The Storm Whale
Benji Davies’s award-winning children’s book is being brought to life at Little Angel Studios. This charming adaptation tells the story of Noi, who lives with his dad and their six cats by the sea. One winter, Noi rescues a little whale that washes up on the beach during a storm. The whale has to return to the water to live with his family, but when Noi’s dad goes out fishing the following winter, another huge storm strikes and Noi longs to see his whale friend again. A heart-warming tale about friendship, love and courage, tickets start from £12.
132 Sebbon Street, Islington, N1 2EH; until 30th January
Skate At Somerset House
The Christmas holidays don’t start until you’ve hit the rink at Somerset House. This year, older children can skate day or night as Radio 1 DJs set the vibe with fun music. Little ones (or those who need a helping hand) can take lessons at the Skate School with National Ice Skating Association instructors. There’s also a pop-up from Hotel Chocolat where you can buy sweet treats from the ‘Chocmobile’ or book chocolate workshops, as well as a pop-up chalet up from Jimmy Garcia where adults can buy après ski-style dishes while children hit the ice. Ice-skating tickets start from £11.
Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA; until 16th January
Red Riding Hood
When it comes to panto, Theatre Royal Stratford is known for turning classic stories on their head. This year’s festive treat comes in the form of Red Riding Hood. Suitable for grandchildren of all ages – from little ones to teenagers –expect plenty of witty new songs, hilarious gags, and impressive sets and costumes that take you deep into the dark wood. As the story goes, Red Riding Hood has been sent to deliver her granny some treats, but when she’s stopped by a terrible wolf, havoc ensues… Tickets start from £10.
Gerry Raffles Square, Stratford, E15 1BN; until 31st December
From the sound of the orchestra tuning up to the final bows and cheers, the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum is an essential Christmas treat for older grandchildren. This year, more than 100 dancers and musicians will bring The Nutcracker to life with world-class dancing, beautiful sets and – of course – Tchaikovsky’s ever popular score. On a sparkling Christmas Eve in a frost-dusted Edwardian London, Clara and her enchanted Nutcracker doll discover a magical world, where she battles with the Mouse King and meets a handsome stranger. As the air grows colder, Clara and her valiant Nutcracker take a hot-air balloon ride across London to the glistening Land of Snow where her adventure really begins. Tickets start from £15.
St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, WC2N 4ES; 16th December-8th January
Frozen The Musical
Disney’s cinematic sensation is hitting the West End. At Theatre Royal Drury Lane, little ones can see Elsa and Anna’s story on the stage for the first time in this new production. With special effects, impressive scenery and all the songs you know and love from the original film, rest assured the winter kingdom will look just as magical on stage as it does on screen. Suitable for the whole family, tickets start from £20.
Catherine Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5JF; until 28th February
Stick Man Live
If your grandchildren enjoyed the stage adaptation of The Gruffalo, they’ll love Stick Man Live at Leicester Square Theatre. In fact, the entire family can laugh along to this funny and original adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s story. What starts off as a morning jog becomes quite the misadventure for Stick Man: a dog wants to play fetch with him, a swan builds a nest with him, and he even ends up on a fire. How will Stick Man ever get back to the family tree in time for Christmas? Featuring dancing, puppetry, songs and live music, tickets start from £19.
6 Leicester Place, West End, WC2H 7BX; until 3rd January
The Snowman At Peacock Theatre
Twinkling with festive spirit, The Snowman is back for a record-breaking 23rd year. Based on the book by Raymond Briggs, this production has transported generations of children and their families into the wintery world of a boy and his magical snowman. With music and lyrics by Howard Blake – including the classic ‘Walking in the Air’ – The Snowman is a wonderful mix of dance, spectacle, storytelling, splendid sets and music performed by a live orchestra. Don’t forget the tissues.
Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT; 20th November-2nd January
This impressive light trail offers a multi-sensory experience anyone can enjoy. Featuring light and sound artworks curated by artists from across the world, it’s a great way to spend a wintery morning or afternoon. Visitors can see the tallest LED Christmas tree in London, plus a range of interactive light installations including Yoni Alter’s City Lights. Visit Olympic Way to see the Reunited in Light photo exhibition, then make a beeline for the Art Trail on Bobby Moore Bridge, which has plenty of fun installations for children. Once you’ve seen the lights, treat the kids to hot chocolate and festive snacks from the food and drink stalls.
Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0RJ; 25th November-27th February
Christmas At The Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is laying on a vast programme of festive favourites. Look out for traditional favourites like the Royal Choral Society and Handel’s Messiah – both staples since 1871 – alongside Christmas carols, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas and a family show called My Christmas Orchestral Adventure. All of these concerts will create a safe and comfortable environment for audiences to celebrate together again.
Kensington Gore, South Kensington, SW7 2AP; various dates throughout December
Hogwarts In The Snow
Potterheads will love this spellbinding experience at Warner Bros. Studios. The annual Hogwarts in the Snow experience sees the famous studios – where the Harry Potter franchise was filmed – turned into a winter grotto where children can see the sets in the snow. This year, the trees and woodland in the Forbidden Forest has been given a festive makeover with layers of snow, while the cobbled stones and magical shopfronts of Diagon Alley, Hagrid’s Hut and the Hogwarts castle model have also been given a festive touch. Don’t miss the enchanting Great Hall which has been dressed for the occasion with wreaths, garlands and trees topped with witches on miniature broomsticks.
Warner Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LP; 13th November-16th January
Festive Lights At Kew Gardens
Returning for a ninth year, Kew’s winter trail is set to feature old favourites alongside some new light installations. Visitors can expect bursts of colour and enchanting optics as they explore Kew’s Unesco World Heritage landscape after dark. Wander through a tunnel covered with a canopy of glowing, colour-changing stars. Further along the trail, a returning favourite – the Cathedral of Light – will twinkle with thousands of fairy lights for that all-important Instagram moment. Look out for street food and Father Christmas too.
Richmond, TW9 3AE; 17th November-9th January
Selfridges Christmas Market
If you’re taking the grandchildren to the West End for the day, stop off at Selfridges to visit its Christmas market on Edward Mews. There’s a selection of pop-up stalls, food vendors and fairground rides for the whole family. While the kids slide down the Helter Skelter and ride the carousel, adults can grab a Christmas tree from Moyses Stevens, shop for decorations and accessories at the stalls, and stop off for hot buttered rum, warm apple cider or hot chocolate at the mulled wine bar. The street food stalls have something for everyone, from decadent pasta by Cheese Wheel to Tramshed Project burgers.
Edwards Mews, West End, W1U 1QZ; until 3rd January