Culture Vulture: Things to do this Summer

Culture Vulture: Things to do this Summer

Culture Vulture: Open-air Performances


It would simply be too much of a break with good old British tradition if we didn’t apply a little reckless ambition to our summer plans. So, whilst the weather in this country has never, ever been reliable, and with fingers tightly crossed, we are donning our rose-tinted spectacles, packing our rain macs, and planning on enjoying some open-air entertainment.


We are excited about the number of open-air theatres cropping up about the country, often in breath-takingly beautiful spots. Trail-blazing the trend is the long-established Regents Park Theatre, which this summer romping its way through Robin Hood, The Tempest and La Cage aux Folles, but look further afield for some newly opened theatrical treats. Deep in an ancient woodland, Thorington Theatre has been created in the site of a WWII bomb crater which left a natural amphitheatre in the woods. The 350-seat theatre has a packed diary of listings, from comedy and live music to storytelling and theatre. We also love the Minack Theatre, creation of the inspirational visionary Rowena Cade, which is perched on the cliffs of South West Cornwall with breath-taking views of the Atlantic and a fabulous breadth of events.


The country is already humming with literary festivals, but we are looking forward to Harrogate’s infamous crime writing festival, this year celebrating its 20th year (20-23 July). As well as enjoying a full programme of crime writing talks and events hosted by giants from the genre, we will be taking time to visit the Old Swan Hotel, old haunt of Agatha Christie, who disappeared to write here in 1926. We might also put our noses into the Prima Donna festival, a laid-back celebration of books which styles itself as a literary festival for people who don’t literary festival are their thing, and which gives a prominence to female authors.


Why would you spend a summer evening cooped up in a cinema breathing in the stale smell of yesterday’s popcorn when Luna Cinema is putting on film screenings all over the country and in some awe-inspiring venues. We are packing a picnic rug and heading out to watch The Great Gatsby at Kenwood, Top Gun at Leeds Castle, and Elvis at Longleat.


It would not be summer without a soggy or sun-drenched visit to the circus. We are long-time fans of Giffords, the traditional family circus which was set up by Emma’s beloved late sister Nell, and which continues to roll its merry way through the West Country and beyond from April through to September. This year’s show, AVALON weaves together a cast of acrobats, magicians, musicians and clowns from all over the world in a show that will combine poetry, music and performing arts all set on the mythical island of AVALON. Book tickets here


And for two glorious weekends only, Fools Delight Circus presents Sideshow, a surreal part-promenade circus and dinner show which will take the audience on foot through the fields and trees.  Brainchild of Emma’s eldest daughter Lil, along with co-collaborators Sam Goodburn and Dave Cross, the evening show is accompanied by a delicious 5 course dinner and is a true delight to behold. Tickets are very limited and tend to sell out quickly.