Outdoor theatre shows for all the family set for the National Trust's Hatfield Forest this summer

View from behind two visitors seated in deckchairs as part of the audience at an Illyria Theatre Company production.

View from behind two visitors seated in deckchairs as part of the audience at an Illyria Theatre Company production. - Credit: ©National Trust Images/David Levenson

Outdoor theatre returns to the National Trust’s Hatfield Forest this summer.

A programme presented by award-winning outdoor theatre groups Illyria, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men and Quantum Theatre will entertain families between June and September.

The open-air theatre is set in the picturesque lake area of the NT site near London Stansted Airport, and visitors can enjoy an evening of entertainment, with shows for families and adults. 

View of the peaceful lake at Hatfield Forest, Essex

View of the peaceful lake at Hatfield Forest, Essex - Credit: ©National Trust Images/John Millar

Shakespeare fans can enjoy As You Like It on Wednesday, June 22, performed by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a theatre group with a history stretching back to William Shakespeare himself. 

A tale of humour, romance, and music, As You Like It is one of the Bard’s most celebrated comedies.

Family-favourite Peter Pan will take the stage on Friday, July 8, presented by Illyria.

With a lively, interactive story and for the first time, real flying, Peter Pan is sure to enthral children with a magical performance. 

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Families can also enjoy Quantum Theatre’s enchanting adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon on Saturday, August 13, a touching, sweet and funny tale of a boy and his dragon. 

Illyria will return on Saturday, September 3 for a swashbuckling performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. 

Packed full of comedy, memorable songs and witty characters, this open-air performance is fun for all the family. 

Families watching outdoor theatre.

Families watching outdoor theatre. - Credit: ©National Trust Images/Rob Stothard

Sarah Barfoot, experiences and programming manager, said: “It’s wonderful to have a programme of outdoor theatre in the lake area once again this year. 

“As it was re-landscaped by Capability Brown in the 1700s, we feel he would have been pleased to see so many people bringing picnics and being entertained in this space.

“As a National Nature Reserve, events like this are vital to raising funds that help us care for the forest.”

Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy while watching the show, and a rug or seats to sit on. 

The Forest Café will be open for each performance, offering a selection of drinks and snacks. 

Tickets are on sale now. You can find more information and book at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatfield-forest

Hatfield Forest National Nature Reserve is the best surviving example in Britain of an almost complete Royal Hunting Forest.

It has seen many owners, from Kings to commoners. 

Hatfield Forest is home to over 3,500 species of wildlife, some of which are rare and threatened. 

The ancient trees, some over 1,000 years old, provide the perfect habitat for some of the Forest’s rarest insects, lichens and fungi.