Among the most specifically children-oriented shows is The Snowman at the Peacock (through Jan. 12). Adapted from Raymond Brigg's book and with music by Howard Balke, its best known song is "Walking in the Air."
The Big Friendly Giant at the Playhouse Jan. 5 is another adaptation of a children's classic; this time from Roald Dahl. Adapter and director David Wood is a veteran of many years in children's theatre, and he creates a magical evening on stage that's ideal for young audiences.
Sleeping Beauty at the Young Vic until Jan. 25 is based on the ancient fairy tale but takes the story on from where the fairy tale normally leaves off — with beauty waking up. A darker than usual take on a fairy tale, it nonetheless appeals to children as well as adults.
Peter Pan — a Musical Adventure at the Royal festival Hall until Jan. 11 is a seasonal show with a well-known story, plenty of action, a sinister villain (Richard Wilson as Captain Hook), a friendly fairy (Tinkerbell), pirates and a giant crocodile. Ian Talbot's production stars James Gillan as Peter Pan, has Susannah York as the narrator and is a guaranteed fun night out. There is also a production of Peter Pan (starring Robert Powell as Captain Hook, and running to Jan. 19) at Richmond Theatre for those who don't want to come into town over the Christmas period.
Dance fans can take their children to the ballet — something boys have become more open to since "Billy Elliot" — to see several versions of The Nutcracker, including the Royal Opera House (to Jan. 10) at the Coliseum (to Jan. 4) and at Sadler's Wells — in Matthew Bourne's highly original take on the show — to Jan. 25.
For those who want a change from "seasonal" shows, there's always The Lion King at the Lyceum, but if you want a really Christmassy night out (or matinee), then head for the Lyric Hammersmith, where Neil Bartlett's production of A Christmas Carol gives a sympathetic yet imaginative modern take on this wonderful Victorian story.
—By Paul Webb