They’re back once again this year, and with classic sing-along tunes, panto dames, tight and bright costumes and drag queens aplenty, 2023’s crop of pantos in London are a real humdinger. From classics such as ‘Peter Pan’ – headed up by Edina Monsoon herself, Jennifer Saunders – to the fun, fabulous and downright laugh-a-minute. Here’s our rundown of 13 of the best pantomimes in London this festive season:
1. Peter Pan at the London Palladium
Kicking off this roundup of the best pantomimes in London is none other than Peter Pan – a rip-roaring yarn starring comedy legends Jennifer Saunders as Captain Hook (after her partner in crime Dawn French trod the boards here last year), Julian Clary as Seaman Smee and Nigel Havers, Paul Zerdin and Gary Wilmot adding plenty of comedic support.
Taking place at the London Palladium – arguably the ‘home’ of London panto – you’ll follow in the footsteps of ‘the boy who never grew up’ as he tries to escape from the clutches of the dastardly Captain Hook throughout his adventures on Neverland. Expect some pretty out-of-this-world sets and costumes, jaw-dropping special effects and all the spectacle and magic you’d expect from the ‘UK’s biggest panto!’
📍Peter Pan runs from December 9 2023 to January 14 2024 at the London Palladium, 8 Argyll Street, London, W1F 7TF.
🚇 Nearest station is Oxford Circus.
2. Snow White at the Greenwich Theatre
“Mirror, mirror – what’s the fairest pantomime of them all?!” Well, no prizes for guessing Snow White! Following the storyline of the Brothers Grimms’ classic fairy tale, you’ll join Snow White who escapes the clutches of her evil stepmother and joins a group of seven dwarves deep within the forest. However, she soon succumbs to the charms of a handsome and charming prince, and that stepmother has some pretty dastardly of her own…
Details of the cast are currently firmly under wraps at this Greenwich-based production, though it’s been written by Anthony Spargo of ‘Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain’ fame, so expect to be chuckling throughout the 150-minute runtime.
📍Snow White runs from November 23 2023 to January 7 2024 at the Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, London, SE10 8ES.
🚇 Nearest station is Greenwich.
3. Jack and His Giant Bigstalk at the Prince of Wales
Fresh off the back of last year’s smash-hit ‘Sinderfella’, the Prince of Wales pub is pulling out all the stops (and the pints) once again with ‘Jack and His Giant Bigstalk’ – billed as the capital’s ‘number one adult panto’.
You’ll follow in the footsteps of Jack, who sells his cow for magic beans and then discovers a giant beanstalk growing in his back garden… chaos obviously then ensues! Given that this is an adults-only production, you’ll experience plenty of raucous jokes, sparkling sets and costumes and feel-good anthems like ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Wannabee’ and ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ among many others. Add in characters like Evil Queen Genitalia, Jack Trotts, Fairy Courgette and you can see why we can’t wait for this Covent Garden-based show!
📍Jack and His Giant Beanstalk runs from December 8 to December 22 2023 at the Prince of Wales, 150-151 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5TD.
🚇 Nearest stations are Holborn and Covent Garden.
4. Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith
British composer, comedian, actress and musician Vikki Stone has certainly made a name of herself in the worlds of music and comedy, and she’s now combining her talents by penning her outrageous adaptation of Cinderella – which is ‘full to the brim with sass and magic, rip-roaring comedy, live music and chart-topping hits’. Already we’re on tenterhooks…
You’ll follow everyone’s favourite heroine Cinderella – in this version a ‘boss bitch who runs her own business at Shepherd’s Bush Market’ – as she meets the handsome Prince Henry who wants a simpler life. But will Cinderella’s step-sisters Muffy and Gusset and stepmother Lady Jelly Bottom get in the way of their happily ever after? I think we all know the answer here…
📍Cinderella runs from November 18 2023 to January 6 2024 at the Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Square, King Street, London, W6 0QL.
🚇 Nearest station is Hammersmith.
