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Theatres in Cornwall

Cornwall has an enviable reputation for its quality theatre. Established companies Wildworks and Miracle Theatre are household names here, there and everywhere, with next generation innovators Rogue, Owdyado, and Trifle Gathering hot on their heels. Alongside the home grown talent, there are plenty of opportunities to catch touring shows from further afield. 

Hall for Cornwall in Truro stages larger productions, while watching a play at the Minack (an open-air theatre constructed on a cliffside above Porthcurno) is a summer must. In fact,  whichever Cornish holiday cottage you choose to stay in, there’s bound to be a vibrant arts centre or small scale venue near you.

Get the popcorn and programmes ready, here’s our round up of the best theatres in Cornwall…

The Minack Theatre

Looking down the grass-topped seats at the Minack Theatre with the ocean and coast behind

Porthcurno TR19 6JU

A guide to theatres in Cornwall wouldn't be complete without first mentioning the renowned Minack Theatre. Carved out of the cliffs looking over Porthcurno, The Minack Theatre is a must-see attraction when visiting Cornwall – the scenery alone makes it worth a visit, and provides a stunning backdrop to every performance (of which there are many!). Particularly lovely when there’s a full moon, this world famous open-air theatre is open year-round. Visit during the day to just enjoy the scenery and stunning architecture, or book in for a performance in the evening; you won’t be disappointed. Live music, family-friendly shows and epic plays, you’ve got loads of choice for your performance under the stars.

For those visiting for a show, we heartily recommend packing some nice warm clothes as, even in the summer months, this clifftop wonder can get chilly when the sun goes down. Jumpers are great for on top and blankets and cushions add an extra bit of comfort underneath during the performance. You can also bring a tasty picnic to enjoy as you watch the sun set, or you can pick up some fresh treats from the café on-site.

The Acorn Penzance

Looking up at the impressive granite exterior of The Acorn theatre in Penzance

Parade St, Penzance TR18 4BU

For over 40 years, the Acorn has programmed a broad mix of live music, theatre, comedy, story-telling and spoken word, kids’ shows, dance, film and visual arts. From international tours to local school plays, performers and audiences alike find it a warm and welcoming venue, with excellent facilities. Located in the heart of Penzance, they also host charity fundraising events, classes, workshops, meetings, markets, private parties and wedding receptions - is there anything they don’t do!

A former Wesleyan Methodist chapel, which has seen several incarnations since becoming a community arts centre, these days the main auditorium seats 170 or 220 standing, while the smaller basement bar/theatre has an 80 seat capacity, both of which are available to hire to individuals and groups. A registered charity, the Acorn operates through the generous input of volunteers. 

Fully wheelchair accessible and with an induction loop, they’re well known for their inclusive policies and friendly bar staff who make everyone feel at home - and for some events even provide delicious light meals and cakes. You can always pop into the hubbub of Penzance before or after your show as well to make the most of the many great eateries on offer.

St Ives Arts Club

Musicians Tir ha Tavas before performing at the St Ives Arts Club in St Ives

Westcotts Quay, St Ives TR26 2DY

This unique establishment is a members club for visual artists, performing artists and anybody with an interest in the arts. Founded over 100 years ago with spectacular views over St Ives Bay, just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque harbour and Porthminster beach, it was originally a social venue where members could meet and paint communally – a tradition that is carried on to this day. It also hosts a variety of events, exhibitions, theatrical productions, comedy evenings, music and film shows.

There’s a fully equipped theatre with stage, changing room and auditorium upstairs, and a large club room with kitchen bar and exhibition space downstairs. A festival hub during both May’s literature and arts festival, and the town’s main September festival, why not come and hang out where the beatniks once did. Often off-the-wall and avant-garde, their am-dram productions are legendary, and you may well rub shoulders with some of Cornwall’s leading lights in the Arts world. Take a stroll to one of the many art galleries nearby after the show and really make the most of Cornwall’s creative capital when visiting St Ives.

