Open Air Theatres to Try Over the Summer Holidays

Family Time
Mary Lonsdale
Regents Park: one of the most beautiful open air theatres in London.

Now the summer holidays are in full flow, it’s the perfect time to enjoy some educational outdoors fun as a family. Fortunately London has a plethora of open air theatres which put on exciting shows during the summer months.

Here are a few of Mentor Education’s favourite open air theatres – most of which are very affordable (or even free!) to attend.

Open Air Theatres to Try Now: Regent’s Park

One of London’s most famous (and most beautiful) open air theatres, the venue is nestled conveniently in the middle of Regent’s Park (which is a stone’s throw away from Euston and Marylebone). Whilst this picturesque, tree-lined amphitheatre has a sterling reputation for Shakespeare, in recent years it’s also become famous for musical theatre.

The jewel in the crown of 2019’s line-up is the acclaimed musical Evita, which will be running from 2nd August – 21st September. A toe-tapping musical (including hits like Don’t Cry For Me Argentina) and history lesson all in one (it tells the story of influential leader Eva Peron), a trip to Evita will provide educational fun for the whole family.


Now in its 11th year, London’s Underbelly Festival is a celebration of theatre unlike no other. At one of the specially-curated tents on the Southbank, visitors can enjoy an enormous variety of live entertainment: from comedy sets performed by top comedians like Nina Conti to cabaret, musical theatre and even drag.

There’s plenty of family-friendly fun to be had, too; the ‘Kids Festival’ is back and better than ever before, with appearances from CBeebies staples Twirlywoos, Basil Brush, and magicians Morgan & West. In between shows, you can dip into the many delicious food stalls, bars, and fairground rides that crowd the Southbank’s bustling shores. An excellent day out for theatre fans of all ages!

Shakespeare's Globe: one of the most unusual open air theatres in London.

Shakespeare’s Globe

The ideal venue for any Shakespeare fan, The Globe is one of the capital’s most unique open air theatres. A dazzling recreation of the theatre in which Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed in the Tudor era, you can enjoy the theatre experience in a truly authentic way: as a groundling, standing by the stage, or seated in the period-appropriate wooden stalls (cushions are recommended and can be rented!). You can even take a guided tour of the theatre, which lasts for 40 minutes, and which promises to bring the venue to life with interesting stories about the original (1599) Globe, details of the reconstruction process, and insights into how the traditional amphitheatre is used as an experimental and exciting theatrical space.

Shakespeare’s Globe doesn’t only produce Shakespeare plays, though. This year, there’s an eclectic line-up: favourites like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It and The Merry Wives of Windsor play alongside news works such as Swive.

Iris Theatre at St Paul’s Church

St Paul’s Church – AKA The Actor’s Church – is one of London’s hidden gems. Tucked away in the centre of Covent Garden, St Paul’s Church is a tranquil space within the busy streets of Central London. What better place to enjoy some outdoor theatre?

Since 2007, Iris Theatre have staged a pair of plays in the beautiful gardens of St Paul’s Church, and this year is no exception. In 2019, the acclaimed theatre company marks ’10 Years of Summers’ with promenade performances of Hamlet and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The Scoop: one of the most diverse open air theatres in London.

The Scoop

A sunken amphitheatre by the southern bank of the Thames, with seating for 1000, The Scoop is a great place to catch an unusual bit of live entertainment. It’s also one of the most diverse open air theatres in the UK. From June to August every year, the venue plays host to a number of different events, including sports and movie screenings, concerts, and theatre.

This year the line-up is as varied as ever, with film screenings like Mary Poppins Returns and Coco, mass karaoke (‘Massaoke’) and live music from Mama Jerk and Counter’s Creek. Most events are free to attend and are set to be popular, so do arrive early to bag your space!

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