Top 5: Christmas shows that will thaw your cold, cold heart


As I grow older, I find it more and more difficult to ‘get into the Christmas spirit’. It’s not that I’m averse to the idea — quite the opposite. I want to climb inside the Christmas spirit and live there, ideally. The problem is, now that I’m a fully grown adult and am societally expected to fend for myself, it’s just more difficult to get myself there. Long gone is my belief in Father Christmas (the last nail in that coffin was hammered in when, after one particularly large Christmas Eve, the parent in charge of hanging my stocking stubbed their toe on the end of my bed and loudly swore), gone are the hours of mandatory Christmas carol practice before the school concert (annoying at the time, crucial to bespiritment in hindsight), gone is the acceptability of whacking together a few Hama bead designs and presenting them to my mother to iron together into a coaster for every single member of the family. 

Having recognised this over the last few years, I’ve put a plan in place. In order to attain an acceptable level of Christmas cheer, there are steps that need to be taken. Those steps are these: drink approx 100 mulled wines, watch The Holiday at least once and Love, Actually at least twice, read this Lindy West take-down of Love, Actually and laugh while feeling absolutely no regrets, and go to a Christmas show, preferably a panto. 

All of which is to say, quite longwindedly, that I’ve gathered together a list of Christmas shows that you might also want to use to be less Grinch, more Cindy Lou Hoo. 

tung magazine christmas shows top 5

What: Portobello Pantomime presents: Snow White and the Seven Runaways

Where: The Tabernacle

When: 13th-15th December

The Portobello Pantomine is celebrating it’s 30th year in the business of Christmas cheer with a retelling of Snow White with a bold modern twist (fair warning: you will be a fair bit of ‘with a modern twist in this here list, but I for one am not mad at it). They’re introducing the Seven Runaways: Savvy, Angsty, Dopey, Wokey, Chirpsy, Laddy and Geeky with the aim of uniting the area’s diverse cultures in a celebration of the characters and traditions that make Notting Hill special. The production team and actors all work for free, and all of the money raised goes to local charities and causes.

This year's Panto is in aid of Shepherd's Bush Families Project, Glue W11, and All Stars Boxing Gym.

Grab your tickets here.

tung magazine christmas shows top 5

What: Aladdin

Where: Hackney Empire

When: until 6th Jan

In the Far East End, on the island kingdom of Ha Ka Ney, young Aladdin dreams of finding love and making his fortune. When he discovers an enchanted lamp and meets a mysterious genie, it looks like all his wishes are about to come true – with the help of tap-dancing pandas and his larger-than-life mum, can he win the hand of his Princess or will an evil magician, some madcapped policemen and a very large pile of laundry stand in his way?

Aladdin is written and directed by Susie McKenna with original music by Steven Edis, bringing a glittering show packed with magical fun, song, dance, slapstick comedy and audience participation for all the family. Susie and Steven mark two decades at the helm of the now legendary Hackney Empire panto which has grown to become an annual highlight and a champion for culture and community in the East End.

Grab your tickets here.

tung magazine christmas shows top 5

What: The Night Before Christmas

Where: Southwark Playhouse

When: Until 29th December

Gary’s life is shit. It’s Christmas eve, he’s broke, he’s promised his son some top of the range Power Ranger figures but he hasn’t delivered them, and now his ex wife is out to find him baying for blood.

But none of that matters any more because Gary has a secret. A big, fat (well… small, tiny, and extremely festive) secret that might very well save him and the whole of humanity.

A mixture of South Park and Miracle on 34th Street by way of Scrooged, Anthony Neilson’s hilarious and cutting comedy about finding the true spirit of Christmas comes to Southwark for the first time. This show is ideal for even the scroogiest among us. 

Grab your tickets here.

tung magazine christmas shows top 5

What: Cinderella and the Beanstalk

Where: Theatre 503

When: until 5th January 

Due to popular demand Theatre503 are bringing back the timeless(ish) classic that is The Sleeping Trees’ Cinderella and the Beanstalk with a difference. The Trees themselves are off filming Pantomime: The Movie  so they’ve rebooted the script and brought together an all female cast! Follow them on a perilous adventure as the scheming Rumpelstiltskin blackmails the would-be princess into retrieving the coveted golden eggs from the top of the beanstalk.

Grab your tickets here.

tung magazine christmas shows top 5

What: A Christmas Carol 

Where: The Old Vic

When: til 19th January 

What would Christmas be without a viewing of A Christmas Carol in one form or another? Matthew Warchus’ big-hearted, smash hit production of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol has returned to The Old Vic, joyously adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). This is one to drown out even the loudest of bah-humbugs. 

Grab your tickets here.

What are you doing to thaw your cold, cold heart in time for Christmas? Let us know in the comments below!