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Alternatives to pantomimes this Christmas

For years, pantomimes have been a Christmas tradition but they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, have no fear – there are no shortage of artful activities to fulfil the pantomime-sized hole in your Christmas activities.

Nativity! The Musical

Based on your favourite festive film, Nativity! The Musical returns to the stage this year with performances up and down the country – from Glasgow to London, Stoke to Oxford.

If it’s anything like the film, and with Danny Dyer and Jo Brand starring in the London performance, it’ll have you in stitches for the duration of the performance.


This winter at the London Coliseum are two performances of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballets: Nutcracker between 13 December and 30 December 2018 and Swan Lake between 3 January and 13 January 2019.

Set on Christmas Eve, Nutcracker is a Christmas classic and an unforgettable treat. The show, choreographed by Wayne Ealing and put on by the English National Ballet, is likely to sell out after performances in 2017 and 2016 sold out, so audiences are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.

Swan Lake is also an English National Ballet performance, choreographed by Derek Deane after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, with additional choreography by Frederick Ashton. You won’t want to miss out on such an iconic ballet performed by beautiful dancers.

Christmas at the Tate

If you didn’t want to go and see a show this year, there is always the option of visiting the Tate Modern instead. They have plenty of festive events to keep you going – for example, artist Alan Kane has decorated the front of the gallery into a brilliant light show in a commission called Home for Christmas. He used off-the-shelf decorations to do so.

A visit to the gallery may spark your festive spirit, as they advise you not to “just rely on cheesy songs and dodgy knitwear to get you in the festive mood.” There are plenty of works in their collection which have even a tenuous connection to Christmas, whether that’s a snowy wonderland or a festive feast.

They also have a podcast called Walks of Art, to get you through the cold Christmas afternoons, whether you want to take a walk or stay wrapped up in blankets with hot chocolate.

Wicked the Musical

There are plenty of different musicals on at the West End all year round, but what better time is there to go than when all the Christmas lights are up and there’s a chill in the air? Sitting in a warm theatre and getting lost in the action in front of you is a great way to spend a cold evening. I’ve chosen Wicked as my musical of choice here, simply because I saw it last Christmas after being surprised with tickets outside the theatre and it was just magical.

Other musicals you could see include Matilda (this is the one I’m seeing this year), Les Misérables, or The Lion King.

Ally Pally Christmas Carnival

As Alexandra Palace Theatre and East Court open this December, there are plenty of Christmas activities for the family, including Santa’s Grotto, a Christmas Market, a fun fair, a street food and craft beer festival, and ice skating.

But it’s not just activities to keep you entertained. If you love Horrible Histories, you will really enjoy the Horrible Christmas show, which displays the tale of Christmas throughout the years. It will be performed between 13 and 30 December.

If your least favourite part of a pantomime is the talking – let’s face it, “Oh no you didn’t” and “He’s behind you” is quite cringey – you might enjoy the ‘panto on ice’. This year, on the Alexandra Palace Ice Rink, Amateur Productions are performing Aladdin on Ice.

Seussical the Musical

Between the 22 November and 29 December this year, a musical by Immersion Theatre presents Seussical, a musical based on the works of Dr Seuss. This musical could really take you back to your childhood if you loved The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.

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