Top 10 London Family Shows

Struggling to fill the school holidays, and no luck getting Cursed Child tickets? Fear not - there are plenty of fantastic London theatre options for family audiences.

1. Matilda, Cambridge Theatre

This Roald Dahl smash hit is still the best musical outing in town - for parents as well as kids. Brought to stage by Tim Minchin, Dennis Kelly and Matthew Warchus, it's sharp, anarchic and endlessly creative. A great introduction to theatre - ages 6+, running time 2hr 40.

Currently booking until May 2017

2. James and the Giant Peach, Polka Theatre

You can also celebrate Dahl's centenary with this song-filled, interactive adventure, adapted by David Wood, which celebrates the power of the imagination and - of course - kids defeating intractable adults. Recommended for ages 5-11, and running time 1hr 45.

Until August 14

3. The Secret Garden, Ambassadors Theatre

Both for and featuring youngsters, with over 300 making their West End debut. This family-friendly Spring Version musical is perfect for fans of Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel, retaining its magic but filleted down to a manageable 70 minutes. Read director Ruperts Hands' blog here

July 27-August 31

4. The Gruffalo, Lyric Theatre

Tall Stories' winning version of Julia Donaldson's beloved picture book features enjoyable songs and plenty of silly physical humour, as it relates the tale of Mouse navigating the hungry woodland creatures. Just 55min, suitable for ages 3+, and there's a relaxed performance on August 9.

Until January 8, 2017

5. Bugsy Malone, Lyric Hammersmith

Alan Parker's film has been superbly translated to stage by Sean Holmes and choreographer Drew McOnie, with its gangsters, showgirls, music and mayhem all intact. Plenty of parodic chuckles for grown-ups, and a thrilling ride for youngsters. Recommended for 6+, and 2hr running time.

Until September 4

6. The Railway Children, King's Cross Theatre

The real 60-tonne vintage steam train is the jaw-dropping star of this popular company, but it's just one element of a beautifully heartfelt adaptation of E. Nesbit's story. Never mind kids - it's been known to reduce hardened adults to a blubbering wreck. Suitable for ages 2+, running time 2hr 20.

Booking until January 8, 2017

7. The Scarecrow's Wedding, Leicester Square Theatre

Another Julia Donaldson favourite, this time her tale of sweet scarecrow romance upended by a dastardly villain. Scamp Theatre brings the story to the stage with a high-energy cast, giddy countryside hijinks and a catchy score. Suitable for ages 3+, running time 55min.

Until September 4

8. 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, Shakespeare's Globe

Michael "War Horse" Morpurgo's novella about American soldiers training for D-Day in Devon has been adapted by the inventive company Kneehigh, with plenty of jazzy music, movement and puppetry. Recommended 9+ (some heavier material), running time likely about 75min.

August 11-September 11

9. Horrible Histories - The Best of Barmy Britain, Apollo Theatre

The hit stage version of Terry Deary's book series, directed by and starring Neal Foster, returns with more gleefully gory bits from history. This omnibus production features everything from Boudica and the plague to Henry VIII, Guy Fawkes and Queen Victoria. Recommended 5+, running time 1hr 10.

August 5-September 3

10. Stig of the Dump, Arts Theatre

Mike Kenny and Luke Sheppard's fast-paced, engaging show revitalises Clive King's classic novel about a young boy befriending a mysterious caveman who lives in a rubbish-filled chalk pit. The London Contemporary Theatre production features CBeebies' Katy Ashworth, songs, audience interaction and some salient lessons about recycling and integration. Recommended 4+, 55min.

Until August 26

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From This Author Marianka Swain

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