It's Panto Season!... Oh No It Isn't!... A Family Guide to What's on for the 2009 Festive Season in London

Aladdin @ Hackney Empire
Aladdin @ Hackney Empire

The smell of the greasepaint, the ruffle of costumes and men dressed as women (and getting paid for it). No it's not the latest Gok Wan TV experiment but the start of the Pantomime season and London has once again got a pretty impressive pile of Pantos for all the family.

If you haven't been to one before - honestly, you should go. I saw Aladdin in Plymouth (Les Dennis as Buttons and some geezer out of Hi De Hi was Widow Twanky I believe) and it was quite a laugh. It is also cheaper than going to Alton Towers or flying to the sun and, in this day and age, we all need to watch the pennies.

So, with an 'oooohhhh' and an 'aahhhh' normally reserved for watching fireworks or West Ham miss another chance, have a read of our top 3 choices below...and maybe you shall go to the ball.

The iconic Hackney Empire presents 'Aladdin' this year, starting from Saturday 28th November right up until Saturday 9th January 2010 on an almost daily basis (save for the odd day-off - Buttons has to rest you know). The links below will take you to the best site where you can choose your preferred time of performance (matinees available on most days). Clive Rowe (last year's award-winning Mother Goose) and Anna Jane Casey head an experienced cast guaranteed to have you feeling good and all cosy. No turkey here! Just mayhem and laughter set in one of London's most historical theatre buildings. Tickets start from £12.00.

'Peter Pan' has been flying around Kensington Gardens all summer long and is now set to take flight over to the newly-constructed pavilion at the O2 Meridian Gardens for the Festive period. Ciaran Kellgren plays Peter Pan with Abby Ford as Wendy Darling and Jonathan Hyde as Captain Hook. The performance will feature a 'specially-commissioned 360-degree projected scenic design' to boot. Tickets start at £15.60.

Highgate's Jacksons Lane hosts the classic 'Cinderella' this year but with a twist. Instead of the usual rags-to-riches, Cinders ends up on reality TV looking for her true love. Sounds familiar ? Well, this performance also features magic and acrobatics as well as the original characters in a modern story. Tickets start at £9.50.

Whatever you choose to see just remember one thing - "It's behind you...!"

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