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Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

  • Theatre
  • Regent’s Park
  • Recommended
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, 2021
Photo by: David JensenRegent’s Park Open Air Theatre, 2021

Time Out says

London's most beautiful theatre lies tucked away in the middle of Regent's Park

Founded in 1932, central London's most beautiful and secluded theatre is surrounded by Regent's Park on every side and is completely uncovered – so consequently open only between May and September each year.

Though its twinkling, manicured prettiness makes Regent's Park Open Air Theatre resemble something out of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', the volume of Shakespeare performed on its stage has dwindled from almost exclusively to fairly sporadically under long-serving artistic director Timothy Sheader. His seasons generally start with a gritty opener, have a populist classic in the middle, then climax with one of the big musicals that he's made his name with. Around that there's acoustic gigs, comedy and usually some kids' theatre.

Ticket prices are comparable to the West End, though the sightlines are good at most prices. There are cheap tickets available for younger audiences (including the BREEZE membership scheme, which offers £10 tickets for 18-25-year-olds), and concessions can buy discounted standby tickets prior to the day's performance (from 5pm for evenings and noon matinees).

Having no roof, rain does sometimes lead to performance cancellations: if this happens you can exchange your ticket for a future performance, but no refund is permitted.

The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre has plenty of food options, from a barbecue to picnic hampers, and the bar is the longest in any London theatre.

If you're interested in theatre history, the Open Air Theatre's archives are available to view online at and contain images galore of former company members include Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes.


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Regent's Park
Tube: Baker St
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What’s on

Bear Snores On

  • Children's

Proving that it’s never too late to try something new, the Open Air Theatre kicks off its ninety-second season with something it’s never done before: staging a show in March. ‘Bear Snores On’ is, to be clear, a short play for children aged four-plus that will only run during the daytime and should therefore allay any serious thread of hypothermia. Nonetheless, they’ll be advised to wrap up warm for this adaptation of Karma Wilson’s picture book, which has music and lyrics by Harry Blake and a book by Katy Sechiari and big name actor Cush Jumbo. Beginning on the lawn rather than the theatre stage, it does move inside somewhere warmer, following a mouse as it looks for somewhere to hide from the cold… and hits upon a cave with a large, furry occupant.

Twelfth Night

  • Shakespeare

Timothy Sheader’s final Open Air Theatre season is quite a classic one in terms of programming, which means we’re getting the ever-delightful outdoor venue’s first Shakespeare play for adults since ‘Henry V’ in 2016 (when it opened 92 years ago the OAT was Shakespeare-only). We know very little about this production of Shakespeare’s beloved ‘serious comedy’, but it’ll be directed by RSC veteran Owen Horsley, and the blurb suggests it'll be drenching the story of Viola’s shipwrecked arrival in Illyria in some serious Mediterranean summer vibes (and thus technically relocating Illyria a few hundred miles south west).

The Enormous Crocodile

  • Children's

This musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s picture book isn’t the big budget blowout that the NT’s recent ‘The Witches’ was. But the Leeds Playhouse co-production – with songs by Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab and book and lyrics by Suhayla El-Bushra – promises to be a lot of fun regardless, bringing Dahl’s tongue-in-cheek but ruthlessly uncosy story about the titular croc’s child-eating exploits to life with the aid of puppets by Toby Olié, who co-directs with Emily Lim. Ages four-plus.

The Secret Garden

  • Drama

The Open Air Theatre is going big on family-friendly shows this summer, with a major new adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s novel about spoiled ten-year-old Mary Lennox, who is abruptly sent to live in rural Yorkshire with an uncle she’s never met, where she finds solace in nature. Holly Robinson and Anna Himali Howard adapt, in what one would expect to be a fairly politically charged production that’s directed by Howard. For ages ten-plus.

Fiddler on the Roof

  • Musicals

The final show of Timothy Sheader’s Open Air Theatre reign is – what else – a musical, a form he’s done so much to champion since taking over the hitherto Shakespeare-centric venue almost two decades ago. Sheader won’t himself be directing this revival of Bock and Stein’s immortal musical following the life of Teyve, a Jewish milkman living in the shtetl in the early twentieth century. Nor do we know anything about Jordan Fein’s revival, conceptually speaking. But you can be sure of a crowdpleaser, with much-loved songs like ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ and ‘Tradition’ all present and correct. 

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