Outdoor theatre, cinema and music in Essex: What’s on this summer

PUBLISHED: 12:05 04 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 June 2019

Audley End House - The Greatest Showman

Audley End House - The Greatest Showman


Essex Life highlights some of the open air theatre and music events taking place this summer that are sure to draw a crowd, whatever the weather

Treasure Island at Cudmore Grove Country Park - June 14

Join Chapterhouse Theatre Company for its brand-new adaptation of everyone's favourite swashbuckling pirate adventure: Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. When young Jim Hawkins stumbles across a coveted treasure map, he finds himself on an epic adventure in the hope of finding Treasure Island.

But not everyone is to be trusted and a dark secret is lurking on board the ship. Don't miss this much-loved story, adapted for stage in among one of the most beautiful open-air venues in the UK.

Young Children's Festival at Colchester Castle Park - June 15

The Young Children's Festival (YCF) is an annual, free event providing an inclusive, fun day out for young families. With so much to do, including art, craft, sport, music, a fun fair and dance — you would be mad to miss out!

The festival is in association with Colchester Borough Council's LiveWell campaign and Community 360, and it aims to make all families feel included, whatever their background, needs or means.

Pride and Prejudice at National Trust, Flatford - June 15

Take a step back in time with Chapterhouse Theatre Company to meet Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen's notorious heroine. When Elizabeth meets the terse and abrupt Mr. Darcy, she loathes him at first sight. But is there more to him than meets the eye?

Brought to life by award-winning writer Laura Turner, this adaptation has been a favourite of Chapterhouse audiences for years and will be back for its 20th year of touring. Join friends and family for an evening of theatre beneath the stars, basking in the glow of this timeless classic.

A Star is Born at Memorial Park, Wickford - June 28

See the award-winning musical masterpiece, A Star is Born, on a gigantic screen, outdoors and under the stars at the lovely Memorial Park. Based on the story of a talented young singer and songwriter who is encouraged to blossom by seasoned musician Jackson Maine, this is a love story with some fantastic musical moments and a strong emotional storyline.

With Oscar acknowledged performances from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, this is a must-see movie this summer.

Jazz on a Summer Evening at RHS Garden Hyde Hall - June 29

Due to the huge success of last year's event, the Rotary club of Wickford brings to you again an evening of traditional jazz in the stunning RHS garden. Bring a picnic or take advantage of the delicious food available, and just sit back and relax to an evening of soulful music.

This is the 12th year this event has occurred at Hyde Hall and all profits will go to St Luke's Hospice in Basildon.

3foot People Festival at Hylands House - July 2 - 4

After last year's huge success, the 3foot People Festival is back. It will bring unique festival fun exclusively for pre-schoolers (up to five years old). The UK's largest outdoor festival for little ones welcomes over 14,000 festival goers for a day filled with excitement.

There is wonder hidden around every corner, ready to inspire and entertain. As you explore the intimate village of tents, tepees and areas hidden among the trees, you'll discover activities, interactive play, performances and shows.

Much Ado About Nothing at Hedingham Castle - July 4

The world's first cycling theatre company, The HandleBards, pedal from venue to venue with all the set, props and costume necessary to perform environmentally sustainable Shakespeare across the globe like no other.

In usual HandleBards style, expect riotous amounts of energy, a fair old whack of chaos and a great deal of laughter. This is an outdoor production, so bring your own chair or blanket to sit on, a picnic to dig into and dress for the weather!

Open AIR Cinema at Audley End House - July 5 - 7

The Luna Cinema returns with three nights of fabulous films at Audley End House and Gardens this summer. There will be a full bar and hot food available on site, so round up your friends or get planning that date night and enjoy a fantastic night of cinema under the stars.

On Friday see The Greatest Showman, Saturday is Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Sunday is Bohemian Rhapsody.

The Human League + special guests at Audley End House - July 12

Join GCE Live for a sensational triple-bill of 80s icons, headlined by The Human League. Be transported back to the vibrancy of the 80s and 90s as the Human League, known for hits such as Don't You Want Me, Love Action (I believe in Love) and Dare, present an array of refined synth-pop hits.

They will be joined at Audley End by fellow synth-pop luminaries, ABC, best known for classics such as Poison Arrow and The Look of Love. Completing this spectacular line-up will be iconic American singer, Belinda Carlisle, who has achieved huge success on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dixie Fields at Hylands Park, Chelmsford - July 12 - 14

Country Music is the nation's fastest growing genre and Dixie Fields are passionate about a festival that features country stars from the US as well as the very best local talent. Dixie Fields, Essex's first country music festival, has completed its debut line up with a wave of high profile country music stars from the US and the UK. ACM New Female Vocalist of the Year and American Idol star Lauren Alaina and Ward Thomas will be joined at Dixie Fields by Royal South, Megan McKenna, Jackson Mickelson, Megan O'Neill, plus many more fabulous acts.

The boutique country music festival will also feature a Friday evening outdoor cinema and campsite acoustic session, a full country music lineup on the Saturday and a big American style brunch on the Sunday morning for campers.

The Hives + special guests at Audley End House - July 14

Saturday will see an indie-rock line-up, headlined by The Hives. They will be joined by The Fratellis, The Sandinstas and Cassia in the stunning grounds of Audley End House and Gardens.

It has been just over a decade since Swedish band The Hives released their debut album, Barely Legal, which serves as a perfect introduction to the intoxicating rush of blood to the head that the band, and particularly their live show, encompasses.

A Midsummer Night's Dream at Stanley Hall, Pebmarsh - July 14

The Lord Chamberlain's Men, the UK's premier all male theatre company, are back for their 15th consecutive year at Stanley Hall. To honour Duke Theseus' wedding, a group of rustic artisans, and would-be thespians, rehearse a play. Meanwhile, feuding lovers flee the city and seek solace in an enchanted forest alive with warring fairies and the meddling sprite Puck.

As the clash between the fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania, catches everyone in its cross-fire, confusion abounds and makes asses of them all. This supernatural comedy of mischievous fairies, confused lovers and rude mechanicals is an intoxicating tale of clarity found from chaos as tangled love gives way to happily ever afters.

Tom Jones at Colchester Castle Park - July 21

From the young to the more mature, who doesn't love a bit Tom Jones? The global superstar's concert promises to be an unforgettable evening of entertainment this summer. Tom Jones' distinctive voice and iconic records have earned him a place as one of the best-loved artists ever to emerge from the 1960s with an eclectic musical mix spanning pop, rock, soul, R&B, dance, country and gospel.

With a career spanning six decades and more than 100 million record sales under his belt, including hits such as It's Not Unusual, Kiss, Delilah and What's New Pussycat, it is a musical event not to be missed!

Wuthering Heights at Belhus Woods Country Park - July 27

This year, Chapterhouse Theatre Company is proud to present the wild and tempestuous love story of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, set on the beautiful and mysterious Yorkshire moors. This tale of passion and revenge has thrilled readers and audiences alike for generations.

Now, in an adaptation by award-winning writer Laura Turner, it's set to entrance Chapterhouse audiences for an evening of theatre beneath the stars. Can Catherine and Heathcliff's love endure or will the forces of nature tear them apart?

Sense and Sensibility at Hedingham Castle - July 28

Elinor Dashwood has a lot of good sense. Her sister Marianne Dashwood has an excess of sensibility. Together they make a snappy title for Jane Austen's classic novel of scandals, scoundrels and severely sprained ankles.

This funny, fast-paced and faithful new adaptation from the critically-acclaimed Pantaloons Theatre Company features live music, audience interaction, romance and heartbreak. This is an outdoor performance, so you will need to provide your own seating. The Tea Room in the castle will be open, providing drinks and snacks.

Tears for Fears at Colchester Castle Park - July 28

Tears for Fears will perform in Essex this summer, bringing their extensive catalogue of hits to Colchester in what promises to be an incredible evening of music.

