Panto Day was founded in 2011 and has since gone from strength to strength. As early as 2012, Panto Day’s Twitter audience exceeded 1.5M and today over 300 theatres across the world get involved to celebrate the wonders of pantomime. Since Panto Day’s fifth anniversary – The Year of the Dame – each year has been themed with 2019 celebrating the Year of Magic.
2011 saw the birth of what we now celebrate as Panto Day, when on 5th December V&A Curator Simon Sladen sought to connect Pantoland using the hashtag #panto. ‘P-Day’ evolved into ‘Panto Day’ for 2012 with the birth of Panto Day patron Dame Hettie Hashtag and a number of performers live tweeting their routines as part of ‘A Day in the Life of Pantoland.’
Designer Helen Friel created the now famous Panto Day logo in 2013 along with a whole host of activity sheets for everyone to download and enjoy. 2013 also saw the birth of the National Database of Pantomime Performance thanks to a grant by the Society for Theatre Research. The Database is now in its 7th year and helps track key data about the industry.
By the fourth annual Panto Day in 2014, almost all theatres in the UK were taking part and #panto trended on Twitter for over eight hours. To ensure as many pantomimes as possible could participate, Panto Day was moved from the first week in December to the second, falling on Friday 12th. This year saw the launch of Celebrate Panto, a website that brings together Panto Day, the National Database of Pantomime Performance, the Pantomime Advice Page and, new for 2015 – Pantomime docu-features. After a filmed interview in 2014 with Susie McKenna and Andrew Pollard discussing pantomime titles, 2015 saw a docu-feature all about pantomime music hit the screens.
2015 marked Panto Day’s fifth birthday and to celebrate, Panto Day dedicated itself the Year of the Dame. BBC producer Ian Ramsden and V&A Curator Simon Sladen created a new docu-feature all about the pantomime Dame and the BBC’s Get Creative joined the fun, whilst more articles were added to the Panto Advice Page.
2016’s Panto Day took place under the theme ‘Over to You’ and up and down the country, Panto performers and audience members told us what they loved about the artform in a series of “I love Panto because…” posts. The Panto Day team’s docu-feature for this year was an in depth interview with Qdos’s Michael Harrison.
2017 saw the Comics take centre stage and the addition of Instagram to Panto Day’s social media activity with 2018’s Year of the Villain celebrating everything wicked using the new hashtag #pantoday.
2019 sees Pantoland celebrate the Year of Magic and will be celebrated on Friday 13th December.