The grown-ups guide to open air entertainment

Regardless of the unpredictability of our weather – we all love outdoor activities – from music festivals and clifftop weddings to the humble picnic. One of our favourite pastimes right now is open air theatre and cinema.

Packing up your favourite snacks and beverages, getting cosy on the grass with blankets and pillows and watching the sun go down in the fresh air. There is a thrill and excitement watching a great film or play in the open air – birds and insects flying around you, the warm breeze, and possible summer showers.

What to bring:

Bring clothes for every eventuality. Even if it is hot and sunny when you arrive, once the sun sets, the temperature is bound to drop, so take a variety of layers, a wooly hat, and a rain coat just in case.

Making yourself comfortable is really important – a rug to sit on, plus one to wrap up in is a good idea, along with a cushion – outdoor seats are also great for supporting your back.

Also treat yourself to some refreshments – hummus with crudites, olives and sundried tomatoes, samosas and sausage rolls, a big bowl of popcorn and sticky chocolate brownies. A thermos of something warming along with bottled beers for refreshments and you’ll have the perfect picnic.

Finally, don’t forget to bring a torch for after the performance.

Where to go:

There are open air theatre and cinema events happening all around the country right now, but here are some of our favourites:

Theatre in Cornwall:


Kneehigh currently touring Dead Dog in a Suitcase and Daphne Du Marier’s Rebecca all over the UK and 946 in their Asylum in Cornwall.


The Minack Theatre is an experience not to be missed. Cut into the granite cliffs overlooking the white sandy beaches of Porthcurno and the blue of the Atlantic Ocean, simply being there is dramatic enough. This summer there will be performances from Shakespeare’s Globe, Next Stage Theatre Company and the Ilkley Playhouse, among others.


Miracle Theatre are another award-winning touring theatre company in Cornwall. Currently touring The Magnificent Three – a musical western – all over the South West in several stunning outdoor locations.

Penlee Park Open Air Theatre is a beautiful tranquil setting for open air theatre, situated in the heart of Penzance. There are often exhibitions on in the house itself, so you could combine a wander around the Victorian home with a performance.

Theatre elsewhere in the UK:


Regent’s Park, one of the largest auditorium’s in London set in the middle of beautiful Royal Park is currently showing The Seagull, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Lord of the Flies.


The reconstructed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre gives you a real sense of what theatre was really like during Shakespeare’s time. A whole variety of Shakespearean plays, both comedies and tragedies are being performed throughout the summer, along with wonderfully atmospheric concerts by candlelight.


A performance at Brownsea Open Air Theatre near Poole is a real adventure. Included in your theatre ticket is a ferry ticket to Brownsea Island, which you can explore before the performance – and the boat journey back under the night stars is unforgettable. This summer’s performance is the very apt Shakespearean play of the Tempest.


Wildworks theatre is a relatively new theatre organisation which makes stories out of landscapes. Based in Cornwall, their adventures have taken them all around the world, from Palestine to Newcastle. Currently in Kasteel Van Gaasbeek in Belgium, they really push the boundaries of outdoor theatre – and are not to missed if you find yourself close by to their performances.



Possibly one of the largest open air cinema events this year is at Somerset House in London. Run by Film4 this August, evenings begin with live DJ sets whilst the audience settles down with picnics and pimms whilst the sun goes down, and then screenings of classic, cult and contemporary films begin.


Luna Cinema have events going on all around London and larger towns all around the country – in really stunning locations, from Cardiff Castle to Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. Showing old favourites like Jaws and Breakfast at Tiffany’s to more modern films such as The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.


The Floating Cinema is a fascinating project whereby a small performance space and lightbox has been built onto a floating barge. Where the barge moors, both open air and on-board film screenings, performances, talks and events take place. Touring all around the waterways of South East and West of England this summer and a special Extra-Terrestrial program around London, it is definitely one to look out for.


For another unforgettable cinema experience, head to one of London’s Rooftop Film Clubs. There are four venues around the city all with stunning views of London at night. The film season lasts until September showing recent blockbusters, independent films and cult classics and serving delicious food and drink alongside them.