There's so much going on over the festive period around Britain that it can be quite hard to pick which Christmassy thing to do—so we've made it easy. Here's a list of our favourites
The Snow Queen, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Scottish Ballet celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2019, and what better way to close the season than with an ethereal performance of The Snow Queen?
This glittering Christmas tale—inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson story—takes audiences on a journey from a bustling Christmas market, through to a fairy tale forest and the imposing Snow Queen’s palace. Based on the same story that inspired the Disney smash hit, Frozen, it’s set to the spellbinding music of Rimsky-Korsakov, performed by a live orchestra, and choreographed by Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s artistic director.
If you find yourself enraptured by the glittering ballet, you can also enjoy several supporting events, including a pre-show talk and a behind-the-scenes tour.
Available: December 7–29
The Wizard of Oz, Leeds Playhouse
It’s a classic Christmas Day movie choice, but this year, rather than enjoying the adventures of Dorothy and friends while half asleep and full of overcooked turkey, why not take in the colourful story on the big stage, at Leeds Playhouse?
Dorothy’s humble life in Kansas is quite literally turned upside down when a tornado rips through her village, flinging her and her trusty dog Toto into the world of Oz. From there, they follow the yellow brick road towards the Emerald City where the mysterious Wizard of Oz promises to magic them back to Kansas.
Soar over the rainbow with this vivid production inside the newly refurbished theatre.
Available: November 20–January 25
Cinderella, The Vaults, London
The Vaults have a well-earned reputation for utterly immersive performances, and this Christmas production of Cinderella by Not Too Tame is no exception.
Below the vaults of Waterloo station, the creative team have constructed a traditional English pub, in which all the characters audiences remember from their childhood collide, spilling pints, meeting their mates and pouring their hearts out on the best karaoke machine.
There’s even the chance to buy your pint from the on-stage bar or stay behind after the curtain drops for a spot of festive karaoke. It's the perfect alternative to traditional panto for theatre-goers who have grown tired of repeatedly shouting, “He’s behind you!”
Says artistic director and founder of Not Too Tame, Jimmy Fairhurst, “Cinderella is a great night out, that is accessible to anyone and everyone who enjoys a few drinks, a sing song and time with their friends and loved ones after a hard day’s graft. This show is a culmination of several years of honing our craft and the 360-degree live experience is a testament to our ability to throw a kicking party.”
Available: November 22–January 12
Miracle on 34th Street, Playhouse, Liverpool
Imagine a Christmas without magic or whimsy—just the cold hard “facts”. There is no Father Christmas. No reindeer, no flying, no workshop of elves. In fact, the entire holiday caters more to singing the praises of capitalism, than bringing authentic Christmas cheer. So say six-year-old Susan and her mother, until a chain of distinctly un-Christmassy events come together to bring the spirit of the season back into their lives.
Whether you favour the 1947 original, or the twinkly-eyed cast of the 1994 remake, nearly every Christmas-lover holds a special place in their heart for Miracle on 34th Street. This musical incarnation of the much-loved films brings a new charm to the story and includes the singalong favourite “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas”.
Says artistic director Gemma Bodinetz, “I can’t wait to bring a little magic to Liverpool with a show that I think will delight the whole family.”
Available: December 7–January 4
Swan Lake, Northern Ireland
Tchaikovsky’s hauntingly beautiful music is inseparable from the canon of truly great ballet, and this Christmas, Ballet Ireland are bringing one of his best works to stages across Ireland.
Swan Lake tells the story of Princess Odette, who was transformed into a swan by an evil baron—a spell that can only be broken if somebody who has never been in love before not only falls for her, but swears to marry her. Unbeknownst to the lovers, a dark swan—the daughter of the evil baron—has her own part to play in the sorry tale, and their love looks set to be doomed to tragedy. Made even more famous by its influence on the 2010 horror flick, Black Swan, Swan Lake remains perhaps the greatest love story of modern ballet. This Ballet Ireland production offers hypnotic choreography, high drama and exquisite costumes.
The swan queen herself is played with great strength and elegance by Ballet Ireland’s principal dancer, Ryoko Yagyu, and the astonishing talent of this small ballet company more than makes up for their size.
Available: November 6–December 22
White Christmas, Dominion Theatre, London
One-time war buddies Bob and Phil team up after the conflict to make their living as a song-and-dance duo, and can’t help but fall for a beautiful sister act…
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, look no further than the film that has sound tracked every subsequent holiday season since its release. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, which originally starred Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, has now been adapted for the stage, taking over London’s Dominion Theatre until January 4.
With its sing-along soundtrack and hilarious snow-capped hijinks, it’s impossible not to be charmed by the stage incarnation of this classic film. Featuring the original music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and choreography by two-time Olivier Award-winner Stephen Mear.
Available: November 16–January 4
Swiss Family Robinson, The Core at Corey Cube, Northamptonshire
Introduce the kids to a tale of adventure from your own childhood with this rollicking family show from the award-winning comedy theatre company, New Old Friends.
Far from the snow-frosted caper of other Christmas shows, Swiss Family Robinson will cast you ashore a sizzling desert island, where our shipwrecked heroes—plus the family dog—must use every ounce of creativity they have to thrive and survive in their new home.
Says New Old Friends co-founder Heather Westwell, “This story is a real feel-good family tale of overcoming adversity and the joy of togetherness, which feels perfect for Christmas. We couldn’t be more excited about the ingenious machines that Fritz makes. If we get them right, they will be unlike anything else you have seen on stage before.”
Available: December 6–29
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter