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Not only does London boast a world-leading range of theatres and opera houses, but you can also watch many fantastic productions in the great outdoors, at a variety of stunning venues around the city. Some of them are even completely free, but for many events it’s highly recommended that you book in advance.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
One of London’s most popular outdoor entertainment venues is the enchanting Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. This amphitheatre is completely exposed to the elements, and there are few more atmospheric places to watch theatre than in the dusky confines of the Regent’s Park, with London’s bright lights seemingly a world away. Productions this year include To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice and The Sound of Music, and pre-theatre dining options include pre-packed picnics and a barbecue. Until 8 Sep
The Scoop at More London
Situated just by London Mayor Boris Johnson’s office by Tower Bridge, this sunken theatre is host to a plethora of free entertainment during the summer. From Wednesday to Sunday you can see free open air theatre here in the evenings, and this year there will two short productions based on the ancient Greek city of Thebes. A family production of the Prince of Thebes takes place at 6pm, followed by a more adult staging of Oedipus and Antigone at 8pm. 7 Aug-1 Sep
Opera Holland Park
Every summer a marquee is erected in front of the glorious Holland House, allowing visitors the chance to watch wonderful operas in the grounds of Holland Park without getting wet! As well as seeing productions such as Madam Butterfly, the Pearl Fishers and new family opera Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you can also enjoy a pre-prepared picnic in their alfresco dining areas beforehand. 4 Jun -3 Aug
Fitzroy Square Opera
For one night a year, Fitzroy Square Opera brings the magic of traditional country house opera to London. This year, on 27 June, you can sit in this luscious square in Fitzrovia and enjoy a production of Bizet’s Carmen. You can also order a pre-prepared picnic (£22), enjoy freshly cooked paella in the interval or simply avail yourself of the cash bar.
At this incredible reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre you can choose whether you have a fully outdoor or partially indoor theatrical experience! The stage is situated under the sky, but there are seats available within the covered theatre section if you don’t feel like standing in the exposed middle with the ‘groundlings’. Scheduled for 2013 are favourites such as King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest, and you can buy standing tickets for just £5. Until 28 Sep
Theatre in the Square with Lyric Hammersmith
Watch live outdoor theatre for free in the Lyric Square, Hammersmith, thanks to a festival staged by five of the country’s most exciting theatre companies. A collaboration between HammersmithLondon, Lyric Hammersmith, Latitude festival, Greenwich+Docklands International Festival and Watford Palace Theatre, this festival is sure to offer innovative, enjoyable and eccentric entertainment. Keep an eye on the theatre’s What’s On section for more details. 12 Jun-5 Jul
BP Summer Screens
The BP Summer Screens bring one of London’s most exclusive indoor venues – Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House – to the great outdoors. Better still – screenings are free! You can see the ballet Mayerling (13 June) or operas La Rondine (11 July) and Tosca (18 July) in outdoor spaces such as Trafalgar Square, Canary Wharf and Woolwich.
Chiswick House and Gardens
You can watch both opera and theatre alfresco at the beautiful Chiswick House and Gardens, which stages a range of both as part of its excellent events programme. During July you can catch productions of Carmen, Gulliver’s Travels and A Little of What You Fancy! on the rear lawn of the House. Tickets are £30 and full details are available on the venue website.
On 7 July take the whole family to Fulham Palace for a theatre production of Babe: the Sheep Pig which is sure to delight both adults and children alike. Taking place in the Walled Garden, the production starts at 2pm and tickets cost £8 for children or £12 for adults.
Greenwich+Docklands International Festival
London’s biggest festival of outdoor theatre runs from 21 to 29 June and brings performers to the parks and streets of Greenwich and the surrounding area. You can see everything from street dance to aerial theatre at the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival – take a look at our pick of the highlights here.