When the kids are off school and the British weather is predictably drizzly, you can't go wrong with a family trip to the West End.

Advertisement

Whether it's a brand new show about your toddler's favourite character (Bluey anyone?) or a classic musical with a strong moral message (like the Lion King), the British theatre scene is teeming with great entertainment and child-friendly fun.

So we've put together this guide to the best kids theatre shows to catch in London and the rest of the UK right now. No matter where you're scattered, we've found the very best musicals, plays and ballets to suit your child.

For each show we've included the desired age rating, plus a little bit of advice on what kind of performances you should be searching for this spring.

Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

More like this

For our full list of theatre fun, here's the best West End shows. Plus, you can take look at the best musicals on tour UK and the best open air theatre shows.

Make sure you also check out how to get Heathers West End tickets. Plus, how to get Inside No.9 Stage/Fright tickets.

Jump to:

Best kids' theatre shows at a glance

What's on in the West End for kids?

Shrek the Musical

Joanne Clifton, Antony Lawrence and Brandon Lee Sears of "Shrek The Musical" attend The National Lottery's Big Night Of Musicals red carpet. The show will air in Spring on BBC One. at AO Arena on February 27, 2023 in Manchester, England.
Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for The National Lottery Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for The National Lottery

Suitable for ages 3+

19th Jul – 31st Aug 2024 – Eventim Apollo

Whether you’ve got a little princess or perhaps an ogre, this is the perfect mud-slinging musical to try this summer. The story follows Shrek, a brash ogre who simply wants to be left alone in his swamp, but when a whole camp of fairy tale creatures is left on his doorstep, he’s forced to go on a quest involving dragons, curses, and a certain waffle-loving donkey.

Shrek the Musical is returning to London for a limited time this summer, so grab your noble steed and head over to Today Tix to get tickets.

Buy Shrek the Musical tickets from £15 at TodayTix

Take a look at our full guide to how to get Shrek the musical tickets, plus it's never too early to check out the best UK pantomimes.

The Tiger Who Came for Tea

The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Amazon

Suitable for all ages, recommended age 3+

8th Jul – 1st Sep 2024 – Theatre Royal Haymarket

Based on the beloved children’s book by Judith Kerr, The Tiger Who Came to Tea is heading back to the stage this summer. In case you need a refresher: Sophie and her mum are just getting ready to sit down for tea, when the doorbell rings and a big stripey tiger steps over the doorstep. What follows is “oodles of magic, sing-a-long songs and clumsy chaos!”

Buy The Tiger Who Came for Tea tickets from £13 at TodayTix

Matilda

Matilda The Musical
Matilda The Musical Matilda The Musical

Suitable for ages 4+, recommended age 6

Ongoing – Cambridge Theatre

Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel Matilda first got the stage treatment in 2010 from writer Dennis Kelly and Australian comedian-turned-composer Tim Minchin. Now, the show is an absolute hit on the West End featuring hit songs such as Naughty, Revolting Children and When I Grow Up.

The story follows Matilda, an extraordinarily gifted girl who’s underappreciated by her parents, who finds herself at a school run by the dreaded Ms Trunchbull – but what happens when Matilda suddenly realises she’s gifted at more than just maths? Running until May 2025, Matilda the Musical is the ideal family day out.

Buy Matilda the Musical tickets from £20 at Matilda the Musical

Buy Matilda the Musical tickets from £23 at Today Tix

The Enormous Crocodile Tickets

The Enormous Crocodile poster
London Theatre Direct

Suitable for all ages, recommended age 4+

17th May – 18th Jun 2024 – Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

As The Enormous Crocodile wends his way through the jungle looking for food, it’s up to the other creatures to band together and foil his plans – but will they be able to pluck up the courage?

This critically acclaimed show will be running this summer at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre featuring a range of puppets, and colourful characters. Families can expect “rib-tickling rhymes and a leading man with a killer smile".

Buy The Enormous Crocodile tickets from £19 at London Theatre Direct

Shakespeare’s Rough Magic

Shakespeare's rough magic poster
London Theatre Direct

Suitable for ages 5+

20th Jul – 24th Aug 2024 – Sam Wannamaker Playhouse

Shakespeare’s Rough Magic is a play that brings all the Bard’s weird and whackiest characters together into one family-friendly show. Taking place for a limited time this summer, audiences are promised: “Witches’ spells, ghosts galore, Feisty fairies, monsters and more!”

Buy Shakespeare's Rough Magic tickets from £19 at London Theatre Direct

We think thou should take a look at these best Shakespeare shows going on in London.

Frozen The Musical

best west end shows
GettyImages/Theo Wargo

Suitable for ages 6+

Now – 8th Sep 2025 – Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Frozen is leaving the West End for good this autumn, so don’t let it go without seeing it!

Telling the story of talking snowmen and sisterly love, this show is anything but chilly. Fans of the Disney movie will know all the hit songs like Love is an Open Door, Fixer Upper and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? But now, you can see the magic unfold right in front of your eyes and catch the unforgettable performances from Samantha Barks as Elsa and Laura Dawkes as Anna.

Buy Frozen the musical tickets from £32.50 at TodayTix

Buy Frozen the musical tickets from £36 at London Theatre Direct

Disney’s The Lion King

best west end shows
GettyImages/Ralf-Finn Hestoft

Suitable for ages 3+, recommended age 6+

Ongoing – Lyceum Theatre

Disney’s The Lion King has been feeling the love from fans since 1999. The classic Disney show features a heart-breaking story, stunning props, and an incredible roster of songs such as Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata and Be Prepared. If you’re looking to get your child into musical theatre, there’s no better way.

