Triumphant year for Christmas in Derby

Duncan James and the ensemble for Jack and the Beanstalk pose on stage

Thu 10 Jan 2019

Christmas 2018 has been one of the best years yet for Christmas in Derby.

Derby’s LIVE’s Christmas shows made a triumphant return, with some of its most successful shows ever. Jack and the Beanstalk at Derby Arena delighted both audiences and critics alike, whilst The Dinosaur Who Came for Christmas at the Guildhall Theatre has proven to be the venue’s most successful ever Christmas show.

In November Derby LIVE’s festive season was lit up by the Christmas Light’s Switch-On in the Market Place, before later in the month skaters took to the ice on the Cathedral Quarter Christmas Ice Rink. Family Festivities at Markeaton Park returned for the first two weekends of December with festive themes to entertain the family, craft fair weekend and family workshop weekend.

Jack played by Duncan James standing cheek to cheek with Jill

Derby LIVE and Derby-based Little Wolf Entertainment joined forces once more to co-produce the giant-sized family pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. After their award-winning success with Beauty and the Beast in 2017, the partnerships much anticipated return for 2018 did not disappoint. Jack and the Beanstalk delighted thousands of children with an enthralling new show that was acclaimed by both audiences and critics at Derby Arena. At the Guildhall Theatre families joined Derbyshire-based festive-funsters The Babbling Vagabonds for their new show The Dinosaur Who Came for Christmas,the venue’s most successful ever Christmas show.

Dame Trott played by Morgan Brind peaks out from behind a safe door

Jack and the Beanstalk’s star-studded cast included Blue singer, West End performer and Hollyoaks actor Duncan James as Jack and Britain’s Best Male Baddie Lawrence Boothman as Cess Pitt. Little Wolf’s Morgan Brind returned to delight audiences for the second year as pantomime dame. Morgan has become an audience favourite, and his performance as Dame Trott kept them laughing throughout. In total more than 30,000 people went to see Jack and the Beanstalk over the festive season, including more than 14,000 children.

Almost a quarter of show goers to the 2018 panto were from outside of the county, some coming as far as Australia, Spain, United States, Denmark, France, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and United Arab Emirates. Once again the uniquely British tradition of pantomime has shown just how popular it is.

This year’s panto has drawn the biggest ever school audience, with 9,000 pupils in attendance. There has also been a huge social media reach and reactions have been overwhelmingly positive.

Cess Pitt smiles whilst Pat the Cow looks on

Jack and the Beanstalk received unprecedented positive reviews from both the press and from audience.

“A dazzling and thoroughly engaging family show”The Stage – 

“the finest pantomime I have ever seen”  – Artsbeat

“It's a great show which all the family will loveDerby Telegraph and Burton Mail

“….we laughed so much our cheeks still hurt!”Derby Days Out

Jack and the Beanstalk is spectacular in every sense of the word”British Theatre Guide

 “it’s a happy, sing-a-long fun night out for the children!” What’s good to do

"With slapstick, schtick, nonsense, spectacle and hilarity – you cannot fail to be wowed by the end." Celebrity radio

“A show not to be missed if you are looking for a fantastic Christmas trip out.”Boom Magazine

 “Went today with the school I work at, thoroughly fantastic pantomime, fabulous characters, extremely professional, loved every moment. Dame Trotts costumes were fabulous, Cess Pitt was my favourite character. Thank you all for a fantastic pantomime” Sally Chalklin – Customer

“Fabulous panto well worth seeing” John Woolley – Customer

“Thursday consisted of a whole school trip to the annual Pantomime @DerbyLIVE It really does get better each year  We rated it 5 stars. We can’t WAIT for next year!!!” @StGeorgesDerby 

PJ looks in shock at the small dinosaur in his arms

The Dinosaur Who Came for Christmas has been the most successful Christmas show at the Guildhall Theatre with the most tickets sold. The show was a triumph which went down a treat with critics and audiences alike. During the course of the run over 6,000 theatre goers came to see the show.

