There are so many brilliant theatre shows for kids on in London at the moment. We’re talking shows with special effects, colourful costumes and favourite book and film characters being brought to life, as well as old favourites like Annie which are still popular after so many years. And because London has a habit of being a little bit on the rainy side, it’s always worth having a few ideas up your sleeve if you’re in town and need to keep the kids entertained. So whether it’s for a birthday celebration or something to while away the school holidays, here are some family-friendly shows to grab tickets to.
You can also see our full list of theatre shows here.
1. 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
2. Disney On Ice presents Passport To Adventure
The latest touring show from Disney On Ice is an excellent choice for any Disney-mad kids (or, let’s face it, grown ups) in your life. Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald, Goofy and Daisy, travel to the worlds from Disney’s The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, and Disney’s Frozen. The whole show is set to music, with big dance numbers and enough sing-a-longs to keep everyone happy.
3. 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
Hands up who doesn’t know at least one song from Annie? Ok, so it might be before the kids’ time, but this story of an orphan plucked from the questionable “care” of Miss Hannigan (played by Miranda Hart until September 17th 2017) during the Great Depression to live with a billionaire is still a child-friendly classic. The story was originally a comic strip, before being turned into a film and Broadway show. It’s back in London for the first time since 1998. Expect the classic songs Tomorrow and It’s The Hard Knock Life and a healthy dose of nostalgia for the adults.
Getting there: Piccadilly Theatre, 16 Denman Street, London, W1D 7DY
Nearest tube: Leicester Square
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
After celebrating its tenth birthday last year, this show 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. 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
7. The Lorax
If your kids have grown up devouring Dr Seuss’ books, then this adapted stage version of The Lorax is definitely a must-see. It’s a story about the environment is funny, but also quite moving – with brilliant puppetry and music to boot.
Getting there: Old Vic Theatre, The Cut, London SE1 8NB
Nearest tube: Waterloo
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
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
10. In the Night Garden
One for the really young ones. There are only 13 rows in the Showdome, which means everyone gets a good view to watch the Pinky Ponks and Ninky Nonks come to life. This live show has had brilliant reviews, and the music, puppets and projections make for a mesmerising performance.
Getting there: Richmond Showdome, TW9 2AZ or Blackheath Showdome: SE10 8QY
Nearest tube: Richmond Rail Station or Blackheath and Greenwich rail stations, and Cutty Sark for DLR.
Staying in London
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.
What’s your favourite kids theatre show?
We’d love to hear about your experiences in the West End or London. If you have any recommendations for family-friendly shows, let us know by leaving a comment below.