No turkeys allowed! 25 of the best shows to book for Christmas 2021 | To organise

Circus 1903

An adorable elephant puppet named Peanuts was the big hit of this spectacular circus when it entered the Southbank Center in 2019. It’s now back, with track master David Williamson showcasing some old favorites alongside new international artists. , including contortionists, acrobats and knife throwers. Southbank Center, London, December 16-January 2

The jungle Book

A catchy new take on Rudyard Kipling’s adventure, adapted, directed and choreographed by Tom Jackson Greaves with poems and lyrics by Sanah Ahsan. The musical watermill caper adds a bit more fun by providing pajama performances at 5 p.m. to ease the bedtime routine after the show. Watermill, Newbury, November 18-December 31

Pinocchio: the greatest wonder of the time

This new musical version of Carlo Collodi’s classic tale gives the wooden boy more than a talking cricket for company. Paul Boyd’s story takes place in a circus and features conjurer Mr Fox, acrobat Lady Cat and opera sensation the Red Lobster. Like many theaters this Christmas, there are special social distancing performances available if you prefer. Lyric, Belfast, November 26-December 31

The nut-loving trickster is back … Caroline Garland in Squirrel, the Egg, Bath, 2019. Photograph: Tristram Kenton / the Guardian

Squirrel

With bright eyes and a bushy tail, the egg nut-loving trickster is back. Marc Parrett’s squirrel puppet is the star of Tim Bell and Kate Cross’s five-star show, which creates a winter wonderland with a chic Bauhaus-inspired design, jazzy accompaniment, and a dizzying sense of fun. The egg, bath, November 27-December 24

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ fable may sound like an old chestnut and this winter it is staged everywhere as usual. But this new musical version with interaction with the audience should signal the changes. From Noisemaker, the company behind Oor Wullie and The Snow Queen, it is directed by Andrew Panton and stars 11 actor-musicians. Dundee Representative, November 27-December 31

A choir line

With more hopes and dreams than Santa could ever achieve, this behind-the-scenes feeling of drama receives a welcome new production from musical maestro Nikolai Foster. The ever-electrifying Adam Cooper plays the demanding director Zach. Curve, Leicester, December 3-31

Hex

The National Theater Christmas show offers the “real story of the bad fairy,” reimagining Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of the pixie making her fall asleep. Rosalie Craig stars and there’s a top-notch creative team including choreographer Jade Hackett, songwriter Jim Fortune, writer Tanya Ronder, and director Rufus Norris. Olivier Theater, London, December 4-January 22

Robin Hood

Christmas is a beautiful time for this whimsical saga of goodwill and merriment, which is remixed as a ‘Forgotten Forest Legend’ by Bristol’s Wardrobe Ensemble in a show for over seven years. A modern day hero JJ finds himself caught up in Sherwood’s shenanigans. Bristol Old Vic, November 25-January 8

The Book of Dust – La Belle Sauvage

Delayed nearly 18 months due to the pandemic, Philip Pullman’s prequel to the His Dark Materials trilogy finally enters the scene, adapted by Bryony Lavery, directed by Nicholas Hytner and designed by Bob Crowley. Reserve a free seat for your dæmon and treat yourself to a madeleine during the intermission. It’s Christmas after all. Bridge Theater, London, November 30-February 26

It's a mouse !  ... Llygoden and Eira.
It’s a mouse ! … Llygoden and Eira.

Llygoden and Eira

Uh! It’s the welcome return of Snow Mouse, this time staged in Welsh for a 10-site tour by Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Theatr Iolo. A bit of cozy winter fun for the under-fives. The tour runs from November 18 to December 18

There may be a castle

There has been a party vibe at Little Angel all year round, as the Islington Puppet Theater celebrates its 60th anniversary. His festive shindig is based on Piers Torday’s book about a pink knight, a family of mice, and a shapeshifter dinosaur. Rendezvous before November 27 to discover an anniversary puppet exhibition in the workshop. Little Angel, London, until January 23

They can smell your socks ... Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsal shot at the Stephen Joseph Theater, 2021.
They can smell your socks … Jack and the Beanstalk rehearsal shot at the Stephen Joseph Theater, 2021. Photography: Tony Barthélemy

Jacques and the beanstalk

“Fee-fi-fo-fum… I smell like a Scarborian’s socks!” At least that’s what’s happening at the Stephen Joseph Theater in Scarborough, where a giant is said to have gobbled up the Easter Bunny and is now considering locking up Santa Claus. An offbeat getaway from the gang behind last year’s The Snow Queen, which was a witty whirlwind of a show. Stephen Joseph Theater, Scarborough, December 3-31

Mrs. Delgado

A new Christmas tradition is brewing in Oxford: Mike Bartlett’s world premieres play at the Old Fire Station. Following Snowflake’s success in 2018, here’s Ms Delgado, a story of neighbors and ‘blinds up and limits lowered’ during the Covid-19 lockdown. Broadcast live on December 11 and 14. Old Fire Station, Oxford, December 6-21

Stroll through the streets of the City of London ... Ghost Walk digital audio show, playable on public smartphones.
Stroll through the streets of the City of London … Ghost Walk digital audio show, playable on public smartphones.

