We have some picturesque posters from past pantomimes in our collection. They conjure up a very different world.
Old Mother Goose and Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal, 1887

The Christmas visit to a panto is still very much part of festive traditions. Oh no it isn’t ! – Oh yes it is!  whether it’s on ice, in a glorious Edwardian theatre or in a church hall. Some of us might even listen to the Ambridge panto with ‘The Archers’.

Puss in Boots, Prince's Theatre, 1878

In Manchester there used to be a choice – Circus or pantomime?
Belle Vue’s Christmas circus was a highlight of the festive season, eagerly anticipated by many families.
Horse Riders Belle Vue Circus, 1951
Riding display, 1951

Unicyclist juggling, Belle Vue Circus, 1960
Juggling unicyclist, 1960

Belle Vue Circus, Elephant and performer
Performing elephant, 1953

Times have changed. Animal welfare issues have shifted attitudes towards performing animals and zoos. Nowadays we prefer Cirque du Soleil acrobats to Big Top lion tamers. Many theatres no longer ‘save the date’ for a Christmas pantomime, preferring to invest in other types of plays or musicals.
Belle Vue circus programme, n.d.
Bring on the Clowns!
Happy Christmas!

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