Buy The Lion King tickets from £35 at TodayTix

Buy The Lion King tickets from £35 at ATG Tickets

Wicked

Wicked
Wicked

Suitable for ages 7+

Ongoing – Apollo Victoria Theatre

Another permanent resident of the West End, Wicked’s influence over theatre fans really does defy gravity. Whether your child has seen the Wizard of Oz or not, this play is sure to delight thanks to the power of its story and the performances of its cast.

It follows Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, before she received that name, and Glinda, who would later become the Good Witch, but as you’ll soon learn, things are not always as they appear…

Buy Wicked tickets from £35 at TodayTix

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry-Potter-and-the-Cursed-Child-London/Manuel-Harlan
Harry-Potter-and-the-Cursed-Child-London/Manuel-Harlan

Suitable for ages 10+

Ongoing – Palace Theatre

19 years on from the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Albus Potter is starting his first year at Hogwarts School – but will he live up to his famous father’s legacy?

With unbelievable visual effects and logic-defying sets, this show will have you believing in magic in no time. Perfect for any little Potterhead or those just looking for a fun day out, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is truly spellbinding.

Buy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets from £30 at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Play

More of this in the best Harry Potter experiences plus how to get cheap Harry Potter Studios tickets.

What theatre shows are on for kids in the rest of the UK?

Bluey’s Big Play

Bluey's Big Play
Bluey’s Big Play is produced by Andrew Kay and Cuffe & Taylor with Windmill Theatre Co for BBC Studios. Ticketmaster

Suitable for 18 months+

Now – 1st Sep 2024

Don’t miss your chance to catch Bluey’s Big Play at a theatre near you this spring. Everyone’s favourite dog will be coming to over 30 venues in the UK and Ireland including Edinburgh, Liverpool, Dublin and more.

The show is an entirely new story from the minds of the Australian TV show which sees Bluey and her sister, Bingo, trying to get their dad, Bandit, to play with them. As you can expect, a lot of hijinks and games ensue!

Buy Bluey's Big Play tickets from £17 at Ticketmaster

For a look at all the dates and venues, check out our guide to Bluey's Big Play tickets.

Zog and the Flying Doctors

actors on stage in Zog and the Flying Doctors
Zog and the Flying Doctors

Suitable for ages 3+

Now – 25th Jul 2024

Zog and the Flying Doctors, based on the bestselling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, is flying across the country on a UK tour.

When Zog, so large in size and keen in nature, becomes eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school, he ends up getting in a few bumps and scrapes. Luckily, the plucky Princess Pearl is there to patch him up and help him get ready to face his biggest challenge yet… a duel with Gadabout the Great!

Buy Zog and the Flying Doctors tickets from £18 at Zog Live

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

chitty chitty bang bang poster
ATG Tickets

Suitable for ages 5+

30th Apr 2024 – 10th May 2025

This April Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is starting a year-long tour that will take him, Caractacus Potts, Truly Scrumptious, and the two children Jemima and Jeremy, all around the UK. The show is based on Ian Fleming’s timeless story and the classic 1968 film, which sees Chitty take its owners to the dangerous land of Vulgaria, where they find an evil baron and… the Child Snatcher.

Buy Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

Six the musical

Six the musical
Six the Musical

Suitable for ages 10+

Now – 28th Sep 2024

If you have a budding historian in the family, you can catch the ongoing UK tour of Six the Musical. Starring the six wives of King Henry VIII – Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr – the show turns these unfortunate queens from history into modern day pop princesses. Across the show, each Queen is given their own hit song and the chance to finally tell their story.

Buy Six the Musical tickets from £13 at ATG Tickets

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Anna Popplewell as Susan Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Anna Popplewell as Susan Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Disney Enterprises / Walden Media

18th Nov 2024 – 15th Nov 2025

C.S Lewis' magical tale, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is going on tour this winter until November 2025. You and your family can follow the story of Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter as they step into the amazing new world of Narnia. Combining puppetry with an amazing wealth of talent and effects, this show is not one to miss.

Buy The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tickets at ATG Tickets

Can three-year-olds go to the theatre?

The majority of theatre shows are aimed at children aged three and up, and most don’t even allow infants into the venue. This is due to the long running times, loud sounds and general busyness of productions which may cause some distress to very young children, so unless it is explicitly stated, you should assume that one or two-year-olds won’t be admitted.

Some performances do allow all ages but you should always check what the recommended age is, as your little one may not be at the right point to appreciate it yet – best not to spend money on something they won’t really enjoy. However, if you're determined to start them young, the best productions we’d recommend for under threes at the moment are: The Enormous Crocodile, The Tiger Who Came for Tea, and Bluey’s Big Play.

What theatre shows are good for kids?

For young children, the best theatre shows will often include puppetry, music, direct address and audience participation, humour, or an easy-to-follow narrative structure. It’s also always best to go with a show where the runtime isn’t too long and the rhythm is short and sharp.

If you’re worried about taking your child to a mainstream show, there are specific theatre companies aimed at kids like the Unicorn Theatre, Little Angel Theatre and the Polka Theatre. They specialise in bringing theatre to all ages and provide year-round performances across the UK.

As you can probably expect, the most popular musicals for kids come from Disney and other major movies. Right now, you can catch The Lion King, Frozen and Matilda at the West End, plus Shrek the Musical will be returning to the stage later this year.

For slightly older children however – we’re thinking 10+ – most of the mainstream musicals will be suitable. You could try Mrs Doubtfire or Back to the Future, for example.

There are also plenty of non-musical performances about which are centred around popular kids’ characters. Bluey, Zog and The Tiger Who Came For Tea are all getting their own shows this year and so much more.

Advertisement

Take a look at our full guide of best family days out, plus how to get cheap Chessington tickets and how to get cheap Alton Towers tickets.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement