Summer is here and with it the holidays, which can feel like a very, very long time if you have little ones to entertain. Many might assume that all of theatreland heads north of the border over August for the Edinburgh Festival, but in fact there's a whole host of shows running that will cater to those with a big clan and time to fill.
Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part Four
A brand new installment of the Horrible Histories stage franchise is this show, which marks the seventh year with Horrible Histories in the West End. As usual with Neal Foster's delightfully informative and hilariously dirty pieces, it's a whistle-stop tour through the history of Great Britain, all played out with two performers throwing on and off a lot of costumes. Expect fart jokes. Ages five and up.
Apollo Theatre, until 1 September
David Walliams may originally have been most known for his comedy sketch series Little Britain, but he's quickly become a whole new generation's much-loved children's author. Gangsta Granny returns to London for another run of this brilliant tale about Ben and his rather surprising granny. Ages five and up.
Harold Pinter Theatre, until 26 August
We couldn't possibly feature Gangster Granny and not Awful Auntie, David Walliams' other tale of an eccentric family member. In this one, Stella's Aunt Alberta helps her niece after an unfortunate incident in London, but is Stella's auntie all that she seems? The show moves to Birmingham in November before running in London in December. Ages five and up.
Liverpool Empire, until 2 September
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
This timeless, lovely stage show was originally created by dream team Sally Cookson with Benji Bower, and ten years on is still doing the rounds. It's a lovely adaptation of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury's picture book where a family sets out to find a grizzly. Ages three and up.
Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury, until 2 September
The little pink dude and her family are on an absolutely huge tour this summer all over the UK. The TV show is an out-an-out hit for the little-'uns and it's likely to be a thrill watching their favourite characters in the flesh, live on stage. Ages three and up.
Various dates and venues
The hit film has been made into a mad-cap family-friendly stage show, which is also starring X Factor winner Matt Terry. In a four-star review of the show for WhatsOnStage, Alex Wood said it had buckets of charm and goodwill. There are puppets, songs and lots and lots of jokes. What's not to like? Ages five and up.
Various dates and venues across the UK
The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Judith Kerr's original book is a very special tale of what happens when a tiger comes round to visit Sophie and her mummy. Here, David Wood has adapted and directed it into the perfect introduction to theatre for young children. Ages three and up. Piccadilly Theatre until 9 September
Metta's Little Mermaid
Circus is usually for adults, but this show says 'pah!' to all that and caters for the whole clan. From Metta Theatre, the Little Mermaid is an acrobatic-fuelled retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen folk tale we all know and love. Ages eight and up.
Underbelly Festival, until August 12
The Star Seekers
Bristol-based company Wardrobe Ensemble are arriving in London with this show at the National Theatre for kids. Taking place in the Dorfman Theatre, the piece follows Alph, Betty and Gammo who need some help to save their space station. It's an interactive family show, where the audience help to shape what happens. Ages three to eight.
National Theatre, until 1 September
Are your kids obsessed with T-Rex? Do they pretend to be a Stegosaurus? Can then spell Diplodocus? This piece will most definitely be for you and them. The interactive extravaganza allows families to get up close to some of the most terrifying creatures that ever walked the earth. The puppets are created by Toby Olié – the man behind some of the best puppeteering in British theatre at the moment (War Horse, to name but one). Ages 3
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, from 14 August to 9 September
Matilda the Musical
An oldie, but a goodie. Let's not forget Roald Dahl's deliciously entertaining story of the amazing Matilda, who manages to outwit her evil headmistress. Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly's musical for the RSC opened to rave reviews a few years back now, but it continues to run and run in the West End. It's brilliant for adults and young ones alike. Ages six and up.
The Snail and the Whale
The very excellent kids' theatre company Tall Stories celebrates 21 years this year with tours all over the world. One of the company's classics is this adaptation, marking the 15th anniversary of the best-selling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler about a tiny snail who wants to sail the world. Ages four and up.
Various venues and dates until 9 December
School of Rock
Andrew Lloyd Webber's smash-hit musical is an adaptation of the hilarious Jack Black film and features a huge cast of child prodigies who rock out on stage every single night. It's a vast amount of fun and is suitable for pretty much any age. Ages five and up.
Gillian Lynne Theatre, until 20 October 2019
You may actually be planning a trip en famille, north of the border, in which case – well done you. There's a lot of delights to be found at the Edinburgh Fringe for families. So we'd recommend having a look at our Edinburgh page to discover what's great. Most mornings, venues run family shows and so you don't have to go far to find something you'd like.
Read our Edinburgh kids round-up here
- Horrible Histories
- Matilda the Musical
- Children's theatre
- Childrens Theatre
- Kids Week
- School of Rock
- Little Mermaid
- Awful Auntie
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