock Theatre) 21 November 2019 to 5 January 2019. Suitable for all ages.

Another Raymond Briggs classic and another chance to introduce young audiences to ballet. Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s beloved production of The Snowman is now in its 22nd year and still mesmerizing audiences. It’s one of the first shows we ever took the munchkins to, and we’d thoroughly recommend it to those looking for a really festive, family show. Tickets range from £18 to £38, with family tickets from £120. Children under two years old go free. There is a relaxed performance on 4 December and a visual story is available.

The Paper Dolls (New Wimbledon Studio Theatre) 11 December to 5 January 2019. Recommended for ages 3 to 6.

Polka Theatre’s popular production of Julia Donaldson’s Paper Dolls comes to Wimbledon for the winter (not at Polka itself, due to redevelopment). Through puppetry and original music, this show brings to life the story of a little girl’s paper dolls which take flight. Will their adventure be cut short by a pair of scissors? Ticket prices vary with demand, currently ranging from £14.30 to £16.50.

The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse (Unicorn Theatre) 15 November 2019 to 5 January 2020. Recommended for ages 3 to 7.

The Unicorn Theatre’s Christmas offering for their middle age bracket is The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse, an adaptation of the subversive picture book by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Forced to become roommates in the unexpectedly comfortable belly of Wolf, Duck and Mouse must team together when a hunter threatens the safety of their unlikely home. Tickets range from £18 to £28 for adults and £12 to £22 for children, increasing with demand. There are relaxed performances available. There are also post-show workshops on 20 December and 3 January (which must be booked separately at a cost of £12 to £18 for a combined adult/child ticket). We are huge fans of Jon Klassen and have already got our tickets, so look out for our review!

Outside the Igloo (Half Moon Theatre) 14 December 2019. Recommended for ages 4+

Join three penguin friends at Half Moon Theatre for an interactive icy adventure this winter. This touring production from The Knotted Project and Hawk Dance Theatre promises to put the audience at the heart of the action, and is followed by a play session. Tickets are £7.

The Snail and the Whale (Apollo Theatre) 30 November 2019 to 5 January 2020. Recommended for ages 4+

Fans of Julia Donaldson (is anyone not a fan of Julia Donaldson?!) will be pleased to see yet another adaptation of her books making its way to the West End this Christmas. This time it’s a Donaldson and Axel Schleffer picture book classic, The Snail and The Whale, which has been adapted by Tall Stories (the company that also brought The Gruffalo and Room on The Broom to the stage). Tickets start from £15, with family tickets at £66. There are relaxed, audio described and BSL performances available.

The Pixie and the Pudding (Little Angel Theatre) 22 November 2019 to 2 February 2020. Recommended for ages 4 to 11.

Little Angel Theatre are serving up a festive feast of a production for the holiday season. Filled with puppetry and original music, this new musical brings to life a Scandinavian folktale about a family’s first Christmas living on a farm. Should they have ignored the message left on their windowsill about the pixie who likes to eat pudding on Christmas eve? Tickets start at £13 for children and £13 for adults, with £8 previews and the traditional Little Angel £5 Friday 5pm offer. Family tickets are also available at £52. There are relaxed performances and a visual story available.

The Little Prince (Omnibus Theatre) 4 to 30 December 2019. Recommended for ages 4 to 104.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s childhood classic The Little Prince is given a modern and magical update in this Christmas production at the multi-award-winning Omnibus Theatre. On a quest to return to his home asteroid, The Little Prince encounters a stranded pilot and her crashed plane. Together they embark upon a magical adventure across the galaxy, meeting fantastical and mysterious characters along the way. Filled with  storytelling, puppetry, projections and music, Sally Pomme Clayton’s adaptation promises to be an emotional adventure for audiences of all ages. Tickets are £8 for children/concessions and £10 for adults. There are relaxed performances available. We’ve been invited to see this show on 15 December, so look out for our review!

The Little Prince, Omnibus Theatre.

Like this list? Check out our guide to London Pantomimes.