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Top open air theatre to see in 2019

A host of shows available for those wanting fresh air and theatre at the same time

The National's River Stage
© James Bellorini

Sometimes theatre is best experienced al fresco – and we've picked some of the best options, up and down the country.

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
© David Jensen

Regent's Park returns for its new 2019 season in May, with a whole roster of top tier productions on offer. A new Midsummer Night's Dream, a revival of the Pulitzer-winning Our Town and a new production of the iconic Evita, helmed by Jamie Lloyd following his faultless Betrayal in the West End. They really are the bees knees at Regent's Park – there will also be a series of comedy nights and film screenings.

Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Globe
© Tristram Kenton

London's unique and utterly beautiful Shakespeare's Globe theatre on the South Bank will return for artistic director Michelle Terry's second season in April, with shows including a trilogy of English history plays (at a very contentious time in political history...) as well as The Merry Wives of Windsor and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Better still – the venue will also be touring an audience voted show (that's right, the audience decide what Shakespeare play to see) to cities including Kent, Bangor, Brighton and Guernsey.

Shakespeare's Rose

The 2018 Rose Theatre company in action
© Anthony Robling

If getting to London is tricky then fear not – this year outdoor Shakespeare experiences will also be on offer in York and Blenheim near Oxford. Shakespeare's Rose, a pop-up venue offering a roster of four classic plays at each location, is a novel and fun opportunity to immerse yourselves in a recreation of 16th century Britain with various stalls and food-y opportunities surrounding the theatre. You can find out what's on offer in each city here.

Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre

Grosvenor Park Oper Air Theatre
© Mark Carline

Grosvenor Park, located right next to Chester, mounts three shows in July and August on a yearly basis to entertain outdoor audiences. This year they've gone for two Shakespeare plays – Twelfth Night and Henry V – as well as a stage adaptation of the miniature epic The Borrowers. Joseph Millson will be taking on the role of Hal in Henry V before hitting the West End in Mary Poppins, which is an exciting prospect.

Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

Mo and the Red Ribbon from L'Homme Debout
© MC Monin

Since it first started in 1996 the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival has lit up east London with unusual, visually exciting and brilliant theatre installations. This year is no exception with the recently announced programme offering free performances in venues including the City of London (where there will be an epic reimagining of Moby Dick). Well worth a look at what's on offer.

National Theatre River Stage festival

The National's River Stage
© James Bellorini

The National's one of the theatres in London that actually has decent air conditioning, but if you'd rather soak up the rays than the spotlights then the River Stage Festival is for you. Five weekends of free outdoor performances, each curated by a different organisation. This year's confirmed curators are The Glory (5 to 7 July), Shubbak Festival (12 to 14 July), National Park City Festival (19 to 21 July), Frantic Assembly (26 to 28 July) and the National Theatre takeover (2 to 4 August).

Shakespeare in the Squares

The company of Shakespeare in the Squares
© James Millar

When it comes to Shakespeare...sometimes it's hip to be square. Tatty Hennessy is directing this year's outdoor production touring to outdoor city squares across London – running from 19 June to 11 July. What's on offer? A Midsummer Night's Dream!

The Minack Theatre

Minack Theatre
© Liz Smith

Cornwall's beautiful seaside venue The Minack offers some incredible views as well a variety of shows from both in-house and visiting companies (including the aforementioned Shakespeare's Globe). The theatre's own shows are The Secret Garden, adapted by Jessica Swale and opening in April, as well as
a version of Monteverdi's Orfeo and Marie Jones' Olivier Award-winning Stones in his Pockets in September.

West End Live

The crowds at West End Live
© Leo Cinicolo

If you're partial to the odd showtune (or listen to them on repeat regardless of time, location or sobriety level) then head down to Trafalgar Square on the weekend of 22 and 23 June, for two (normally sunny) days jam-packed with the best musicals London has to offer. Organised by the Society of London Theatre, the event – which is completely free but normally oversubscribed, so get there early – features West End casts performing songs from their show, as well as the odd surprise treat thrown in for good measure. It's a great opportunity to sample what's out there before spending your hard-earned pounds on tickets.

Edinburgh International Festival

Eve Mutso at the launch of the Edinburgh International Festival
© Ian Georgeson

Edinburgh International Festival's outdoor opening event is a major part of Edinburgh's August calendar, and this year promises something extra special for punters – a free concert of movie scores performed by the LA Philharmonic Orchestra at Tynecastle Park stadium. Tickets are available from 1 July but are usually snapped up very quickly, so best to get prepared!

St Paul's Church

Iris Theatre at St Paul's Church
© Nick Rutter

Otherwise known as the Actor's Church, theatre company Iris Theatre produce a number of summer shows in the beautiful surroundings of the church and its gardens. This year they've got two biggies on the go – Shakespeare's Hamlet, running from 19 June to 27 July, and a production of The Hunchbank of Notre Dame, with the world of medieval Paris brought to life, running from 1 August to 1 September.