So, dig out the picnic basket, shake out the rug and start planning summer afternoons and dusky evenings, chilled fizz and strawberries and cream.

Outdoor theatre has long been a staple of our summer events calendar but this year it feels even more exciting – getting back to live performances, supporting actors and musician – and the adventure of doing it all in the open air. We’re British after all!

We are looking ahead at events throughout July and August so you can plan your days out and snap up tickets if it’s a ‘book ahead’ event, tickets sell out quickly.

The Three Inch Fools are visiting Muncaster Castle on Friday 2 July to perform The Merry Wives of Windsor. Five actors, with all manner of musical instruments, present an inventive take on Shakespeare’s raucous comedy. Prepare for a lively event as The Fools give this Shakespearean classic the full ‘Fools’ treatment with lots of live music-making, deft physicality, vibrant story-telling with quick costume change along the way!

Book ahead: muncaster.co.uk

Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts house invites you for an inaugural summer tea party on Saturday 14 August, where marvellous feats of performance and culinary capers await. Over tea and cucumber sandwiches, prepare to witness the impossible – the entirety of The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde’s classic play performed by just two rather dashing entertainers.

Book ahead slapstickpicnic.com

The popular outdoor theatre company, Illyria return to Brantwood’s meadow on the shore of Coniston on Friday 20 August with the Further Adventures of Doctor Dolittle. Featuring a fully orchestrated score, amazing puppets and a plethora of songs, you’ll be singing the songs for years to come, well, all the way home at least! Perfect summer fun for everyone aged 5+. You’ll be able to supplement your picnic with treats from The Terrace café.

Book ahead to ensure your spot in the meadow! brantwood.org.uk

Holker Hall presents a season of outdoor theatre. On Saturday 10 July we’re off to see the Wizard with the Tales of Oz. The whole garden is the stage, and your little Munchkins will literally travel with Dorothy to the Emerald City. This charming ‘walk along, sing a long adventure’ is suitable for children from age 3.

Part mystery, part Scavenger Hunt, Holker Hall hosts Once upon a crime on Wednesday 11 August. It’s an interactive event that’s fun for all the family. Just make sure that your brain doesn’t get too teased and your mind too boggled whilst you seek out the solution and head towards your happily ever after!

And finally, pedalling from venue to venue with all of their set, props and costumes on the back of their bikes, the HandleBards bring environmentally sustainable Shakespeare to Holker Hall with Macbeth on Friday 20 & Saturday 21 August. Forget the tears and tragedy – this is a frantic, delirious, full-of-beans show like you’ve never seen before.
Book ahead for all their shows at holker.co.uk

The trick to enjoy outdoor theatre is to be prepared. Seating is not provided. A rug is essential, maybe a low back chair for comfort, a hat or umbrella (to shade you from the sun of course) a well-stocked picnic basket (or check out if the venue is doing takeaways or BBQs) a tipple of your choice (I like a nice fruit juice, white!) and be a weather optimist – pack the sunscreen.

It’s great to see our annual shows continue to go from strength to strength. They are perfect for meeting up with like-minded friends and introducing family members to your passions.

Set to the backdrop of Hutton-in-the-Forest, Potfest has become a place of pilgrimage for makers, collectors and admirers of the finest contemporary ceramics. It’s great to make a purchase, but just as lovely to look and chat to the makers – they love to share! Friday – Sunday, 23 – 25 July are the dates for your diary.

There’ll be lots of information at potfest.co.uk/in-the-park

One of the biggest Classic Car event in the region returns to Dalemain on Sunday 22 August. This historic occasion promises to be the most fantastic show yet. Visit for a day packed full of entertainment, with autotests, arena displays, music and discounted entry to the Mansion & Historic Gardens.
Information: dalemain.com

As school holidays approach we have a small selection of special outdoor events just for the children – though remember all our venues are family friendly, some with play areas, adventure trails and lots of things for curious minds. They will have more events listed on their websites.

Here’s just one event from a busy family activity programme at Wordsworth Grasmere on Wednesday 25 August. Read, explore, and have a go at writing poetry on the Dunnabeck Poetry Trail. You’ll be introduced to William and Dorothy and their writing before setting off on a short walk with plenty of stops to look and listen and capture your thoughts in writing.

Book your place: wordsworth.org.uk

Brockhole on Windermere is now home to The Giant Minibeasts! Made completely out of willow the beasties have settled in for the summer. Pick up your fun activity trail sheets and learn about real minibeasts as you hunt for them on this exciting trail around the grounds.

No need to book: brockhole.co.uk

Know before you go

All the venues website details are listed, check for the most up-to-date information about opening times, special events and, in some cases, how to pre-book your visit.

Being prepared makes for a great day out.

Dogs on a lead are allowed at many of our listed events – but check before you go. Please don’t leave your dog in the car.

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