As previously tipped, Disney's long-running West End musical The Lion King will embark on a UK tour later this year.

Launching from Bristol Hippodrome, The Lion King will play an 11-week season from 6 September (previews from 31 August) to 17 November, travelling to the Palace Theatre, Manchester for Christmas, opening 6 December (previews from 1 December) and run through until 31 March 2013.

After four years of planning, producers Disney Theatrical Group have today (6 February 2012) announced that the show will tour with a company of 52 to ten cities in the UK and Ireland over the next two and a half years.

Dates and locations for engagements past Manchester into 2013 have still to be announced.

Based on Disney's 1994 animated feature film, the stage adaptation opened at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre in November 1997. Julie Taymor's production transferred to the West End in 1999, opening at the Lyceum on 19 October 1999 (previews from 24 September).

In a press statement about the tour Disney Theatrical Group president Thomas Schumacher said: "Following years of planning, and after receiving the counsel of some very smart friends in the British theatre world, we are delighted to be launching a production that conveys Julie Taymor’s epic vision and at a moment that feels absolutely right."

Although there are currently 19 global productions of the The Lion King, with the show having been seen by more than 65 million people in 15 countries across five continents, this will be the first time the show has hit the road in the UK.

The Lion King features 15 songs, including the five from the film and new songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, with additional numbers by South African-born Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Hans Zimmer and Julie Taymor. The book is by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi.

Tickets for the production's dates in Bristol will go on sale on Monday 22 February. Tickets for The Lion King in Manchester go on sale on 27 February 2012.