From Shakespeare to Shrek the Musical
Sean Ebsworth Barnes
Britain is a nation of drama lovers and in the land that brought you Shakespeare, you'll never be far from some of the best and most varied theatre in the world.
You could start with the smash shows and glitzy musicals in London’s historic ‘Theatreland’ where 40 theatres jostle for your attention. Or, if Shakespeare’s more your thing, head straight to the glorious re-creation of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan Globe Theatre on the south bank of the River Thames. His birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon, home to the internationally renowned Royal Shakespeare Company, is also a must-see.
London is also home to the Royal Opera House where world-class opera takes place in a beautiful setting and Sadler’s Wells Theatre, the hub of dance in the UK where you can catch everything from flamenco to hip-hop.
Elsewhere, The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, housed in a spectacular former Cotton Exchange building, is known for first-rate classic and modern productions, while Birmingham’s REP theatre is fully deserving of its reputation as a centre for excellent drama.
Scotland’s capital is best known for the explosive arts jamboree that is the annual Edinburgh Festivals. But visit Edinburgh at any time of the year and you’ll find world-class theatre at some of the UK’s best venues. The Edinburgh Festival Theatre has the biggest stage of any theatre in Britain and is the venue for Edinburgh's most well-regarded shows.
Glasgow is a hotbed of theatrical action and is home to Scottish Opera, the Scottish Ballet and the National Theatre of Scotland. Head to the Citizen's Theatre to witness ground-breaking contemporary drama or the Tron or The Tramway both known for demanding and thought-provoking work.
If you’re in Cardiff, a visit to the Wales Millennium Centre is a must. It hosts everything from touring West End musicals to ballet and modern dance in a high-tech building that’s worth a look in itself. If you don’t have time for a show, pop in for a backstage tour or a drink in the bar. Free concerts are held daily in the foyer.