West End Advent Calendar: Which Theatre Doors are opening this December?

With the great news that “lockdown 2” is over, a host of West End Theatres are celebrating by opening their doors to welcome back audiences this December. To keep everyone safe, there is a strict limit of 50% capacity so there are tickets available but they’re going fast. We all need a little Christmas sparkle in our lives, so forget Lapland – this year it’s all about Theatreland baby!

Like a showbizzy Angel Gabriel, we’ve popped on a tinsel halo, fluffed up our white wings and taken a quick aerial trip over central London to see which doors are opening – and we bring good tidings of great joy to you and all theatre fans: There are shows aplenty!

Which doors are opening this December?

Apollo Theatre

This Shaftesbury Avenue favourite is named after the Greek god of the arts and chief of the muses, Apollo, and was the fourth Theatre built on Shaftesbury Avenue. It was the first West End theatre to reopen after the first national lockdown. The theatre re-opens (again) on 6th December with the now sold-out Roles We’ll Never Play, followed by the return of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie from 12th December.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre from 12 December 2020
Tickets from £20

Dominion Theatre

Appropriately for a theatre with its own spirits (a ghostly child is said to haunt the building), The Dominion Theatre reopens on 7th December with A Christmas Carol – A Musical Staged Concert -. This Dickens festive classic features music by Alan Menken and has an all-star cast including Brian Conley (9to5, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Jacqueline Jossa (Eastenders), Lucie Jones (Waitress) and Matt Jay-Willis (Little Shop of Horrors),  (including a A Christmas Carol from 7th December. Check out these classic theatre hauntings in our archive.

A Christmas Carol – A Musical Staged Concert at the Dominion Theatre from 7 December 2020
Tickets from £33.10

Duchess Theatre

The bijou Duchess theatre was built on a site destroyed in a Zeppelin-raid in World War One…but you can’t keep a great theatre down! Expect more chaos and destruction, this time with the return of the hilariously incompetent Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’s The Play That Goes Wrong, re-opening from 9th December.

The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre from 9 December 2020
Tickets from £22.00

Garrick Theatre

In 1960, the Garrick Theatre was one of several facing permanent closure when the GLC proposed a complete redevelopment of Covent Garden, but this grande dame of Charing Cross Road was made of stronger stuff than that! Surviving since 1889, the Garrick has also made it through two World Wars and now Covid-19. Doors re-open on 4th December with hilarious drag whodunnit Death Drop in a festive season including performances of Potted Panto and Showstopper The Improvised Musical.

Death Drop at the Garrick Theatre from 4 December 2020
Tickets from £24.00

Potted Panto at the Garrick Theatre from 5 December 2020
Tickets from £20.00

Showstopper The Improvised Musical at the Garrick Theatre from 7 December 2020
Tickets from £18.00

London Coliseum

When the London Coliseum first opened on Christmas Eve 1904, it was the first European theatre to provide lifts to transport patrons to the upper floors. 116 years later it’s still lifting our spirits, this time with Nutcracker Delights from 17th December. The show features festive highlights from Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet, including the famous Sugar Plum Fairy. No Christmas would be complete without the delicious divertissements of The Nutcracker!

Nutcracker Delights at the London Coliseum from 17 December 2020
Tickets from £12.00

London Palladium

Home to countless Royal Variety Performances and lavish Pantomimes, the London Palladium has hosted just about every big name in Showbiz history from Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland to Madonna and Miss Piggy. They won’t make a muppet out of Santa though as this year they’ve saved Christmas by staging Pantoland at the Palladium. The show opens on 12th December and at the time of writing a few seats were still available from the theatre box office.

Pantoland at the Palladium, at the London Palladium from 12 December 2020
Check with LW Theatres for tickets

Lyceum Theatre

Another West End favourite with more lives than a cat, The Lyceum Theatre has faced closure numerous times and even spent time after World War 2 as a grand ballroom. This would have been perfect for its forthcoming resident, comedian Bill Bailey, who has proved on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing to be no stranger to the Ballroom himself with partner Oti Mabuse. You can catch this twinkle-toed comedian in Bill Bailey: Christmas Larks from 28th December.

Bill Bailey: Christmas Larks at the Lyceum Theatre from 28 December 2020
Tickets from £47.40

Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave

Going strong since 1888, the Lyric Theatre is the oldest surviving theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue. A list of stars who’ve appeared here reads like a who’s-who of theatre royalty – John Gielgud, Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Glenda Jackson…so it’s appropriate that this gem of a theatre should roar back into life with smash hit Six The Musical, based on the wives of King Henry VIII. The show returns on 5th December, turning tortured Tudors into pop princesses!