Ghost walk

Not ready to go back to the theater? Or just fancy a winter walk with a little extra drama? The Poltergeist Theater site-specific digital audio show is playable on smartphones and invites you to become a ghost detector on a trip around the City of London. Starring Juliet Stevenson, Nina Wadia and Paterson Joseph, it is then available for download until spring. Broadgate, City of London, tenDecember 11

Donald and Benoit

This is the season for telling stories – and listening to them, too. Sound Stage’s new audio drama, adapted by Jeanine Byrne from the original John Byrne story, tells the story of a naughty kitten who animates the life of a bored boy by the sea. Available online, December 17-19

The beauty and the Beast

Panto aficionados will know that for a subgenre, screaming guitars and drum kits are as essential as dresses, candies and slapsticks. It’s panto rock’n’roll – and Christian Patterson’s take on Beauty and the Beast returns this year with a 10-person cast, puppets, and plenty of firecrackers. Clwyd Theater, Moule, November 19-January 15

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Narnia visits you on Christmas thanks to the UK and Ireland tour of this adaptation of CS Lewis with its spellbinding design by Rae Smith. Samantha Womack of EastEnders now plays the White Witch in the show which premiered at Leeds Playhouse in 2017 and moved to the Bridge Theater in London in 2019. On tour until May 7

The not so ugly sisters

Did the Ugly Sisters have a deal? Maybe Cinderella isn’t that clean after all? In a co-production with Leeds Playhouse and Red Ladder, children’s theater company Wrongsemble imagines Cinders and Prince Smarming’s wedding day, with the half-sisters – turned hairdressers – roughly cut from the guest list. Written and directed by Elvi Piper, with music by Bay Bryan and Claire-Marie Seddon. Waterside Arts Center, Sale, November 24-January 1

She loves Me

There is love in the air of perfumery at the heart of this romantic comedy, where two bickering employees find themselves falling for their correspondent. The twist isn’t a big secret – it’s the show that inspired You’ve Got Mail – but Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s songs are a treat. Crucible, Sheffield, December 11-January 15

A machinist who is fed up ... Christmas dinner at the Lyceum in Edinburgh.
A machinist who is fed up … Christmas dinner at the Lyceum in Edinburgh. Photography: Laurence Winram

Christmas dinner

It promises to be a fun party show with all the trimmings. The bubbly Catherine Wheels Theater Company has teamed up with the Lyceum for a play by Robert Alan Evans in which a tired stagehand resigns herself to a lonely turkey sandwich on the big day, but the elves in her theater come together to cheer her up . . Royal Lyceum Theater, Edinburgh, December 6-January 2

Dick Turpin rides again

“The legend returns! Screams the poster – and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s not Mr Turpin but the legendary panto lady Berwick Kaler, who bowed out in 2019 after performing in her 40th pantomime for York Theater Royal. He’s now back, at the city’s Grand Opera House, alongside familiar accomplices such as Martin Barrass and David Leonard. Beware of Kaler’s traditional low-level cart wheels. Grand Opera, York, December 11-January 9

the Sorcerer

Take it easy with the “super soul musical” based on The Wizard of Oz and best known for the 1978 film version starring Diana Ross as Dorothy, Lena Horne as Glinda and Richard Pryor as of the Wiz. Choreographed by rising star Leah Hill, Matthew Xia’s production is expected to raise the roof of this pint-sized theater. Hope Mill, Manchester, November 24-January 16

A sweet treat ... The Nutcracker by Matthew Bourne!
A sweet treat … The Nutcracker by Matthew Bourne! Photograph: Tristram Kenton / the Guardian

Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!

Matthew Bourne’s company New Adventures presents the holiday favorite that’s as cheekily delicious as opening your chocolate advent calendar early. Funny, fantastic, and with a lavish design by Anthony Ward, it’s a sugar rush of a show. On tour to 23 april

Five little Christmas monkeys

Counting is at the heart of Christmas, whether it’s how many sleeps left until the big day, how many presents you get, or how many germs you have to endure. The perfect time then for a festive take on this insanely fun number show created by Andrea Sadler and David Duffy, the duo behind a puppet version of Dogs Don’t Do Ballet. For children six and under. Park Theater, London, December 14-22

Santa Claus must die!

Expect a definite shortage of pa-rum-pum-pum-pum in this zero hour Christmas contract story that puts work in the labor economy. A punk night with an open policy on workers’ rights and corporate greed, it’s written by Rosie MacPherson and highlights the bitter stories of those who work through the winter with superiors at La Scrooge. Alphabetti Theater, Newcastle, December 16-31

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