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What Age can I take my Kids to the Theatre?

15 June 2023

It’s never too early to introduce your children to the arts. Some of a child's best and most formative experiences can happen in the theatre and they may be inspired to take up acting themselves. But what is the right age to take them? And how do you make sure they have a good time? Are there any age restrictions at the theatre? Here are some pointers to consider before deciding.

The age restrictions of the theatre

Due to the nature of live theatre, in most cases audiences are required to stay quiet and sit still, and for this reason most theatres have a lower limit on taking children into the auditorium. Many theatres in the UK don't allow children under 3 into the auditorium, in some theatres there are restrictions on under 5s. Theatre policies may also mean you are asked to leave if your child is disrupting the performance. However, most places have some family-friendly shows, so you should check on the website or phone the venue before buying tickets. 

The age restrictions of the show

Much like movies, plays and other live performances may have content that’s not suitable for children. Check the website for the venue, as they usually provide a recommended minimum age for each show. Some performances may be frightening or upsetting for young children, while some may include adult language and sexual content. Visual effects like strobe lighting, darkness, sudden loud noises and the use of dry ice may also upset little ones if they’ve not experienced this before. 

The length of the show

Kids tend to have shorter attention spans than adults. If a show is too long, they may become restless and lose interest. On the other hand, they may not get the full experience if it's too short. 

The time of the show

Evening shows sometimes finish very late, which may make your children overly tired. This is especially important if it’s a school night. Many theatres have matinee performances at the weekends, which may be better suited to kids. 

Your child's attention span and interests

All children are individuals, and some are more able to focus for long periods than others. If your child is the type who likes to be constantly on the move, then a live performance might not be the best idea, unless you can find something that is designed to be interactive. If they're the type of child who enjoys sitting still and paying attention, they will likely enjoy the theatre. 

It’s best to start out with a performance intended specifically for children, such as a stage adaptation of a children’s book or a seasonal pantomime. If your child seems to relish the theatrical experience, they may be ready for a more traditional show. If they seem bored, try again in a year or two, but it’s best not to force it if your children don’t enjoy the experience. 

There is no definitive answer to the question of what age your child can go to the theatre. Unless the theatre has a specific age policy, it is ultimately up to you to decide if your child is ready for the experience. There’s a wide range of performances designed with kids in mind, so why not try one out?

Photo by Monica Silvestre

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