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Al fresco acting!

From Shakespeare to The Rat Pack, Dickens to Atomic Blonde - there's al fresco fun for everyone this season

I’m writing a post on outdoor theatre, so I expect it to pelt down with rain any minute. Watching stars of the screen/thesps al fresco in gorgeous verdant surroundings is a truly magical way to pass a balmy summer evening, so here’s our curated list of the best imminent productions, both local and London. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Well, yes, why not – on the whole the forecast looks good…

Moonlight Drive-In Cinema, The Hop Farm Paddock Wood, various dates July – Aug

The Hop Farm, just outside Paddock Wood, boasts the UK’s largest drive-in cinema and they go hell for leather over the summer with a selection of amazing films (each on over several dates throughout July – Aug). This year’s line-up includes… Transformers, The House, Dispicable Me 3, War For The Planet Of The Apes, Cars 3, Dunkirk, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Atomic Blonde (pictured above, starring a not-too-shabby, Charlize Theron)… All shows start at 9pm or a bit later (to ensure it’s dark, I guess) worth noting if you have younger kids (but it’s the holidays, right?)… You can see dates, viewings and ticket availability online.

Hever Festival Theatre, 18 July – 27 Aug

The Festival Theatre is an open air venue set in the gardens of Hever Castle in a stunning location on the Two Sisters Lawn adjacent to Anne Boleyn Walk. The stage is fully covered and the seating is tiered with the vast majority of seats under new seating canopies, which means if the sun doesn’t shine, the audience can still enjoy the spectacular setting with protection from the weather. There’s loads and loads of brilliant things to see – from The Rat Pack to opera and Shakespeare to comedy. There really is something for everyone here – so don’t miss this great summer experience.

Open Air Theatre, Leeds Castle, Sat 22 July, 5 Aug & 2 Sept

Leeds Castle’s wonderful timetable of open-air theatre and cinema kicks off this month, and includes gems like two of Shakespeare’s most popular plays: Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. And, keeping with the classics, join Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen’s most loveable heroine in my all-time favourite Pride & Prejudice in early September. With the Castle as a backdrop, the Pavilion Lawn offers a truly special, magical, yet relaxed setting to immerse yourself in these well-loved, classic tales. Usual open-air rules apply – by which I mean, bring a camp chair and umbrella to avoid getting soggy. An experience not to be missed.

Cinema Under The Stars, Film Week, Hever Castle, Tues 22- Fri 25 Aug

For one week of the summer The Festival Theatre at Hever Castle hosts Film Week where movie-goers can make the most of the magical setting and theatre canopy to watch movies on a big screen in the open air (while drinking Pimms and snacking on Pringles). This year’s round-up includes, Singin’ in the Rain (Tues 22 Aug); La La Land (Wed 23 Aug); Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Thurs 24 Aug) and Bridget Jones’s Baby (Fri 25 Aug). The seats can be reserved in the covered seating area for just £14 (so you can leave your brolly and cagoule at home).

The Luna Cinema, Leeds Castle, Fri 28 & Sat 29 July

Where better to combine those three favourite activities – watching movies, lounging outside and drinking rosé – that the stunning setting of Leeds Castle? Enjoy the fantastic venue, relax with your deckchair, picnic and glass/bottle (someone else is driving, right?) and enjoy either Friday’s offering of Gladiator (one of my personal faves), or, on Saturday, the classic, er, high-flying-businessman-meets-hooker tale…Pretty Woman. Premium seating available and if you don’t bring your own, you can purchase fleece blankets and backrests on-site or by pre-order with your tickets (film starts at 9pm).


Open Air Cinema, Betteshanger Country Park, Sat 19 Aug

Sling your Jimmies – it’s comfy shoes all the way here, pack a blanket or deckchair and a hamper. Sit back, (popcorn in hand) relax and enjoy an alternative cinema experience under the stars. This year’s votes have been counted and the film that the Betteshanger Fans chose was… Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Great family fun.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London, July – Sept

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 (7 July – 5 August), a brand new adaptation of the Dickens tome that’s alarmingly topical once again. Then there’s a family-friendly Oliver Twist (17 July – 5 Aug) suitable for children age 6+. Finally, bring out the big guns: namely, the Olivier and Evening Standard award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar (11 August 2017 – 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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