It's panto season so raise the roof! Here's what on across the country
Wherever you live in Ireland, there's a whole lot of fun coming to a theatre near you, writes Jonathan deBurca Butler
It's the most wonderful time of the year... oh no it isn't... oh, yes it is... it's panto season and this year, there are a seemingly unlimited number of sparkling spectacles featuring men in dresses and kids in costumes to choose from.
Whether you're in Dublin or in a county far-far away from the capital, this year, it's just a click of the heels to a theatre near you.
Snow White & The Adventures of Sammy Sausages and Buffy
Tivoli Theatre Dublin
Alan Hughes takes his regular holiday in out of the cold of the TV3 garden and leaves the cockles of his audience's heart all warm and fuzzy with his wondrous trip into his colouring book world.
For this iteration of the classic Snow White tale, Alan will be joined on stage by X Factor star Mary Byrne and actor Rob Murphy, while Joe Duffy appears in spirit but not quite body as the unheckleable Magic Mirror. Written by Hughes's husband Karl Broderick, this production promises to be an entertaining show for what is the Tivoli's final curtain.
Dec 4- Jan 19, from €26 tivoli.ie
The Snow Queen
Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
The Gaiety has been hosting pantos off the top of Grafton Street since 1873. This year's show, The Snow Queen, promises to be breathtaking, with a hail of energetic sing-a-long tunes, parent friendly gags and windfall of fart jokes for the youngsters.
Rosie's boyfriend Robin has been kidnapped by the evil Snow Queen, played by Louise Bowden. The fiendish queen wants to freeze Robin's heart and turn him into her new Jack Frost but in the end love will conquer all... or will it?
Until Jan 20; from €17; group and school discounts; gaietytheatre.ie
Tempus Productions is bringing Cinderella to the north-side this year. Their production boasts a star-studded cast which includes Red Rock and Tudors actor, John Lovett, and everyone's favourite Fair City bad guy, Eric Lalor.
You will be glued to your seat as Cinderella goes up against her two ugly stepsisters, Whitney & Britney, and tries to get to the ball. For fans of romance and tales of triumph over evil this show is sure to be a shoe-in (ker-tisch!).
Dec 19-Jan 6, from €19.50 libertypanto.com
The Helix, Dublin City University
A panto about equal distribution of wealth might well have suited our previously mentioned venue but it is instead the Helix in DCU that will give this year's Christmas nod to socialism. Tenor Paul Byrom will play the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham who is intent on evading the rough justice of Robin Hood and his all singing, all-dancing merry bunch of men.
The Helix and TheatreworX Productions are partnering with Temple Street Children's University Hospital, and proceeds from a special charity show on December 13 will go directly to the hospital. A sensory-friendly performance will also take place on December 18 with no sudden noises or bangs, softer lighting, and music at a suitable volume.
Now to Jan 20, from €19.50, thehelix.ie
Jam-packed with the magnificent scenery, costumes, live music, spectacular dance routines, comedy capers and magical special effects, this production of Aladdin promises to rub you up the right way. When it comes to panto, Cork Opera House really does go to town and this year it's going to do it on a magic carpet. Everything you and your family could wish for.
Now to Jan 20, from €27.50; Family tickets €90 & €120
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire
OK this is not your standard panto, but for little ones this 55-minute show based on the well-known book of the same name is sure to be a hit. Dun Laoghaire Pavillion is the perfect venue for this intimate show.
Hugely successful on London's West End, you can expect catchy songs, interactive scenes and plenty of hands-on adventure as we follow the heroes through swishy swashy grass, splishy splashy rivers and oozy, squelchy mud in search of a bear.
Dec 19-Dec 30, from €17.50; Family, scools and group discounts available
Opera House, Wexford
Wexford's Opera House is running just eight shows over three days at the end of December - so you'll need to be up early in the morning to catch tickets. The cast features Fair City's Aoibheann McCaul as the evil Maleficent who tries to ruin Christmas by casting a spell over Beauty, played by Clara Murray of RTE Jr fame.
One can only hope that the Handsome Prince (George McMahon) can save the day and bring a ray of hope, love and maybe a slice of toast with strawberry jam to the sunny southeast. Pricey, but worth it for the venue alone.
Dec 27-30; from €25; family ticket €80
Alice in Wonderland
Lime Theatre, Limerick
On the go since 1985, the Limerick Panto Society was founded to "keep panto alive" on the Shannon. This year the cast are taking a trip down a rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland, played by RTE's Emma O'Driscoll.
The society is promising an abunnydance (boom-boom) of contemporary pop hits for kids and parents as they put their spin on this classic but surreal tale of pointless adventure - the best kind.
Dec 28-Jan 6, from €18.50; family ticket €70 (2 adults + 2 kids)
Town Hall Theatre, Galway
After a planned wedding between two of Ireland's most successful Eurovision stars, for the sole purpose of providing a genetically perfect Eurovision star of the future, Beauty has been selected to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest.
The Wicked Queen has other ideas, and puts the Princess to sleep for 100 years. While many of us, including RTE, hope she stays asleep, her family and friends try to wake her in time for her performance. Documentrary or dramatic panto?
Renmore Pantomime Society are celebrating 40 years this year and this show features electrifying dance routines and the charming Renmore Smurfs who will bring their sparkle to this seasonal feast of fun. Promises to be a bit out there.
Dec 29-Jan 13; from €16; Sensory friendly performance Jan 6; tht.ie
Millennium Forum, Derry
If you want a break from all this talk of a-harrrrrrrrd border then why not join Peter Pan, Wendy and the Darling Family as they take to the skies of Derry this year and tackle the crook that is Captain Hook, and his murderous motley crew.
Unlike Peter Robinson, Peter Pan promises to be "bucketfuls of fun" and much like the DUP will be "packed with fantasy and amazing stunts". There will be plenty of opportunity for audience participation with lots of music and dancing. With plenty of excitement and adventure, this production is sure to set you up for the festive season to come.
Until Dec 30; from £12.50; Schools £9.50