Shakespeare in the sun: Britain’s best outdoor theatres

Minack Theatre. Credit: Marshall Ikonography/Alamy
Minack Theatre. Credit: Marshall Ikonography/Alamy

Summer is finally here so why not book tickets for one of our nation’s brilliant outdoor theatres and enjoy some culture al fresco?

Minack Theatre. Credit: Marshall Ikonography/Alamy
Minack Theatre, Cornwall. Credit: Marshall Ikonography/Alamy

A peculiar British tradition, each year we wrap up warm and pack a raincoat (just in case) to watch our favourite plays performed in gorgeous natural settings. Here are some of our favourite venues around the country for enjoying some outdoor theatre.

Shakespeare's Globe. Credit: John Wildgoose
Shakespeare’s Globe. Credit: John Wildgoose

The Globe, London

Book in advance at this popular summer venue. Arrive early and take one of the theatre’s guided tours to learn about life as a playwright in Shakespeare’s time, and how the modern venue was built. Open from May to September.

Standing tickets £5.

BOOK TICKETS for this year’s performances of Much Ado About Nothing, As You like It or Macbeth.

Pride and Prejudice at Regent's Park Open Theatre. Credit: David Jensenn
Pride and Prejudice at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Credit: David Jensenn

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London

Tickets to Britain’s oldest professional outdoor theatre sell out fast, with exciting productions such as William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and J M Barrie’s Peter Pan.

Make sure you get there early on sunny days to get a seat in the shade.

BOOK TICKETS for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

Evening performance at the Minack Theatre Cornwall
Evening performance at the Minack Theatre, Cornwall

The Minack Theatre, Cornwall

A visit to the Minack Theatre is an event in itself, so pack a picnic of strawberries and clotted cream.

Open from May to September, it hosts musicals, children’s shows and classical theatre, but wrap up well because the wind really howls in this high-flung spot.

BOOK TICKETS for King Lear, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Ladykillers.

Willow Globe, Wales
Willow Globe, Powys,Wales

The Willow Globe, Powys, Wales

This mini version of Shakespeare’s Globe hosts performances from April to September in a truly magical and intimate setting. About a third of the size of its London counterpart, the theatre is a hidden gem.

BOOK TICKETS for this season, which includes an energetic version of Measure for Measure and a family themed camp around Romeo & Juliet.

Dockside at the Brownsea Theatre
Dockside on Brownsea Island

Brownsea Open Air Theatre, Dorset

In 2015 this venue celebrates more than 50 years of ‘Shakespeare on an Island’, so it’s an ideal time to visit. Boats leave for the island from Poole Quay from 5pm onwards and it’s worth going early in order to have time to explore this rugged little isle before the show begins.

BOOK TICKETS for this year’s production of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Kilworth House Theatre
Kilworth House Theatre

Kilworth House Theatre, Leicestershire

Enjoy a spot of outdoor theatre amid the magnificent grounds of the Kilworth Estate, set in a magical-looking glade. Kilworth House Theatre – now in its ninth season – prides itself on staging musical theatre of a standard rarely seen outside of London’s West End.

BOOK TICKETS for the Last Night of the Proms or Happy and Glorious – a proms celebration to mark the Queen becoming the longest reigning monarch in British history.

Peacock & Singing Theatre. Credit: Sandra von Riekhoff
Peacock & Singing Theatre at Larmer Tree. Credit: Sandra von Riekhoff

Larmer Tree, Wiltshire

There are lots of lovely events that take place in these Victorian pleasure gardens every year, including one or two festivals. However, we think the Singing Theatre is the best way to experience all the drama.

BOOK TICKETS for this season’s concert by The Handlebards who will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Brighton Open Air Theatre

Brighton Open Air Theatre

This brand-new lawned amphitheatre was the dream of a local playwright and theatre visionary Adrian Bunting, who passed away in 2013, and promises to draw the crowds in the creative seaside city of Brighton.

BOOK TICKETS for the inaugural season, which includes performances of The Merry Wives of Windsor and Twelfth Night.

Brilliant London theatre for just £15

Each year the National Theatre’s Travelex season offers 100,000 tickets to select shows for just £15.

For the full feature on outdoor theatres see the July/August 2015 issue of BRITAIN

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