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Historic Theatres in the UK

From the biggest cities to the smallest towns, the UK is overflowing with arts and culture, and is home to over 1,000 theatres.

More than just great places to catch a show, many of the UK’s theatres are packed with history too, from stunning classic architecture to interesting stories. We’ve selected a handful that are well worth a visit.

1. Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Playhouse began life as a cinema when it opened its doors in 1929, and since then it’s hosted everyone from Laurel and Hardy to Bruce Springsteen and Joni Mitchell.
It officially launched as a fully functional theatre in 1980, and with a capacity of 3,039, it’s the largest in the UK! Planning a visit and looking for hotels near Edinburgh Playhouse? Book into Novotel Edinburgh Centre, and it’s just a ten-minute taxi ride from door to door. 

2. Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

Opened in 1878, Citizens Theatre in Glasgow was originally known as Her Majesty’s Theatre and Opera House before being renamed The Royal Princess’s Theatre the following year.
The Citizens Theatre Company was founded in 1943, but it wasn’t until 1945 that the Citizens Theatre became permanently established. Since then, they’ve pioneered new Scottish drama and contemporary representations of classic plays. 

3. Theatre Royal Haymarket, London

Theatre Royal Haymarket opened in 1720. Over the years, the theatre changed hands many times, undergoing renovations which changed the layout and design significantly (those opposed were placated with the installation of a brand-new bar!).

In recent years, audiences have enjoyed plays by the likes of Noel Coward and Ben Elton performed by acting giants such as Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith. 

4. Bristol Old Vic, Bristol

Bristol Old Vic has an impressive claim to fame – it’s the oldest continuously working theatre in the English-speaking world! Built in 1766, Bristol Old Vic was intended as a place for local people to come together, and that spirit remains today. <o:p></o:p>The theatre recently underwent an impressive multi-million-pound redevelopment and blends its history with cutting edge performance, education and nurturing new talent.

5. Theatre Royal, Bath

The Grade II listed Theatre Royal in Bath is a beautiful example of Georgian architecture, with its arched foyer, columns boasting exquisite friezes and a stunning trompe l’oeil ceiling. The original theatre was built in 1806 but was destroyed in a fire in 1862.

Since reopening the following year, countless award-winning actors have trodden the boards.

6. Grand Opera House, York

York is a city brimming with history, and the Grand Opera House, a Grade II listed building, adds to its rich tapestry. Not originally built as a theatre, the Grand Opera House is the result of the conversion of a corn exchange and a warehouse in 1902. In 1958, many of the original features were sadly stripped away to accommodate a new flat floor but thanks to a renovation in 1987, it’s now restored to its former glory, right down to the carpets and light fittings.

No matter where you’re heading for your next UK break, check out the historic theatre offering and pay a visit. Whether you watch a show or just stroll around the outside of the building, you’re sure to discover something special.

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