From fireside cosiness to the filthily funny, there’s a feast of festive entertainment in the city this year
THE SCOUSE CINDERELLA | Royal Court | 23 November – 19 January 2019
In the spirit of Elvis Presley, the Royal Court is determined to make it a blue Christmas this year… but not for the reasons Elvis was singing about. In true Royal Court tradition, this adults-only panto promises to be a filthier form of festive entertainment, with the same cast of fabulously funny local faces as last year’s smash hit show, The Scouse Nativity.
Royal Court, Roe Street, L1 1HL (evenings 8pm, matinees 2pm; tickets from £14 at www.royalcourtliverpool.co.uk/)
THE SNOW QUEEN | Everyman Theatre | 24 November – 19 January 2019
The Everyman’s annual rock ‘n’ roll panto must be one of the longest running festive fixtures in the city, with the same writers and key cast members coming back every year (including firm comic favourites, Francis Tucker and Adam Yeast). But when a show works so well, why fiddle with the formula? Expect a blizzard of snow-flecked silliness along with spectacular songs from every classic pop era.
Everyman Theatre, Hope Street, L1 9BH (various times; tickets from £15 at www.everymanplayhouse.com/)
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST | Unity Theatre | 30 November – 5 January 2019
While other theatres pack their Christmas shows with bright lights, big volume and bags full of double, triple and quadruple entendres, the Unity’s annual collaboration with Action Transport Theatre produces a calmer, more considered style of festive production. Aimed at younger children and their families, this ‘bold retelling’ of Beauty and the Beast should be a magical, innuendo-free treat.
Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Place, L1 9BG (various show times; tickets from £9.50 at www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk)
THE BOX OF DELIGHTS | FACT | Saturday 1 December
This much-loved BBC adaptation of John Masefield’s yuletide yarn was first broadcast in 1984. Back then its special effects were state-of-the-art and, although they look a little creaky now, the quality of this classic teatime drama still shines through. Featuring superb performances from greats like Patrick Troughton and Robert Stephens, this atmospheric tale is as Christmassy as they come.
FACT, 88 Wood Street, L1 4DQ (2pm; tickets £12.20 at www.fact.co.uk/)
WINTER ARTS MARKET | Liverpool Cathedral | Saturday 1 December
The tenth Winter Arts Market makes its annual pilgrimage to the Cathedral, where it turns the gargantuan space into a shopping mall it’s okay to like. Promising over 200 independent artists, designers and ‘makers’ – to use the current vernacular – there will also be a food market and vintage fair, so smug shoppers can sort those tricky Christmas gifts with a good three weeks to spare.
Liverpool Cathedral, St James Mount, L1 7AZ (10am-7pm; entry £3, under 16s free)
ALADDIN | Hope Street Theatre | 1-30 December
Liverpool’s newest theatre space turns to traditional panto for its first festive season, with Drops of Light theatre company making Hope Street its base this year. This may be fringe theatre, but the company promises ‘immersive fun for the whole family’, and the intimate space – with its wonderful wood-panelled adjacent bar – is likely to prove perfect for a fun, friendly, smaller-scale show.
Hope Street Theatre, 22 Hope Street, L1 9BY (various show times; tickets from £13 at www.ticketquarter.co.uk/)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL | Liverpool Playhouse | 8 December – 12 January 2019
For those looking for an alternative to panto, this fast-paced, played-for-laughs take on Dickens’ classic story - created by the physical comedy company Spymonkey - should make a great stocking filler. Four performers take on the full cast of characters; including spirits, Cratchits and old misery-guts Scrooge himself. Spymonkey have a reputation as purveyors of seriously funny theatre, so expect an irreverent angle on the festive favourite.
Liverpool Playhouse, Williamson Square, L1 1EL (various show times; tickets from £10 at www.everymanplayhouse.com/)
SECRET WINTER GARDEN | Croxteth Hall & Country Park | 13-22 December
The dazzling inventiveness of the Liverpool Lantern Company lights up Croxteth Hall and its Country Park this Christmas, with the transformation of the grand Victorian venue into a luminous wintry wonderland. Promising a ‘glowing trail of giant surprises, secret pathways, amazing creatures and enchanting characters’, there will also be a twilight market of food, drink and local crafts.
