A complete guide to Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Learn more about Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London, what to see and do in the local area, and book tickets to upcoming shows playing in summer 2023.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre may be tucked away in one of London’s most beautiful parks. But you won’t want to miss this theatre’s unique chance to watch beloved shows against a backdrop of lush greenery and starry skies.

After opening in 1932, the historic venue remains a prime location for London’s cultural scenes, hosting everything from Shakespeare to Sondheim. The theatre boasts a trend of award-winning revivals: Legally Blonde, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and Little Shop of Horrors all delighted audiences.

But, the experience doesn’t end with the show — Regent’s Park offers a variety of activities to make your theatre trip a full day out: walks, picnics, wildlife, and pedalo boats, to name a few. Whether you visit annually or you’re looking for a fantastic night out, discover all the information you need to make the most of your visit to this iconic London landmark.

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Get to know the history of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre opened in 1932 and is now Britain's largest permanent outdoor theatre — up to 140,000 people attend a show each year. Learn more about notable moments in the theatre’s 90-year history.

  • 1932: Robert Atkins and Sydney Carroll present Twelfth Night at a makeshift theatre in Regent’s Park.
  • 1936: Vivien Leigh plays Anne Boleyn in Henry VIII, opposite Lyn Harding as the Tudor monarch.
  • 1939: Due to blackouts, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre only hosts afternoon performances. It’s one of two theatres open throughout the war.
  • 1974: A new 1240-seat amphitheatre-style auditorium opens in the park.
  • 1982: Queen Elizabeth II attends a performance of The Dark Lady of the Sonnets.
  • 1983: Bashville opens, making history as the first musical staged at the theatre.
  • 2007: Timothy Sheader joins as artistic director. He directs Topol in Gigi.
  • 2018: Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and the English National Opera co-produce The Turn of the Screw.
  • 2019: Evita takes over as the fastest-selling production to date.
  • 2020: A Jesus Christ Superstar concert is the first West End show after pandemic restrictions close all theatres.

Famous productions at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre typically hosts four main productions a year: a musical, a play, a Shakespeare show, and a family-friendly offering. During an 18-week season, expect comedy nights and film screenings dotted throughout the summer. Although it’s a seasonal theatre, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre continues to make its mark as a leading venue. Discover some of the biggest productions in the theatre’s history.

  • 1987: Caroline Smith directs A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring Ian Talbot as Bottom. The play earns an Olivier Award nomination for Best Comedy.
  • 1991: Judi Dench helms the Rodgers and Hart musical, The Boy from Syracuse. The musical wins an Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival, with Jenny Galloway earning an individual nod for Best Supporting Actress.
  • 1997: A decade after A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Ian Talbot returns to direct Kiss Me, Kate, picking up three Olivier Award nominations.
  • 2003: Tracie Bennett stars in the Olivier-nominated revival of High Society. The musical then moved to the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre in 2005, running for three months.
  • 2009: Samantha Spiro wins the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for playing Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! Stephen Mear picks up the Best Theatre Choreography award.
  • 2010: To mark Sondheim’s 80th birthday, Timothy Sheader directs Into the Woods, starring Hannah Waddingham and Jenna Russell. The musical won Best Musical Revival.
  • 2011: Sean Palmer and Clare Foster lead a Crazy For You revival. After open-air performances, the musical transfers to the Novello Theatre for six months.
  • 2017: Jesus Christ Superstar picks up six Olivier Award nominations, winning Best Musical Revival. The show then transfers to the Barbican and is set to tour nationwide.

Upcoming Shows at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Don’t miss out on all the latest shows to open at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in 2023. Look forward to world premieres and radical reinterpretations of West End and Broadway classics. The season begins with Once on This Island, from 10 May to 10 June. Child-friendly adaptations of Robin Hood, The Tempest, and Dinosaur World Live follow throughout June and July. The season concludes with La Cage Aux Folles. Learn more about upcoming shows at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

Fun things to do before a show at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s central London address means various activities are close to the theatre. Instead of rushing to a show minutes before curtain up, plan a day in London and explore all the popular places in the local neighbourhood.

Discover the mysteries behind Arthur Conan Doyle’s crime-solving detective at the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Located on Baker Street, see hundreds of Holmes-related memorabilia, artefacts, and testaments to the famous fictional detective. The Sherlock Holmes Museum is a few minutes walk from the theatre.

If you’re looking for world-class food, head to Camden Market and discover the best global cuisine. Or, if you want to look at historical architecture, stroll through Primrose Hill and see the colourful houses and chic boutiques.

Before entering the theatre, you should spend time inside Regent’s Park. Explore the 410-acre park by pedaling across the boating lake. Enjoy a leisurely cruise and experience the park’s scenic beauty, an ideal activity during the summer months.

Where to eat and drink before a show at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Before seeing a show at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, enjoy a bite and a refreshing drink at one of the theatre’s many eating options. Relax on the grounds with a garden picnic complete with sandwiches, scones, and afternoon tea. Or, check out The Grill, boasting a delicious selection of burgers, and The Pizza Oven, with various Italian recipes. With outdoor seating, covered dining, and alfresco options, there’s a food option available for everyone.

Why you need to visit Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has it all. From the beautiful surroundings of a royal park to exciting productions that change the West End landscape, there’s nowhere better than a Regent’s Park performance during the evening. The open-air setting also allows for a close connection between the audience and performers, so you’ll feel in the thick of the action. If you’re exploring London’s cultural scene, you must put Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre at the top of your list.

Get tickets to shows at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Discover all the upcoming shows opening in 2023 and book your tickets before it’s too late. The 2023 season runs from May through September.

Once On This Island

When peasant girl Ti Moune falls for wealthy boy Daniel Beauxhomme, Ti Moune must please the gods to prove that love is more powerful than death. Once on This Island runs from 10 May - 10 June.

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Robin Hood: The Legend. Re-written.

Arrows fly as truth and tricks collide in this humorous retelling of the Sherwood Forest legend. Robin Hood: The Legend. Re-written runs from 17 June to 22 July.

Book Robin Hood: The Legend. Re-written. tickets on London Theatre.

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The Tempest re-imagined for everyone aged six and over

Jennifer Tang adapts the Shakespeare play for young audiences, bringing spells, monsters, and revenge into a new light. The Tempest re-imagined for everyone aged six and over runs from 30 June to 22 July.

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La Cage Aux Folles

Discover why the best of times can be now in this show-stopping, heartfelt musical classic. Timothy Sheader directs Jerry Herman's explosive and jubilant tale celebrating self-acceptance. La Cage Aux Folles runs from 29 July to 16 September.

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Dinosaur World Live

Become an intrepid explorer and discover creatures that walked millions of years ago in this spectacular show. Plus, you can learn the difference between a Stegosaurus and a Segnosaurus. Dinosaur World Live runs from 11 August to 3 September.

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Photo credit: Regent's Park Open Air Theatre (Photo courtesy of Regent's Park Open Air Theatre)

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