British summertime theatre breaks

Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre – 1040 seats dedicated to the British playwright, in Stratford

With warm evenings and an abundance of outdoor arts festivals, summer is a fantastic time to head to the city for a theatre break or short stay.

Here’s our selection of top British summertime theatre breaks, from Shakespeare to Billy Elliot, in Stratford, London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

 

Stratford-upon-Avon

There can be few better ways to spend a summer evening than by escaping into the idyllic depths of the Forest of Arden with a runaway duke, a quick-witted fool and a cross-dressing noblewoman. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest production of “As You Like It” runs at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre until the end of September and features music composed by Laura Marling. Visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace also offers ample opportunities to embark on your own pastoral adventure as the town is surrounded by the gentle hills of the Cotswolds and perches aside the River Avon. Exploring the surrounding countryside on a National Trail walking route or hiring a rowing boat from the Avon Boating Marina would be complementary pre-theatre activities.

When you’re ready to return to civilisation, try the individually styled rooms of The Bell. Located in the small village of Alderminster, this boutique bed-and-breakfast is a short drive from Stratford and boasts a gastropub restaurant with locally-sourced dishes on the menu. The Bell is currently running a summer promotion offering a third night’s free stay when booking two consecutive nights from Monday to Thursday, comfortably encompassing a few days of countryside rambling and theatregoing.

London

Victoria Place

With a number of companies offering cheap theatre break deals including travel, accommodation and ticket prices; heading to the capital for a weekend of theatrical delights has to be one of the best ways to make the most of the longer summer evenings. Just London Theatre Breaks can tailor a show and hotel package for you and also offer comedy and musical breaks. The real difficulty, then in organising your London theatre break is deciding on what to see. Billy Elliot is currently playing at Victoria Palace Theatre, Les Miserables is at the Queen’s Theatre and the RSC adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda is continuing its run as a large-scale West End production.

Manchester

If you really want to beef up your summer excursion, combine a theatre break with a short city stay. This July, Manchester International Festival takes over the city with a programme of exhibitions, live music, performances and talks – and that’s not including the regular theatre showings running alongside the biannual arts event. Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party will be at The Royal Exchange Theatre throughout July and Wicked will be showing from September at The Palace Theatre. If you’re catching one of The Lowry’s summer shows, nearby restaurant, Damson offers a pre-theatre menu for under £20 as well as views over the Media City Piazza.

Royal Exchange Theatre

Aside from Manchester’s cultural offerings, the luxury of Macdonald Townhouse Hotel, with its vicinity to the city’s shopping district and numerous bars, will keep you occupied. Abode Hotel also offers a good central location near to both The Palace Hotel and the Royal Exchange Theatre and with just a few minutes’ walk to Piccadilly Station, there’s no excuse for missing your train home – unless of course you decide to stay longer.

Edinburgh

Less of a theatre break and more of an all-out cultural extravaganza, Edinburgh Fringe Festival runs throughout August and features over 2695 shows spread across 279 venues in the city. Theatre highlights this year include Daughters, a new production with cast members from the National Youth Theatre and I Want To Tell You Something, a solo show shortlisted for the Creative Award at last year’s Prague Fringe Festival.

With so much to see, it’s well worth staying in the city for at least a few days and Edinburgh is more than happy to offer a place for the weary theatre-goer to rest their head. Although availability for hotels this close to the Festival can be limited, if you’re planning on catching a show at the Edinburgh Playhouse in the coming months (The Lion King will have its Scottish premiere there this October), the Lyncliff Hotel is less than half a mile away and offers simple but friendly B&B accommodation and thoughtfully designed rooms.