Tips for Taking Children to the Theatre

London’s West End is a well-known hotspot for parents seeking the perfect family production, but due to age restrictions at some theatres, finding a one-show-fits-all can be a difficult task! Taking a trip to the theatre is a great way to inspire youngsters and to encourage them to use their imaginations. It’s the perfect alternative for plonking them down in front of the TV – and you can enjoy yourself too!

Kids Week is an annual summer event that applies to a large selection of West End shows. Booking tickets for Kids Week ensures that children aged 16 and under are able to see shows for free when accompanied by a full paying adult, with two additional children being able to attend at half price! What better way to spend a day in the summer holidays?

For those who want to attend the theatre out of holiday time, plenty of theatres put on children’s shows throughout the year! With productions ranging from the gruesome Horrible Histories series to Tall Stories’ ever-successful The Gruffalo, you can guarantee a great night (or matinee!) at the theatre.

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Age Suitability

Big West End shows are generally not tailored for a younger audience. In fact, many large scale productions may not be entirely child-friendly. Some theatres regularly house productions made for children, such as the Lyric Theatre, Garrick Theatre and Vaudeville Theatre, with shows such as The Gruffalo, Horrible Histories, Peppa Pig and The Railway Children enjoying successful runs.

Whilst many theatres have strict age restrictions that do not admit youngsters under 5 into the auditorium, the above mentioned shows are typically made for little ones of all ages. Even babes-in-arms are sometimes allowed into the theatre, although usually all attendees must hold their own ticket.

It is worth noting that it is important to check the age restrictions and recommendations for all productions before booking with children.

Shows suitable for ages 4 and under

Below is a list of theatre suitable for those aged 4 and under.

Off-West End theatres that house shows tailor-made for babies, toddlers and young children include Polka Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Half Moon and Little Angel Theatre. These venues host productions perfect for youngsters, alongside many fun workshops that may get your little ones involved in theatre.

Show Venue Age Recommendation Age Restriction Does my child need a ticket? Are booster seats available?
The Gruffalo Lyric Theatre 3+ Although recommended for those aged 3 and up, the show operates a babes-in-arms policy. Yes No
The Railway Children King’s Cross Theatre 2+ Children under the age of 2 will not be admitted. Yes No
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Ambassadors Theatre 2+ All ages are permitted into the theatre. A babes-in-arms policy is available. Yes (for those aged 1+) Yes
The Snowman Peacock Theatre 2+ All ages are permitted into the theatre. Yes No

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Shows suitable for ages 5+

Below is a list of top theatre shows suitable for children aged 5 and over. Generally, West End shows do not offer discounts for children unless it is Kids Week.

Show Venue Age Recommendation Age Restriction Does my child need a ticket? Are booster seats available?
Stomp Ambassadors Theatre 5+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes Yes
Peter Pan Goes Wrong Apollo Theatre 8+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
Wicked Apollo Victoria Theatre 7+ Children under the age of 3 will not be admitted. Yes Yes
Matilda the Musical Cambridge Theatre 6+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes Yes
An American in Paris Dominion Theatre 6+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
The Play That Goes Wrong Duchess Theatre 8+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
The Lion King Lyceum Theatre 6+ Children under the age of 3 will not be admitted. Yes Yes
Thriller Live Lyric Theatre 5+ Children under the age of 4 will not be admitted. Yes No
School of Rock the Musical New London Theatre 8+ Children under the age of 4 will not be admitted. Yes No
Mamma Mia! Novello Theatre 5+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
Aladdin Prince Edward Theatre 6+ Children under the age of 3 will not be admitted. Yes Yes
Les Miserables Queens Theatre 7+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes Yes
Dreamgirls Savoy Theatre 5+ Children under the age of 3 will not be admitted. Yes Yes
Motown the Musical Shaftesbury Theatre 5+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Theatre Royal Drury Lane 7+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes Yes

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Shows suitable for ages 10+

Below is a list of top theatre shows suitable for children aged 10 and over.

Show Venue Age Recommendation Age Restriction Does my child need a ticket? Are booster seats available?
Kinky Boots Adelphi Theatre 12+ Children under the age of 4 will not be admitted. Yes No
Beautiful Aldwych Theatre 11+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery Criterion Theatre 10+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
The Bodyguard Dominion Theatre 12+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
The Woman in Black Fortune Theatre 12+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Gielgud Theatre 11+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes Yes
The Phantom of the Opera Her Majesty’s Theatre 10+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Palace Theatre 10+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
Jersey Boys Piccadilly Theatre 12+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No
The Book of Mormon Prince of Wales Theatre 16+ Strict age limit of 16+ due to excessive adult language and themes. Yes No
The Mousetrap St Martin’s Theatre 12+ Children under the age of 5 will not be admitted. Yes No

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Pushchairs

If you are bringing a young child to the theatre in a pushchair, then there is often space in a cloakroom or “buggy bay” to place your pushchair for the duration of the performance. It is worth phoning the theatre’s box office to double check before bringing a pushchair. Here are a few things you ought to know about pushchairs in theatres:

Booster Cushions

Booster cushions/seats are only occasionally available from large London venues. It can sometimes be worth phoning the theatre if you are unsure of which tickets to book. Here are a few things we think you should know about booster cushions in a theatre:

  • A booster cushion is not included as part of your child’s ticket
  • Not all theatres provide booster cushions – booster cushions are a complimentary service the theatre provides at their discretion
  • Booster cushions cannot be booked in advance
  • Most children will not need a booster cushion in a West End theatre as the stage will be at a higher level than the seating
  • Booster cushions are generallynot provided in the higher tiers of seating
  • Height restrictions are in place for booster cushions
  • Theatres usually have a limited supply of booster seats that are first-come, first-served
  • Most theatres will not be keen for you to bring your own

General Tips

  • Arriving early may guarantee a booster seat and necessary toilet trips
  • Dress/Royal Circles are often the best seating level for children
  • Matinees are best to take children to
  • Make sure you research the show beforehand, as some children may not enjoy particular scenes
  • Be aware of the appropriate level of behaviour in a theatre
  • West End theatres do not invite children on stage
  • West End theatres do not make birthday announcements during a show
  • Theatres often do not have baby changing facilities

For more tips on the perfect shows for children, check out our top 6 West End musicals!