The sun has taken its first tentative steps from behind the clouds, which means it's finally time: time to swap out your boots for Birkenstocks, order your first iced latte of the year and browse through the best charcoal barbecues on Good Food... not that we're getting ahead our ourselves.


Regardless of what the weather is doing, however, there's no denying that the summer months are coming - which, to West End buffs like yourself, can only mean one thing: the start of the open air theatre season.

This year, there are some incredible performances going on all around the UK, in particular at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in London.

Every summer, this iconic venue swings open its metaphorical doors and puts on a number of incredible shows for adults and children alike. This season is no different, with performances including classic musical Fiddler on the Roof, Shakespeare comedy Twelfth Night and children's play The Enormous Crocodile.

Below, we'll be giving you the details about each of these shows, as well as answering your most pressing questions, like, 'What should I wear?' and, 'What happens if it rains?' Plus, we've also given you a list of some of the other open air theatres to be found across the UK and how to go and see them.

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Be sure to check out the best West End shows for more of London's best, or take a look at the best musicals on tour UK.

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Best Regent's Park Open Air Theatre shows to see in 2024

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night poster with two men and one woman standing cheek to cheek
Twelfth Night. Regents Park Open Air Theatre

We all know Twelfth Night: separated twins, confused love, yellow stockings - it's Shakespeare's best known and best-loved comedy. Now, the land of Illyria is coming to London from 3rd May to 8th June, and with it, the story of Viola, Sebastian and Duke Orsino.

Performances will run every Monday to Sunday ,with a captioned show on 31st May, BSL interpreted on 6th June and audio described on 8th June.

The Enormous Crocodile

The Enormous Crocodile poster with a green cartoon crocodile
The Enormous Crocodile. London Theatre Direct

As the enormous crocodile makes his way through the jungle in search of delicious children to eat, it's up to the other jungle creatures to build up their courage and put a stop to his evil plans! But will they succeed?

Based on the classic Roald Dahl story, watch the Enormous Crocodile come to life through a combination of puppetry, rhymes and "tasty tunes". The show will run from 17th May to 8th June (mornings and afternoon performances only) with accessible performances on 5th June (BSL) and 7th June (audio described).

Like what you see? We've got an even bigger collection of family shows in the best kids' theatre shows.

The Secret Garden

The secret garden poster showing a flower bud being held in a hand.
The Secret Garden. Regents Park Open Air theatre

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel is coming to the stage this summer in The Secret Garden. Following the story of Mary Lennox, a spoilt young orphan who discovers a wonderful new land on her uncle's estate, this show is set to be a truly magical experience.

It will run from 15th June to 20th July, with a BSL performance on 9th and 17th July, a captioned on 19th July and an audio described performance on 20th July.

Fiddler on the Roof

fiddler on the roof poster showing young girl with hair blowing around
Fiddler on the Roof. Regents Park Open Air Theatre

A fiddler on the roof - sounds crazy, no? But at Regent's Park this summer, you'll see just how special this musical is. Set in the village of Anatevka, Russia, the show follows Tevye, a poor Jewish peasant desperately trying to marry off his five daughters to get them a better life. But when their wayward hearts and minds get in the way of his plans, Tevye must decide between fatherhood and that all-important word: tradition.

The show is playing at Regent's Park from 27th July to 21st September, and there will be an audio described performance on 31st August, a BSL performance on 3rd September, and a captioned show on 6th September.

How to get to Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

The theatre sits on the south side of Regent's Park near Madame Tussauds. The nearest tube station is Baker Street, which means you have a choice of the Bakerloo, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Jubilee lines. You can also head to Regent's Park tube station itself (Bakerloo line) or you can walk from London Euston (Northern, Victoria and National Rail).

How much do Regent's Park Open Air Theatre tickets cost?

Prices will vary depending on which ticketing site you buy through. The cheapest we've found is at See Tickets, where prices start at £17.40. If you're shopping through TodayTix, the starting cost is £18 and at London Theatre Direct it's a minimum of £19.

What other open air theatres are there in the UK?

Shakespeare's Globe, London

The Globe Theatre in black and white
Shakespeare's Globe, London. hulki okan tabak/Unsplash

Arguably the most famous open air theatre of them all, Shakespeare's Globe is an iconic part of London's South Bank, where it has sat since 1599 (although it had to be rebuilt after it burned down in 1613).

To this day, the Globe is the primary location to see the works of Shakespeare, as well as other famous plays like The Duchess of Malfi. This year's Globe season includes performances The Comedy of Errors, Othello and, for children, Shakespeare's Rough Magic. Or, if you don't fancy sitting for a show, you can also take a guided tour of the historic building.

If you want a more in-depth look at what's on at the Globe this summer, here are the best Shakespeare plays.

Buy Globe Theatre tickets at London Theatre Direct

Buy Shakespeare's Globe guided tour tickets at Virgin Experience Days

Minack Theatre, Cornwall

People watch a show at the Minack Theatre near Penzance on June 28, 2018 in Cornwall, England.
Minack Theatre, Cornwall. Matt Cardy /Getty

The iconic image of the Minack Theatre is surely known all across the UK and even the world. Found just outside of Porthcurno, a few miles from Land's End, the Minack famously sites on an outcrop of granite overlooking the sea. First built in 1930, the theatre is a must-visit for tourists, especially as this year it will be showing plays such as Love's Labour's Lost and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Buy Minack Theatre tickets

Shop Cornwall experiences at Virgin Experience Days

Brighton Open Air Theatre

The Brighton Open Air Theatre, also known as BOAT, is a 400-seat theatre found at the Dyke Road Park, about 15 minutes from Brighton seafront. Since opening in 2015, the venue has become on of the UK's main outdoor theatres, and is often one of the best places to go for catching innovative new performances and up-and-coming artists. This summer, they'll be showing everything from As You Like It to an on-stage version of The Vicar of Dibley.

Buy Brighton Open Air Theatre tickets

Thorington Theatre, Suffolk

Thorington Theatre is a brand new outdoor amphitheatre in the Suffolk woodland, with over 70 shows to choose from. This year's season includes performances of The Wizard of Oz, The Tempest and Beowulf, as well as improv nights and comedy performances. Plus, it's kitted out with a theatre bar and food options including a picnic supper club.

Buy Thorington Theatre tickets

When does the open air theatre season start?

The open air theatre season starts as early as March and often runs until mid-September.

You'll find that the Globe and Regent's Park typically have the longest seasons that stretch across the, well, seasons. Already, Regent's Park has shown the children's play Bear Snores On, while the Globe is gearing up to start their season with Much Ado About Nothing on 25th April.

What do you wear to an open air theatre?

There is no dress code for open air theatres, as it's a far more relaxed environment compared to the rest of the West End.

Dress as smartly or casually as you like, although we'd strongly advise checking the weather forecast beforehand – summer might be on the horizon, but you can always rely on British weather to be as contrary as possible.

Our best advice would be to bring provisions for all weather types: sun cream, hats and sunglasses for the heat, and umbrellas and lightweight macs for the rain. Plus, it always gets a bit chilly when the sun goes down, so it's worth bringing an extra layer for warmth.

What happens if it rains at an open air theatre?

What does British summertime have in common with the 1994 single Love Is All Around? Wet, wet, wet!

In all seriousness, most open air theatres will carry on with their performances come rain or shine. On average, 94% of Regent's Park performances are completed each season, and will only ever be cancelled in extreme conditions, ie intense storms or if the temperature exceeds 40 degrees.

To make things trickier, performances will never be cancelled before the advertised start time – so you won't find out until you arrive at the theatre, and no refunds are given. You can, however, exchange your tickets for a future performance.


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