FRI 22 - SUN 24 DEC 2017
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Fri 8 – Sun 31 Dec
Here they come! Su Pollard, you say? (*immediately books all the tickets*). Say hi-de-hi – or should that be hi ho hi ho hi ho? – to the Wicked Queen, who I’ll hazard a guess will be, ahem, vibrantly attired. Mirror mirror on the wall, is this the campest panto of them all? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. Read my review here.
Waterside Theatre, Exchange St, Aylesbury, Bucks, atgtickets.com
Stick Man, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Mon 18 – Sun 24 Dec
Will he ever get back to the family tree? Let’s hope so – I don’t fancy watching hundreds of children crying as poor old Stick Man gets used as kindling. This touching festive story about the power of family love was one of my children’s favourite Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler books, and Scamp Theatre’s production has received rave reviews on previous runs.
War Horse, New Theatre Oxford, Weds 13 Dec – Sat 6 Jan 2018
Soooo excited that the outstanding National Theatre production of War Horse is coming to Oxford New Theatre this month. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and featuring those incredible, life-size puppets of the horses, it’s nearly sold sell-out, so please don’t leave it too late to book. Find out what happened when we galloped down to opening night.
New Theatre, George Street, Oxford, atgtickets.com
Jack and the Beanstalk, Wycombe Swan, Sat 9 – Sun 31 Dec
Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a boyband alum. Simon Webbe from Blue – no kidding! – stars as our bean-obsessed hero, alongside Britain’s Got Talent winner Ashleigh Butler, CBeebies star Chris Jarvis and veteran panto dame extraordinaire Nigel Ellacott, who notches up this 43rd panto run. Blimey, he’s keen. Here’s the full Muddy verdict. wycombeswan.co.uk.
Christmas at Bletchley Park, Bucks, dates through Dec
Time travel back to a 1940s-themed Christmas at home of World War II code-breakers, Bletchley Park near MK. There’s live retro music (on 2, 3, 9 & 16 Dec) and a 40s-style Christmas Grotto on selected dates between until 23 Dec for kids aged 2 to 17 (somehow, I can’t image my 15 year old son being seen anywhere near a grotto or grown ups dressed as elves – but, hey, each to her own!)
Bletchley Park, The Mansion, Bletchley Park, Sherwood Dr, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, bletchleypark.org.uk
Working Christmas, The Old Fire Station, Oxford, Weds 6 – Sat 23 Dec
Not a panto lover? For something completely different this month but still brim-full of that Christmassy feeling, head down to The Old Fire Station. Billed as a ‘Christmas play for grown ups’, there’s a brilliant cast of actor/comedians putting on this lovely show.
Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford , oldfirestation.org
Christmas at Waddesdon Manor, now until Tues 2 Jan 2018
No Bruce Munro light installations this year at Waddesdon Manor (he’s up the road on the approach to Bicester Village) but instead there are several light shows to enjoy as dusk falls. Waddesdon Imaginarium is a light and sound show projected onto the Manor’s façade including roaming porcelain animals, dancing musical clocks, cascades of flowers, and 18th-century portraits, accompanied by an original score composed by students at the Guildhall School of Music.
Also worth checking out is is Electric Menagerie, light-based artworks throughout the grounds by American artist Lauren Booth (above), inspired by the real and fantastical animals associated with Waddesdon (Baron Ferdinand collected a ‘zoo’ of animals and birds to amuse his weekend party guests, including antelopes, kiwis and even kangaroos). Check out Dylan, Rolo and Murphy (2017), three Neon Goats placed on the rockwork, and her neon Parrot, Bleeding Heart Dove and Rothschild Mynahs created in response to the 1889 Aviary. Perfect too for getting your littlies into the Christmassy mood, there’s Letter Writing to Father Christmas until 23 Dec and a special free Children’s House Trail until 2 Jan. waddesdon.org.uk
Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Sat 18 Nov – 4 Feb
Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas! The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, wbstudiotour.co.uk
Softer – Jenny Holzer Exhibition at Blenheim Palace, Thurs 28 Sep – 31 Dec
The fourth artist to to showcase contemporary art at Blenheim Palace (my kids still talk about Ai Wei Wei back in 2015), Holzer will be creating new work directly addressing our military and political history – eeek! For this show she’s developing large-scale light projections that will transform the Formal Gardens after dark in a series of night time public events. Sound cool right? Plus visitors can also explore more meditative areas featuring examples of Holzer’s best-known work. blenheimpalace.com
Santa Specials, Bucks Railway Centre, Weds 20, Fri 22 & Sat 23 Dec
Father Christmas is clearly a fan of the steam train – he’s using Thomas as his grotto this year. If you take the kids you’ll be shown to your seats on the train, and will ride up and down the track a few times as you wait for the old guy to come to our compartment with gifts. The ticket price includes presents for all kids, refreshments (drink and biscuit for children; hot drink, sausage roll and mince pie for adults), a live children’s show, face-painting, Thomas-themed colouring and badge making and you can meet The Fat Controller.
