If you find yourself in London during the summer then take advantage of some of the wonderful outdoor venues the city has to offer. This article looks at four outdoor venues and the events hosted at each one during the summer months.
One of the great things about being in London in the summer is that you can take advantage of the wonderful open-air venues the city has to offer. From The Globe Theatre on the banks of the River Thames, to the splendid setting of Kew Gardens in south west London for evening concerts, each one makes for an enjoyable and memorable occasion.
The Globe Theatre, on the south bank of the River Thames, is an amazing venue. It forms part of Shakespeare’s Globe, an enterprise dedicated to the exploration of Shakespeare’s work. The theatre itself is a reconstruction of the open-air playhouse, designed in 1599, where Shakespeare worked and for which he wrote many of plays: it was built at almost the same spot where the original playhouse stood. The season at the Globe runs from May to October and includes not only the works of Shakespeare, but his contemporaries and some modem playwrights, too. Audiences sit in the wooden gallery or stand informally as “groundlings” in the yard, just as they would have done in Shakespeare’s time. Seeing some of Shakespeare’s finest plays acted out by the country’s leading stage actors in this unique venue is an amazing experience, and one not to be missed. The closest underground stations to the Globe are Mansion House, Blackfriars, Cannon Street, London Bridge, Southwark, St Paul’s, and Bank.
Regents Park Open-Air Theatre is the oldest fully professional, permanent outdoor theatre in Britain, with one of the largest theatre auditoriums in London. The summer season last 15 weeks, during which time over 120,000 people visit the theatre. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an annual staple but the theatre also produces a musical and a play for children, as well as staging comedy and concerts on Sundays evenings. Although the theatre’s catering facilities provide excellent food and drink, you can take your own picnic and sit in the park before going in to watch the show. As the evening light fades, and the fairy lights come on, the theatre and surrounding area are transformed into a truly magical place. Baker Street is the closest underground station to Regents Park.
Unfortunately the summer concerts in Kew Gardens, one of the world’s leading botanic gardens, last for only a week in July, but if you’re organised and get your timing right you might catch an evening that’s a real fun event for the whole family. Kew Gardens calls its series of concerts “Summer Swing” and that’s a very apt term!
This might be gentrified Kew in south west London, but the audience at these concerts certainly know how to party (Kew style, that is!). Kew Gardens runs a “Festival Village” providing food and drink for the concert-goers, but most people take their own hampers, and picnic before and during the performance. However, if you’ve pulled out all the stops to get a ticket and won’t have time to shop for your own picnic, you can order one from the Festival Village and pick it up on the night. And to end the evening in real style, there’s a fireworks display after every concert. Kew Gardens is a ten minute walk from Kew Gardens underground station, or a 15-20 minute walk from Richmond Station (underground and rail).
London’s big screen under the stars can be found at Somerset House, in the heart of the capital. The Fountain Court in this18th century palace is transformed into a full-scale open-air cinema for nine nights during August, showing movie premieres, classics and recent favorites, including comedy, horror, romance, thrillers and sci-fi. Audiences are more than welcome to bring their own picnic but no bottles, cans or glass can be taken into the courtyard—there are plenty of refreshment stands selling food and drink though. It’s a good idea to take a blanket or some sort of covering to sit on, and a cushion or two will be especially useful if sitting for some time on the stone paving! And while you won’t be able to sprawl in quite the same way as you will at Kew Gardens, you will get to spend an evening in a stunning venue under the city’s big sky. The nearest underground stations are: Temple, Charing Cross, Embankment, and Covent Garden. Nearest mainline rail stations: Charing Cross, Waterloo, and Blackfriars.
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