5. Jack and the Beanstalk at the Theatre Royal Stratford East
After last year’s ‘Cinderella’ – which was a roaring success, might we add – the team at the Theatre Royal Stratford East are back with a bang for 2023 and are bringing the classical panto Jack and the Beanstalk to the stage. It’s a unique twist on the classical tale, which revolves around a magical marsh full of healing mud, which protagonist Jack and his pals spend their days mining. But there’s one big old problem, Giant Belch, who dominates ‘Splatford’ from the sky – stealing the mud, charging outrageous rents and polluting the air with *ahem* his gas from both ends.
One odd shepherd, a handful of beans and an unexpected giant beanstalk later, Jack is on a life-changing journey… Expect epic songs, colourful costumes and hilarious one liners from a game cast – plus you can get a ticket from just a tenner, so this is one of London’s best value pantos. Win win.
📍Cinderella runs from November 18 2023 to January 6 2024 at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, Theatre Square, E15 1BN.
🚇 Nearest stations are Stratford and Maryland.
Santa is hitting the West End this Christmas in his very own magical Santamime for all the family… oh yes he is! The man who brings all the magic and festive charm is very busy this year getting ready for the annual Snow Ball – and all is going well until the wicked Jack Frost zaps the North Pole of all its festive cheer. Will Christmas be cancelled? Will everyone live happily ever after? Will all turn out well amidst a plethora of panto pandemonium?
Well, that’s up to you! Help Santa with his jolly plan to raise enough festive cheer in time for the party. Get your tickets now for Santa Rocks in London at Wonderville and experience the ultimate festive treat that’s sure to have you rockin’ around the Christmas tree.
📍Santa Rocks: A Magical Family Santamime runs from November 24 to December 30 2023 at Wonderville, 57-60 Haymarket, St. James’s, SW1Y 4QX.
🚇 Nearest station is Charing Cross.
7. Aladdin at the Hackney Empire
Our next addition to this roundup of the best pantomimes in London this Christmas season is none other than Aladdin – playing at the iconic Hackney Empire in *duh* Hackney Central. Now in their 121st year, this beloved venue is bringing out all the stops with their take on the classic children’s tale.
Expect larger-than-life characters, pretty outrageous costumes, belly laughs and plenty of audience participation. Panto-royalty Clive Rowe will once again stars as a panto dame – this time as the beloved Widow Twanky – and other cast members on the bill include Fred Double (Aladdin), Kat B (the Genie) and Ruth Lynch (the Spirit of the Ring). Will Aladdin find his fame, fortune and the love of his life? Or will the forces of evil stay in his way?! You’ll have to wait and see…
📍Aladdin runs from November 18 to December 31 2023 at the Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, E8 1EJ.
🚇 Nearest station is Hackney Central.
8. Potted Panto at Wilton’s Music Hall
The West End’s longest running pantomime is coming to the East End this Christmas, taking pride of place at the magnificent Grade II* listed Wilton’s Music Hall in Shadwell. Olivier Award-nominated, the Potted Panto is designed to bring you seven classic pantomimes in just 80 minutes.
It’s a rip-roaring adventure featuring some of the most beloved characters from pantomime, including Dick Whittington and Cinderella of course. The only question is – will she make the ball this year? Great for kids and adults alike – tickets also start at 12 quid, so this one also offers excellent bang for your buck too!
📍Potted Panto runs from November 29 to December 30 2023 at Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB.
🚇 Nearest station is Shadwell.
9. Tossed at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Ok, so the tagline for this one is ‘we’re going to need a bigger beanstalk’, so I’m sure you can tell that this is probably more for the adults… Taking over the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern – one of the capital’s most important LGBTQ+ venues – from November to January is this brand-spanking new London panto, which will no doubt have you chuckling with joy.
