Scarborough. It’s known for a few things; being the first seaside resort for example. However, being home to Europes Largest Open Air Theatre and having a pretty amazing list of guests of recent definitely shows that there’s more to the town.
Let’s Start At The Beginning.
Scarborough Open Air Theatre is located on the North Bay, within Northstead Manor Gardens, just a short walk to the beach.
Built in 1930, the Lord Mayor of London opened its gates in 1932. The stage itself is set on an island in the middle of a lake, with fixed seating to the front for spectators. Which originally was made up of five blocks plus deckchairs.
Along with regular local performances and busy summer musicals twice a week, the theatre was also home to “It’s A Knockout” once a week for 11 years.
Sadly the theatre closed in 1986, after the last musical in 1968 and a last local performance in 1982.
March 2010 saw the estimated 3.5 million rebuild to the site. Which included 6,000 plus all-weather folding plastic chairs, stage area, lighting building to the top of the seating area, plus a hospitality area (a bar manned by a local bar), two blocks of toilets and booking offices.
That May, the ‘new look’ Scarborough Open Air Theatre was visited and reopened by The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
Who’s Graced The Stage Then.
- 2010 – After its reopening year in 2010 the theatre played host to things such as The Big Comedy Campervan, the Doves, 80’s Rewind Festival, plus a year of sport from the BBC (Wimbledon, F1, Rugby, World Cup Football and Royal Ascot.)
- 2011 – But 5th June 2011 will be the theatres turning point, with the one and only Elton John performing to the thousands. He was followed that year by Ellie Goulding, N-Dubz, Last Night Of The Proms, plus 80’s Rewind Festival.
- 2012 – kicked with ex X Factor runner-up Olly Murs, followed by JLS, Dionne Warwick, and Russell Watson.
- 2013 – The stars kept coming, with the likes of Happy Mondays, Leona Lewis, Status Quo, McFly, The Wanted, The Saturdays, Katherine Jenkins and the return of Olly Murs, gracing the OAT stage, making it the most successful year of music acts so far.
- 2014 – The stage saw Status Quo return, Last Night Of The Proms (ft: Only Men Aloud, Military Wives Choir York, Laura Wright and Aled Jones), Legends Of Pop (ft: Bananarama, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley, Brother Beyond, Sonia, Hazel Dean and Undercover), Boyzone, Jessie J, McBusted, Little Mix and Union J.
- 2015 – James, Boyzone, The Vamps, Proms ft Alfie Boe, Jessie J, Elaine Paige, McBusted, Legends of Pop, UB40 and Scouting For Girls,
- 2016 – James Bay, Bryan Adams, Busted, Legends Of Pop, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet, Will Young and Status Quo.
- 2017 – The Beach Boys, Kaiser Chiefs, The Charlatans, The Jackson’s, Michael Ball & Alfie Boe, Cliff Richard, UB40, George Benson, Tom Jones, Olly Murs, Madness, 80’s V 90’s and Jess Glynne,
- 2018 – Lionel Richie, The Script, Gary Barlow, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Steps with Sister Sledge, Alfie Boe, Emeli Sande, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Stereophonics, Pete Tong, Il Divo, James Arthur, Bastille, Texas and Britney Spears.
Northstead Manor Gardens is an open space, so even out of season, you can still walk past the theatre and marvel at the area and quietness that there seems to be, especially during autumn/winter when the stage has been taken away and stored, yet the hospitality and booking huts remain.
Inbetween visiting acts in the Summer season/school holidays, and during the day, the stage is home to free shows put on by local entertainers such as dance schools and singers.
I’d highly recommend seeing an act/performance at Scarborough Open Air Theatre. It really is an experience, with an atmosphere you just don’t get from an arena. Its obvious draw is definitely getting around and shows in the artists that have visited.