Picnics, camping chairs and sun cream (or rain macs…) at the ready – there’s an excellent line-up of outdoor theatre, music and cinema to enjoy in Bath this summer.
Including family-friendly performances set against picturesque backdrops, a famous pop act in an iconic setting, singalong musicals and more, here’s our pick of some of the best.
BounceBack Festival 2021 at Iford Manor (2nd – 5th July)
A socially distanced, outdoor celebration of live music will take over Iford Manor, near Bradford on Avon, this July. Four world-renowned artists will take to the stage – the enchanting Academy of Ancient Music, award-winning singer Claire Martin, a capella ensemble The King’s Singers, and toe-tapping jazz act Joe Stilgoe. The concerts will take place in the Archery Ground, just across the river from the manor itself, and you’re encouraged to bring along a picnic for the evening.
Summer Sounds at Avon Valley (Weekends in July & August)
Festival vibes will fill the event field at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park for Summer Sounds, a series of open-air gigs happening on Fridays and Saturdays in July and August. Sing your heart out to hits from tribute acts like Totally Tina, Abba Fever, Fighters Foo and Metallica Reloaded. There’ll also be a pop-up bar, street food and DJs to keep you entertained between acts.
Summer Sundays Pop-up Performances (Every Sunday in July & August)
From Jane Austen dancers to the Jamma de Samba band, pop-up performances are part of the Summer Sundays entertainment in Bath city centre this summer. There’ll also be arts and crafts, events, fantastic food and drink and more – read more about what's in store.
The Garden Theatre Fest at Holburne Museum (Various dates in July & August)
The Holburne Museum’s picturesque garden will be transformed into an open-air theatre for the first ever edition of this family-friendly theatre festival. Fun retellings of Robin Hood, Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Pygmalion, and The Wind in the Willows are the five productions making up bill, spread over six nights between 16th July and 21st August.
Wonder With Grimm at American Museum & Gardens (21st July)
Suitable for children aged 6 and over, prepare to be enchanted by Heartbreak Productions’ Brothers Grimm-inspired stories with a modern twist. They’re bringing a mix of magic, puppetry and music to the beautiful grounds of the American Museum. Order a delicious picnic hamper to enjoy during the performance in advance or you’re welcome to bring your own.
Shakespeare Undone (23rd – 25th July)
Featuring early sketches of his most iconic characters, first drafts of famous scenes and just a little bit of nonsense, join the award-winning Natural Theatre Company on a sojourn about the city as they bring an ‘unearthed’ Shakespeare play to life. You may well get caught up in the action of this walkabout show, as actors improvising with the audience in flawless Shakespearean language is part of the fun.
The Grimm Sisters at Westonbirt (7th August)
Scratchworks Theatre Company has a fun and mischievous production in store for the first ever open-air theatre performance at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum. This two-woman play spins a tale about the Grimm Sisters, the true brains behind the fairy tales whose stories were stolen. Tickets include admission to the arboretum, so you can spend a day wandering among the wonderful woods too.
Mr Stink by David Walliams at Bowood House & Gardens (21st August)
Watch an adaptation of David Walliams’ best-selling children’s book Mr Stink on an outdoor stage in the idyllic Bowood House gardens. Heartbreak Productions perform the heart-warming story of Chloe Crumb and her unlikely homeless friend on their journey, who end up on a journey to the heady heights of live television and Downing Street via a garden shed.
Summer Screens at Bowood House & Gardens (1st – 4th September)
Bowood’s grounds will also host an open-air cinema this summer, with four blockbusters – Les Misérables, Dirty Dancing, The Greatest Showman and In The Heights – playing on the big screen. Kick back in a deckchair, take cover under a gazebo or roll out your blanket on a picnic pitch. A pop-up bar will be on site as well as an array of delicious cinema snacks, like gourmet popcorn and loaded nachos.
The Canterbury Tales at The Museum of Somerset (2nd September)
With a set designed to look like a medieval travelling theatre, modern day troubadours GreenMatthews will bring six of Chaucer’s best-loved Canterbury Tales to The Museum of Somerset courtyard. The three-man cast use drama, storytelling and song to paint a sumptuous picture of life in the Middle Ages – expect colourful characters, strange situations and laughs a-plenty.
Longleat Luna Cinema (23rd – 26th September)
Where better to watch The Lion King than the UK’s original safari park? For the first time ever this summer, The Luna Cinema is setting up its big screen in the grounds of Longleat and it’s not just the 90s Disney classic you can catch. Star Wars: A New Hope, Dirty Dancing and a singalong version of The Greatest Showman are also on the line-up. A bar serving drinks and hot food will be open or you can take along a picnic.