As well as being a time for food, presents and a nice long break from work, Christmas is also a time for spending with family. For many of you this means upholding yearly tradition by donning your Christmas knits, loading the kids into the car, picking up Granny and Granddad and heading to the theatre for a night of entertainment at the local pantomime.

Known for its glitz, glamour and camp musical comedy, panto has become a Christmas staple across the UK, so much so that it’s now common to see a celebrity or two treading the boards at your local theatre. Whether you love them or you hate them, there’s no denying that the singing, slapstick and audience participation is the perfect recipe to get everyone in the mood for the festive season.

So if you fancy a family night out around Christmas, take a look at what’s going on at your local theatre. Whether you go to a professional panto or one put on by a local theatre group, you’re guaranteed a night of entertainment and silliness, and the look on your child’s face as they scream ‘it’s behind you!’ and laugh at the shenanigans unfolding on stage will make you glad you came.

We’ve hunted down three pantos with star-studded casts that will be showing this Christmas 2014, but there are hundreds more on offer and you’re bound to find one in your local area if our suggestions are too far from home.

The Chuckles of Oz

Where: Darlington Civic Theatre

When: December 6th 2014-January 11th 2015

There’s not one but two wizards in Darlington Civic Theatre’s reworking of The Wizard of Oz, and yes – you guessed it – those two wizards take the form of Paul and Barry Chuckle: A.K.A. The Chuckle Brothers. So expect laugh out loud comedy, silly audience participation and a fair few ‘to me, to yous’ with this one.

The panto will feature other well-loved characters from the original story such as the Cowardly Lion and Glinda the Good Witch and, of course, there’ll be a yellow brick road! As well as this, audiences have been promised stunning 3D sequences that that offer a view right inside the Emerald City- we’d love to see how they achieve that!

Ticket prices range from £18-£24.50

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Where: The Opera House Manchester

When: 5th December 2014-4th January 2015

The classic fairytale will be brought to life in Manchester this year with the one and only Priscilla Presley in the role of the Wicked Queen. Alongside her, Harry Potter star Warwick Davies will take on the part of ‘Prof’ the Dwarf and Benidorm’s Phillip Olivier will play the Prince.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is set to dazzle audiences with stunning costumes, beautiful sets and – of course – plenty of laughs as the much-loved characters come together to defeat the Wicked Queen.

Tickets range from £10-£35 with additional transaction fees.

Jack and the Beanstalk

Where: Birmingham Hippodrome

When: Friday 19th December 2014-Sunday 1st Feb 2015

Birmingham Hippodrome’s take on Jack and the Beanstalk is promising to be a ‘giant pantomime spectacular’ and as well as the giant in the story, the all-star cast is pretty huge too. As well as Duncan James from boy-band Blue in the role of Jack, ITV Loose Woman and singer Jane McDonald will take on the part of the Enchantress, and Chris Gascoyne – Corrie’s Peter Barlow – will play the villainous Fleshcreep.

With magical special effects and a comedy trio headed up by Gary Wilmot as the pantomime Dame, Jack and the Beanstalk looks set to be a really fun show for all the family. Plus, with the likes of Jane McDonald and Duncan James involved, we imagine there’ll be a few good musical numbers for you to sing along with too.

Tickets range from £14-£40

If you are looking to secure tickets for a panto this festive season, we recommend booking as soon as possible, as in the run up to Christmas tickets will most likely sell out quickly. Whichever one you go for, it’s bound to get you smiling, laughing, and in the mood for a very happy Christmas!

If you’re staging a panto this year and would like to enquire about our theatre lighting and sound services, feel free to give us a call on 0161 830 0303. Our friendly team will be happy to help!

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