Based on the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, Tossed tells the story of what happened after Jack actually slayed the giant and felled the beanstalk with his big old chopper (yikes). Along the way, you’ll meet his pushy showbiz mother, the impish Sorcerer, the talking cow Daisy and The Giant’s daughter, Gina T who’s out for some good old fashioned revenge. Expect plenty of gags in this Vauxhall-based boozer, hit songs and a game cast, headed up by cabaret star Ada Campe.
📍Tossed runs from November 28 2023 to January 5 2024 at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 372 Kennington Lane, London, SE11 5HY.
🚇 Nearest station is Vauxhall.
10. Cinderella at the Churchill Theatre
Headlined by X Factor-alumni, celebrated West End star and Loose Women panellist Brenda Edwards, this version of Cinderella plays at the prestigious Churchill Theatre in Bromley. Brenda will be playing none other than the Fairy Godmother, with able support from comedian and ventriloquist John Kimmons as Baron Hardup and the hilarious Steven Dalziel as Buttons.
Expect a fun take on the classic rags-to-riches tale, with tight and bright costumes, hilarious one-liners, and plenty of boos and hisses (what else).
📍Cinderella runs from December 2 to December 31 2023 at the Churchill Theatre, High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HA.
🚇 Nearest stations are Bromley North and Bromley South.
11. Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre
We see you Ms Edwards – and raise you Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood! Yep – you read that right – the meanest judge on television is ready to take that mean streak to the stage in his role as the fab-u-lous Wicked Stepmother dahlingggggg!
Comedian and magician extraordinaire Pete Firman will return in his third panto here as Buttons, and there will also be able support from Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist and Olivier-nominated actress Alison Jiear. The clock is ticking to midnight so you’d best cop your tickets for this London pantomime now!
📍Cinderella runs from December 8 2023 to January 7 2024 at the New Wimbledon Theatre, 93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1QG.
🚇 Nearest station is Wimbledon.
12. The Magic Bookmark at the Bridge House Theatre
Audiences are invited to join ‘everyone’s favourite pantomime dame’ and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Mama G on a brand-new and award-winning panto adventure for the whole family – which runs from December 12 to December 16 at the Bridge House Theatre in Penge! Book Worm has just discovered encyclopedias and is livid that they give people so much knowledge. To make sure he stays the most powerful worm in the whole world, he steals all the books from Mama G’s library. Before the world can turn to chaos, Mama G vows to save the day by finding three books that will help make the world a better place. Of course, she can’t do it alone and that’s when she discovers the mysterious and wonderful Magic Bookmark…
This storytelling show, complete with original songs and puppets, is full of panto fun, interaction, song and dance, and some of the finest picture books on the market! Some of the books that have been featured in the show so far include ‘You Need to Chill’ by Juno Dawson and Laura Hughes, ‘The Bear Who Had Nothing to Wear’ by Jeanne Willis and Brian Fitzgerald, and ‘The Frog’s Kiss’ by James Mayhew and Toto.
📍The Magic Bookmark runs from December 12 to December 16 at the The Bridge House Theatre, 2 High Street, Penge, SE20 8RZ.
🚇 Nearest station is Penge West.
13. Dick Whittington at the Richmond Theatre
Rounding off our list here of the best pantomimes in London this Christmas period is another South West London-based show – this time Dick Whittington at the spectacular Richmond Theatre – one of the oldest-surviving theatres designed by esteemed architect Frank Matcham.
Writer, actor, comedian, radio and television presenter Paul Merton from Have I Got News For You is taking the reins at this one, starring as none other than Sarah the Cook. He’ll be joined by Suki Webster and West End star Vivien Parry in a tale as old as time. Will our protagonist Dick Whittington be able to outwit the evil rodent Queen Rat and free the city from her posse of revolting rats? Better watch it and see…
📍Dick Whittington runs from December 9 2023 to January 7 2024 at the Richmond Theatre, 1 Little Green, Richmond, TW9 1QH.
🚇 Nearest station is Richmond.
So there you have it – a roundup of the best pantomimes in London which all promise to give you a fun night out on the town. All together now… “he’s behind youuuuu!”
Also published on Medium.