These are the best Christmas pantomimes in 2018

Christmas panto season 2018
Aminah Barnes

Aminah Barnes

It’s that time of year again! The Christmas period has finally descended upon us, which means that pantomime season is now in full bloom! This year promises a treat with a trip to the theatre, as pantomimes move away from drab and garish to outright fabulous. From fashion gurus to popstars, and soaps’ finest faces to comedy legends, panto season 2018 is undeniably the best yet – not to mention Miss Dawn French’s pantomime debut! Up and down the country, there’s plenty to choose from, so we’ve given you a handy breakdown of what’s showing near you.

Scroll below for the best pantomimes coming your way. Looking for a specific area? 

Skip to: Up North | The Midlands | Down South

Up North


Gareth Gates in Cinderella

It’s now sixteen years since Gareth Gates melted hearts with his rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’. But the Pop Idol runner up has successfully transitioned from music to musicals, having performed in a handful of West End productions. This Christmas he returns to the stage as ‘Prince Charming’, joined by Les Dennis (former Family Fortunes host) and Connor McIntyre (Pat Phelan) as the Ugly Sisters and Shannon Flynn (CBBC) as the title role.

Where: Manchester Opera House

When: Saturday 8th – Sunday 30th December 2018


Journey to Old Peking this Christmas with this magical production of Aladdin. Elaine C Smith, Johnny Mac and Paul-James Corrigan star in this laugh-out-loud pantomime, backed by stunning set designs and creative costumes. The story follows Aladdin and his brother Wishee Washee as they embark upon a genie, sorcerer and all the adored characters from the traditional tale.

Where: Kings Theatre, Glasgow

When: Tuesday 11th December 2018 – Sunday 6th January 2019

Robin Hood

Jonathan Wilkes stars as the man who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, while Christian Patterson is the noble Friar Tuck in Qdos Entertainment’s production of Robin Hood. Stoke’s theatre is transformed into Sherwood Forest, bursting with imaginative set designs, special effects and merry men in tights. Expect plenty of boos and cheers along the way, as the heroic outlaw rises against the tyrant ruler and wins the heart of Maid Marion in this action-packed, arrow-firing adventure.

Where: Regent Theatre, Stoke

When: Friday 14th December 2018 – Sunday 6th January 2019

Cinderella and the Lost Slipper

Catch Michelle Heaton (Liberty X), John D Collins (Allo’Allo!), Ken Morley (Coronation Street) and Amy Thompson (Milkshake) in this hilarious take on the children’s classic. The son of legendary magician Paul Daniels, Martin Daniels, also guarantees to bring magic and sparkle to the show created by Three Bears Productions. Following rave reviews of their last production of Beauty and the Beast, the Three Bears have once again united an exciting cast for another Christmas cracker, featuring beloved characters like Buttons, The Ugly Stepsisters and The Fairy Godmother.

Where: Grand Opera House York

When: Friday 14th December 2018 – Saturday 5th January 2019

Jack and the Beanstalk

The Queen of Latin and Merseyside’s favourite Strictly Judge, Shirley Ballas, stars as Mother Nature in the Qdos Entertainment’s production of the beanstalk extravaganza. John Evans brings his comic talents to the role of Jack’s brother, Simple Simon, as the pair stumble across some magic beans and seek to save the beautiful Princess Apricot. With plenty of fe-fi-fo-fumming to enjoy, chant your way through the giant of a panto.

Where: Liverpool Empire

When: Friday 14th December 2018 – Sunday 6th January 2019

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast at Unity Theatre

This special retelling of the epic love story between Belle and her Beast was produced in association with innovative disability arts organisation, DaDaFest. According to The Stage, the production is geared very much towards inclusivity, with plenty of songs with BSL. They also described it as ‘heartfelt’ and ‘playful’; the perfect treat for Christmastime to warm the souls of the whole family.

Where: Unity Theatre, Liverpool

When: Friday 30th November – Saturday 5th January 2019

The Midlands

Peter Pan

Peter Pan cast

With the help of an acrobatic troupe and an all-star talented cast, Birmingham celebrates the boy who never grows up. The swashbuckling villain, Captain Hook, will be played by Jimmy Osmond, the youngest member of the singing family ensemble. He plays opposite Union J’s Jaymi Hensley, who makes his Hippodrome debut as Peter Pan. Meanwhile, regular at the Hippodrome, Matt Slack will be back at the venue as Smee, and comic writer and actress Meera Syal will morph into the magical mermaid.

Where: Birmingham Hippodrome

When: Wednesday 19th December 2018 – Sunday 27th January 2019

Sleeping Beauty

From strictly to sleepy, dancing star Debbie McGee takes centre stage in this enchanting Christmas pantomime. The show is full of spectacular special effects and calls for all the pantomime etiquettes of hissing, ‘oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is’ and laughing out loud. Children will love the colourful costumes, dance routines and everyone’s favourite puppet sidekick, Sooty.

