Treat your kids to some escapism with a trip to the theatre.
There’s special effects with the wow factor, colourful costumes and they can watch as some of their favourite book and film characters are brought vividly to life.
Whether it’s for a birthday treat or something to while away the school holidays, try these family-friendly West End shows.
Start with some classic Roald Dahl
1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This award-winning musical has toe-tapping tunes and a stunning set, to impress kids of all ages.
Directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes, this is a faithful adaptation of the well-known Roald Dahl story, with a few modern tweaks.
Join Charlie and his golden ticket in the weird Wonka Chocolate Factory, which is ingeniously recreated on stage.
You’ll see the chocolate garden, meet an army of squirrels and the peculiar Oompa-Loompas have had an amusing revamp.
Children must be over five years old to watch the performance
Getting there: Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JF
Nearest tube: Leicester Square
2. Matilda The Musical
This magical story by Roald Dahl has proved to be a huge smash-hit with audiences.
Adults and children alike will love the clever word play and tongue-in-cheek humour as young Matilda tries to survive her weird family and even stranger school.
Miss Trunchbull is quite possibly the best character in the whole of the West End, and the performance has enough to make adults laugh along with the kids.
Getting there: Cambridge Theatre, Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9HU
Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square
Or another literary favourite
3. The Railway Children
This atmospheric adaptation of E. Nesbit’s classic tale continues to be popular with families of all ages.
Youngsters will be impressed when a real 60-tonne steam locomotive arrives to steal the show.
The casting is imaginative – the children are played by adults, playing children, which is different.
However fans of the original film and book can rest assured the iconic scenes they know and love appear in the show.
Getting there: Kings Cross Theatre, Good’s Way, London, N1C 4QL
Nearest tube: Kings Cross
Delight them with Disney
4. The Lion King
The key phrase in The Lion King, Hakuna Matata, means ” no worries” which is very apt for a show which has been one of the West End’s most popular since it made its debut in London in 1999.
Ideal for international visitors (it’s been shown in 20 countries around the world), the amazing costumes are the star of the show.
The opening sequence for the Circle of Life set on the Serengeti Plains is one of the most visually arresting numbers in the world.
Fans of the film will find all the classic Elton John and Tim Rice penned songs, along with some new ones.
Getting there: Lyceum Theatre, 21 Wellington Street. London. WC2E 7RQ
Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Charing Cross
5. Aladdin the Musical
Be one of the first to see the newest musical on the block, as Aladdin arrives in London from Broadway.
It’s been created by the same producers responsible for The Lion King, and like its counterpart, it features all the favourites from the Disney film – along with a few new songs
You’ll hear A Whole New World, Arabian Nights and Friend Like Me among others, and there are plenty of magic tricks and special effects to impress the kids.
Getting there: Prince Edward Theatre, 28 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4HS
Nearest tube: Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road
See the prequel
2o16 sees this smash-hit musical celebrate its tenth birthday, and its green power shows no signs of diminishing.
This fun tale of what happens before Dorothy arrives in Oz, sees two witches, the green-skinned Elphaba and the glamourous Glinda, meet for the first time.
The effects are spectacular, with plenty of flying sequences and disappearances in a puff of smoke to keep all the family happy.
The songs are catchy and the costumes are colourful enough to brighten up anybody’s day.
Getting there: Apollo Victoria Theatre, 17 Wilton Road, Westminster, London, SW1V 1LG
Nearest tube: Victoria
Catch up with the King of Pop
7. THRILLER – LIVE
Michael Jackson fans will be in their element as this show gives you two hours of non-stop hits.
One of the best back catalogues in music history, THILLER – LIVE, has been a popular family choice since opening in the West End in 2006.
Expect multi-media effects and super choreography, as you introduce the next generation to hits like Can You Feel It, Billie Jean and Earth Song.
Getting there: Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ES
Nearest tube: Leicester Square
Marvel at some musical versatility
Youngsters will love the imaginative use of everyday items to create explosive music.
The eight musicians throw everything (including the kitchen sink) into their performances, which are a combination of rhythm, comedy and dance.
If you’ve seen it in the past, don’t worry as the show has new routines, choreography and music, and the fact that it’s all communicated purely by music makes it ideal for children.
It runs for just over an hour and a half and doesn’t have an interval, so do be prepared for that.
Getting there: Ambassadors Theatre, West Street, London, WC2H 9ND
Nearest tube: Covent Garden
One for the teenagers
9. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
This wonderful show is one for the teenagers, with a guide age of 13 plus, due to some adult themes and language.
It’s based on Mark Haddon’s 2003 bestselling book (a GCSE set text), about a 15-year-old maths genius who finds his neighbour’s dog impaled on a garden fork.
This shock discovery sends the teenager on a life-changing quest to find out who did it.
Utilising one of the best sets in Theatreland to show the world from Christopher’s unique perspective, this award-winning play really is a visually inventive treat.
Getting there: Gielgud Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6AR
Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus
Seasonal entertainment and short-term shows
It’s worth keeping an eye out for the seasonal theatre offerings if you’re looking to treat the kids.
The Snowman, the show based on Raymond Briggs’ book and the subsequent film, has been appearing at the Peacock Theatre for 15 years during the winter season.
Christmas and the New Year sees the traditional pantomime come to the fore.
In 2016 you can see the family-friendly show, Cinderella, which has a star-studded cast appearing over the festive season.
Amanda Holden will be the Fairy Godmother, Paul O’Grady, The Wicked Stepmother, Lee Mead stars as Prince Charming and Julian Clary is Dandini.
Many shows enjoy a school holiday run in the summer and at half-term.
You can catch the show in cities like Manchester, Glasgow and Nottingham, as well as London.
If your children are fans of the award-winning author, Julia Donaldson, then chances are you’ll be able to see an adaptation of one of her books on stage.
If you want to make a weekend of it, we have to plenty of hotels in London to choose from.
To find out more about the capital, check out our things to do in London page, which has the weekend events and guides to getting the most out of the city when you visit.
And if you want to see what other shows are on at the moment, head to our theatre tickets page to find the latest deals.
What’s your favourite kids theatre show?
We’d love to hear about your experiences in the West End.
If you have any recommendations for family-friendly shows, let us know by leaving a comment below.