A breath of fresh air: Your guide to this summer's outdoor cultural events

Forget about the lack of sun – grab a picnic (and a brolly) and head outside for some of the summer’s finest cultural events

1. Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, London

One of the most enchanting outdoor theatres, the staging at Regent’s Park  almost creeps out of the woodland. Partly  because it’s in the hands of artistic director Timothy Shearer. Pride And Prejudice, The Winter’s Tale (Re-Imagined), The Sound Of Music and Dinosaur Zoo follow the stunning success of To Kill A Mockingbird.

To 8 September (openairtheatre.com)

2. Moore Rodin, The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, Hertfordshire

The first time such a large group of Rodin’s sculptures have been presented in the British landscape; it’s also the first time another artist has been shown alongside Moore in what was his own family garden (created by his wife Irina). Eight Rodins are on show including “Walking Man”, “Large Torso 1906” and “The Burghers of Calais”.

To 27 October (henry-moore.org), free

3. Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire

The 105-acre garden that houses a glorious maze, rockery and waterfalls, will also play host to free outdoor theatre this summer.

Horrible Histories, 30-31 July; Pride & Prejudice, 1 August; West End Classic concert, 2 August (chatsworth.org)

4. Opera Holland Park, London

A spectacular canopied theatre in leafy West London hosts six new productions  including Pagliacci, Madame Butterfly and a new family opera based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. The City of London Sinfonia accompanies the consistently excellent singers/actors.

To 3 August (opera hollandpark.com)

5. The Serpentine  Gallery Pavilion, Kensington Gardens, London

At 41, Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto is the youngest architect to accept the prestigious job of creating a temporary structure for London’s Serpentine Gallery, following the likes of Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry and Oscar Niemeyer. He’s inspired by organic structures – forests, nests, caves. And clouds – that’s what the beautifully delicate and transparent latticed building evokes.

To 20 October (serpentinegallery.org), free

6. Eden Sessions, Eden Project,  St. Blazey, Cornwall

The XX, Sigur Ros, Kaiser Chiefs and Jessie J provide the 2013 line-up at the UK’s largest greenhouse. An inflatable “pillow” marquee will mirror the giant domes of hexagonal and pentagonal plastic cells to host the shows. Always great spectacles.

29, 30 June, 2, 13, 14 July (edenproject.com)

7. BP Big Screens, The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet, nationwide

Live relays, all over the country, of summer highlights from Covent Garden. Angela Gheorghiu appears as Magda in Puccini’s La Rondine on 11 July; Jonathan Kent’s production of Puccini’s Tosca is revived on 18 July. Expect interval  entertainment from backstage, and possibly a live curtain call (London’s Trafalgar Square audience only). Sites include Trafalgar Square, London; Millennium Square, Leeds; Centenary Square, Bradford; The Hayes, Cardiff; Exchange Square, Manchester; Wharf Green, Swindon; Walthamstow Town Square, Waltham Forest;  Guildhall Square, Portsmouth.

11 & 18 July (roh.org.uk), free

8. Fresh Air 2013, Quenington Old Rectory, Cirencester, Gloucestershire

The UK’s biennial sculpture exhibition that plants cutting edge contemporary work and modern classics into a stunning outdoor setting. Too many names to mention.

To 7 July (freshair2013.com), children free

9. Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, Greenwich, London (cover picture) 

Epic aerial dance opens Greenwich and Docklands International Festival on 22 June when Wired Aerial Theatre will fly across a 12-metre screen in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum. Physical theatre masters Tangled Feet (28 & 29 June) present One Million, a pyrotechnic/ musical/ acrobatic spectacle featuring 100 performers. Cutty Sark Gardens, Island Gardens, Greenwich Park and Old Royal Navel College are all host to wild, creative abandonment over the eight days.

To 29 June (festival.org), free

10. City Of London Festival, London

A gem of a festival, that encroaches, musically, on every nook and cranny of the city of London for a month in the summer; this is the last of visionary director Ian Ritchie’s eight years at the helm. Spots to go for are the base of the Gherkin, on Wednesday lunchtimes, and Guildhall Yard, from 1 to 5 July at lunchtimes; on 28 June, 1,000 children will end their Festival Children’s Parade with a performance on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

23 June to 26 July (colf.org), free

11. Leeds Castle, Kent

Classical movies, fireworks and open air cinema erupt at various points during the summer season at this most beautiful of castles; the Royal Philharmonic stage their Open Air Classical Concert – featuring the Military Wives – on 13 July; and Luna Cinema present outdoor screenings of The Blues Brothers and Casablanca against the historic backdrop of the castle, on 6 & 7 July. 6 to 13 July (leeds-castle.com)

12. Latitude, Henham Park, Suffolk

Now in its eighth year, Latitude is bursting out of its seams. Eddie Izzard, Daniel Kitson and Dylan Moran headline the comedy;  Kraftwerk and Hot Chip fly the dance music flag; theatre companies include National Theatre Wales and Royal Exchange Manchester; literary names include Carol Ann Duffy and Germaine Greer; plus cabaret, film scores, and art installations.

