My favourite place in England is, without a doubt, The Minack Theatre, a unique open-air theatre perched on the cliffs above the sea. If you want to travel abroad but can’t afford the flights, The Minack Theatre in Cornwall is the closest thing you can get to being abroad in England. Turquoise waters, a botanical garden and an ancient Roman styled theatre await you.
As soon as you step foot at The Minack Theatre (especially if you’re visiting on a sunny summer’s day), you will not feel like you are in Cornwall. Suddenly the sea does not look like it’s in Britain anymore: it looks Mediterranean. Your surroundings do not look British anymore: you are now in Greece or Italy.
Can you tell I love The Minack Theatre enough yet? Do you want me to rave about it some more? No? Oh crap, well you’re stuck with me now. So let me give you all the low down on how/when to visit, and what there is to do at the theatre and in the surrounding area (because the rest of Cornwall isn’t too bad either!).
Visiting The Minack Theatre
I won’t lie, The Minack Theatre is pretty awkward to get to. It is located in Porthcurno (right at the tip of Cornwall, near Lands End) and the roads leading up to it are very narrow and steep. Luckily Little Red lives up to its name and is very small, so it wasn’t too much of a problem, even when passing coaches and buses.
But if you have a huge vehicle/you are not a confident driver it may be a bit of a pain to get to. We visited The Minack Theatre by taking a day trip from Exeter in Devon, but this did mean I drove for a total of six hours in one day which was pretty exhausting. Ideally, if you plan on visiting The Minack Theatre, you would be staying closer in Cornwall.
Until the 28th of February this year the theatre is open daily from 10 am until 4:30 pm, with last entry at 3:30 pm. From the 1st March, the theatre opens a bit earlier at 9:30 am and closes later at 5:30 pm, with last entry at 5 pm. Entry to the theatre costs £5, which seems a lot but is definitely worth it. You also get a re-admission voucher with your ticket, allowing you to visit The Minack Theatre free of charge for the rest of the season!
What Is There To Do?
There is much more to The Minack Theatre than just seeing a performance (despite how epic that is!). At The Minack Theatre, you will find the Theatre (um, no shit), an Exhibition Centre, the Gardens and a Cafe/Gift Shop. Whilst our British weather is infamously unpredictable, the theatre truly comes alive on a beautiful sunny day, so I’d recommend visiting in summer (I personally visited in June). You can wander the grassy terraces of the theatre or just sit and enjoy the view. I can’t imagine the location looking quite as foreign and Mediterranean if it was a cloudy, rainy day.
The Exhibition Centre allows you to walk through time, back to 1931 when Rowena Cade began to create the terraces of the theatre in her back yard, with the help of her gardener, Billy Rawlings. I won’t spoil anything else by telling you more about it, but it is so interesting to learn about how the Minack Theatre came to be.
Cafe and Gift Shop/Botanical Gardens
The Cafe and Gift Shop are self-explanatory; do it like the locals do and get your hands on a scrumptious Cornish pasty, or buy some souvenirs to remember your time at The Minack Theatre. At the top of the theatre lies the sub-tropical botanical gardens, which are truly an attraction in themselves. A lot of their plants are more at home in South Africa or the Canary Islands, and you can even buy plants to take home with you!
As for the theatre itself (since that is the main attraction, after all), there is a huge variety of performances due to take place in 2017. From more traditional theatrical performances like Goodnight Mister Tom, Pride and Prejudice and some of Shakespeare’s many plays, to music concerts, ballet and circus shows, The Minack Theatre really offers something for everyone.
Tickets for the 2017 season go on sale in two days time, on Monday the 30th January, so be sure to grab some! Just remember to cross all your fingers and toes that the weather holds out for your performance. However, rain does not stop their performances, so wear appropriate clothing if the forecast looks iffy.
I’ve already mentioned that The Minack Theatre is located in Porthcurno. But what I didn’t tell you is that Porthcurno is famous for its beach. And what a gorgeous beach it was. We didn’t have time to walk all the way down to the beach but you can see it from the theatre. I would have loved to go for a dip in the sea… I mean, look at those turquoise waters! If I ever visit The Minack Theatre again I’ll be sure to see a performance and lounge on Porthcurno beach!
Making It A Day Trip
Since I drove three bloody hours to get to The Minack Theatre in the first place, I wasn’t just gonna call it a day, was I? After our time at the theatre, we drove towards St Ives (which is about a 45-minute drive away) to explore the seaside town and grab some dinner.
The sun was setting, but it was still warm, and we had such a lovely evening aimlessly wandering around. Before heading home we sat by the harbour enjoying our fish and chips, because what is a trip to the seaside without fish and chips? Nothing, that’s what.
So have you visited The Minack Theatre before? If so, did you fall just as hard for it as I did? If not, get it straight to the top of your bucket list! Where are some other awesome places to visit in Cornwall? I’ll be sure to return in the next couple of years as there is sooo much I missed out on.