How to find the perfect pantomime

B3CAKB Red draped theater stage curtains with light and shadows. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

The Christmas pantomime is now a great British tradition, and up and down the country, children and adults alike will be shouting, 'He's behind you,' and enjoying all the festive fairytale silliness. If you're unsure where to go or what to see this year, here are a few tips on finding the perfect pantomime.

Go big
Britain's cities inevitably invest in a big budget panto, and in many of the bigger spots, you'll find more than one. As one would expect, there is a plethora of pantomimes in the capital, including Cinderella, featuring Matthew Kelly as an Ugly Sister at the New Wimbledon Theatre, and Jerry Hall, who is bringing a touch of glamour to the Richmond Theatre's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In the Southwest, canine superstar Pudsey (along with his owner Ashleigh) will take centre stage in the Bristol Hippodrome's version of Dick Whittington, and the Midlands, the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre is putting on Cinderella with Suzanne Shaw and Russell Grant among the stars. And don't miss Peter Pan at the Milton Keynes Theatre, where Bradley Walsh will be providing the laughs.

Snow White at the Manchester Opera House looks a must-see too, with none other than Priscilla Presley taking on the role of the Wicked Queen, and Warwick Davis appearing as Prof the Dwarf. Meanwhile at the Liverpool Empire there is plenty of homegrown talent on offer, with Ray Quinn and Claire Sweeney treading the boards in Aladdin.

So if you fancy a star-studded pantomime night out, then your nearest city is probably the best bet.

Go local
If you don't have the cash or the inclination to travel to one of the big pantos, fear not. Local towns throughout the land have plenty to offer, with famous names hitting smaller theatres too. By way of an example, ex-EastEnder Shane Richie will be in High Wycombe as Dick Whittington, dancing dynamo Louie Spence is hitting Hastings as Aladdin, and Julian Clary and his ascorbic wit will be at Wolverhampton.

To make life easier, check out the Big Panto Guide online, where you'll find pantos in a wide range of cities and towns across the country.

Don't forget Am-Dram
If the big theatres aren't for you, or you live in a rural area, why not check out your local amateur dramatics offering? Where there's a village hall, there's almost certainly a panto, and you'll get all the festive fun, plus the chance to see some of your friends and acquaintances perform.

Is the Christmas panto a regular feature of your festive season? Leave your comments below...