The spectacular open air play at Lytham Hall on August Bank Holiday Sunday will provide an ideal final treat for Lancashire families, as the six week summer break draws to a close.
Lytham Hall, one of the country’s best supported venues for outdoor theatre, will welcome the Illyria Theatre Company and their performance of the popular Hans Christian Andersen story The Emperor’s New Clothes on Sunday 27 August at 4.00.
Around 600 are expected, mostly in family groups, for the play which takes place on the north lawn of the Hall, a Grade One Listed Georgian Mansion. The lawn is ringed by impressive 200 year old beech trees which create excellent acoustics and shelter from coastal breezes.
Illyria’s high-energy and inventive cast of five make every performance entertaining and accessible and reviews of their four month nationwide summer tour which has included a week at Cornwall’s famous cliff-edge Minack Theatre have been positive and supportive. The show will last two hours, including an interval.
Gates will open at 2.00 and you can unload picnic baskets, folding chairs and sun hats right next to the theatre lawn and will then be directed to free parking areas adjacent. An area is reserved for children to sit on rugs right in front of the stage and once the family has bagged its spaces there are plenty of things to do and areas to explore. Bear in mind, however, that there’s no cover at all, so having a full range of clothes in the car boot is a wise precaution.
Walks in the 80 acres of woodlands with pond and lake, an ascent of the Mount with unexpected views over Lytham, a visit to the newly established Kitchen Garden or the Bee Hives, are all a delight, with ice cream or refreshments in the attractive tea room or on the picnic benches outside to renew energy levels.
Oliver Gray, this year celebrating in his 26th year as the artistic director of Illyria, leaders in the field of summer open air touring, was mightily impressed by his first visit to Lytham Hall last summer.
“I felt that Lytham Hall was ideal for outdoor theatre, one of the outstanding venues in the country. The gorgeous greenery of the parkland around the lawn creates an intimate atmosphere and we find that the warm and knowledgeable audience is always wonderfully responsive,” he said.
Lytham Hall is no more than an hour’s drive away from many areas of the Red Rose county via the relatively unpopulated M55 motorway, whilst an hourly train from Preston speeds you to Lytham in just 30 minutes, just a three minute walk from the delightful parkland of Lytham Hall.
For families wanting to spend the whole day in Lytham a morning stroll along Lytham’s promenade, adjacent to the Green and the iconic windmill, with views across Liverpool Bay to the mountains of North Wales is a fine starting point.
The adjacent Lowther Gardens, with putting green, budgies, children’s playground, rose gardens and inexpensive and homely café, and the award-winning and extensive Park View Play Area, both just a ten minute walk from the town centre, are also free summer treats for visitors of all ages – and all this in a flower-decked town renowned as a habitual champion in the Britain in Bloom Awards.
Julian Wilde, organiser of the four play open air theatre season, feels that it is the work of the volunteers at Lytham Hall which is the key to success.
“Families new to the open air theatre experience are always impressed by the warm welcome they receive from all the volunteers at Lytham Hall. Our young meet and greet teams in particular are expert at making newcomers feel immediately at home. Families just flock here from all over Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside and, as a Bank Holiday treat and, as a memorable finale to the school break, I think it’s one of the very best available in Lancashire. ”