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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
© David Jensen

Open-air theatre in London

The best open-air and outdoor theatre shows in London this summer

Written by Time Out London theatre in association with FREE NOW
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Open-air theatre season in London stretches from March to late October: Londoners are just that tough. Or at least, optimistic about the weather.

Substantially it revolves around a few key theatres, notably Shakespeare’s Globe – which is open for by far the longest time – and the delightful Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, which is open late spring to the end of summer. 

But there’s plenty of other stuff, especially as the summer reaches its height, from the ambitious street theatre of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival to the musical theatre blowout of West End Live.

Not sure what you'll need for an open-air theatre trip? Then don’t miss our guide to practical open-air theatre info

Outdoor theatre in London this month

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

Let’s be honest: it’s a red flag when the most famous English writer of all time has a play about one of the most obsessed over periods in English history and it almost never actually gets staged…

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  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

The great Kathryn Hunter takes on the title role of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Her craggy wildness feels well-suited to Shakespeare’s elemental tragedy of old age, and underscoring the fact it’s a special production, she’ll be joined by Globe boss Michelle Terry, who will co-star in the dual roles of the Fool and Cordelia. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Regent’s Park

Directed by Lucy Moss – who did the honours for sleeper West End smash ‘Six’ – this revival of ‘Legally Blonde’ feels less like an update of the 2007 musical, more like a bizarre fever dream about it…

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

Much like your average British spring, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a tale of dark clouds as well as sunshine. But Lucy Bailey’s admirably clear production looks on the bright side of Shakespeare’s play, using a post-war Italian setting to drench its romances in light and warmth…

Outdoor theatre in London this summer

  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • Covent Garden

A London summer without ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is like a London summer without a single nice day: technically possible, and has probably happened in the past, but still overwhelmingly unlikely…

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Regent’s Park

The ‘big summer musical’ is the annual highlight of the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre calendar, but due to pandemic disruptions the 2022 season will have two, as this much-delayed family show follows ‘Legally Blonde’…

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  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

Sean Holmes’s career as associate director of the Globe has thus far been fairly evenly divided between ‘light’ comedies in the main theatre, and darker, more director’s theatre-style shows in the Sam Wanamaker. As a play, ‘The Tempest’ hovers somewhere in between…

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • South Bank

This year, the Globe’s traditional end of summer season new play is a historical drama about Joan of Arc, written by actor and playwright Charlie Josephine. 

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