Will Christmas pantos still go ahead this year? What to do if you have a ticket booked

By Helen Johnson
Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 3:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 4:20 pm
With coronavirus cases rising in the UK, and new measures and restrictions being brought into place to tackle this, certain Christmas events have already been cancelled (Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

With coronavirus cases rising in the UK, and new measures and restrictions being brought into place to tackle this, certain Christmas events have already been cancelled.

Christmas markets in some areas have announced that they will not be running this year, with the opening of city centre ice skating rinks also remaining uncertain.

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But will pantomimes be able to go ahead this year? Here’s what you need to know.

Will Christmas pantomimes go ahead in 2020?

The theatre and performance industry has been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions, with many venues having still not reopened, or struggling to do so with the required social distancing measures in place.

Some pantomimes have already announced that they will not be going ahead this year, with some postponing to 2021 instead.

Back in May, the Tron Theatre in Glasgow was the first to officially announce that the venue will not have a pantomime this season, instead opting to reschedule this year’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to 2021.

In July, it was announced that Kilmarnock's Christmas panto at the Palace Theatre would not go ahead this year.

Organisers said they wouldn't be doing the pantomime justice if audiences can't experience a full auditorium, but hope that their production of Aladdin will go ahead in 2021.

In a statement, East Ayrshire Leisure said: "We have made this decision after carefully assessing the options open to us in relation to social distancing the audiences within our venues as well as the cast and crew on and off stage.

"However, most importantly, we believe that you need to experience a pantomime in a packed auditorium with a large audience full of families and friends who can interact with the actors on stage, as that is the beauty and tradition of pantomime.

"If we are unable to achieve that this year then we would not be doing the art form justice.

"Therefore, postponing until next year feels like the most sensible, fair and safe option."

Maw Goose at the Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling has also been rescheduled to 2021.

Byre Theatre in St. Andrews, Gala Theatre in Durham, Northcott Theatre in Exeter, Empire Theatre in Consett, Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond, North Yorkshire, Theatr Clwyd in Mold, Millennium Forum in Derry, and New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth have all also announced pantomime postponements.

Four of the biggest pantomimes in London will also not go ahead this year due to uncertainty over when indoor performances can resume without social distancing measures in place.

Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Stratford East have all announced they will not be producing their annual pantomimes this year, instead postponing them until 2021.

Yamin Choudury, artistic director and Jo Hemmant, executive director of the Hackney Empire, which was due to stage Jack And The Beanstalk, said: “Everyone involved in bringing our world-famous pantomime to Hackney is devastated, but we know that we have to make any decision necessary, however unimaginable a few months ago, to ensure that Hackney Empire can remain this incredible and singular sanctuary of creativity and togetherness for another 120 years and more.

“Pantomimes are long and expensive to plan and produce, monopolising the minds, efforts and generosity of hundreds of people in the process.”

What if I have a pantomime booked?

If you already have a pantomime booked, it’s worth checking if the performance will still be going ahead, but with any changes in place due to social distancing measures, or if it has been, or is expected to be cancelled.

If it has been cancelled you could contact the theatre to request a refund or to move your ticket to next year instead.

Alternatively, you could donate the cost of the ticket to the theatre if they have donations in place to keep them afloat during the pandemic.

A version of the article originally appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman.