2016 is shaping up to be a memorable year for London's Theatreland.
Not only are the big shows flocking to London, with Disney's Aladdin, The Go-Between and The Bodyguard joining established West End favourites but the iconic Summer Festivals are opening to entertain Londoners and visitors alike.
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
Each year the Regent's Park Open Air theatre opens just across the park from London Zoo. The season always includes a family show, a Shakespeare, a musical and another play.
This year the family show is Running Wild (13th May to 12th June), adapted from the book by Michael Morpogo. It is the story of how an elephant called Oona saves a child from a Tsunami Full of magical puppetry the pair meet Orang Utangs, colourful birds, a crocodile, a tiger and poachers on their adventure across an Indonesian island.
Henry V (17th June to 19th July) is the Shakespeare play. It is an apt choice as it is full of royal pageantry in this year of royal celebrations. The musical is Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar (15th July to 27th August) and the 'other play' is Pride and Prejudice (2nd to 17th September).
It is easy to get to on the tube (via Baker Street station) and it is easy to park there if you prefer to drive (it is also outside of the congestion charge zone) and it is lovely to find a patch of green and enjoy a pre-theatre picnic.
Summer Season at the Globe
Talking of Shakespeare, the open-roofed Shakespeare's Globe Theatre just along the south bank of the Thames, by Tower Bridge, is not only a wonderfully atmospheric place to see a play but it is also one of the cheapest.
Like the original Globe theatre, it is possible to buy Groundling tickets which allow you to stand right in front of the stage for under £10.
The theatre mainly presents plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries and the diary for the 2016 summer season can be found at http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre/whats-on
London Wonderland and Udderbelly
Two more recent additions to the theatre scene in London are London Wonderground and the Udderbelly Festival on the Southbank by the London Eye. One is a delightful 1920s Paradiso Spiegeltent, the other is an upturned purple cow.
Acts here range from circus to comedy, live music and burlesque. The whole area has a magical feel with street food vendors and bars open late into the night.
Of course, for Londoners it is easy to arrange to see the highlights of these summer seasons at the drop of a hat, but for visitors to the city it is a whole lot harder.
Tickets can be arranged on arrival in London, either at the theatre direct or through an agent. Some offer special deals the closer you get to the performance, others sell out; so it can be a bit of a lottery leaving it to the last moment.
For visitors to London theatre tickets can also be booked in a package along with hotel accommodation, and travel insurance. At least that way you will know that you have secured an admission and you don't run the risk of turning up in London and trying to get tickets for a sold out performance.
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