Bucks Railway Centre, Quainton Road Station, Station Rd, Quainton, bucksrailwaycentre.org
Morgan & West: A (sort of ) Christmas Carol Magic Show! Pegasus, Oxford, Tues 5 – Sun 24 Dec
More Chuck D – no, not him from Public Enemy, I mean Charles Dickens – as Oxford’s Pegasus theatre also tackle A Christmas Carol this season. This version is presented by magicians Morgan & West (as seen on The Next Great Magician (ITV), Penn & Teller: Fool Us(ITV), and The Slammer (CBBC)).
Pegasus, Magdalen Rd, Oxford, pegasustheatre.org.uk
The Nutcracker and The Mouse King, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Fri 15 – Sat 30 Dec
Cornerstone Arts tackles the lesser-known Nutcracker and the Mouse King in their festive musical show, performed by actors. In case you can’t remember this story (I couldn’t): Maria and family arrive at a shonky old toyshop one Christmas Eve, and after dark all the toys come to life, sing, dance and try to find a way to defeat the miserly Mouse King.
Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Rd, Didcot, cornerstone-arts.org
Aladdin and the Magical Lamp, JdP Music Building, Oxford, Sat 16 – Fri 22 Dec
Join Alison, the jolly but clueless Genie, her mean money-grabbing boss and a host of other friendly characters for a modern adaptation of the Disney classic Aladdin. Experience a whole new world (geddit) as you fly around Oxford on a magical electric blanket with plenty of entertainment, puppetry, clowning and original songs along the way. Perfect for 2-7 year-olds (£7 per person, under 1s go free). jdp.st-hildas.ox.ac.uk
Christmas Kingdom, Mead Open Farm, Fri 1 – Sun 24 Dec
The Mead Open Farm Christmas Kingdom has the major plus of being all under cover so you can still get in the Christmas spirit if the weather’s less than perfect. Kids can meet Santa in his Grotto and get a Magical Boarding Pass to lots more fun – from festive 3D film, to exploring the Elves’ Christmas Village, to meeting real Reindeer. Some autism- friendly sessions this year too with fewer people, strobe lighting turned off and a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere. meadopenfarm.co.uk
Santa’s coming to Slimbridge, World Wildlife Trust, Gloucs, Sat 16 – Fri 22 Dec
This visit to Santa sounds like a lovely day trip – your ticket (you’ll need to pre-book) includes a choice of Breakfast or Afternoon Tea with the Elves, lots of festive activities … marshmallow-toasting, gingerbread-icing, Santa letter-sending….you know the score by now. And, of course, there’s a visit to Santa in his grotto. The nice thing here is you book your slot so the kids can enjoy the day rather than wait in long queues for hours (we’ve all been there!). Sounds cute.
WWT Slimbridge, Bowditch, Slimbridge, Gloucs, wwt.org.uk
Twelfth Night, RST, Stratford, Thurs Nov 2- Feb 24 2018
Winterville, Clapham Common, now – 1 Jan 2018
If you’re in Sarf London over Christmas, Winterville on Clapham Common’s is well worth a look. There’s everything from an outdoor Ice Rink to a fairground, roller disco and free kids’ entertainment, but there’s lots more unusual stuff than at your standard Christmas Fair. We’re particularly loving the sound of the Spiegeltent, where you’ll find cabaret, bingo, kids raves and, er, Mexican wrestling. What next, ‘Yoga On Ice’? Oh, I see, they have that too. winterville.co.uk
Slava’s Snowshow, Southbank Centre, London, Mon 18 Dec – Thurs 4 Jan 2018
Southbank Centre, Lambeth, London SE1, southbankcentre.co.uk
Whales: Beneath the Surface, Natural History Museum, now – Feb 2018
Looking for something to now the kids are breaking up? You could combine this brilliant new (ish) family exhibition exploring 50 million years of the whale with a quick skate round the Natural History Museum’s fabulous open air ice rink.
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, nhm.ac.uk