Where: Grand Theatre Wolverhampton

When: Tuesday 11th December 2018 – Sunday 13th January 2019

Peter Pan

Nottingham becomes Neverland as the elegant Theatre Royal stages the pantomime production of Peter Pan. The flying adventure full of pirates, fairies and Lost Boys is presented by Qdos Entertainment, and witnesses comic legends John Challis (Only Fools and Horses) and Joe Pasquale (The Producers, Spamalot) team up as the perfect pirate pairing. Their innate ability to make audiences roar ensures lots of laughs, while Qdos’ panto expertise guarantees all the special effects and sparks theatre-goers love each Christmas.

Where: Theatre Royal, Nottingham

When: Saturday 8th December 2018 – Sunday 13th January 2019

Down South


Marti Pellow as Aladdin

Theatre-goers at the Orchard are in for a treat, as Wet Wet Wet frontman, Marti Pellow, leads in this seasonal production of Aladdin. The pantomime is full of magic and sorcery, as well as 3D special effects, as it follows a poor boy living in Peking who encounters a wish-granting genie. Ricky K (Britain’s Got Talent) and David Robbins (Widow Twankey) bring laughter and life to the show, making this the ideal family treat for the festive season.

Where: Orchard Theatre Dartford

When: Saturday 8th December – Sunday 30th December 2018


There’s no Fairy Godmother in this performance as fashion guru Gok Wan replaces the character as the Fairy Gokmother. He stars opposite the lead and King of Panto – Brian Conley, who lends his comic and dancing talents to the show. The cast, the orchestra and the fabulous costumes (they couldn’t exactly be unfabulous with Gok Wan on stage) ensure there’s all the ingredients for a fun family night out.

Where: Bristol Hippodrome

When: Sunday 9th December 2018 – Sunday 6th January 2019

Snow White

One of the most eagerly anticipated pantomimes of Christmas 2018, the West End production of Snow White stars the magnificent Dawn French (Vicar of Dibley) in her panto debut. And it’s not all about French, pantomime royalty will also bringing in the laughs, in the form of Julian Clary, Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers and Gary Wilmot. This star-studded cast makes for a barrel of laughs and truly is the fairest panto of them all.

Where: London Palladium

When: Saturday 8th December 2018 – Sunday 13th January 2019

Dick Whittington

Put together Phil Mitchell, a singer from Hearsay, an American soul singer, a Celebrity Big Brother star and an X Factor winner and what do you have? One heck of a pantomime! The cast of Qdos Entertainment’s Dick Whittington are one of many reasons to to see the production, alongside witty humour, eye-catching effects and a flurry of fantastic costumes.

Where: Mayflower Southampton

When: Saturday 15th December 2018 – Sunday 6th January 2019


Starring one half of the Chuckle Brothers and a Strictly judge in its cast, Cinderella brings plenty of comic talent to Woking this Christmas. Don’t miss your chance to boo and hiss at Craig Revel Horwood as he portrays the wicked stepmother, or chuckle at Paul Chuckle playing Baron Hardup. Always a favourite with the children, but this year’s cast gives panto magic to every generation.

Where: New Victoria Theatre

When: Friday 7th December 2018 – Sunday 6th January 2019

Peter Pan

Known for his movie roles in ‘Hornblower’ (1998), ‘Wimbledon’ (2004) and ‘Grace of Monaco’ (2014), the Tony, BAFTA, and Olivier award-winning Robert Lindsay will now make his pantomime debut as the tyrannous pirate, Captain Hook. Speaking to Whatsonstage, Lindsay declared his excitement at ‘breaking down the fourth wall and encouraging audience participation’. He is joined by a renowned West End cast who together take audiences on a spectacular adventure to Neverland.

Where: Richmond Theatre

When: Saturday 8th December 2018 – Sunday 6th January 2019

Sleeping Beauty

A new and novel take on the well-known children’s tale, this original pantomime is fresh, and futuristic. It begins 100 years on, as Sleeping Beauty awakes from a century-long siesta to find herself in a new city but with the same witch chasing her. There’s no sentimental soppiness in Matthew Xia’s production, but instead a kickass heroine princess who can defend herself.

Where: Theatre Royal Stratford East

When:  Saturday 1st December 2018 – Saturday 12th January 2019

Beauty and the Beast

A tale as old as time, but a tale that never gets old, Beauty and the Beast is back live this Christmas. New Theatre has established itself as a top venue for pantomime, following the success of last year’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Now audiences can enjoy Belle’s adventure through the magical and cursed castle, where she befriends her captor – the Beast. TV personality Lisa Riley leads the cast, joined by local rugby player Gareth Thomas and comedian Mike Doyle.

Where: New Theatre Cardiff

When: Saturday 8th December 2018 – Sunday 13th January 2019

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