Best outdoor theatre in Bucks & Oxon
It's time to venture outside and access some much-needed culture - hurrah! So, without further ado, we present the best outdoor theatre to book now.
Oxford Castle and Prison
There are three productions taking place over this year’s annual Oxford Shakespeare Festival; Twelfth Night (12 – 24 July) by Tomahawk Theatre, BMH Productions’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream (26 July – 7 Aug) and Much Ado About Nothing (9 – 21 Aug) with Siege Theatre. All performances take place on the castleyard and if it rains, there are various refund options. Buy tickets (from £14.50) here.
Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury
As usual, there’s loads of treats on at Waddesdon Manor this summer. The all-male company, Lord Chamberlain’s Men, are touring with Macbeth, which is touching down at Waddesdon on Thursday 24 June – adult tickets from £20.50. Then there is a free family-focused performance of Tudor Tales with Unbound Theatre on the afternoon of Sun 25 July. Wind in the Willows from the Pantaloons Theatre Company is taking place on Sat 7 Aug while two weeks later, Treasure Island by Quantum Theatre will be performed in the gardens on Sat 21 Aug (both have adult tickets for £17). Bring chairs, blankets, a picnic and suitably warm clothes to pad back down to the car park. Book tickets here.
Chipping Norton Theatre
The Cotswolds-based company is taking a few productions outside this summer, starting with afternoon and evening performances of The Pirates of Penzance at Heath Farm Holiday Cottages on 26 – 27 June (tickets start at £16). Then, the glorious surrounds of Broughton Castle (pictured) will play host to Pride and Prejudice on Wed 9 July. The all-female troupe, the Handlebards are performing Macbeth at Pudlicote House between Sat 17 – Wed 21 July (tickets from £16) and for the kids, The Jungle Book and Mr Stink will be performed at Cornbury Park (Sat 1 – Wed 11 Aug respectively). Prices start at £9.50. Buy all tickets here.
Waterperry Gardens, Wheatley
The open air amphitheatre at Waterperry Gardens is quite clearly designed for outdoor performance and there’s quite a selection this summer into which you can sink your teeth. A dance-focused, family-focused version of The Secret Garden is kicking off the season on Sat 24 July, followed by a ‘delightfully daft’ retelling of Beauty and the Beast (Sat 31 July). The Waterperry Opera Festival is quick to follow on between 12 – 21 August including performances of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Tickets start at £8. Book here.
The Arches, nr Olney, MK
Everything The Arches does is in the open air, thanks to the unique placing of the theatre under disused railway arches in Clifton Reynes near Olney. And, happily, they’ve got loads on this year. First up is Musicals in Park (24/25 July) created by West End artists and choreographers, summer panto Cinderella (30-31 July), then between 5 – 7 August, Etcetera Theatre Company is putting on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. On 14 August it’s Hounds of the Baskervilles (by British Touring Shakespeare), Twelfth Night on 21 August (The Wet Mariners), Jane Eyre on 22 August (DOT Productions) and Ripping Yarns between 26-28 August with Milton Keynes Theatre of Comedy. Phew! And if that wasn’t enough, The Arches is promising more for September. Watch this space for tickets and updates.
Boxtree Productions’ Alice in Wonderland
Boxtree Productions is touring all over England with Alice in Wonderland this summer and they are stopping off in Buckinghamshire, running two fantastical, family-focused musical performances on Mon 16 August on the green in front of Buckingham Parish Church. They’ll be puppets, original songs and creative staging – and dressing up is encouraged. Time to dig out that Tweedledum outfit. Tickets from £13 here.
Garsington Opera, High Wycombe
Garsington Opera’s summer season is already underway on the bucolic Wormsley Estate and – be warned – tickets are like gold dust. Most of the performances have already sold out but if you want to put yourself on the list for cancellations this is what’s on; Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss (2 June – 3 July), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (3 June – 23 July), then Handel’s Amadigi is due between 19 June – 25 July to run alongside Rossini’s Le Comte Ory (2 – 25 July). There are two one-off performances too: The Selfish Giant by John Barber (29 July) is based on Oscar Wilde’s short story and will be performed by young professional singers. Weather the Storm by Orlando Gough, about the experiences of stroke survivors and actually performed by some alongside professional singers and NHS professionals, will show on 31 July. Tickets and info here.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
It’s further afield, sure, but there’s something just so summer-defining by attending a performance in Regent’s Park. This year, there’s Romeo & Juliet running from 17 June – 24 July, an all-singing, all-dancing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (31 July – 25 Sept), family show Dragons and Mythical Beasts (13 Aug – 5 Sept) and then Anansi the Spider (7 – 24 July) suitable for even the very small. The Bar will be open as will The Grill (with the option of covered dining for Carousel) but Covid restrictions are in place so expect a slightly different experience as usual. Tickets start from £10.