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Keep it fresh! Best outdoor theatre in Suffolk & Cambs

Picnic hampers and fold-up chairs at the ready: it's outdoor theatre season! You've got your pick this year, from kid-pleasing comedy to gritty classics. Here are the best to book now.

Thorington Theatre, Saxmundham

We couldn’t have a round-up of open air theatre without including the amazing Thorington Theatre, an entirely outdoor theatre nestled in idyllic Suffolk woodland. This summer they’ve got a packed schedule of delightful open air events, with something for everyone, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pygmalion, Into the Woods, James and the Giant Peach, The Prisoner of Zenda, Estella, David Walliams’ Awful Auntie, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice. See the full line-up here.

Beccles, Lowestoft, Halesworth and Bungay

As well as showing on 16th July at Thorington Theatre, Upshoot Theatre Company are performing their spelling adaptation of Sondheim’s beloved musical Into The Woods at other outdoor locations across Suffolk, including Locks Inn, Beccles on 8th July, Kaliwood Kinda Forest School on 9th July, Sparrows Nest Garden, Lowestoft on 10th July and Mettingham Castle, Bungay on 17th July.

Brandon Country Park

“There’s a world outside and I want to see it!” We quite agree Mole, and see it you can on 9th July when Paperback Theatre’s open-air adaption of family favourite The Wind in the Willows comes to Brandon Country Park. The play starts at 1pm or 4pm and you’re encouraged to bring picnics, chairs and dress for all weathers! Tickets £8 adults, £5 kids, free for under 5s.

Ickworth, Bury St Edmunds

outdoor theatre Suffolk

The War of the Worlds is given a funny, affectionately irreverent makeover by the Pantaloons Theatre Company on 29 July, while a week later, there’s something for the kids when KD Theatre perform Alice in Wonderland on 5 August. The all-male company, Lord Chamberlain’s Men, are touring with As You Like It, which is touching down at Ickworth on 21 August – adult tickets from £20.50. Bring chairs, blankets, a picnic and suitably warm clothes to pad back down to the car park.

Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

As part of Suffolk’s Theatre in the Parks programme, there’s a family-friendly production of Beatrix Potter’s much-loved Peter Rabbit coming to Bury’s Abbey Gardens on 16 August. The performance will take place next to Mr McGregor’s, I mean the Abbey’s, Rose Garden and starts at 2pm or 6:30pm. Tickets £12 for adults, £5 for kids, and free for under 5s.

A week later Awful Auntie is also showing at the Abbey Gardens on Tuesday 23 August at 2pm and 6.30pm. Later in the month adults get their turn with Heartbreak Productions’ interactive murder mystery Much Ado About Murder on 30 August at 6:30pm.

West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village

Plenty to delight the kids at West Stow this summer including two open air plays – Quantum Theatre’s version of Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon on 26 July at 2pm and 6:30pm. There’s also Heartbreak Productions’ adaptation of David Walliams’ Awful Auntie on 2 August at 2pm and 6.30pm, a thrilling tale filled with owls, ghosts, chases, escapes, motorcycle rides and tiddlywinks. Finally, kids can enjoy a classic story The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny at West Stow on 9 August at 2pm or 6:30pm.

Eye Castle

Where better to stage a historical play than a motte and bailey medieval castle? Quill & Inkling will be performing the classic tale The Prisoner of Zenda on 2 July at 3pm against this fabulous backdrop. Other performances in our region include St Denys Church, St Neots on 3 July, East House Meadow, Ipswich on 17 July, Thorington Theatre on the 21st, Belle Vue Park, Sudbury on 14 August, St Johns the Baptist Church, Wisbech on 19 August and St Marys Church, Pakenham on 20 August. And, if you can’t make The Pantaloons’ War of the Worlds at Ickworth, fear not, because the company are also taking the show to Eye Castle on 14 July.

Christchurch Park and Alton Water Ipswich

outdoor theatre Rapunzel

You’ll also find The Pantaloons The War of the Worlds in Ipswich’s Christchurch Park on 26 August at 7:30pm. While the city’s Alton Water plays host to Immersion Theatre’s Rapunzel on Sunday 10 July. If you can’t make that head to Pakenham’s St Mary’s Church for more Rapunzel on 16 August.

Cambridge College Gardens

outdoor theatre Shakespeare

If you’re a big fan of the bard then you’ll need to dust your deckchair off because Cambridge’s Shakespeare Festival (running from 11 July – 22 August) will be right up your street. Six of Shakespeare’s most well-loved plays (Twelfth Night, As You Like It, King Lear, Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) will be shown across Cambridge over the 8 weeks in the idyllic settings of the college gardens (Downing, King’s, St John’s and Trinity) so you can sit back and enjoy a picnic while you watch. Tickets cost £18 per person.

Orchard Tea Gardens, Grantchester

If that’s not enough Shakespeare for you, how about a trip to the gorgeous Orchard Tea Gardens in Grantchester from the 7th – 9th July, when you can be transported to Padua, Italy c1590 as you watch The Taming of the Shrew under the stars.

Dean’s Garden, Ely Cathedral

Join Alice down the rabbit hole for a family-friendly show from KD Theatre Productions in the magical setting of Ely Cathedral’s Dean’s Garden from 21 – 24 July.

Milton Country Park

Little ones can let their hair down on the 3 August when Rapunzel comes to Milton Country Park on 3 August in Immersion Theatre’s brand-new musical adaptation of the classic fairytale (watch out for the water guns hidden in the audience!). Peter and his furry friends are also hopping their way over the border from Suffolk into Cambs with a showing of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny on 24 August.

And finally…

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

It’s further afield, sure, but there’s something just so summer-defining about attending a performance in Regent’s Park. This year, there’s Legally Blonde running until 2 July, a new musical adaptation of 101 Dalmations boasting Warhorse-style puppets (12 July – 28 August), and then Sophocles’ classic tragedy Antigone (3-24 September) for something with a bit more grit. Tickets start from £25.

Looking for even more outdoors entertainment? Read our guide to local festivals for summer 2022 here.

Find more ideas here

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