Christmas show season has officially begun and stages around London are lighting up with your favourite festive pantos, theatre, musicals and dance. From the nastiest Scrooge you have...

Christmas show season has officially begun and stages around London are lighting up with your favourite festive pantos, theatre, musicals and dance.

From the nastiest Scrooge you have ever seen to the Sugar Plum fairy behind a screen, here’s our pick of the must-see acts on stage this festive season.

The Box of Delights

If you’re a fan of Christmas classics but bored of the same-old same-old on stage, check out the first-ever theatre adaptation of poet laureate John Masefield’s 1935 novel about an orphan boy who finds himself in a battle over a box with magical properties. Young Kay Harker is on the train home for the holidays when he meets a powerful magician who charges him with protecting the Box of Delights, a wondrous device with time travelling powers. When the old man disappears, Kay is forced to draw on help from the heroes of his past to help safeguard the box from evil sorcerer Abner Brown and save the future of Christmas.
Until 6 January
Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley E1 8JB

The Snowman

It wouldn’t be Christmas at Sadler’s Wells without The Snowman. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s dance version of Raymond Briggs’ book returns for its 20th consecutive year on the Peacock Theatre stage to take audiences on a magical journey through snow-covered forests to the North Pole. Despite claims in recent years the production is in need of “a reboot” it remains a perennial favourite at this, the most nostalgic time of year.
Until 1 January
The Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street WC2A 2HT

A Christmas Carol

Olivier-nominated David Burt reprises his role as one of “the nastiest Scrooges” ever (according to one reviewer) in Antic Disposition’s musical adaptation of Dickens’ Christmas classic. Staging the show in Middle Temple Hall, where the author read law in Victorian times, lends an extra bit of magic to a production that uses carolling to help tell the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future.
22 to 30 December
Middle Temple Hall, Middle Temple Lane EC4Y 9AT

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festive cracker and a firm favourite: A Christmas Carol. Photo by Scott Rylander

Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival

Tenor Russell Watson kicks off Raymond Gubbay’s yuletide programme at the Barbican with a concert of seasonal music and songs in collaboration with the London Concert Orchestra, and Birmingham Voices Choir. And the season doesn’t stop after Santa has left the building, with a live performance of John Williams’s iconic film scores in Star Wars and Beyond (27 December), Beethoven’s Ninth conducted by Christopher Warren-Green (28 December), and The Four Seasons by Candlelight (29 December). Ring in 2018 with the popular New Year’s Day Gala of some of classical music’s most popular works, including Rossini’s William Tell Overture and Holst’s Jupiter.
Until 1 January
Barbican Hall, Silk Street EC2Y 8DS

The Nutcracker

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of the quintessential Christmas classic has been dealt a state-of-the-art scenic makeover at Royal Albert Hall, using groundbreaking new projection technology to conjure up a vivid and magical winter wonderland. Follow young Clara’s journey as she is swept away into a fantasy adventure to the magical Kingdom of the Sweets to Tchaikovsky’s score played by a full symphony orchestra. There is also the not-insignificant detail of around 75kg of artificial snow falling on stage for extra wow factor – it is Christmas after all.
28-31 December
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore SW7 2AP

The Little Match Girl

Impoverished child fails to sell matches one Christmas Eve, striking each one for warmth and comfort until she is found, frozen to death, the following day – Hans Christian Andersen’s dark fairytale doesn’t exactly radiate holiday cheer. But celebrated director and choreographer Arthur Pita delivers an imaginative take filled with lyrical waltzes and moments of theatrical camp, while the match girl’s final arching leap to the moon delivers an almost-happy ending.
13 to 24 December
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosebery Avenue EC1R 5TN

The Nutcracker & I

This is not your normal Nutcracker. Guildhall School pianist Alexandra Dariescu has teamed up with ballerina Désirée Ballantyne to challenge the traditional concert format. This personal take has Alex reimagining herself as Clara, from little girl dreaming to concert pianist, with Désirée’s silhouette dancing along to the music. Digital animations by film and media company Yeast Culture engage with both live performers to bring the story to life and make the audience feel as though they are part of the production.
19 December, 6pm and 8pm
Milton Court Concert Hall, Silk Street
EC2Y 8DS

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Alex Dariescu has reimagined herself as Clara. Photo by Andrew Mason

Rome MMXVII

Sick of Santa? Try some Shakespeare on for size. The Royal Shakespeare Company brought the excess of the Empire to Stratford-upon-Avon this summer, and now the City is feeling the force of the Romans by way of the Barbican. This is a rare opportunity to see some of the Bard’s best work in the order that the historical events happened. Follow the establishment of a Republic (Julius Caesar), the Republic becoming an Empire (Antony & Cleopatra) and ultimately destroying itself (Titus Andronicus).
Until 20 January
Barbican Theatre, Silk Street EC2Y 8DS

Christmas Classics on screen

If, like most people, your festive season begins with Macaulay Culkin’s epic ice cream sundae in Home Alone and ends with Prime Minister Hugh Grant chasing his ‘chubby’ assistant around the dodgy end of Wandsworth in Love Actually, strap in for Christmas at the Prince Charles Cinema.
Festive film buffs can enjoy screenings of the aforementioned plus Elf, Scrooged, Meet Me in St Louis, It’s a Wonderful Life, Die Hard and a A Nightmare Before Christmas throughout the month of December. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.
Until 24 December
Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place WC2H 7BY

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