Father Christmas at Waterside Arts, Sale

Father Christmas at Waterside Arts, Sale

Who doesn’t love a family trip to the theatre at Christmas? It’s such a lovely way to get in the festive spirit. This weekend we were invited along to review a lovely Christmas show at Waterside Arts, Sale. You know how much we love Raymond Briggs, The Snowman. Well, this festive family show is a production of Raymond Briggs, Father Christmas by Lyric Hammersmith & Pins and Needles.  At just 50 minutes long, it is perfect for young children but will be equally loved by older children and parents alike.


Father Christmas drinking tea with a cat puppet


The cast is a small one. Father Christmas, a grumpy but loveable character is played by Mike Aherne. He is joined by just two others. Richard Booth, a puppeteer who brings to life the gorgeous wooden puppet animals and Katy Sobey, a musician who adds a magical element to the show with her music and sound effects. The puppets include Father Christmas’ pet cat and dog as well as two reindeer. Richard brings these animals to life with not only the puppets but his facial expressions and mannerisms, particularly the cat and dog who are playful and a little cheeky. He really enchants the audience with these puppets.


Katy sits at the top right of the set and plays instruments like a Ukelele and Saxophone as well as making lots of sound effects. She does everything from buttering toast, washing armpits and yes, even Father Christmas having a poo (the children in the audience particularly enjoyed this one). I loved seeing how she made the different sound effects as this is something I’ve never seen done before. She adds another charming feature. At times it was hard to decide whether to watch Father Christmas or Katy, to see how different noises are made.


Father Christmas and his cat puppet


The play starts on Christmas Eve and shows Father Christmas getting ready to deliver presents all over the world. It runs through the day and evening as he delivers the presents and carries on with Father Christmas cooking and eating his own Christmas dinner when he gets home. One of our favourite parts was when Father Christmas gets on his sleigh and fake snow comes down from the ceiling. A truly magical part that led to a lot of squeals of delight from the little ones in the audience.



I love the set which is rich with detail. It’s set over two levels too, with the main stage being Father Christmas’ house and the second level being the snowy rooftops complete with chimney. This chimney is lit up from the inside and the side facing the audience is fabric so we can see Father Christmas descend the chimney. The children in the audience all loved watching this especially as he struggled a little in a comedy way. Other features I enjoyed were all the drop down flaps that revealed pictures of places all around the world that Father Christmas delivered presents to. It really illustrated the fact that he was travelling fast all over the world.


Father Christmas on a sleigh


We thoroughly enjoyed this play that brought to life one of my favourite Christmas books. The book is a classic for a reason. This play remains faithful to the book whilst creating a truly magical play that will delight the whole family.


If you like the sound of this show, then head over to Waterside Arts to book your tickets for one of the shows. It’s on until the 31st December with daytime and evening show times. Evening shows are slumber shows with children encouraged to come along in their pyjamas and bring along their favourite teddy. A milk and cookie pack can be pre-ordered for £2 each. The show is aimed at children aged 3 – 11 years.


Don’t forget, I’ve rounded up the best family Christmas events in the North West to help you plan a festive Christmas to remember so head over for a read now.


Disclosure: We were gifted tickets to review this play in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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Father Christmas at Waterside arts, sale


  1. December 15, 2018 / 11:04 am

    This looks amazing, my kids would love it.

    • Claire
      December 16, 2018 / 8:23 am

      It really is

  2. December 15, 2018 / 12:04 pm

    Ah this sounds lovely. It’s the kind of thing I love but N is now getting a bit old for.

    • Claire
      December 16, 2018 / 8:23 am

      That’s a shame but hopefully you’ll find more age appropriate things you can both enjoy

  3. December 15, 2018 / 4:45 pm

    We love the theatre and the panto! Mine would love this…

    • Claire
      December 16, 2018 / 8:22 am

      Me too. I need to start taking my eldest more now she’s a little older.

  4. December 16, 2018 / 2:24 pm

    Sounds magical! What a lovely festive adventure

    • Claire
      December 18, 2018 / 8:56 am

      It is a magical show

  5. December 17, 2018 / 8:55 pm

    I love this book and the play looks amazing – what a lovely experience in the build up to Christmas 🙂

    • Claire
      December 18, 2018 / 8:55 am

      It was a lovely experience.

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