THE eagerly-awaited 2013 Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre season gets under way this weekend in Chester.

This year’s extended eight week run – marking the fourth season of Chester’s critically acclaimed picnic theatre – opens on Friday, July 5 with Shakespeare’s most magical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

With demand for tickets at an all time high and more than 6,500 advance seats already sold, Chester’s unique open-air theatre has extended its seating areas for the first time in its four year history.

Two additional banks of seating are currently being erected in the theatre’s annual home in the heart of the Grosvenor Park, to ensure all three productions can be enjoyed by all.

Artistic director Alex Clifton said: “It's hard to believe we are already in our fourth season of glorious picnic theatre here in the heart of Chester.

“We've grown and developed a lot over the four years – adding more weeks to our run, more seating in the theatre and more productions to the season – but our goal remains the same – to create high quality theatre in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

Regular attendees of this firmly established and annual Chester favourite will witness an even more intimate setting this year, as the new seating creates a more ‘theatre in the round’ stage and set.

But, as ever, it is as much about the picnics as the performances and grassed picnic areas and VIP deckchair seating are still very much in place.

Covered picnic terraces are also still available, making this the ideal day out for all the family, particularly with the launch this year of free tickets for all children aged under 12.

Alongside A Midsummer Nights Dream, a full-size cast of professional actors will also perform the intense and tightly wound tragedy Othello.

And, another first for the theatre, a third production will also be performed in ‘rep’ as writer-in-residence Glyn Maxwell returns with his hilarious new adaptation of the swash-buckling Cryano de Bergerac.

Alex added: “Rehearsals are in full swing as the entire Grosvenor Park Open Air team prepare to welcome our audiences once again to the park for what we hope will be a truly magical experience.”

The season runs with evening and matinee performances until August 25. Tickets are available from £14.50 and are on sale now.

For more information and booking, visit , call 0845 241 7868 or visit Chester Tourist Office Northgate Street.