Nothing says Christmas quite like a larger-than-life pantomime dame, a hefty dose of audience participation and a chorus of ‘it’s behind you’ – right?
So, with panto season well and truly upon us, we’ve scoured the UK theatre listings to put together a rundown of the best festive Christmas shows for 2016. That way you can get your tickets booked now, then sit back and be wowed by Widow Twankey and friends. All together now: oh no she didn’t…
Panto in Plymouth – Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
We can't say if it'll be the fairest of them all, but the panto version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at Plymouth's Lyric Theatre is definitely one to watch. Get ready to boo and hiss at Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph as The Wicked Queen, and swoon at Blue's Duncan James as The Prince. You can even book a special panto brunch before selected Saturday matinee performances if you fancy making a day of it.
Theatre Royal Plymouth Lyric Theatre, 16 December 2016 to 14 January 2017
Panto in Glasgow – Aladdin
Scottish-born Marti Pellow leads the cast of Aladdin at the SECC Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow this year. It's billed as the city's biggest show, and the Wet Wet Wet singer plays the role of the evil sorcerer, Abanazar. Factor in Johnny Mac, who's spent the past 15 years appearing in panto in Glasgow and this year plays Wishee Washee, and you've got all the ingredients for a great night out.
SECC Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 10 to 31 Dec 2016
Panto in Cardiff – Peter Pan
It seems The Hoff will be spending the festive season in Wales this winter, with a starring role in Peter Pan at Cardiff's New Theatre. And while a show about a boy who never gets old is the perfect match for the evergreen Baywatch star, Mr Hasselhoff will in fact be playing Captain Hook in JM Barrie's classic tale. Expect lots of flying special effects and plenty of laughs courtesy of The Hoff's co-star, comedian Mike Doyle, who plays Mrs Smee.
Cardiff New Theatre, 10 December 2016 to 8 January 2017
Panto in Birmingham – Dick Whittington
Is there a better panto baddie in the land than Steve McFadden, AKA Phil Mitchell from EastEnders? We think not. And as he's playing King Rat in Dick Whittington at Birmingham Hippodrome, we're certain this pantomime performance is going to be a sell-out. Singing supremo and panto regular, John Barrowman, plays Dick, and The Krankies even make an appearance in this celebrity-packed show. Fan dabi dozi indeed.
Birmingham Hippodrome, 19 December 2016 to 29 January 2017
Panto in London – Cinderella
It’s been almost 30 years since panto has graced the stage of the Londres Palladium, but for 2016 it's back with a bang. Musical theatre stars Natasha J Barnes and Lee Mead play Cinderella and Prince Charming, and the roll-call of TV actors is even longer. That would be Paul O'Grady as the Wicked Stepmother, Amanda Holden as the Fairy Godmother, Julian Clary as Dandini and Nigel Havers as Lord Chamberlain. Definitely one for the name-droppers.
London Palladium, 9 December 2016 to 15 January 2017
Panto in Swansea – Sleeping Beauty
It’s fair to say 2016 has been a good year for Lance Corporal Richard Jones. After winning the 10th series of Britain’s Got Talent back in summer, he’s gone on to appear on TV, in the west end and in the Royal Variety Performance. And this winter he’ll be playing Merlin the Wizard in Sleeping Beauty at Swansea’s Grand Theatre. It runs until 8 January, so his 2017 looks set to get off to a flying start too.
Swansea Grand Theatre, 9 December 2016 to 8 January 2017
Panto in Falmouth – Cinderella
For panto with a quirky edge, it's got to be the Miracle Theatre's take on Cinderella at the Princess Pavilion, Falmouth. The Ffitch Repertory Players have reinterpreted the classic tale of Cinderella and her ugly step sisters - Euthanasia and Anaesthesia in this version - complete with lots of behind-the-scenes glimpses of the cast in action. Expect old-school, tongue-in-cheek, festive theatre at its finest.
Princess Pavilion, Falmouth, 16 to 31 December
Picked your panto? Now choose your megabus ticket.