Minack Theatre

Best Outdoor Theatres in the UK

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How does comedy on a Cornish cliff sound? Or Shakespeare on a Dorset island, accessible only by boat? The UK is blessed with some beautiful outdoor theatres, which can now reopen for business following new government guidelines. Read on for our favourites.

A Guide To Theatres Reopening / UK Art Exhibitions 2021

Main image: The Minack Theatre by MikeNewman

Best Outdoor Theatres in the UK

 

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  • Minack Theatre

    The Minack Theatre, Cornwall

    This Cornish gem wins on location, perched on the rugged cliffs of Penzance overlooking the sea. In a normal year, over 200 live performances take place there, from opera to comedy to musicals. It’s reopening this May, with upcoming shows including Bea Roberts’ And Then Come the Nightjars and Starcrazy, a cosmic comedy set in the 1950s. minack.com

    Image: Lynn Batten

  • Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

    Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London

    One of the oldest and largest outdoor theatres in Britain, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre dates back to 1932. Tucked away in the middle of the park, the leafy playhouse is open from May to September each year. Its 2021 season is kicking off with extended runs of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Kimberley Sykes, followed by a retelling of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, directed by Timothy Sheader. The theatre will also be hosting a number of outdoor events this summer such as comedy gigs and a 20th anniversary screening of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! by The Luna Cinema alongside The Shining. Heads up: there’s no roof, which means performances are subject to weather conditions. openairtheatre.com

  • Brighton Open Air Theatre

    Brighton Open Air Theatre, Brighton

    After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the late playwright Adrian Bunting threw his efforts into launching an open-air theatre in Brighton. Shortly before passing away he asked four friends to see his dream through, and in 2015 Brighton Open Air Theatre opened on the former bowling green at Dyke Road Park. Modelled on the amphitheatres of the ancient world, the venue has become an integral part of Brighton’s cultural landscape. Its season typically runs from May to September, with the 2021 line-up including Blackbox Theatre Company’s version of Noel Coward’s timeless classic, Blithe Spirit. brightonopenairtheatre.co.uk

  • Brownsea Open Air Theatre

    Brownsea Open Air Theatre, Dorset

    In 1964, the National Trust decided to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth with an outdoor performance of one of his plays on Brownsea Island, of which they had recently become owners. This was the beginning of Brownsea Open Air Theatre. Hop on a boat from Poole Quay to see a Shakespeare play performed amid magical surroundings. Pack your own picnic or stock up at Gillian’s Catering tent, which serves snacks, cakes and drinks. brownsea-theatre.co.uk

  • Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

    Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

    An intimate auditorium on the north bank of the River Dee, Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre is produced by Storyhouse, Chester’s award-winning cultural centre. Shows coming up this year include Glyn Maxwell’s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, plus a run of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. There’s an on-site pizzeria, but you’re also welcome to bring your own food and drinks. grosvenorparkopenairtheatre.co.uk

  • National Youth Theatre, Animal Farm

    The Sanctuary Theatre

    Eco-minded Tim Ashton built The Sanctuary Theatre on his farm as a response to the struggles faced by the performing arts industry because of the pandemic. This June, the outdoor theatre is – fittingly – playing host to the National Youth Theatre’s production of Animal Farm. Award-winning playwright Tatty Hennessy has adapted George Orwell’s classic for the stage, starring some of Britain’s best young talent. nyt.org.uk