London's Top 10 Family-friendly Theatres
Continuing our London Theatre Guides series, we're celebrating half-term by highlighting some of the capital's most welcome and exciting venues for younger audiences.
So, if you're looking for the perfect place to take your child on their first theatre trip, or for kid-friendly shows, spaces and activities, check out our 10 recommendations for plays and playing!
1. Polka Theatre
Over 90,000 children visit Polka annually, drawn by its imaginative work and friendly spaces - like the café, playground, garden, and foyer filled with toys, books, dressing up and colouring in. Participation is key, with a variety of workshops and after-show events, and kids can even shape the programme via the Young Voices scheme.
2. Little Angel Theatre
Puppetry is at the heart of the Little Angel's innovative theatre programme, with work aimed at everyone from babies to adults (like puppet-maker Matthew Robins's film club), plus a range of classes and courses for devotees of all ages. This week's offerings include the chance to bring your cartoon favourites to life through puppetry.
3. Lyric Hammersmith
The renowned London venue has a dedicated Young Lyric wing, giving young people from all backgrounds access to the arts. Classes range from beginners' ballet and youth orchestra to coding for musicians and the exciting opportunity to create a new show with a professional theatre company in just a week.
4. The Albany
Lead partner of the Family Arts Campaign, the Albany is a prime example of accessible theatre. Family-friendly shows sit alongside adult offerings, and young artists are given a vital platform. The participatory programme features holiday activities, mentoring and skills development, and the theatre has close links with local schools - plus the patio garden welcomes all.
5. Unicorn Theatre
Presenting around 20 shows a year for children aged six months to 18, the Unicorn is a haven for creative youngsters. There are workshops and free events (like a Saturday play club) alongside a varied, dynamic season of shows, plus a collaborative Schools Programme, birthday party packages, and spaces like a comfy toy-filled living room.
6. Orange Tree Theatre
The resurgent Orange Tree is now a hot venue for discerning theatregoers - and has plenty of opportunities for kids too. The venue introduces Shakespeare's plays in a lively way, offers backstage tours, practical workshops and a youth theatre, as well as wonderful initiatives like hosting Flute Theatre's shows for autistic children and their families.
7. Half Moon
High-quality children's and young-audience work at affordable prices: Half Moon keeps its tickets at just £7. There's also an art gallery, where youngsters can offer up their own responses on chalkboards or dig into the art cart, and a youth theatre featuring expert support for those with learning difficulties or disabilities.
Inclusive productions and interactive fun - everything from Planet Play, offering sensory learning for babies and toddlers via songs, puppets and dance, to a filmmaking workshop for budding cinephiles, young musicians' workshop, or Broadway concert for all. Chickenshed also runs a course for practitioners, sharing its experience of youth-guided theatre.
This cultural hub hosts regular family-friendly productions, like The Very Hunger Caterpillar Show, plus classes for pre-school children through to youth theatre and dance, and even adults. There's something for everyone, from mini Mozarts to yoga, street dance and musical theatre enthusiasts, as well as school performances and work experience.
10. National Theatre
The UK's most prestigious venue is also looking to the next generation through its Learning programme. There are courses for young makers and technicians, a dedicated festival, the chance to compose music, design costumes or try a stage fight at hands-on family days, and exciting school link-ups via Creative Choices.
Got questions about family-friendly venues - or any other element of the London theatregoing experience? Tweet us @BroadwayWorldUK