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Al-Fresco Summer Theatre & Circus

Dig out the kagoul; Warwickshire's outdoor theatre is worth risking the rain for...

Here’s my curated list of the best summer outdoor productions and performances, across Warwickshire & beyond showing in Shakespeare’s gardens, stately homes, nature reserves, museums as well as the RSC’s free open-air arena on the riverbank, The Dell. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Maybe not right now, but tomorrow’s forecast looks good…


Heartbreak Productions, touring venues across Warwickshire & Coventry

Farcical romp, Murder on the Terrace

The innovative Leamington Spa based touring theatre company has 5 cracking touring summer productions – ranging from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden to a new adaptation of David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy, to farcical romp Murder on the Terrace, Shakespeare comedy The Taming of The Shrew and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Warwickshire venues include Ragley Hall, Bridge House Theatre, Warwick; Ryton Pools, Bubbenhall; St John’s House Museum, Warwick and Charterhouse Priory, Coventry.


Rajasthan’s Circus Raj, macBirmingham, Sun Aug 6

Copyright Jonas Spinoy

A chance to catch a troupe of Indian street circus performers in action, the Circus Raj “supergroup” will bring their magical blend of dancers, illusionists, aerialists and acrobatics to the MAC’s outdoor arena. The arts centre has lots of family activities on this summer: as well as performances there’s the chance for kids and teens to throw themselves into specialists creative workshops, from dance to animation and film-making. £3.50.


The Dell, Stratford-upon-Avon

Enjoy a range of  free, lively student, community and semi-professional open-air productions at The Dell, the RSC’s outdoor performance space in Stratford-upon-Avon, on weekends until Aug 27. Upcoming productions include Oxford University Dramatic Society’s As You Like It and East Surrey’s Bloomin’ Arts Theatre Company’s Shakespeare Slam!

The Dell is on the banks of the River Avon in Avonbank Gardens, near Holy Trinity Church. Check out the full What’s On programme here:


Shakespeare’s Family Homes, in-and-around Stratford-upon-Avon

Immersion Theatre will be bringing Kenneth Grahame’s class children’s story Wind in the Willows to life in the stunning grounds of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, on Sun August 13, 2pm. A great family day out! (Tickets available at can also enjoy an after-hours performance of the Merry Wives of Windsor by the Festival Players in Hall’s Croft, August 20, 7pm-10pm. Tickets available here


Charlecote Park, nr Warwick, Sun Aug 13

Charlecote Park

A summer performance by the Three Inch Fools

The Three Inch Fools present Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in this National Trust owned Victorian home set in a landscaped deer park, 7pm-9.15pm.

Wellesbourne, Warwick, Warwickshire, CV35 9ER, To book Tel: 01789470277


Coughton Court, Alcester, Sat Aug 19

Join al-fresco theatre company Illyria on a Jurassic adventure with prehistoric thrills, monster laughs and life-size dinosaurs in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World performed in the gardens on this beautiful house. Four intrepid explorers travel to an uncharted plateau in South America and encounter living dinosaurs! Gates open at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm start. Recommended for older children and families.

Coughton Court, Coughton, Alcester, Warwickshire, B49 5JA


Fairytale acrobatic theatre company Nicole & Martin, Kenilworth Castle, Thurs Aug 24, Fri Aug 25 and Sat Aug 26 

This award-winning travelling circus theatre company Nicole & Martin will be pitching up their magical White Tent at Kenilworth Castle for 3 days, and telling tales by Grimm – Iron John, The Musicians of Bremen and The Girl Without Hands. Their 70-min stows combine theatre, music, song, dance, juggling, acrobatics and laughter. For the whole family, adults and teenagers too! Oh and they’ll serve you French crêpes, brownies, and Italian coffee. You’ll need to book as limited seating available.

Tel: 0370 333 1183 (Mon – Fri 8.30am – 5.30pm Sat 9am – 5pm).


Canons Ashby, nr Daventry & Rugby, Sat Aug 5

See the critically-acclaimed Pantaloons’ family-friendly version of Shakespeare’s timeless comedy, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, in the terraced gardens of this tranquil National Trust Tudor manor house, in their own distinctive and anarchic style. Bring a rug & picnic, 6-8.15pm.

nr Daventry, Northamptonshire, NN11 3SD


Kilworth House Theatre, North Kilworth, nr Rugby,  Wed Aug 16-Sept 17

It’s a hop, skip and a jump over the border and it’s well worth the trip. The Kilworth House Theatre opened in 2007 in a beautiful wooded glade close to the lake in the grounds of Kilworth House Hotel in south Leicestershire. There’s a special aura around this magic about open-air theatre on a beautiful English summer’s evening, so what better way to experience the magnificent surroundings of the Kilworth estate. In the next month, you can see the musical Top Hat, the very best of 1930s song, style and romance, directed by Olivier Award-winning director & choreographer, Stephen Mear. Expect breath-taking dance scenes…You can book to stay overnight too at this luxury Victorian hotel.

Kilworth House, Lutterworth Hotel, North Kilworth LE 17 6JE


Regents Park Open Air Theatre, London

It involves trekking up to the smoke, but it’s absolutely worth it for an evening at this picturesque fairy-light strewn theatre, which is the big daddy of al fresco productions – and the London Theatre Of The Year in 2016’s The Stage awards, no less. This summer’s extensive programme includes A Tale of Two Cities (7 July – 5 August), a brand new adaptation of the Dickens tome that’s alarmingly topical once again. Then there’s a family-friendly Oliver Twist (17 July – 5 Aug) suitable for children age 6+. Finally, bring out the big guns: namely, the Olivier and Evening Standard award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar (Aug 11- Sept 23 2017), by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.


Giffords Circus, Any Port in a Storm, touring now until Sept 24

This year the inimitable Giffords Circus is recreating a 17th-century Spanish court and putting on a candle-lit international gymnastic show with dancing horses, a live band and everyone’s favourite clown Tweedy. It’s moved from its Gloucestershire home into Oxfordshire for the next month – currently nestled in Oxford, it heads into London next and then back to Stonor Park.

Have we missed anything amazing off the list? Let us know in the comment box below!

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