The Best Outdoor and Open-Air Theatre in London

Where to go for some al fresco culture

Home to the likes of the National Theatre, the Barbican, the Old Vic, the Bush Theatre, the Almeida and all the historic theatres in the West End, there’s no doubt that the performing arts scene in London is unrivalled. On top of all the world-class theatre productions running all year round in the capital, outdoor theatre bursts into life across the spring and summer too.

Of course, doing anything outdoors in the UK always runs the risk of the weather ruining your plans – that’s the British summertime for you – and it’s no different for outdoor theatre. But as Beyonce and Taylor Swift have proven by performing during their world tours in the pissing rain, the show must go on. And what’s a little rain anyway? It’d certainly add some extra atmosphere during a production of Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe, and free special effects are not to be sniffed at.

The Globe and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre are the two most famous outdoor theatres in London but there are other, perhaps more unexpected places to catch an open-air performance in the capital. We’ve rounded them up here, so you can book your tickets – and don’t forget your coat.


A new outdoor theatre has landed in the courtyard of King’s College London’s Maughan Library as part of this year’s London Festival of Architecture. The 50-seat, fully accessible amphitheatre is hosting a range of free performances, talks, debates and more until 31st July, including an interactive play involving the scattered pages of Shakespeare’s First Folio, an immersive version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a panel discussion on climate change, and talks about life and works of Samuel Johnson.

Chancery Ln, London WC2A 1LR

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre 2024

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

It’s right there in the name so there can be no doubt that Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is one of the best places to enjoy outdoor performances in London. The season runs from May to September and there’s always a varied programme; this year we’ve got Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (or What You Will); a stage adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden in a new version by Holly Robinson and Anna Himali Howard, and directed by Howard; a new musical version of Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile, with book & lyrics by Suhayla El-Bushra, music by Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab and additional music and lyrics from Tom Brady; and Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Jordan Fein to entertain us this year.

Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4NU

couple in Elizabethan dress surrounded by flowers

Shakespeare’s Globe

The Globe is one of the most famous theatres in the city, not just amongst open-air venues, and it’s the place to truly see Shakespeare come alive. The £5 groundling tickets, aka standing tickets, are not only incredible value but give you the chance to experience a performance like many Londoners would have way back in Shakespeare’s day.

The season runs from May to October, though they do some seasonal performances around Christmas time, and here’s what you can catch. An Elizabethan-dress production of Much Ado About Nothing is playing until 24th August; a new production of Richard III is running until 3rd August; a bilingual production of Antony & Cleopatra is being staged from 4th August – 15th September; comedy The Taming of the Shrew is on from 6th June – 26th October; The Comedy of Errors is returning from 21st August – 27th October to transform the theatre into a bustling dock; and Princess Essex, a new play by Anne Odeke is hitting the stage from 13th September – 26th October.

21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT

two actors dressed as fairies

Kew Gardens

Yes Kew Gardens isn’t just for plants anymore. This summer the botanic gardens is teaming up with the Australian Shakespeare Company to host three outdoor theatre productions from July to September. Family-friendly shows Kenneth Grahame’s classic Wind in the Willows and The Dream Fairies – Adventure to Bubble Land will be running in the daytime, with A Midsummer Night’s Dream playing during twilight.

Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE

A scene from performance art piece 'Thaw'

Greenwich + Docklands Festival

GDIF is London’s leading free festival of outdoor theatre and performance art, so it’s safe bet that you’ll see something interesting, unusual and thought-provoking while it’s on. This year’s programme, which runs from 23rd August – 8th September, includes THAW, an aerial production performed on a 2.5-tonne block of ice; Bodies of Water, inspired by Warsan Shire’s poem HOME and produced by the same company as last year’s The ArchitectTOUCH, which combines the use of a flight of stairs and gravity-defying trampoline choreography; PATOIS, a blend of contemporary and traditional Caribbean dance; and an immersive celebration of community, PRAM PEOPLE, which invites participants to join a pram party.

Various spaces across Greenwich, Thamesmead and East London