18 to 21 July (latitudefestival.com)

13. Macbeth, Manchester International Festival, Bridgewater Hall Car Park

Witness Kenneth Branagh’s first Shakespeare performance on stage in 10 years, as he partners Alex Kingston in Macbeth – screened as a live relay for one night only, at an outdoor screen erected in Bridgewater Hall Car Park, on 20 July. The Tony award-winning director Rob Ashford is at the helm, with Branagh co-directing. The production is being staged in an intimate deconsecrated Manchester church and is the hot ticket of this 18 day-long visionary festival led by Alex Poots.

20 July (mif.co.uk)

14. Tramlines, Sheffield

Famous for its line-up and for being free, now in its fifth year Tramlines has had to introduce a fee of £6 – but there’s still a chunk of music for free. Performers include Lianne La Havas, Toddla T Sound, Veronica Falls, Duke Dumont, New Young Pony Club and Shangaan Electro.

19 to 21 July (2013.tramlines.org.uk)

15. Festival At The Edge, Stokes Barn, Shropshire

The oldest international storytelling festival in England, nestled alongside the magical Wenlock Edge. Newly commissioned stories from a huge and eclectic group of tellers combine with practical workshops, story rounds and informal music sessions. There is also a separate children’s festival.

19 to 21 July (festivalattheedge.org)

16. Secret Garden Party,  Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

Musical acts like Cherub, Natty, Django Django and Pete Molinari will be joined by comedians, speakers and actors for this four-day long hit festival. Talks include the intriguing “If we could eradicate all recreational drugs overnight, should we?” featuring ex-government drugs czar, Professor David Nutt, Jamie Catto (One Giant Leap, founding member of Faithless), Mike Powers (author – Drugs 2.0) and Rachel Seifert (documentary film maker – Cocaine Unwrapped).

25 to 28 July (secretgardenparty.com)

17. Monmouth Festival, Wales

Nine days of free gigs to suit all tastes in the Welsh border market town – folk, rock, punk, ska, classical, jazz and pop are all on the programme. Concerts take place nightly on a large open-air stage in Blestium Street car park.

26 July to 3 August (monmouthfestival.co.uk), free

18. Brighton’s Big Screen

The year’s big movies will get an outdoor screening on the beach again, with Les Miserables already confirmed for 4 August (4.30pm) and Oblivion for 10 August (8.30pm). The good news is that the screen has got even bigger – it’s now an almighty 40 square metres. Find it next to Brighton Pier (hard to miss).

30 July to 26 August (murray-media.co.uk), free

19. Edinburgh International Fringe Festival

Some of the best theatre and storytelling appears outside  – in alleyways, garages, bridges, rooftops, hilltops, courtyards, sand pits and river banks. Visiting companies give regular previews of their shows on the Mound daily. And the magnificent Arthur’s Seat will be host to a free, daily, show – not yet announced – if you can manage the climb.

2 to 26 August (edfringe.com)

20. Dartington International Summer School,  Dartington, Devon

Listen to free recitals on the Great Lawn of the magnificent Dartington Hall, courtesy of the students of the annual Dartington Music Summer School. Jazz bands, tea bands, chamber orchestras and choirs will showcase their wares on most Thursdays at 4pm. A new site specific work, Voices In The Garden, premieres on 23 August – different choirs will pop up as the audience moves through Dorothy Elmhirst’s magnificently conceived 1920s gardens.

27 July to 31 August (dartington.org/summer-school), free

21. Film4 Summer Screen,  Somerset House, London

The world premiere of the new Richard  Curtis comedy About Time kicks off 14 nights of open-air cinema (huge screen, surround sound, framed by magnificent courtyard). Other UK premieres include The Way, Way Back, starring Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell and comedy Prince Avalanche. Plus classics such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid  and Badlands.

8 to 21 August (somersethouse.org.uk)

22. Just So Festival, Cheshire

A festival of creativity designed for families, combining art, music, literature and theatre within the enchanting landscape of the Rode Hall Estate. Learn how to build rockets, design fairy cities and turn kitchen utensils into an orchestra.

16 to 18 August (justsofestival.org.uk)

23. The Sting In The Tail, Dorset

Now in its 10th year, stories come to life in some of East Dorset’s most atmospheric settings: an Iron Age earthhouse, stately homes and castles, plus story walks through Wimborne and Poole.

16 to 26 August (stinginthetale.org.uk)

24. Everything Under The Sun, International School of Storytelling, East Sussex

Renowned Nigerian poet and author Ben Okri gives the keynote address at the International School of Storytelling’s annual event. There are storywalks through meadows, and songs from Africa with Sibongile Tsoanyane.

23 to 26 August (schoolofstorytelling.com)

25. Proms in the Park, Hyde  Park, London; Caerphilly;  Belfast; Glasgow

The world’s greatest, and longest classical music festival comes to an end in big green spaces all over the UK. Each park will have its own host and musicians. Confirmed names include tenor Joseph Calleja, violinist extraordinaire Nigel Kennedy; pop legend Bryan Ferry; and Dame Edna Everage. Bring a flag.

7 September (bbc.co.uk/proms/features/ proms-in-the-park)

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