After theatres battled to stay open last Christmas, facing staff shortages and drops in ticket sales at what’s usually their busiest time of year, we’re making it our mission to hit up all the festive shows in town this Christmas and make 2022 go out with a bang. This year, the show must go on.

For those on the lookout for Christmassy performances to book for later this year, we’ve rounded up the nine best shows taking place this festive season. From the theatrical adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman to The Old Vic’s production of A Christmas Carol, here’s where to head for a magical theatrical experience to remember.

The Nutcracker 

A London Christmas tradition for all the family, The Nutcracker returns to the London Coliseum for a limited run of performances. See over 100 dancers and musicians perform in front of what’s set to be a sold-out audience. 

Expect stunning set design and Tchaikovsky’s score to be performed live as you follow Clara and her Nutcracker’s story unfold. Book your tickets early as the return of the Nutcracker is set to sell like hotcakes.

A London Christmas tradition for all the family.

When: 15th December – 7th January
Where: London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4ES

Peter Pan’s Labyrinth

Leading immersive theatre The Vaults has teamed up with multi-award-winning comedy trio Sleeping Trees to bring a raucous alternative adult panto to the city.  Titled Peter Pan’s Labyrinth, this festive mash-up takes the boy who never grew up, adding 20 years and 50 pounds, and forces him into the depths of Bowie’s Labyrinth with just a Faun to help him.

Complete with fast-paced storytelling, a killer cult soundtrack, surreal character comedy and a lively party atmosphere, book you and your pals in now for this year’s best alternative festive get-together.

And the best part? We’ve teamed up with The Vaults to offer Handbook readers 20% off tickets for Peter Pan’s Labyrinth and a complimentary glass of Prosecco. Simply enter the code HANDBOOK20 at the checkout when purchasing directly through The Vaults website.

When: 2nd December – 7th January
Where: Leake Street, SE1 7NN

It’s A Wonderful Life

The classic Christmas story, with an operatic twist. Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s operatic adaptation of the genre-defining Frank Capra film of the same name, It’s a Wonderful Life will transport you to the idyllic little town of Bedford Falls, where it’s a white Christmas – though not everything is merry and bright.

Down-on-his-luck banker George Bailey (Frederick Ballentine) feels like life has passed him by, so when his guardian angel (Danielle de Niese) pays him a visit, George is shown what life in his beloved Bedford Falls would be like without him in it: maybe it’d be a little less wonderful after all?

Aletta Collins makes her ENO debut directing and choreographing, with regular Heggie collaborator Nicole Paiement conducting the ENO Chorus and Orchestra alongside the all-star cast, which includes Gweneth Ann Rand, Jennifer France, Michael Mayes and more.

When: 14th November – 7th January
Where: Dominion Theatre, 268-269 Tottenham Court Rd, W1T 7AQ

Expect breath-taking special effects, next level set design and brand-new music.

Frozen the Musical

Sure, Frozen the Musical isn’t reserved just for Christmas – but obviously with it being about a Snow Queen and there being an abundance of snow (and the adorable Olaf the snowman, of course), it makes sense to catch it at the coldest time of year. 

Based on 2013’s incredibly successful Disney film, the production brings Elsa and Ana’s story to life, as well as providing your little’uns with hours of singing, dancing and fun. Expect breathtaking special effects, next-level set design and brand-new music from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, writers of the film favourite, Let It Go.

The production is incredible – with many magical moments that will leave both kids and adults in awe.

When: Until March 2023
Where: Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Catherine Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5JF

A Christmas Carol

Everyone adores Charles Dickens’ story of Scrooge and his journey from mean to nice come Christmas day. See the story come to life once again this Christmas at The Old Vic. 

Matthew Warchus’ smash hit production of the classic tale will be returning to the theatre. Brilliantly adapted by Jack Thorne, see all of your favourite characters from Jacob Marley to Tiny Tim, not to mention the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Owen Teale will be starring as Scrooge.

Even those who identify with Scrooge and his feelings towards Christmas won’t be able to help but love The Old Vic’s production.

When: 12th November – 7th January
Where: The Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB

Stick Man

Touching, funny and utterly original, Freckle Productions’ delightful adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man is back in London town!

What starts off as a morning jog becomes quite the misadventure for Stick Man: a dog wants to play fetch with him, a swan builds a nest with him, and he even ends up on a fire! How will Stick Man ever get back to the family tree?

This award-winning production, from the team behind Zog, Zog and the Flying Doctors, Tiddler and other Terrific Tales, and Tabby McTat features a trio of top actors and is packed full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves.

When: 22nd October – 2nd January
Where: Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Pl, WC2H 7BX

The Snowman

Who doesn’t love the heartwarming story of the boy who becomes friends with his snowman? This Christmas, fly across the winter skies and into the Peacock Theatre as Raymond Briggs’ winter novel come to life on the big stage for its 25th year. Fall back in love with the festive classic thanks to Bill Alexander’s directorial magic, music and lyrics from Howard Blake, including everyone’s favourite ‘Walking in the Air’, and choreography by Robert North. 

Watch the magic unfold through beautiful storytelling, dance, live music, and whimsical sets that bring this enchanted winter wonderland to life. Perfect for children, adults and everyone in between, this is one magical snowy production you won’t want to miss.

When: 19th November – 31st December
Where: Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, WC2A 2HT

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol

This Christmas, Dickens’ classic tale gets a Tennessee twist in an all-new musical with a soundtrack written by the Queen of Country herself. 

Inspired by the smoky Tennessee mountains of Dolly’s youth, and set during the 1930s, this heart-warming and truly unforgettable production imagines Ebenezer Scrooge as the owner of a mining company town, where his callous greed blinds him to the joys and gifts of the season.

Dickens’ classic characters and Parton’s one-of-a-kind songwriting and storytelling expertise are certain to make this the most joyful Christmas event in London.

Dickens’ classic tale gets a Tennessee twist in an all new musical.

When: 8th December – 8th January
Where: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1

Elf The Musical

Elf – the smash hit Christmas musical based on the beloved film – returns to London for a strictly limited 8-week season at the Dominion Theatre from 14 November to 7 January.

The funny and charming tale of Buddy (who mistakenly crawled into Santa’s bag as a baby and was raised as an elf) is way too tall and not so great at his job. When Santa tells him the truth about his past, Buddy heads to New York to find his birth father (who turns out to be quite high on the Naughty List). Buddy goes on the adventure of a lifetime, causing merry mayhem in Manhattan, but when Christmas Spirit dwindles and Santa’s sleigh crashes, will Buddy find a way to save Christmas forever?

When: 14th November – 7th January
Where: Dominion Theatre, 268-269 Tottenham Court Rd, W1T 7AQ

The Fir Tree

Experience the magic of Christmas in the Globe Theatre with all the family, as this re-imagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s festive fairy tale returns for a second year. Let imaginations run wild as the Globe transforms into a hand-crafted forest, meet friendly puppets made of cardboard – and make your own to bring to the performance! Take part in carol-singing and tree decorating, and keep cosy with a hot chocolate or mulled wine under the wintery star-lit sky as a curious fir tree yearns for adventure outside the forest.

A wonderfully festive dose of storytelling, song and hope.

When: 15th – 31st December
Where: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT

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