… aside from Baby Broadway and Baby Gospel Christmas concerts, of course!
It’s December, which means that – along with the promise of Christmas cheer and lots of festive treats – there’s a pretty long stretch of time coming up, during which the children will need entertaining. Yikes.
Luckily you don’t have to rely on Advent Calendars, presents, TV or even your own Baby Broadway-esque singing skills to keep them sweet, because there are plenty of fun ways to get out and about in London this festive season AND introduce your young ones to the joys of live and big-screen entertainment.
Here’s the Baby Broadway pick of the most Christmassy shows (and other things) to do with your under 5s.
Sleepyhead at the Little Angel Theatre
The Little Angel Theatre, located in Islington, is a gem of a place. All of its shows feature incredible puppets and many are aimed at children and young people. There’s quite a lot going on this Christmas – including a fun workshop (we did it last year) where your child can make their own puppet – but this year’s show Sleepyhead is a real treat. We went this week and, although it’s aimed at 2-5 year olds, the grown ups’ faces ached from smiling.
It tells the story of a tired dad, a baby that won’t sleep, a circus, a magical rabbit and much more. If you love the silliness of The Muppets, you’ll enjoy this and at 45 minutes it’s a good length for toddlers. Ticket prices start at £11 for children.
For more information, visit the Little Angel website.
Boing at the Unicorn Theatre
While older children will enjoy the Unicorn Theatre’s adaptation of Christmas classic The Velveteen Rabbit, Boing is a spectacularly magical danceathon of a show designed to enchant those aged 2-6. It’s all about the excitement of going to bed on Christmas Eve, when there are beds to be jumped on, pillows to be fought with, seas to be sailed and incredible things to imagine. The Unicorn Theatre can be found near London Bridge station and tickets for Boing start at £12. The show lasts for 50 minutes.
Visit the Unicorn Theatre website for more.
Sponge at the Battersea Arts Centre
This is a Christmas show with a difference. Created entirely for babies and toddlers, Sponge takes its young audience on a soft, bouncy adventure through lots of different sensory environments. Two friendly dancers and a leggy character called Splegs will be on hand to guide them through, giving children the opportunity to explore textures, shapes and sounds. The show is designed for those aged 4 months to 4 years and lasts 50 minutes. There are also gentler baby-only performances for those aged 4-18 months. Prices start at £10.
For more information, visit the Battersea Arts Centre website.
Underneath a Magical Moon at Jackson’s Lane
Jackson’s Lane in Haringey is the area’s flagship arts and cultural centre, and their Christmas show this year shows why. Underneath a Magical Moon retells the traditional story of Peter Pan through the eyes of Wendy Darling, using music, movement and more than a sprinkling of magic. Suitable for children aged 3+, the show lasts 60 minutes and tickets start at £14.95.
See the Jackson’s Lane website for more information.
Picturehouse Cinemas Toddler Time
This year, Picturehouse Cinemas – which has branches in Clapham, Greenwich, Hackney, Dulwich, Stratford and slap bang in the middle of the great West End – is showing a range of toddler-friendly Christmassy animations on the big screen. From The Snowman and The Snowdog to The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child (approx. running time for each 25-30 minutes) and longer big-screen classics including Frozen and The Princess and the Frog, there’s something for even the most wriggly toddler. And, as adults go free and children’s tickets start at just £3, it’s probably the most affordable cinema trip you’ll ever have in London.
For a full list of Picturehouse Cinemas and listings, visit the Picturehouse website.
Stick Man at the Leicester Square Theatre
If your kids love the Julia Donaldson iconic book, then Scamp Theatre’s adaptation of Stick Man would be a great alternative to a traditional pantomine if your kids are still a bit too young for all that. Featuring puppets, songs, live music, dancing and 55 minutes of top-notch entertainment, what’s not to love? It’s suitable for all ages and although prices are a little steep (starting at £16.50 for a child, although restricted view seats are available for £14) there are discounted family tickets on offer and those under 18 months are free.
For more information, visit the Leicester Square website.
The Ugly Duckling at The Albany
Who doesn’t love a traditional fairytale at Christmas? Even better when it comes with some magical, musical twists, like tutti frutti and York Theatre Royal’s adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic The Ugly Duckling, which comes to the Albany in Deptford this year. Suitable for those aged 3 and up, it uses live music and inventive physicality to tell this familiar tale of identity and self-worth. The show lasts approx. 50 minutes and tickets start at £8.
Visit the Albany Theatre website for more information.
The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre
Raymond Briggs’ much-loved story of a little boy’s wintery adventure with a magical snowman has been enchanting children for years, and The Peacock Theatre’s hit show is no exception. The stage production of The Snowman has become a festive classic, using dance, live music, storytelling and spectacular effects to bring this classic story to life. Suitable for all ages, at 1 hour 15 minutes the show lasts longer than many others on this list but there is an interval.
For more information, visit the Peacock Theatre website.
List compiled by freelance writer Nicola Slavin. Baby Broadway did not receive any free tickets in return for promoting these shows.