Best open air theatres in Britain FEATURE

There's something extra special about watching a theatrical production under starry skies in the warm evening air. Maybe itís the unique chemistry between the actors and the audience in an open air space. Perhaps itís because the actors have to project themselves differently. Whatever it is, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy theatre in the great British outdoors.

Best open air theatres in Britain

Showing everything from Shakespeare to contemporary musicals, open air theatres can be found all over Britain. Heres our pick of the best

The Minack Theatre, Cornwall

One of the most famous open air theatres in the world, the Minack's Greek-style open air stage is set in the beautiful landscape of Porthcurno Bay in Cornwall. Constructed among the rocks overlooking the ocean and the cliffs of Porthcurno, it would be hard to create a more dramatic theatre location. From May until September, anyone visiting can enjoy drama, musicals and opera. And while you're there, you can even enjoy the sub-tropical gardens, developed in the 1930s by Rowena Cade, the original founder of the theatre.

Shakespeare's Globe, London

There is arguably nowhere in the world better to experience a Shakespeare play than at Shakespeare's Globe on the banks of the River Thames in London. The reconstructed theatre closely resembles the original design, with a thrust stage projecting into a large circular yard surrounded by three tiers of seats. Plays are mostly staged from May until October, and tickets are relatively cheap. For the ultimate Elizabethan experience, get tickets for the pit and stand with the other groundlings.

Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester

Although this is a fairly small outdoor theatre, some of Britain's most highly regarded directors, actors and designers continue to work here. Some have even called it the best open air theatre experience outside of London. With 113 covered seats and a naturally beautiful set with a backdrop of whispering trees, it's the perfect environment to enjoy a picnic, the company of friends and a unique theatrical event.

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, London

If you happen to be in the capital between May and September, see what's on at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. Located in the heart of one of London's best-loved parks, it's the oldest professional and permanent outdoor theatre in Britain. With the longest bar in the West End and plenty of picnic areas, it also has a massive seating capacity of 1,240. With a varied programme of productions, from classic plays to musicals, there's something to suit all tastes. All the seating is uncovered, so remember to take suitable clothing!

The Willow Globe, Llandrindod Wells, Wales

A scaled down version of London's Globe, this open theatre is naturally constructed from living Willow trees. The magical setting is totally unique, creating an enchanting space for outdoor theatre productions. It's one of the largest willow constructions in the country, and transforms in appearance due to performances running from April until September. The Willow features an eclectic mix of music, Shakespeare and other artistic events, including workshops.

Brownsea Island Open Air Theatre, Dorset

Catching a boat in order to see a play may seem excessive, but it's exactly what you must do to watch a performance at Brownsea Island Open Air Theatre. Sailing across Poole Harbour is just the beginning of a dramatic evening's adventure that will peak with a memorable alfresco performance and end with a nocturnal ferry trip back to shore. Entirely produced with the aid of volunteers, each annual production can take months to prepare, but it is a theatrical experience that audiences remember for a long time.

Rutland Open Air Theatre, Tolethorpe Hall, Rutland

With landscaped gardens for relaxing walks and picnic areas on soft ancient lawns, the setting is ripe for cultural pleasure in the form of open air theatre. The Stamford Shakespeare Company present a season of plays every summer at Rutland Open Air Theatre in the grounds of historic Tolethorpe Hall. Unlike some open air theatres, audiences are offered protection from the unpredictable British weather with a permanent all-weather canopy. The 600-seat auditorium is the perfect setting to enjoy Shakespeare. The Stage called it one of England's premier alfresco theatre venues.

Britain has some of the best open air theatres in the world. If you haven't yet experienced the exhilarating atmosphere of a dynamic theatre production in the open air, why not try something new? Make the most of the British summer even if it rains - with these unique outdoor productions in extraordinary surroundings.

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