London theatre: the best family shows to book now

round up of the best children’s theatre shows in london
The best London children's theatre shows

London has a world-leading theatre scene, and it’s particularly strong when it comes to family shows. Head to the West End, and beyond, and you’ll find everything from beloved Disney movies-turned-enthralling musicals to innovative, accessible shows featuring puppetry, comedy, songs and more.

If you’re trying to decide which London children’s theatre to start with in 2024 – perhaps as a treat during the school holidays – and whether it will be suitable for your family, our expert Telegraph critics can help you choose with their incisive reviews. All the latest articles are at Telegraph Theatre. We’ve also rounded up the best London plays and musicals, and the best family shows for half term.

You can find discounted tickets on Telegraph Tickets for all of the best shows for kids, such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Frozen and The Lion King. Check out our list of top picks for London musicals and plays for kids below and get booking.


The best children’s shows, at a glance


Best children’s theatre in London’s West End and beyond

The best shows for 3-6 year olds

Bear Snores On
Bear Snores On

Bear Snores On, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

In a nutshell: Cush Jumbo, Katy Sechiari and Harry Blake supply this new musical adaptation of Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s book about the courageous Mouse, who meets new friends amid a brewing storm.

Age recommendation: 4+

Booking until: Apr 21

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Mrs Doubtfire, Shaftesbury Theatre ★★★★

In a nutshell: “Never doubt I love Mrs Doubtfire, the feelgood but not fluffy-minded musical that has pitched up at the newly made-over Shaftesbury Theatre... A sure-fire hit, my dears.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 6+

Booking until: Jun 2

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The Enormous Crocodile, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

In a nutshell: Roald Dahl’s hungry crocodile is hunting through the jungle – and only his fellow creatures can foil his plans! This delicious tale becomes an original musical, accompanied by a menagerie of puppets.

Age recommendation: 4+

Booking: May 17-Jun 8

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Shrek The Musical, Eventim Apollo

In a nutshell: There’s Shrektacular summer entertainment on the way with this blockbuster staging of the laugh-out-loud, fairy-tale-subverting animated movie. Antony Lawrence, Brandon Lee Sears and Joanne Clifton star.

Age recommendation: 3+

Booking: Jul 19-Aug 31

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The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Theatre Royal Haymarket

In a nutshell: Join Sophie, her mummy and a surprise stripy guest in this gloriously madcap adaptation of Judith Kerr’s beloved picture book. There’s singalong songs, clumsy antics and magic galore.

Age recommendation: 3+

Booking: Jul 8-Sept 1

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The Smartest Giant in Town, St Martin’s Theatre

In a nutshell: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s zany tale about George the giant shopping for smart new clothes, and then helping out his animal pals, becomes a musical, puppet-filled stage adventure.

Age recommendation: All ages

Booking: Dec 2-Jan 7 2025

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The Snowy Day, Polka Theatre

In a nutshell: Jo This new adaptation of Ezra Jack Keats’ award-winning picture book (the first with an African-American protagonist to win a major children’s award) will feature original music, dance and enchanting immersive set.

Age recommendation: 1+

Booking: Dec 6-Feb 2 2025

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The best shows for 6-10 year olds

The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre ★★★★

In a nutshell: “Watching the show alongside my rapt children, I was struck by how much it succeeds in speaking to the heart rather than the head... A deeply felt celebration of life.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 6+

Booking until: Jun 2

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Frozen the Musical
Frozen the Musical - Johan Persson

Frozen the Musical, Theatre Royal Drury Lane ★★★★★

In a nutshell: “It’s pure West End spectacle, exactly what you want for a production likely to be many kids’ first experience of theatre, and told with a blazing passion that is surprisingly affecting.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 6+

Booking until: Sept 8

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Mamma Mia!, Novello Theatre ★★★★

In a nutshell: “Phyllida Lloyd’s slick production is still a tremendous crowd-pleaser... Buoyed by Abba’s enduring brilliance, it’s a welcome shot of pure sunshine.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 5+

Booking until: Sept 28

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Back to the Future: The Musical, Adelphi Theatre ★★★★★

In a nutshell: “Thanks to video and illusionist wizardry, the steam-spouting DeLorean skids into view from nowhere and takes off over the stalls, achieving a kind of 3D Hollywood magic... A feelgood triumph.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 6+

Booking until: Dec 22

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The Nutcracker, Polka Theatre

In a nutshell: A fun new spin on the classical ballet tale, featuring a heroic quest, rodent singalongs (with plenty of familiar songs), and festive celebrations for all the family.

Age recommendation: 5+

Booking: Nov 16-Jan 26 2025

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Matilda the Musical
Matilda the Musical - Manuel Harlan

Matilda The Musical, Cambridge Theatre ★★★★★

In a nutshell: “Matthew Warchus’s thrilling, warm-hearted production, exuberantly designed by Rob Howell and with pin-sharp choreography by Peter Darling, constantly combines comedy with a sense of wonder.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 6+

Booking until: May 25, 2025

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The best shows for 10-17 year olds

The Secret Garden, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

In a nutshell: Holly Robinson and Anna Himali Howard supply a new stage adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s unforgettable tale about loss, family and the healing power of nature – an ideal fit for this verdant venue.

