Theatres across the land are opening their doors for some glorious, festive shows - and creating a dauntingly vast programme for audiences to pick from. But never fear, Daily Info is here to help you choose. Here's our list of where to spend a matinee or evening catching some cracking theatrics.
He's behind you!
We have to begin any look at festive theatre shows with the beloved panto. If you've been to a panto you'll know the set up well: slapstick comedy, dazzling music, fairies, villains, and dames. And if you've never seen one? well there are several this season to introduce you to perhaps the most British form of theatre. Jack & the Beanstalk is the Oxford Playhouse's latest, and their shows are dazzling audience pleasing treats.
Three pantomimes further afield are Goldilocks and the Three Bears at Dorchester Village Hall, Cinderella at Chipping Norton Theatre and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Aylesbury Waterside. Getting a headstart on Panto season, the circus-themed Goldilocks and the Three Bears charges onstage in the final week of November. Meanwhile, Cinderella offers a riot of colour and laugh-out-loud silliness, complete with a carnival of Latin American music. And Snow White has stars of Strictly Come Dancing and BBC Three Countries radio, as well as magic and audience participation.
New takes on something classic
Some shows are not quite pantos, but instead take on classic stories and give them a fresh spin. The Watermill Theatre do this every year with aplomb, and their latest work is The Wizard of Oz, following a girl to a fantastical world full of strange creatures and distinctive characters.
Another option is the Story Museum's Tom Thumb, a playful take on the fairy tale, performed entirely on and under a kitchen table.
It also wouldn't be the festive period without several new versions of Charles Dickens' ghostly tale, A Christmas Carol. At the forefront is Creation Theatre's latest show at the North Wall, bringing audiences right into the centre of the emotional highs and lows of Scrooge's Christmas Eve journey. Meanwhile at the Aylesbury Waterside, a cast of two take on the over 30 characters in a rollicking version of Dickens.
And the Oxford Theatre Guild have a new production of Shakespeare's Macbeth. The Bard's tale of regicide, witches, and prophesies fulfilled. It's a perfect pick for those who want a break from all the Christmas cheer.
The Oxford theatre season has its firm favourites that bring great shows to the stage every December. Puppet-based brilliance comes from Wild Boor Ideas, who this year adapt Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul's beloved Winnie and Wilbur, with performances in Banbury and Oxford. And another beloved fixture of Oxford are time-travelling magicians Morgan & West, who bring their frantic festive frolics to Aylesbury and Oxford.
Standing out from the crowd, the Old Fire Station present something new for adults each year, with this year's production, Glacier, a festive comedy about wild swimming and female friendship, written by stand-up comic Alison Spittle.
Perhaps you want a show for younger children with the presence of a jolly red-suited figure. In which case there are two shows to choose from. In the Burton Taylor Studio we've got Dear Father Christmas, aimed at 3 to 6 year olds, bringing stories, songs and decoration making with Santa Claus and his elves. And at the Aylesbury Waterside you can help the elves create a new method of transportation in Santa's New Sleigh.
And the Cornerstone Arts Centre have their own Christmas show, with the new musical Heart of Winter, as stories and dreams come to life for a young girl at Christmas.
The New Theatre are the titans of crowd pleasing musicals at this time of the year, with two dazzling shows back-to-back. First up, Pretty Woman is the musical adaptation of THAT beloved romcom. And it's followed by another West End darling, in the form of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, a funny, uplifting, glitzy production.
For younger audience members there's two shows sure to delight. The Lightbulb Princess at the Pegasus Theatre is a new show filled with songs, audience participation and plenty of fun to be had. Whilst in Banbury you can catch There's a Monster in Your Christmas Show at the Mill Arts Centre, a high-energy interactive blast of imagination, music and monsters.
And let's hear it for the Cornerstone Arts Centre, who's roster of events seems to have something for everyone this December. As well as their big Christmas show, we've got the Oxford Gospel Choir's Christmas Joy, there's a burlesque special from the Hundred Watt Club, the toe-tapping Jingle Bell Jazz, and a perfect first slice of theatre joy with the interactive, sensory show A Flight Before Christmas.
Check out Daily Info's Great Big Chistmas Show Giveaway throughout November for the chance to win tickets to some of the best festive productions.