The Tolmen Centre

One of the many fantastic performances at The Tolmen Centre

Fore St, Constantine, Falmouth TR11 5AA

At the heart of village life, The Tolmen Centre in Constantine has a loyal and thriving audience who are treated to an outstanding and varied arts programme throughout the year. A not-for-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers, by and for their community, managers Charlie and Barbara Pugh aren’t afraid of taking risks when it comes to booking shows, resulting in one of the most ambitious programmes anywhere in the South West. From quirky Edinburgh Festival Fringe performances, to five star review London shows, and multi award-winning musicians, it’s all impressively good stuff you wouldn’t expect to see out in the sticks, and well worth the trek.

They also support new and developing work, offering rehearsal space and residencies to some of Cornwall’s most exciting theatre and dance companies. Subject to availability they are happy to allow the venue to be used by all groups – amateur and professional – with charges being kept to a minimum to encourage this.

Used by the village’s community choir, a toddler’s group, pilates and yoga classes, it’s also home to the fascinating Constantine Museum and a popular café serving home-cooked food at affordable prices. Open when there’s an ‘event’ or film (please call to book) there’s also a licensed bar, all profits going towards the development and upkeep of the Centre.

The Poly

Looking up the red seating at The Poly in Falmouth

24 Church St, Falmouth TR11 3EG

The Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society, or The Poly, is a cultural, historical and scientific hub right in the heart of Falmouth. Their mission: to promote innovation in the arts and sciences, with particular focus on the county of Cornwall. Founded by the Fox sisters in 1883, and aiming to improve economic growth through the ‘…inventive powers of the young’, the Poly played a key role in the development of the pneumatic drill, Cornish Man Engine, microscopes and uses of nitro-glycerine.

These days it remains a focal point for scientific talks and discussions as well as being home to several societies. It also offers a diverse programme of comedy, theatre, dance, films, music, workshops and exhibitions. With a world class university on its doorstep, Falmouth’s student culture brings with it a real sense of excitement and edginess, which is reflected in The Poly’s ethos. Maintaining their drive for dynamism, this ground-breaking Cornish institution is sure to deliver a top night out for those looking for something memorable to do in Falmouth - especially when you pair your visit with a trip to one of the town’s vibrant pubs and bars.

Carn to Cove

One of the outdoor performance by Carn to Cove

Cornwall’s performing arts scheme for rural communities, Carn to Cove fills community halls with poetry, laughter, music, drama, stories and dancing. Local people get to choose the shows they want to see and hear in the places they live, with events then subsidised by the scheme, ensuring ticket prices are kept low despite the high calibre of the touring performers. But you don’t have to be a villager to come along – everyone is welcome. And as a visitor it’s a joy to join in the local community for an evening. Homemade refreshments and raffles are an integral part of the experience, with the success of Carn to Cove down to the commitment and enthusiasm of volunteer promoters around the county.

To find out what’s on and where, visit the C2C website. Offering two seasons per year – autumn (Oct-Dec) and spring (Feb-June) tickets can be booked online or by calling the local hall directly as indicated on the calendar listing. Or you can just take a punt and turn up, but be warned as shows tend to be very well attended.

Hall for Cornwall

Dancers on stage at the Hall for Cornwall performing The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Back Quay, Truro TR1 2LL

Big, beautiful and recently revamped, the Hall for Cornwall is the place to be for those wanting an epic show. Housing national and international performers throughout the year, the rolling events list at Truro’s premier theatre has to be seen to be believed. Whether you want to sit on the edge of your seat as you get absorbed by the latest and greatest play or you want to fall off it with laughter as you enjoy one of the many visiting comedians, there’s something for everyone in this programme of events. Independent and charity-run, the Hall for Cornwall attracts international greats regularly, bringing music, ballet and jaw-dropping shows to Cornwall’s stage. You can also find film festivals bringing fascinating topics to life in front of your very eyes.

There are varying tiers of seats (both literally and metaphorically) ensuring there’s a ticket price to suit every pocket. A well-stocked bar and café ensure all your refreshment needs are catered for, and Truro’s melting pot of restaurants, pubs and bars is always on your doorstep if your taste buds fancy something in particular. You’ll find Hooked! Restaurant, one of Cornwall’s top seafood restaurants with an AA Rosette to boot, just around the corner if you want to pair locally caught fish with your international show.

Ready to tour Cornwall’s excellent theatrical venues? Browse our collection of welcoming holiday cottages and find the perfect base for your artistic explorations.

Where to find them:

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