What better way to spend a summer’s evening than to watch a live theatre performance or classic movie as the sun goes down? It’s no wonder that this is becoming a popular pastime. After all, the atmospheric surrounding of a castle or the panoramic views from a rooftop certainly beat sitting at home with a bag of microwaved popcorn.
We’ve rounded up 10 of our favourite alfresco theatre and cinema experiences in the UK. Sit back and relax!
Situated on the picturesque Norfolk coast, this beautiful estate boasts around 25,000 acres of stunning agricultural land. The hall itself, a lived-in family home, is well worth a visit too. Why not spend the day exploring the estate before heading to the walled garden to enjoy some outdoor theatre? Holkham has a fantastic programme for 2016 including a LAMDA production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on 20 July, a magical performance of Peter Pan on 10 August and a swashbuckling musical version of The Scarlet Pimpernel on 17 August.
This Cornwall-based theatre company has been going strong for over 30 years. In that time, they’ve created “vigorous, popular and challenging theatre” performed with “the joyful anarchy that audiences have come to expect”. Their unpredictable and exciting performances have won a myriad of awards and their breathtaking outdoor locations only add to the visual experience. Current productions include The Two Gentlemen of Verona and FUP – a modern fable about family, love and nature – in August.
Since 1999, Chapterhouse Theatre Company have been enchanting audiences across the UK and Ireland with their performances in beautiful settings. Throughout June, July and August, you can catch their production of The Railway Children in outdoor locations including Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, Corfe Castle in Dorset and Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. Enjoy a dramatic performance of Emily Bronte’s classic love story, Wuthering Heights, over the summer months. And for an evening of whimsical joy, book a summer date for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at various locations.
From July to September 2016, the Summer Nights Film Festival will be taking place across 14 beautiful heritage locations in the UK. Spend an evening under the stars while you sit back and enjoy a classic film, such as Ghost, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves or maybe something more recent, such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens or The Martian. Locations include Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire, Nostell in Yorkshire and Wollaton Hall in Nottingham. There’ll be hot food and drinks vendors on site, serving up hog roasts, burgers and Hooper’s alcoholic brews.
Set in a beautiful wooded glade, this open-air theatre has a magical ambiance and is the perfect way to spend an English summer’s evening. The auditorium has a huge canopy so you can sit back and enjoy the show, whatever the weather. Pack a hamper with all your favourite goodies or, if you want an extra-special evening, book a pre-theatre dinner in the Orangery at Kilworth House. Current shows include a production of West Side Story from 31 May – 17 July and live music from Talon – The Best of the Eagles on 28 July.
As the name suggests, Rooftop Film Club bring the roofs of London alive with their open-air cinematic events. It’s no surprise that Time Out called them the “kings of outdoor cinema” as the venues, facilities and atmosphere of their showings is up there (no pun intended) with the best of them. With a wide variety of films from Psycho to Back to the Future, there’s something for everyone. Locations include the stunning Kensington Roof Gardens, with its well-stocked bar and BBQ, and the Bussey Building in Peckham that boasts amazing views of the London skyline and fresh cocktails made by the renowned Spirited Mixers.
This volunteer run pop-up cinema embodies community spirit and, as 100% of its profits are donated to charity, you’ll feel like you’re making a worthy contribution as well as enjoying a great night out. The cinema works with a diverse range of cultural organisations and ethical suppliers, so expect some fantastic feel-good food and drink to accompany your cinematic experience. Venues include Queen’s Park, Paddington Street Gardens and Hyde Park Lido. Check out the Nomad Cinema website to find out where they’ll be next!
Performed in the historic surroundings of Tolethorpe Hall, the Stamford Shakespeare company has been putting on outdoor plays since 1968. This year, you can tuck into a buffet of carved meats, fresh fish and savoury flans in the dining rooms of Tolethorpe Hall, before heading outside to the Rutland Open Air Theatre to enjoy one of the open air performances. This year’s programme includes a rip-roaring production of Wind in the Willows and two Shakespeare classics: Macbeth and The Tempest.
Heartbreak Productions are in their 24th year of touring the length and breadth of the UK with their awe-inspiring shows. The 2016 programme includes Murder on the Terrace, The Importance of Being Earnest and David Walliams’ Ratburger. Audience participation is encouraged, just as it would have been in Shakespeare’s day, so you’ll really feel part of the performance. Unless you’ve got a premium ticket, don’t forget to bring along something to sit on and a brolly/sun cream depending on the weather.
This outdoor theatre company performs all over the country and regularly receive rave reviews. “A much-loved staple of the alfresco theatre scene”, say The Independent. Their shows are full of fun and playfulness, and their refreshing adaptations will keep every member of the family engaged. Shows this year include Danny the Champion of the World, touring from May to September, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore showing in July and August. Catch their next performances at locations including Brighton’s open-air theatre, Cardigan Castle and Pentillie Castle in Saltash.