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Take it outside

From Shakespeare to Lewis Carrol, Top Gun to La La Land, there's an al-fresco show to suit everyone this summer.

I’m writing a post on outdoor screenings and theatre and am doing a sun dance at the same time (yeah, multitasker extraordinaire moi, and just wait and see what I can do to the weather!). Al-fresco viewing in gorgeous verdant surroundings is a truly magical way to pass a balmy summer evening (and even a damp one, because we are British, after all), so here’s a curated list of the best imminent outdoor shows in Glos and beyond.

Orfeo ed Erudice, Longborough Opera Festival, Tue 1 August

Longborough’s Orfeo ed Euridice is its final hurrah for the season. Based on the tale of Orpheus, one of the most famous and beloved Greek myths, it features some of Gluck’s best known pieces of music including the Dance of the Blessed Spirits and Che farò senza Euridice. The Longborough grounds, not far from Moreton-in-Marsh, are glorious, so dress up in your glad rags, pack a picnic or pre-order a hamper or, why the hell not, just dine in The Coach House Restaurant (see the menu here, £45 per person for a three-course meal) or Valley Buffet (£35 per person), and enjoy the show. Glyndebourne, eat your heart out.

Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tuckwell Amphitheatre, Cheltenham, Wed 2 August

This magical, amphitheatre tucked away in the woods next to a brook in the grounds of Dean Close School hosts the critically-acclaimed Pantaloons Theatre Company who tell Shakespeare’s timeless comic tale in their own distinctive and anarchic style. Gates open an hour and a half before performances, so bring a picnic, settle in and get ready to soak up the atmosphere.

Cowley Manor poolside screenings, near Cheltenham, dates in August

Cowley Manor continues its poolside screenings through the month of August with Moulin Rouge first up on Thursday 3 August, followed by Romeo and Juliet, Baz Lurhmann’s inspired LA gangland version, on Sat 12 August and Mamma Mia on Sat 26th. Doors open two hours before the films start and you can nosh posh barbecue fare – beef burgers, hotdogs, marinated butterfly chicken and mushroom & halloumi burgers.

Twelfth Night, Bodleian Quad, Oxford, until Thu 3 Aug

Loving the sound of this performance in the Bod Quad, which promises to be one of the highlights of Oxford’s summer. Watermill Theatre are celebrating their 50th anniversary with an outdoor production of one of Shakespeare’s funniest comedies, Twelfth Night. Directed by Paul Hart, there’s a post-war, 1920s setting for the play and a fabulous soundtrack of jazz inspired by Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

Top Gun, Egypt Mill, Nailsworth, Fri 4 August

Get yourself down to Egypt Mill’s gorgeous gardens to watch Tom Cruise in this classic from 1986 (which was before we all realised how strange Cruise was and felt like we could fancy him). A new venture for the Mill, you can drift up to the barbecue for a bite to eat and a drink. Book tickets in advance, only £8.

Outdoor Cinema Night, Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Thu 10 to Sat 12 August

Cult Screens set up in the stunning grounds of Sudeley Castle for three nights only. You can bring your own lounging options or hire comfy deckchairs and beanbags when you’re there, and there’ll be popcorn, craft beers, cocktails and wine to scoff. And what can you watch? On a giant, high-definition screen with super audio, there’ll be La La Land on Thursday, Lost Boys on Friday and Dirty Dancing on Saturday.


The Festival Players are rocking up at the atmospheric Woodchester Mansion to put on an all-male production of Shakespeare’s rollicking comedy. There’s a keep calm and carry on attitude, so the show will go on whatever the weather. Fingers crossed, everyone will be packing suncream and shades, not brollies and capes. Grounds open at 5.30pm for picnics, with the show kicking off at 6.30pm.

Alice, Oxford University Parks, until 19 Aug

More from quirky Oxford theatre company Creation. This time they invite you to fall down a rabbit hole in the green gorgeousness of University Parks for a family-friendly production of Lewis Carroll’s Alice. This particular wonderland is in a Big Top so inclement weather be damned!

Alice in Wonderland, Rococo Gardens, Sun 27 to Mon 28 August

The fantastical Rococo Gardens are a shoo-in for Alice in Wonderland, so this production by IK Productions is bound to be magical and perfect entertainment for kids. It starts at 2.30pm. And at 6.30pm on Sunday, the show is followed by Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome’s comedy set on the River Thames.

Wind in the Willows, Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Village, nr Chippenham, Thu 31 August

Chapterhouse Theatre present Wind in the Willows – join Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad on Lacock’s beautiful South Lawn for this fun-filled family adaptation of the classic tale, alive with music and song.

Regent’s 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 (until Sat 5 August), a brand new adaptation of the Dickens tome that’s alarmingly topical once again. Then there’s a family-friendly Oliver Twist (until Sat 5 Aug) suitable for children age 6+. Finally, bring out the big guns: namely, the Olivier and Evening Standard award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar (Fri 11 August 2017 to Sat 23 September 2017), by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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

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