UK’s best Christmas Pantomimes 2023 to watch this festive season

Can you spot the celebrities?

Jason Manford leads the cast as Jack. He joins Ben Nickless, as Silly Simon, plus Myra BuBois as Mrs Bunderbore, and Emma Williams as Princess Jill in Jack and the Beanstalk panto 2023 Manchester
(Image credit: Phil Tragen)

It’s that time of year again, Oh no it isn’t…Oh yes, it is! It wouldn’t be Christmas without the tradition of going to see a family pantomime and there are some great ones to snap up tickets for when looking for things to do with the kids.

Whether you’re a big fan of slap-stick comedy or have a favourite celebrity you want to see on stage, Pantomimes are a great outing for all the family in the run-up to Christmas and over the festive season.

If you’ve not yet got tickets to watch the CBeebies Christmas panto 2023 at your local participating cinema, then why not book to see another pantomime show in person at your local theatre?

Up and down the UK, theatres are fizzing with celebrities, music, dance, cross-dressing and plenty of fun.

And remember, audience participation is a must, so pop on your best Christmas jumper and get ready to boo the villains or prepare to tread the boards if the cast asks for volunteers to join them up on stage.

There aren’t many shows that you could take both a seven-year-old and a 70-year-old to but Christmas pantomimes tickle everyone’s fancy – in all the right places! Here’s our pick of the season’s best Christmas pantomimes.

Peter Pan, London Palladium

The story about a boy that never grows old is gracing the stage at the London Palladium with comedy legends Jennifer Saunders (Ab Fab) as Captain Hook, and Julian Clary as seaman Smee, starring alongside Nigel Havers (Coronation Street) at Pirate Nigel, Paul Zerdin as Starkey, Gary Wilmot as Mrs Henretta Hook, Harry Ames as John, the Timbuktu Tumblers as The Neverlanders, Louis Gaunt as Peter Pan, Rob Madge as Tink, and Frances Mayil McCann as Wendy. 

Jac and the Beanstalk, New Theatre Cardiff

Lesley Joseph will lead the cast as The Spirit of the Beans. Starring panto dame Mike Doyle as Dame Trot, Aaron James as Silly Simon, Denquar Chupak as the Princess, Steve Arnott as Fleshcreep and Adam Bailey as Jac. Doomed to sell his trusty cow, join Jac and his family as they fight to outwit the evil giant, and win riches beyond his wildest dreams and the hand of the girl he loves. Expect laughs, music, special effects, magic beans and bundles of audience participation in this giant of a pantomime!

Mother Goose, Cambridge Arts Theatre

Gertie Goose lives a simple life in her little Cambridge cottage with family and best friend Priscilla… who just happens to be a talking goose! A cook in the kitchens of Eiderdowning College, Mother Goose longs to open her own bakery… but with the lovesick Squire Purchase raising rents and a cost-of-living crisis looming, money is tight and her dreams remain unfulfilled. Caught between the forces of good and evil, Mother Goose is headed for a crisis of epic proportions! Will beauty, fame and fortune change her? You’ll have to book to find out! Starring panto dame Matt Crosby, Charlotte Wakefield, Gemma Sutton, Pippa Duffy, Steven Roberts, Georgia Nicholson, Nathan Taylor, and Alicia Belgarde.

Jack and the Beanstalk, Opera House Manchester

The tale of Jack and the Beanstalk is a popular choice again as Manchester’s chosen story will see Jason Manford lead the cast as Jack. He joins Ben Nickless, as Silly Simon, plus Myra DuBois as Mrs Bunderbore, Samara Castello as The Spirit of the Beans, and Emma Williams as Princess Jill.

  • Dates: 2nd December - 31st December 2023
  • To book tickets:

Cast of Jack and the Beanstalk panto 2023 Manchester

Jason Manford (centre) leads the cast as Jack. He joins Ben Nickless, as Silly Simon (second right), plus Myra DuBois as Mrs Bunderbore (second left), and Emma Williams as Princess Jill (third right).

(Image credit: Phil Tragen)

Sleeping Beauty, The Auditorium, M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool

Once upon a time in a Pantoland far, far away, a beautiful princess is cursed by the evil Carbosse to perish on her 21st birthday by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel. Thanks to The Fairy, Sleeping Beauty falls into a deep sleep that can only be broken by her one true love. Will the handsome prince come to her rescue, fight the dragon, destroy Carabosse, and save the day? There’s only one way to find out…

Sleeping Beauty stars Katie Price as Carabosse, Bippo as The Castle Clown, Britain’s Got Talent Finalist Lucy Kay as the Fairy and Andy Brennan as Queen FiFi of Fazakerley.

Peter Pan, Bristol Hippodrome

Bristol’s Peter Pan cast for 2023 includes Poirot legend David Suchet as Captain Hook, Steps singer and actress Faye Tozer as The Magical Mermaid, Bristol panto favourite Andy Ford as Smee and Ceri Dupree as Mrs. Smee. The cast is rounded out by Hugo Rolland as Peter Pan, Molly Farmer as Wendy and Carly Joan Furlong as Tink.

  • Dates: 2nd December 2023 - 31st December 2023
  • To book tickets:

Beauty and the Beast, Sunderland Empire

Join Belle, The Beast, Fairy Bon Bon, Rorina La Plonk and her cheeky chappy son Louis La Plonk, alongside a whole host of larger-than-life characters, as they are transported to a cursed castle under the spell of an evil enchantress. Can the arrogant Hugo be defeated? Can Belle see beyond the Beast and fall in love with her captor? Will the Beast’s heart be melted by Belle’s beauty?

Starring Emmerdale and Ackley Bridge star Charlie Hardwick as Fairy Bon Bon, Miss Rory as Rorina La Plonk, Channel 5 Milkshake presenter Olivia as kind-hearted bookworm Belle and Wearside’s favourite panto comic Tom Whalley as Louis La Plonk. Plus, West End star Samuel Wyn-Morris as the monstrous Beast.

  • Dates: 8th December 2023 - 31st December 2023
  • To book tickets:

Jack and the Beanstalk, Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham’s own and This Morning presenter Alison Hammond stars in the UK’s biggest regional panto, alongside Hippodrome favourite Matt Slack and Samantha Womack. They are joined by Doreen Tipton as Doreen the Cow, panto dame extraordinaire Andrew Ryan, Brummie local Alexanda O’Reilly in the title role and West-End performer Billie-Kay as Princess Jill.

Peter Pan, Festival Theatre Edinburgh

The Pantomime Adventures of Peter Pan stars favourites Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and Jordan Young. This family performance features amazing special effects, stunning sets, beautiful costumes and barrel-loads of laughter. Take your whole family on a swashbuckling trip to Neverland like never before.

Cinderella, Milton Keynes Theatre

Join Cinders as she transforms from rags to riches, outwits her very Wicked Stepsisters and with the help of her hilarious friend and one very magical Fairy Godmother, meets her Prince Charming. EastEnders star Brian Conley is swapping Albert Square for a job as Buttons in the much-loved fairytale of Cinderella. He will lead the cast which includes his real-life daughter Lucy Conley as Fairy 312, Neil Wright as Claudia, Ben Stock as Tess, James Darch as Prince, Sarah Vaughan as Cinderella, Owen Stringer as Dandini.

Brian Conley and Lucy Conley Cinderella panto launch Milton Keynes 2023

(Image credit: Milton Keynes theatre)

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Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)