The Tradition of Dublin Pantomime

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What are your family’s Christmas traditions? Do you love watching It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas morning with a box of chocolates? Or maybe you love a festive Christmas Eve drink with friends? For many families, a trip to the theatre to see a pantomime is the highlight of every Christmas and something the whole family treasures. The days between Christmas and New Year’s are the best days for Panto and they tend to run from early December to January just in case you don’t get the dates you want. But where did it all begin?

What is a Panto?

Pantomime, or Panto for short, is an all-singing, all-dancing fairy tale play. The classic stories we know and love are told with a comedic twist and often star well-known local celebrities. These camp and colourful productions include singing dancing and comedy – usually the corniest jokes in the land so kids will love them. Panto is a musical comedy combined with drama especially aimed at families with selected jokes for grown-ups that go way above little heads! They usually have slapstick and physical comedy, lots of interactive moments and plenty of singing. They’re most popular in Ireland and The UK around Christmas with plenty of options from large-scale to community productions.

The History of Pantomime

Pantomime as a theatrical form dates back centuries. The ancient Greeks produced shadow plays derived from folkloric traditions which progressed to a form of ancient pantomime loved by the Romans. These ancient pantomimes were lavish productions featuring dancing, movement, narration, music and singing, with plots designed to create an emotional experience for audiences. Panto performers dared to be politically incorrect sometimes expressing criticisms of leadership or recent events, a theme carried on today. Plots are often borrowed from folklore or fairy-tale, another thing that has lasted through the ages. One of the first Pantos in Ireland took place in the Gaiety Theatre in 1874 and it has been a staple on the Christmas tradition list ever since.

The Dame of the Panto

One of the absolute stars of the show of any panto is the Dame. The Dame is like the host, engaging the audience with their comedic genius and often looking for audience participation from both children and adults. Children are intrigued watching this larger-than-life character prance around the stage, being naughty and ignoring instructions from other characters on stage but she always comes up trumps by curtains down. This over-the-top character is sometimes played by a woman, more often a man but is always the biggest brightest character on stage. Today the Dame is often played by a famous face or TV star.

Panto in Dublin

There are many pantomimes performed all over Ireland throughout the Christmas season. We are spoiled for choice with lots of performances ranging from large-scale to local community halls. One of the longest-running and most popular is The Gaiety Theatre, located in the city near St. Stephens Green. Their ‘rival’ panto on the other side of town is the Olympia Panto, another long-running show which has loyal audiences. Theatres up and down the county have something unique to offer. Some of the many panto performances in Dublin in 2022 include:
The Jungle Book in The Gaiety Theatre
Hansel & Gretel in The Helix Dublin
Aladdin in Liberty Hall Theatre
Snow White at the National Stadium
Little Red Riding Hood at dlr Mill Theatre
Olly, Polly and the Beanstalk, 3Olympia Theatre
Sleeping Beauty at The Civic Theatre, Tallaght
And many more!

Panto Accommodation in Dublin

It can be hard finding the perfect family accommodation in Dublin. Ashling Hotel in Dublin offers 4-star, unique accommodation in Dublin City Centre, within walking distance to most theatres and attractions and with plenty of public transport nearby. Our rooms are spacious and suitable for families of all shapes and sizes. Our restaurant and room service menus cater to even the fussiest eaters and there is a huge selection of foods in our breakfast buffet the next morning. Our best available rates are exclusively available on our website. Don’t delay, book today!

The underlying message of every panto is that good will always prevail and even through the toughest times, we can get by with help from our loved ones – a great message to finish off 2022. Ashling Hotel would like to thank all of our guests for their custom in 2022 and wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Ashling Hotel

The Ashling Hotel team are passionate about what we do. That includes telling you all there is to know about Ashling Hotel and Dublin City. Although we are not all native Dubliners, we have adopted the city as our home. We love to explore more and share our latest discoveries.
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