The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington
Deciding that Dick Whittington needs more than just a cat companion, the rambunctious trio Sleeping Trees chuck a great white whale into the plot. The leviathan swallows Santa in this madcap musical mash-up from the team who brought you Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers. Until 5 January.
The Magic of Christmas
Some theatres have jaw-dropping scenery right outside the entrance. Perthshire’s Pitlochry Festival theatre is making the most of its location on the bank of the Tummel river, with views of the “speckled mountain”, by staging a yuletide promenade performance about elves racing to save Christmas. No need to wrap up warm: you can watch a filmed version from home. 9-23 December.
Ali the Magic Elf
Ramesh Meyyappan is a magical performer at any time of the year but in Andy Arnold’s gentle show – staged last year at Glasgow’s Tron – he plays a sprite tasked with averting a Christmas Eve disaster. Designed for children aged 3-8. 16–25 December.
What could be more festive than a walk in the deep, dark wood or a generous serving of roasted fox? Children’s theatre specialists Tall Stories present a live-streamed performance of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s bedtime – well, anytime – favourite. 11-13 December.
A Merry Little Christmas Celebration
Here’s a real set of Christmas pipes: powerhouse singers Rebecca Trehearn, Emmanuel Kojo and Rebecca Caine join Chichester Festival theatre’s artistic director Daniel Evans for a live-streamed night of carols and festive favourites. Plus, Simon Callow reads poems and prose. 4 December.
The Haunting of Alice Bowles
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a chilling ghost story. Philip Franks’ 45-minute thriller gives a modern twist to an MR James tale, The Experiment, and stars Tamzin Outhwaite as a widow unravelling a puzzle about her husband. It’s produced by Original Theatre Company whose lockdown productions include Apollo 13: The Dark Side of the Moon. 17 December–28 February.
A Christmas Carol
The Old Vic has created a Christmas tradition of its own with Jack Thorne’s popular adaptation of the Dickens classic. After Rhys Ifans’ and Paterson Joseph’s spells as Ebenezer Scrooge, this year its Andrew Lincoln who plays Mr Humbug – with a fantastic supporting cast including Clive Rowe and Golda Rosheuvel. In a year of monologues and minor-key online shows, the Old Vic’s full-scale production, featuring live music, has employed 80 freelance creatives. 12-24 December.
The Snow Queen
Banish your memories of a year’s dreary office webinars and escape into a Zoom adventure instead. Iris Theatre’s interactive adventure for the over fours asks the audience to huddle around the laptop and help storyteller Holly. 19-26 December.
Little Robin Redbreast
After last year’s production of their dapper Tailor of Gloucester adaptation, Salisbury Playhouse brings back Glyn Kerslake and Gareth Machin’s 2017 tale of a plucky robin on a magical quest. Expect songs, dance and a menagerie of supporting characters. Available from 21 December.
Composer Barb Jungr and director Samantha Lane served up a merry show called The Pixie and the Pudding at the Little Angel last Christmas. This year they team up again, with puppets designed by Lyndie Wright, for an online production about Santa’s unsung helper. The free 15-minute show follows Mother Christmas as she outdoes Amazon by masterminding global gift deliveries. Available from 4 December.
Jack and the Beanstalk
After almost 30 years of staging pantos in Coventry, Iain Lauchlan couldn’t stand the thought of a dame-free December. So while the Belgrade theatre had to postpone its festive spectacular to 2021 he dusted off a frock and made a film with regular sidekick Craig Hollingsworth and, thanks to a pair of socially distanced actors, an extraordinarily long pantomime cow. 1-31 December.
The RSC presents a live-streamed hour of music and reflection. The programme includes carols, songs and festive extracts from past productions of Shakespeare plays – something to bring a little light to a pandemic winter of discontent. 19 December.
Looking a Lot Like Christmas
Look at this lot indeed … Imelda Staunton, Minnie Driver, Giles Terera and Rosalie Craig are among the cast for the Donmar’s night of showtunes, sketches and poetry, filmed at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden. 16 December.
Christmas at the (Snow) Globe
Last year, a festive show hosted by Sandi Toksvig packed the “wooden O” up to its rafters, but the pandemic has effectively banished performance from Shakespeare’s Globe this year. Relive the joy of Toksvig’s singalong shindig with this film version. 21 December-5 January.
The Emperor’s New Clothes
Kitchen Zoo and Northern Stage’s co-production, filmed in Newcastle with a quartet of actors, promises plenty of festive pizzazz as Laura Lindow reworks the Hans Christian Andersen perennial about trickery and vanity. 12–31 December.
Nottingham Playhouse has one of the finest panto traditions in the land but tier 3 restrictions have delayed its Cinderella production. Nevertheless audiences can still go to the ball online. The show – written and staged by artistic director Adam Penford – will be streamed so viewers around the world can enjoy a local institution. 11 December-16 January.