Six The Musical at the Lyric Theatre from 5 December 2020
Tickets from £32.40

Noël Coward Theatre

Rather appropriately, the Noël Coward was the first London Theatre to stage one of Coward’s plays. We definitely think he’d approved of the show to they’ve chosen to re-open his eponymous theatre from 8thDecember, The Comeback. The show tells the story of two double acts fighting to wrestle control of the most chaotic, farcical and high-stakes gig of their respective careers. Think Noises Off meets The Morecambe and Wise Show.

The Comeback at the Noël Coward Theatre from 8 December 2020
Check with Delfont Mackintosh Theatres for tickets

Palace Theatre

Nimax Theatres are proving to be the complete heroes of 2020. The Palace Theatre (which originally opened as the Royal English Opera House in 1891) is another Nimax venue reopening this December, with a heavenly host of shows lined up to see us through the festive season. This magnificent venue, usually home to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will instead be offering six seasonal delights from 7th December right through until the New Year.

The Understudy at the Palace Theatre from 7 December 2020
Tickets from £24.00

Kings of Broadway at the Palace Theatre from 9 December 2020
Tickets from £23.00

Sasha Regan’s Pirates of Penzance at the Palace Theatre from 12 December 2020
Tickets from £28.75

Adam Kay – This is Going to Hurt at the Palace Theatre from 15 December 2020
Tickets from £15.00

West End Musical Christmas at the Palace Theatre from 17 December 2020
Tickets from £22.50

Adam Kay – Twas the Night Shift Before Christmas at the Palace Theatre from 21 December 2020
Tickets from £20.00

Sondheim Theatre

Until very recently this was known as the Queen’s Theatre and is one of the cluster of theatres towards the lower end of Shaftesbury Avenue. The theatre opened in 1907 as one of a pair (twin to the Gielgud Theatre). It was heavily bomb damaged in WW2 and didn’t reopen until 20 years later. Fortunately this closure hasn’t lasted that long (though it may feel like it has!) and the theatre will once again open its doors on 5th December 2020 with Les Misérables, The All Star Staged Concert.

Les Misérables, The All Star Staged Concert at the Sondheim Theatre
Check with Delfont Mackintosh Theatres for tickets

Theatre Royal, Haymarket

Another of London’s most haunted theatres is the beautiful Theatre Royal Haymarket. It’s also one of London’s oldest, dating back to 1720 though on its current site since 1821. It’s comforting to know that its spirits will be feeling a theatrical heartbeat this Christmas with the arrival from 3rd December of Love Letters – making it the first show to re-open the West End since Lockdown 2 was lifted. The show, a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, tells the heart-warming tale of friendship and romance of two lovers who fate conspires to keep apart.

Love Letters at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket
Tickets from £25.20

Vaudeville Theatre

Although most of the current building dates from 1926, there’s been a Vaudeville Theatre here since 1870. It’s one of the few theatres in the country still in possession of early stage mechanisms including a thunder drum and lightning sheets. Who knows – they might be needed for the first show to open here post-lockdown from 9th December, Mischief Movie Night the improvised movie live on stage! You suggest a genre, location and title and the  Mischief improvisers will bring the show to life, complete with rewinds, fast forwards, directors cuts and a live score!

Mischief Movie Night at the Vaudeville Theatre
Tickets from £24.00

Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

If you have young ones to keep entertained this December, and your wings will carry you out of the West End, we’d highly recommend taking the family along to the lovely Riverside Studios, Hammersmith to see Dear Santa. This charmingly christmassy show opens on 2nd December (even beating the West End shows!) and is a perfect introduction to theatre for those aged 2+ and everyone who believes in Santa!

Dear Santa at the Lyric Hammersmith from 2 December 2020
Tickets from £18.40

Does it matter which Tier I’m in?

Current government advice means that if you’re in Tiers 1 or 2 you are free to travel to the West End and enjoy live theatre. If you’re in Tier 3, unfortunately you’ll have to wait a little longer, but it’s still a great time to check out our list of great shows to see in 2021.

Theatres are moving heaven and earth to keep audiences safe this Christmas – check out See it Safely: Your guide to a COVID-safe theatre experience to help with your visit.

With shows re-opening this week and tickets selling fast, don’t delay…book today!

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