The eighth season of productions at the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre gets under way in Chester this weekend with the first of three presentations for audiences to look forward to this summer.
A sparkling new adaptation of Lewis Carroll's timeless fantasy Alice in Wonderland gets things under way with performances at noon and 4.30pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
Two Shakespeare classics follow with A Midsummer Night's Dream starting on July 21 and Julius Caesar on August 3 - both transferring from successful runs in the new Storyhouse cultural centre.
If you are planning to soak up the unique atmosphere of this annual highlight in the Chester cultural calendar, here's everything you need to know about the events.
How to book:
You can book tickets online using the safe, secure booking system, where you won’t pay any booking or transaction fees.
If you require additional information, call 0844 815 7202 or come into Storyhouse.
Once you complete your booking, you will receive an e-mail confirmation detailing your order, and this acts as your ticket. Simply print it off, or show it on your phone when you arrive at the venue. If you’ve lost the e-mail confirmation, you can resend it to yourself by logging in and going to Your Details.
Getting to the venue:
Grosvenor Park is a stone's throw from the historic City Walls and Amphitheatre and can be accessed from the entrances in Vicars Lane or Grosvenor Park Road or you can take the scenic route from The Groves by the River Dee.
There are regular buses into the new city centre interchange which is about a 15 minute walk from the venue. If you come by train, you could either take a taxi or a bus into the city centre although it is again only about 15 minutes away on foot if you come straight down City Road from the station.
For your sat navs, use postcode CH1 1QQ (Vicars Lane).
The nearest car parks are very close to Grosvenor Park. The NCP car park in Pepper Street is open until 11.30pm. The postcode is CH1 1DF . It costs £9.20 to park for 2-4 hours if you pay on the day although you can save money by booking in advance here .
The Grosvenor Shopping Centre car park in Newgate Street is open 24 hours and there is a special night rate of £4 after 6pm. The postcode is CH1 1EA . More details can be found here .
The nearest Free After Three car park is at Chester Market in Princess Street near the Town Hall which is about a 15 minute walk away. It is open until 11.30pm.
Venue and seating:
There are four area/price levels – Covered Picnic Terraces, Picnic Terraces, Picnic Chairs, and Premium (split into Covered Picnic Terraces and Picnic Chairs).
Picnic Terraces: These are wide bench-style tiered terrace seats with lots of room to spread out – these are the front three rows of the seat banks. Bring your own cushions if you wish, or there are back rests available from front of house staff.
Covered Picnic Terraces: The same as the above but with a Roman style canopy for shelter and shade. The covered terraces are on the back two rows of seating. The entire theatre remains open-air and therefore open to the elements so, of course, covered terraces won’t protect you from the wind – but they will provide shelter and shade. These seats are limited and very popular so if you’re booking early and want to guarantee a cover, choose these!
Picnic Chairs: These are in the picnic lawn area, with picnic and deck chairs situated around the stage.
Premium Seats: Best seats in the house and no need to arrive early - either front row of the picnic chairs, or back row of the covered picnic terraces – it’s your choice! Limited number per performance. No concessions.
All seats have equal sight lines from which to view the performance.
Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre performance times vary throughout the summer with show times including noon, 2.30pm, 4.30pm and 7.30pm. If you have booked tickets, the performance time will be stated clearly on them - otherwise visit www.storyhouse.com to check details.
The theatre opens one hour before each performance start time. Latecomers should approach customer service staff and show your tickets. They will admit you as soon as possible.
Food and Drink:
Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre is the perfect spot for a picnic (either before or during the performance) and you are welcome to bring your own (including alcohol), or buy one from the venue when you buy your tickets online. The theatre bar can sell you treats and snacks as well as wine, juices, prosecco, summer drinks and tea, coffee and hot chocolate.
Picnics are priced at £12 per person, and can be added to your order when you select tickets online for any show at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre. Select from Regular or Vegetarian.
You are welcome to take photos in the park and in the auditorium but please do not take any photographs during the show – no photography or filming of the performances please. Share your pictures of yourselves and your picnics online @storyhouselive. Use the hashtag #GPOAT -or try a #GPOATSelfie!
Grosvenor Park has recently been refurbished with new toilet facilities (including accessible and baby changing facilities). The toilets are approximately a 30-second walk from the theatre and Storyhouse staff will be happy to direct you.
Weather:Being outside will be an integral part of the experience and past performances have witnessed everything from gloriously balmy afternoons to thunder and lightning. If you’re worried, buy a covered seat!
Advice is to come as prepared as possible for all types of weather. For afternoon matinées bring a shady hat, sun screen and sunglasses, and for evening performances bring a warm jumper or coat as it can cool down after the sun has set.
Raincoats are recommended; you may bring an umbrella but please refrain from using it during the performance if it’s obscuring someone’s view. Ponchos will be available to buy at the theatre for £2.
Occasionally very bad weather may mean Storyhouse have to stop and re-start the show, with a maximum 60 minutes delay allowed. There is a covered marquee area for audiences in uncovered seats to take shelter. If bad weather continues beyond 60 minutes, the show may be cancelled. In this instance, audiences will be fully refunded and invited to attend another performance for free. Only one show has had to be cancelled in more than 300 performances!
It’s important to note Storyhouse will never cancel a performance before the advertised start time, as the weather can change very quickly.
Wheelchair users can access the picnic areas and lower picnic terraces. Unfortunately there are no covered seating areas accessible for wheelchair users but Storyhouse can accommodate with umbrellas for shelter or shade.
Anyone with a disability who requires a companion to accompany them to the theatre can do so for free – please phone the box office on 0844 815 7202 to book and inform staff of any access requirements you may have. Guide and assistance dogs are more than welcome: again, please contact the box office so they can make any necessary provisions to best welcome you.
Tickets, Pricing and Exchanges:
Prices £18.50, £22.50, £27.50, £32.50, £37.50. Premium seats are priced at £45 (no concessions in this area).
Under 12s go free. One free ticket with every adult ticket purchased (excluding premium seats). Any child under 18 months can go free as a babe-in-arms; anyone over 18 months does need a ticket.
Aged Under 26: £10 for all Friday night tickets (excluding premium seats), plus 25% off all tickets with Young Persons Membership Card (excluding Saturday and preview performances). Please bring ID for under 26 tickets.
Groups: 10% off for 10 or more, 15% for 25 or more guests.
The price advertised is the price you pay when you book online. If, however, you book on the phone through ticketing agents, you will incur an administration fee of £2.50.
Tickets can be exchanged for another show (depending on availability). To organise your ticket exchange, call 0844 815 7202. Do keep in mind that there may be a price difference. Exchanges must be requested at least 48 hours before the performance. All exchanges are subject to a £2.50 administration fee.