 “A fantastic, family friendly festive show”Derby Days Out

“It was ROARSOME … A fantastic story line with hilarious characters, puppetry and of course that signature toilet humour”Boom Magazine Belper

“The things they can do with puppets, shadows and light for effect is amazing.”Derby Telegraph and Burton Mail

“Thank you so so much. Our little boy was utterly enchanted at this morning’s performance. So much fun brilliantly performed beautifully lit and wonderfully directed.” – Ben Pollard - Customer

“My children (2&7) saw this on Sunday. It's the first time we've taken my little boy to the theatre and they both loved it. Thank you for a super show. 3 days on they're still singing the song.” Katherine Louise - Customer

“The whole family enjoyed this show, top notch” – Kim Broadhurst - Customer

cartoon figures skate on the ice

The Cathedral Quarter Christmas Ice Rink returned to the Market Place for another festive season. This was the eighth year the ice rink has been put together by the City’s festive offer ice rink providers Christmas Ice Rinks Ltd. It provided families and shoppers with a great opportunity to have fun together over the festive period.

Running between Friday 30 November and Sunday 6 January, skaters were encouraged to get into the festive spirit, offering skating aids to help everyone get out on to the ice, allowing people of all ages and experience to have a go. 14,000 visitors put on their skates and took to the ice, including 7,000 children.

An illustration of a family enjoying the festivities in the snow

Running on the first two weekends of December Family Festivities once again brought the festive sparkle to Markeaton Park. On Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December the first weekend of Family Festivities provided the whole family the opportunity to head to Markeaton Park Craft Village and browse some wonderfully unique craft stalls at Craft Fair Weekend. Whilst Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 December was Family Workshop Weekend, with a variety of workshops, from balloon modelling to Nordic walking, families could get involved and learn new skills.

With thousands of people visiting the park, families truly got in the mood for Christmas and enjoyed the free elf trail, festive food, music and themed activities.

Christmas lights

Cllr Alan Grimadell, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said: “It’s been a fantastic festive season. Christmas in Derby has attracted people from all around in to the city, showcasing some of our finest talents and how our city continues to thrive. We look forward to another bumper Christmas for 2019.”

Peter pan title surrounded by fairy dust

Tickets are now on sale for the 2019 Derby LIVE pantomime, Peter Pan. After a hugely successful two years working in partnership with Derby LIVE, the team behind the 2018 smash hit Jack and the Beanstalk, local production company Little Wolf Entertainment, invite Derby audiences on an awfully big adventure as a brand-new swashbuckling pantomime sets sail for Derby Arena.

Second star to the right and straight on till morning! Peter, Tinker Bell, Wendy and a very odd looking woman, who refuses to grow up, are in for a high-flying action-packed adventure. The lost boys and musical mermaids will take on some very potty pirates and the most dastardly villain of them all – Captain Hook!

Once again Derby Arena will be transformed into magical theatre space, flying audiences to magical Neverland. With spectacular effects, barrel loads of laughs, jokes that grab you hook, line and sinker, and more than a sprinkling of fairy dust, this promises to be the perfect PAN-to.

Peter Pan will be on stage at Derby Arena from Saturday 7 December 2019 until Saturday 4 January 2020, tickets priced from £14.50 with concessions, group, school and family tickets available. Customers can save £2 with the Early Bird offer when booking tickets before Friday 1 November, with other savings available. The croc is ticking! With hundreds of seats already booked, it’s never too early to book for this fantastic festive treat.

The Christmas Toy Shop Mystery text and children looking through a toy shop window

Babbling Vagabonds and Derby LIVE will be back with a captivating new Christmas show, The Christmas Toy Shop Mystery. Christmas is around the corner… but the Christmas Toy Shop is nearly empty! It’s too late to sell what is left on the shelves! The remaining toys are destined for the old dark store room, or worse still, the incinerator!

But this year something curious happens! With a pinch of fairy dust and a Christmas wish odd things start to happen. Magic and mystery surround the old Christmas Toy Shop - but what is really going on behind the shuttered windows?

Expect a Christmas cracker of a tale, crammed with colourful characters, catchy tunes, puppets and theatrical magic. Watch the story come to life on the Guildhall Theatre stage and make your family’s Christmas truly special in 2019.

The show will run at the Guildhall Theatre from Friday 6 until Sunday 29 December. Tickets priced from £11.50 with concessions, group, school and family tickets available. Tickets are available here.

Customers can make use of the Early Bird offer for Peter Pan or purchase tickets for The Christmas Toy Shop Mystery by calling the Derby LIVE Box Office on 01332 255800. Customers can also pick their seats online at here, or book in person at the Sales and Information Centre on the Market Place.

Keep up to date about the latest cast and performance announcements for our 2019 shows and events on the Derby LIVE facebook and Twitter.