Panto season is a bit different this year, with productions either moving online or, in a few innovative cases, switching to a drive-in format. All the shows are competitively priced, and a good few are free to stream, which means you can make up for missing out on the full panto experience this year by sampling several productions from around Ireland.
A Christmas Carol
Streaming throughout December, from €10 per household, via livindred.ie
This feted production of Charles Dickens's classic tale from Livin' Dred takes an online tour with venues across the country. Starring Bryan Burroughs and Aaron Monaghan, it makes its first stop at Glór, in Ennis, Co Clare, this weekend before "travelling" virtually to venues including Siamsa Tíre, in Tralee, Co Kerry, and An Grianán, in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, with streams of the production becoming available from the venue's website at each stop.
Cinderella and Robin Hood
Online December 12th and 20th (Cinderella) and December 13th and 19th (Robin Hood), €10 per device, via Theatre Royal, 051-874402, theatreroyal.ie
A limited stream of archived shows from the Waterford Panto Society, via the Theatre Royal, promises fairy-tale escapism.
Leopardstown Racecourse, Dublin 18, December 4th-20th, €10 per car, 083-3083780, circusvegasonwheels.com
Drive in to the big top at Leopardstown Racecourse to watch traditional circus acts in a Covid-compliant setting from the comfort of your car.
Dame Stuffy and the Magic of the Christmas Panto
Streaming live from Axis Ballymun on December 22nd and 23rd, €10 per device, 01-8832100, axisballymun.ie
Ballymun favourite Dame Stuffy hosts a virtual Christmas extravaganza, sharing songs from Christmas pantos past and tales from the past year of local life.
Elves Got Talent
Drive-in performances at The Junction, Antrim, December 18th-20th, €10 per car, cahootsni.com
A drive-in theatre spectacular from Cahoots NI, where the assembled audience decides which elf will be crowned the Christmas king in a seasonal talent show. All proceeds from ticket sales go to Northern Ireland Children's Hospice.
Family Christmas at the Lyric Theatre Belfast
Streaming December 5th-January 3rd, £8 per device, lyrictheatre.co.uk
An opportunity to watch online three Christmas shows from the Lyric's last three years: Peter Pan: The Musical, Alice: The Musical, and Little Red Riding Hood. Tickets are available for the individual shows or as a discounted bundle, and the Lyric sweetens the deal with an optional extra of a confectionery and colouring-in home delivery with the Christmas at the Lyric Hamper.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Streaming from University Concert Hall, Limerick, December 26th-31st, €15 per device, uch.ie
The Limerick actor Liam O'Brien, of Emmerdale fame, is this year's baddie in the UCH annual extravaganza, which also features the regulars Richie Hayes and Myles Breen. A sign-language version is available on request.
Mr Fox and Friends
Streaming live at 3pm, December 12th, on the National Concert Hall's YouTube and Facebook channels, for free; also available to view for a week after the event
The National Concert Hall says Theatre Lovett's Christmas show will delight children and parents alike; expect seasonal songs, music and jokes, as well as guests Liam Ó Maonlaí, Kelli-Ann Masterson, Martin Brunsden, Simon Morgan, Conor Linehan, Olesya Zdorovetska, Nick Roth and, of course, Louis Lovett.
Nanny Nellie’s Panto Telly
Streaming December 22nd-31st, €10 per device, via Cork Opera House, 021-4270022, corkoperahouse.ie
Cork's rebel-reared panto dame brings locals on a tour down memory lane using recorded footage from the past five Christmases at the Opera House. Nanny Nellie (Frank Mackey) will entertain with the stories behind some of her favourite scenes, while sharing a few new topical gags too.
Livestreamed from Town Hall Theatre, Galway, at 3pm on December 19th, €10, bookings at tht.ie, limetreetheatre.ie, siamsatire.ie and glor.ie
This family concert, featuring Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite narrated and performed by the WhistleBlast Quartet, also includes Christmas songs to join in with from home. So gather your bells, pots and wooden spoons for a festive afternoon.
Once Upon a Panto
Streaming December 23rd-January 3rd, €15 per stream plus booking fee, olympiapanto.ie
Recorded at the Olympia Theatre and available on demand from December 23rd, Once Upon a Panto is an original fairy tale featuring unlikely heroes Polly and Olly as they race against time to save the day and give favourite fairy-tale characters their happily-ever-after. Ryan Andrews, James Patrice and Erin McGregor star.
Streaming from the Civic theatre in Tallaght, December 18th-January 5th, €15 per device, 01-4627477, civictheatre.ie
Dame Dottie and friends take a cinematic whirlwind tour around Pantoland, meeting fairy-tale characters from the Civic's past productions and pop-culture personalities along the way. With the added fun factor of a panto activity pack available for all advance bookings.
Drive-in performances at Malahide Castle, Dublin, December 11th-January 5th, €50 per car, panto.ie
Alan Hughes brings Sammy Sausages and his cronies to the dramatic grounds of Malahide Castle for a drive-in panto starring Jake Carter, Michele McGrath and Johnny Ward, in a lavish production directed by Simon Delaney.
Quest for the Jingle
Streaming until December 31st (except 24th-27th), free but booking essential, draiocht.ie
Created by Jo Quinn, Emily Matthews and Shane McKenna in association with Draíocht and DabbledooMusic, this free show, which is available for primary schools (up to fourth class) as well as families, is set in the north pole; it asks its audience to join in to help save Christmas and put some jingle back in the bells. With live footage from Lapland.
Rockin’ Christmas Rhymes
Streaming live from Black Box theatre in Galway on December 20th, €10 per device, branar.ie
Branar Téater do Pháistí offers a live musical treat for all the family with a merry mix of festive favourites and rocking rhymes performed by a five-piece band. Presented in collaboration with venues across the country.
The Snow Queen
Available to download until December 18th, €15 per household, via the Everyman in Cork, 021-4501673, everymancork.com
A new audio drama in eight parts, from the BrokenCrow theatre company, presents bite-size instalments of a reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen's seasonal fairy tale. Anchored by a mysterious envelope that arrives in the post, this is a lovely old-fashioned listening ritual to bring into the family for Christmas.
The Snowy Kazoo
Streaming live at 3pm, on December 13th, on the National Concert Hall's YouTube and Facebook channels, for free; also available to view for 48 hours after the event
The singer-songwriter Paul Noonan, of Bell X1, is joined by Sam, Aislinn and Ellie the Dog for an interactive family concert. They're asking children to send in drawings or pictures of their teddies at Christmas and a note to say what the teddies are looking forward to during the holidays. Paul and company will then turn them into songs. You can email drawings and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sword in the Stone
Streaming live from the Helix, Dublin, December 19th-January 3rd, and on demand from December 23rd, €20 per household, 01-7007000, thehelix.ie
TheatreworX brings a cinematic touch to its annual spectacular with its loose adaptation of the Arthurian legend. The TheatreworX regular Eoin Cannon joins the cast as the villain King Joffrey. Livestreaming is complemented by recorded on-demand screenings.