Age recommendation: 10+

Booking: Jun 15-Jul 20

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Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre ★★★★

In a nutshell: “Joe Mantello’s production has satisfyingly old-school bombast: instead of screens, its impact comes from the detailed, fabulously over-the-top steampunk design. The orchestra is the biggest in the West End – and it shows.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 7+

Booking until: Dec 15

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Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre ★★★★★

In a nutshell: “Netflix gives the West End its event of the year... The jaw-dropping coups range from the infernal, supernatural engulfing of a hulking US battle-ship to acts of levitation.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 12+

Booking until: Dec 15

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Guys & Dolls, Bridge Theatre ★★★★★ 

In a nutshell: “Nicholas Hytner’s box of tricks, the Bridge, unleashes the show all around you if you’re one of the 380 punters standing in the thick of it... It’s an extravaganza that explodes every which way.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: All ages (under-16s must be accompanied by a responsible adult if buying immersive standing tickets)

Booking until: Jan 4 2025

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Palace Theatre ★★★★★ 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre - Manuel Harlan

In a nutshell: “British theatre hasn’t known anything like it for decades and I haven’t seen anything directly comparable in all my reviewing days... It raises the benchmark for family entertainment.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 10+

Booking until: Mar 2, 2025

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Les Miserables, Sondheim Theatre ★★★★★

In a nutshell: “In its density and epic ambition, its mixture of high-powered ideas and gut-wrenching emotions, it’s a show that feels lastingly revolutionary.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 7+

Booking until: Mar 29, 2025

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The Play That Goes Wrong, Duchess Theatre ★★★★

In a nutshell: “Seldom has disaster delivered so many belly laughs... This spoof am-dram staging of an Agatha Christie whodunit is the perfect recipe for absurd slapstick.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 8+

Booking until: May 4, 2025

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Six, Vaudeville Theatre ★★★★★

The queens of Six
The queens of Six - Pamela Raith

In a nutshell: “This infectiously fun production is packed with witty touches... A heart-warming, air-punching finale has everyone up on their feet. I expect these queens to rule the West End for years to come.” Read the full review

Age recommendation: 10+

Booking until: May 4 2025

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Frequently asked questions

Can children go to all theatres in London?

Most West End shows are suitable for people aged 12 or older. Some productions might have material that is too mature for younger theatregoers. However, there are also fantastic family shows which are appropriate for all ages, or which are specifically aimed at kids – including shorter children’s shows with elements like puppetry and singalongs.

We have included the official production age recommendations with all of our London show picks on this page, but you can always consult the theatre in question for further information to ensure the show is suitable for your children. Find the best deals on London family shows at Telegraph Tickets.

Can I take a 1 or 2 year old to the theatre?

The majority of London theatre shows are aimed at kids from ages 3 upwards at least. The longer running times, and elements like busy lighting and sound design, plus more mature material, probably won’t suit 1 or 2 year olds. Most productions recommend that 3 year olds or older should attend.

However, there are some London plays and musicals for 1 or 2 year olds. For example, children’s theatres like the Polka Theatre, Half Moon Theatre, Unicorn Theatre and Little Angel Theatre host productions aimed at very young children, as well as fun interactive workshops. Find all the latest recommendations for London kids shows and more at Telegraph Theatre.

Are children booster seats available?

Some, though not all, theatres provide booster seats – for example, Nederlander theatres (which includes the Dominion Theatre, Aldwych Theatre and Adelphi Theatre) rent booster seats for £1 if you ask a member of staff. They also provide booster cushions, available on a first come, first served basis. Some venues will also have height restrictions so that patrons sitting behind you can still see. If you want to check ahead of time about booster seats, contact the theatre box office.

Is there storage available for my stroller?

That depends on whether the theatre has a cloakroom where you can store large items, like suitcases and strollers (usually for a small charge, around £1 or £2). This does vary across different venues, so it’s worth contacting the theatre ahead of time to check. In most cases, the cloakroom will open about 45 minutes before the show begins, and you can store items for the duration of the show.

Can I bring my own snacks and drinks into the the theatre?

Some theatres, especially in the West End, won’t allow you to bring your own snacks and drinks in, unless it’s something like a sealed bottle of water. That’s because they sell food and drink in the theatre and that’s part of how they bring in revenue. If you have concerns about dietary requirements, you can contact the theatre beforehand to make arrangements. Plus it’s part of the fun of a theatre outing, treating yourself and your kids to a drink or an interval ice cream.

Are there frequent breaks throughout the duration of a performance?

If it’s a show for a general audience, there will usually be one interval of around 15 minutes; really long shows might have two intervals. Very occasionally a show won’t have an interval at all. You can find that information on Telegraph Tickets and other booking or theatre websites, or check with the box office. Most shows designed specifically for younger audiences will have short running times, like an hour or less. However, if you need to exit the theatre more frequently, for example for a toilet break, child-friendly venues will tend to be more relaxed about that – perhaps try to book near the end of a row so you don’t disrupt other audience members when coming and going.

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