Following on from a hugely successful indoor arena tour, Tears for Fears announced that they will play only a select number of outdoor summer shows, and Colchester Castle Park has been chosen as one of these venues. Definitely a summer event not to be missed!

The Legend of King Arthur at Hedingham Castle - August 7

Arthur is fed up! He is tired of his knuckles being hurt by his teacher, being ignored by his parents and bullied by his brother Kay. However, little does he know that there is a prophecy of a hero, destined to pull the sword from the stone and unite Britain, it couldn't possibly be little Arthur could it?

With Merlin and his knights by his side, will Arthur be able to reunite Britain and thwart the evil plans of Morgan Le Fay? With inventive staging, original songs and magical storytelling, Boxtree Productions will give you an experience you will be talking about for years to come!

Alice in Wonderland at Marks Hall - August 17

Follow Alice and the White Rabbit as they set off on a colourful, topsy-turvy adventure like no other and meet a host of outlandish characters including the troublesome twins Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, the notorious Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire cat and of course, the Mad-as a bat-Hatter!

Immersion Theatre proudly bring their trademark energy to their most spectacularly bonkers show to date, as children and adults alike are invited to join in the hilarity of seeing this classic story brought vividly to life before having the opportunity to meet the characters after the show. Why not even come dressed up as your favourite? A perfect day out for the entire family, you'd be mad to miss it!

Secret Garden at Cressing Temple Barns - August 21

This summer, join young Mary Lennox on a journey of discovery as she is sent to her uncle's house in the countryside, where mysteries and secrets lurk round every corner. As she makes new friends and encounters magical creatures, Mary has one burning question: where is the location of her uncle's secret garden and where has he hidden the key?

Relive this tale of secrecy and curiosity in what will be one of the highlights of the summer. This enchanting story is the perfect day out to be enjoyed by both adults and children.

Back to the 90s at Barleylands Farm - August 23

Any millennial will tell you that the 1990s were the best decade to grow up in with the music being a huge factor.

So, this summer, you would be crazy to miss this one night only event at Barleylands Farm. Hosting iconic 90s acts including East 17, S Club Party, Baby D, Living Joy and Video Geeks-Visual Display DJ, it's bound to bring back some memories for you all.

Spread Love Festival at Chelmsford City Racecourse - August 25

Join Chelmsford City Racecourse for Essex's newest house and UK garage music festival fusing the 'old skool' with the 'nu skool' all for the love of music!

This one-day festival comes from the original UK house and garage promotors who will be celebrating with sounds that have stood the test of time while promoting the new sounds that now are making enormous vibes. It is an event not to be missed with more than 70 DJs and artists performing.

Mary Poppins Returns at Promenade Park, Maldon - August 31

Essex Alfresco Cinema presents the American, musical fantasy, Mary Poppins Returns. It is a great evening out with loved ones to enjoy an unforgettable experience in the unique setting of Promendade Park.

To make your evening more fulfilling, there will be a variety of food and drink options including Prosecco to sugary doughnuts. So, sit back, relax and embrace an evening of fun, food and film!

A Midsummer Night's Dream at Hylands House - September 1

Join the Lord Chamberlain's Men on the Back Lawn of Hylands House for Shakespeare's enchanted masterpiece A Midsummer Night's Dream - a play of unforgettable Shakespearean characters, high comedy and enough magical moments to wave a wand at.

Be sure to catch The Lord Chamberlain's Men perform Shakespeare as it would have been: all male, in the open and in full Elizabethan costume with traditional music and dance. Bring a blanket or chair and make yourself comfortable in the stunning surroundings.

Let's Rock Essex at Hylands House - September 7

Let's Rock is the UK's biggest retro festival series and this festival offers something different. Expect gloriously unpretentious non-stop fun, where the performers play hit after hit to a crowd of all ages, many of whom embrace the throwback vibe by dressing in their finest 80s fashion.

The event is aimed at the whole family, with entertainment for everyone. Children can enjoy complimentary activities within the Kids' Kingdom, an interactive circus, face painting, inflatables and more. There will also be multiple bars, plus of course the all-important posh luxury loos, essential at any festival.


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