Croxteth Hall & Country Park, Muirhead Avenue East, L11 1EH (timed entry from 4.30-7.30pm; tickets from £11 at www.ticketquarter.co.uk/)
TERRY TITTER’S COURT BY THE BAUBLES | Royal Court Studio | 13-15 December
With the exception of a supporting role alongside Count Arthur Strong, there have been precious few opportunities to see Liverpool’s Terry Kilkelly in full comic flight since his regular Christmas slot at the Unity came to an end. But now he’s back for three nights only in the Royal Court’s basement studio space and, for those who remember the good times, the return of that gold lamé jacket can’t come soon enough.
Royal Court Studio, Roe Street, L1 1HL (7.30pm; tickets £12 at www.royalcourtliverpool.co.uk/)
YA NAN’S BIG QUIZ AND SING-A-LONG | Camp and Furnace | Thursday 6 and 13 December
If the quizzing you usually get from your nan involves her repeatedly asking “So what is it you actually do in your job?”, this booze-fuelled session should make a refreshing change. With rounds including Play Your Cards Right, Family Fortunes and Blind Date, plus cash rewards and ‘bin-worthy prizes’ (their words), this is the kind of nan’s party we all dream of as we’re settling down to yet another episode of Open All Hours with the volume turned up to eleven.
Camp and Furnace, 67 Greenland Street, L1 0BY (6-11pm; tickets £9.90 at www.campandfurnace.com/)
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK | Empire Theatre | 14 December – 6 January 2019
If you like your panto big, brash and full of beans, the Empire’s spectacular Jack and the Beanstalk should deliver some giant surprises. As they proudly declare, it’s ‘brought to you by the world’s biggest pantomime producer’, so what it lacks in local quirks it should more than makes up for in sheer commercial oomph.
Empire Theatre, Lime Street, L1 1JE (various show times; tickets from £11 at www.atgtickets.com)
KAZIMIER WINTER BALL: NEW RITUALS | Invisible Wind Factory | Saturday 14 December
You’d never expect anything as mundane as a straightforward Christmas party from the Kazimier crowd, and sure enough, their seasonal shindig sounds suitably enigmatic. ‘Part club night, part live performance and part social experiment’, they say, describing it as a ‘night designed to stimulate the faculty of the imagination and discovery in a new kind of ceremonial happening’. Dogshow and Stealing Sheep perform live, and who knows what else will happen?
Invisible Wind Factory, 3 Regent Road, L3 7DS (9pm-4am; tickets £10 at www.skiddle.com/)
SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS | Philharmonic Hall | 16-23 December
If there’s one thing they’ve got right at the Philharmonic Hall over recent years (and let’s be fair, they’ve got loads of things right), it’s their Christmas season. Classic FM’s John Suchet hosts the annual Spirit of Christmas event, presenting seasonal readings alongside the ‘mouth-watering spread of Yuletide music old and new’. The orchestra is also joined by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, and their youth choir.
Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, L1 9BP (evenings 7.30pm, matinee 2.30pm; tickets from £21 at www.liverpoolphil.com/)
ST JOHN’S ROAD CHRISTMAS PARTY | St John’s Road, Waterloo | Monday 17 December
The last few years have seen the pleasing rise of St John’s Road in Waterloo as an independent shopping haven. From the sensational bakes at Caz’s Kitchen to the jewellery and homewares at Ruby Blue Lane, the bygone fashions at Vintage Corner and the fine food and drink at The Workshop, all these traders and many more will be joining in the fun. Last year was a blast so expect the same again.
St John’s Road, Waterloo, L22 (5-8.30pm; more information at facebook.com)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL | St George’s Hall Concert Room | 21-23 December
A second entry in our seasonal round-up for A Christmas Carol but, whereas the Playhouse is offering an irreverent take on the story, this version by local touring company Ginificent Productions promises to be a traditional treat. Get in the mood with Victorian carols and ‘a bowl of Smoking Bishop’ Christmas punch in the hall’s lobby area, then retire to the concert room for the spooky, heart-warming theatrical tale.
St George’s Hall Concert Room, St George’s Place, L1 1JJ (various show times; tickets from £9 at www.stgeorgeshallliverpool.co.uk)