Get in a Christmassy mood by seeing one of the many specially devised seasonal shows for children already running at theatres around the country.


Anthony Clark, director of this year's glorious Red Balloon rounds up the same team for a new musical version of Pinnochio. Beautifully designed, with an original score by Mark Vibrans. Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Broad St, Birmingham (0121-236 4455). Mon 9 to 25 Jan. Matinee Mon 2pm. Family pounds 24-pounds 48; children, pounds 7-pounds 15.

Beauty and the Beast

This in-the-round production creates two worlds: Beauty's sumptuous environment of 18th-century France and an unknown world of dreams, nightmares and adventure. This other world is dominated by the Beast, whose servants are marionettes and automata.

The Young Vic, The Cut, London SE1 (0171-928 6363). Today, 2.30pm and 7pm. Adults pounds 14; children, pounds 7.50.

Peter Pan

Fey fairies meet swashbuckling pirates and reptilian time bombs in Barry's classic tale of a little boy who never grows up.

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Quarry Hill, Leeds (0113-244 2111). Adults, pounds 9.50-pounds 17; children, pounds 7-pounds 14; family pounds 40.

The Amazing Tale of Good King Wenceslas

For something more exciting than the traditional panto, take your children along to this new, wintry musical with an exotic Czech flavour. The tale opens in Bohemia and features good King Wenceslas, cruel regent Olga and Knot the Dragon. Suitable for the over fives.

Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick Coventry (01203-524524). Family, pounds 27; children, pounds 5.50. Until 11 Jan, various times. Today, 2pm and 5.30pm

The Secret Garden

Orphan Mary Lennox goes to live in the forbidding Misselthwaite Manor, where she discovers the key to a magical secret garden. David Thomas (whose Railway Children featured a life-size steam engine) has designed this classic piece of Christmas Victoriana for the stage, so some rather special effects are promised.

Wolsey Theatre, Civic Drive Ipswich, Suffolk (01473-253725) from Tue 10 to 18 Jan. Weekdays, 2pm and 7pm; Saturdays 4pm and 7.30pm. Adult, pounds 9.50-pounds 13.50; children, pounds 7.50-pounds 11.50, family pounds 46


There's brainboggling sights ad whoopsey splunkers galore at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff this Christmas, where guest director Michael Bogdanov directs Roald Dahl's much-loved story of a Big Friendly Giant, who would rather blow dreams into the bedrooms of little children that the time- honoured giant antics of devouring "chiddlers' and human beans".

Sherman Theatre, Cardiff (01222 230 451) to 11 Jan. Adults, pounds 6-pounds 10; children, pounds 6-pounds 8. Various times. Today 2pm and 7pm

The Wizard of Oz

Get little heels clicking with a trip to Glagow Citizens, where Dorothy and Toto are taking a trip over the rainbow to the land of Oz. This family musical includes all the old favourites such as "Follow the yellow Brick Road". The Citizens Theatre, 119 Gorbals St, Glasgow (0141-429 0922) to 18 Jan. Adults, pounds 5-pounds 10; children, pounds 2.50-pounds 5; family pounds 25. Weekdays, 2pm and 7pm. Today 2pm, 5pm and 8pm.