Theatre Breaks Outside of London
The West End will always be Britain’s thespian epicentre but, as Mark Southern discovered, you don’t have to be in W1 to experience great theatre breaks. Actors are treading some of the country’s finest boards in places you might not have considered for a weekend away.
The Mayflower, Southampton
Situated in the town centre, The Mayflower is a grand old sight in a city lacking much in the way of striking architecture.
With an eclectic seasonal balance of blockbuster shows and small indie productions, The Mayflower is a real jewel on the South Coast.
Because it’s by far the most influential cultural hotspot in the area, tickets don’t hang around so book early to get the best seats.
To make the most of the weekend, stay at the De Vere Hotel, only five minutes walk from the theatre, and in prime location for the many bars and restaurants you’ll find on Oxford Street.
The Haymarket, Basingstoke
As a weekend getaway location, Basingstoke doesn’t appear too frequently but, whilst it does suffer from ‘new-town problems’, it does have a wonderful asset in The Haymarket, which is quite unlike anything in the area.
Featuring seasons which take in opera, classical music, comedy, independent shows plus many more, The Haymarket is a gem in need of your appreciation.
Stay at Tylney Hall for a liberal dose of Hampshire country air, and you’ll have had a truly refreshing weekend.
The Grand, Leeds
Standing out in the newly resurgent Leeds is The Grand; an opulent opera house built over a century ago, which the most ornate décor you could see anywhere.
Featuring genuinely inclusive but challenging seasons, there really is something for everyone here, and you should be able to find something to fit your tastes as runs tend to not be for more than three days.
For a cool and trendy stopover, head to the Park Plaza, Leeds, for a contemporary base in which to enjoy your dramatic break.
The New Theatre, Cardiff
Soon to reach its 200th birthday, The New Theatre is more contemporary than almost anything else you’ll find in the Welsh capital.
As you may expect from a nation which adores singing as much as Wales, the upcoming what’s on list is filled with lung-busting tunes, but is noted for its electric atmosphere as much as its creative seasons.
Complete your weekend by staying at the outstanding St Davids Hotel and Spa; a five star resort on the seafront, to blow the cobwebs away and allow you to enjoy your cultural break in style.
The Rep, Dundee
Dundee doesn’t often appear very highly in arts round-ups, and with good reason. However, what it lacks in tourist traps, it makes up for in its remarkable theatre, The Rep.
Featuring a what’s on list so diverse it will continually push you out of your comfort zone with its challenging, and often dark, seasons, this is a truly unexpected treat in an often bleak setting.
After the darkness of The Rep’s stage, get back to the traditional Scottish welcome of the five star Old Course Hotel, and take in a round of golf the following day to head back down South feeling fully satisfied.