The Nutcracker

The Best Shows To Catch This Christmas

Culture /

Despite everything, these festive shows are going ahead

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With lockdown ending on 2 December, there’s still hope for a festive trip to the theatre. From an orchestra-led screening of Love Actually to a re-staging of a Dickensian classic, here are the best shows to watch this Christmas.

Shows To Watch This Christmas

Gisburne Park Christmas Pop-Up

Gisburne Park Pop-Up

Christmas is cancelled? Oh no it isn’t! The creators of the UK’s first socially distanced festival are back with a special Christmas event, featuring a drive-in pantomime alongside craft stalls, food vendors and a tipi set up as Santa’s grotto.

Pub in the Park’s Festive Theatre

The Kingdom Choir, Pub in the Park Festive Theatre

Pub in the Park is back with a special winter edition, offering a festive programme of films, comedy and live music for socially distanced audiences. Visitors will be able to book pods in groups of six, from which they can enjoy entertainment while feasting on food from Michelin-starred chefs: Tom Kerridge at Bicester Heritage and Atul Kochhar in Hertfordshire Showground. Line-up highlights include a carol concert the Kingdom Choir, led by Karen Gibson MBE – who performed at Harry and Meghan’s wedding – as well as a show from Strictly Come Dancing’s Kevin and Joanne Clifton. A whole host of Christmas movies are also being screened, including Elf, Love Actually and It’s A Wonderful Life. Bicester Heritage 15 – 23 December, Hertfordshire Showground 11 – 23 December,

West End Does: Christmas, Cadogan Hall

West End Does: Christmas at Cadogan Hall

Some of the biggest names in the West End are coming together to create a special Christmas concert at Cadogan Hall. The festive extravaganza will feature the likes of Killian Donnelly (Phantom of the Opera, Kinky Boots); Louise Dearman (Wicked, Guys and Dolls); Oliver Tompsett (We Will Rock You and Rachel John (Hamilton, The Lion King), alongside special guest host, comic Pippa Evans. 13 December,

The Snow Queen & Hansel and Gretel, Brighton Open Air Theatre

Snow Queen, Brighton Open Air Theatre

Wrap up warm, get yourself a mulled wine and settle down to enjoy one of Brighton Open Air Theatre’s outdoor winter productions. The first is a re-telling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson and designed by Eleanor Bull. And secondly, Hansel and Gretel like you’ve never seen it before: pantomime-style, to music by Cardi B (sadly not live). 8 – 24 December,

Love Actually Live in Concert, Eventim Apollo

Love Actually

There are few things more festive than a viewing of Love Actually, and this version adds a new dimension to the table. Love Actually Live in Concert sees the soundtrack of Richard Curtis’ 2003 film performed live to picture – and fans of the movie know Craig Armstrong’s score is a big part of its magic. Hugh Grant’s legendary dance to The Pointer Sisters’ Jump, the unique performance of All You Need is Love at Kiera Knightley’s wedding, and of course Bill Nighy’s rendition of Christmas is All Around will all be brought to life at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo – just the kind of seasonal cheer we need right now. 17 – 20 December, tickets available from

The Nutcracker, The Royal Opera House

The Nutrcracker

Tristram Kenton

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without The Nutcracker, and happily The Royal Opera House is presenting a Covid-safe version this winter. Starring students of The Royal Ballet School, this restaging of Peter Wright’s celebrated two-act production features many of the much-loved elements of the cherished classic – from the magical growing Christmas tree to the enchanting dance of the snowflakes. There are also some new additions though, including a battle scene between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King and their armies, choreographed by Will Tuckett. 7 December 2020 – 2 January 2021,

Dick Whittington, The National Theatre

Dick Whittington

Christmas is cancelled? Oh no, it isn’t. For one year only, pantomime comes to the National Theatre with a version of Dick Whittington, first staged at the Lyric in Hammersmith and updated for 2020. Directed by Ned Bennett, the production explores what it’s like to arrive in a small town from a big city today, looking at timely themes of community and togetherness. The cast so far includes Dickie Beau, Amy Booth-Steel and Lawrence Hodgson-Mullings​, Georgina Onuorah, and Cleve September. 11 December 2020 – 23 January 2021,

A Christmas Carol, Bridge Theatre

A Christmas Carol

Alexandra Guelff

Simon Russell Beale, Patsy Ferran and Eben Figueiredo will star in a new version of Charles Dickens’ timeless novel A Christmas Carol at the Bridge Theatre this winter, devised by Nicholas Hytner. A moving show to watch this Christmas. 27 November 2020 – 16 January 2021,

The Royal Opera Christmas Concert, The Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House is set to present three performances of a Christmas concert this December, featuring performances from soloists including Jennifer Davis, Hanna Hipp and Jeremy White. They’ll sing alongside the combined forces of the Royal Opera Chorus, Jette Parker Young Artists and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, with the line-up set to include extracts from Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Puccini’s La bohème and more. 18, 19 and 20 December 2020,

The Little Match Girl, Sadler’s Wells

The Little Match Girl

Christmas returns to Sadler’s Wells with performances of Ballo Arthur Pita’s family favourite The Little Match Girl, following five seasons at the Lilian Baylis Studio. The heart-warming production is a reimagining of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale, featuring dance, song and Frank Moon’s atmospheric music performed live on stage. The story follows a young girl’s journey around an imaginary Italian town on a cold Christmas Eve as she wanders the streets with just a match to keep her warm. Along the way she encounters both kindness and cruelty; a tale of friendship, family and hope. 17 – 27 December 2020,

The Nutcracker, Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The Nutcracker

Sam Robinson

Another production of The Nutcracker is taking place at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, featuring Peter Wright’s award-winning choreography alongside new creative direction from Birmingham Royal Ballet Director, Carlos Acosta. This special series of shows will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s original Birmingham Hippodrome production being created as a gift for the City in 1990. 14 – 22 December 2020,


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