When in New York or London (or any other city with a strong performing arts scene), thespian activity might not seem an obvious family holiday activity. Actually, there are several fantastic critically acclaimed stage shows that both children and adults can enjoy (that don’t involve franchise cartoon characters on ice). If you pick the right ones, even toddlers might sit quietly for the entire show. (Invest in a soundtrack at the gift shop – they are less torturous than most children’s albums to listen to on repeat in the car.) Remember to look out for discounted last minute tickets for extra savings. Here are some good starters when you're in New York or London with kids. 

The Lion King

This is perhaps the most famed of the family musicals and there is good reason why. The production values are astonishing – the costumes mesmerising and clever, the content appropriately family-friendly and the Elton John songs stirring. As a stand-alone experience it is impressive – as an adaptation of a cartoon it is outstanding. Make sure you get a seat in the aisle so the kids don’t miss the parade of animals at the start of each act.

www.thelionking.com; www.thelionking.co.uk

Matilda The Musical

Who doesn’t love Roald Dahl? This wickedly black comedy musical has taken all the best bits of the fabulous story book and turned it into a delightfully macabre and over-the-top sensory experience. Expect all the exaggerated characters that made the novel about a little genius beating the odds so famous.


Billy Elliot The Musical

If you have budding ballerinas in the family, this tale of the working class boy making good through dance will have everyone tapping their toes. It is heart-warming, a little heart-breaking and definitely memorable. And with another Elton John score, there’s very little to criticise.



This tale of the witches of The Wizard Of Oz has much of the darkness of that classic tale, so is probably more suitable for older children. However the fantastical scenes with flying cast members, magic and intrigue will delight imaginations of both young and old.



An oldie, but a goodie, if you grew up with it in the ’80s, likelihood is you will still hold a soft spot for the little red-headed orphan singing beloved songs like “Tomorrow” and “Maybe”. The stage musical is a little twee versus the film version, but there is still enough gumption and sass to make it fun – and Miss Hannigan is still a riot. 


For another local theatre production company based in New York that is fun to visit with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story New York City Insider.

For more on other things to do in New York City with kids, see the story by suitcases&strollers contributor, Bindi Irwin, here