Canterbury Shakespeare Festival

Tickets available here

"Good luck with the festival. My first Shakespeare play was 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in the woods below Eliot College. I was Bottom and Princess Anne supplied the donkey. Very best of luck."
Tom Wilkinson, 2015
Alumnus of the University of Kent

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Festival Sponsors and Patrons

This year the Festival has enjoyed its highest level of sponsor support, both in terms of the number of sponsors we have, and the funding we’ve received. Without this support we could not run the Festival, and so we want to thank and acknowledge all of the people and organisations who have backed us over the years, including:

Canterbury Connected BID, whose mission is to make Canterbury a vibrant, exciting, well connected and successful business community, and an attractive, clean, green, safe and enjoyable destination for everyone. Canterbury Connected BID are sponsoring our Activity Day on 12th August.

Canterbury Arts Council, a long term sponsor of the Festival, who support the presentation of public concerts, recitals, dramatic performances, art exhibitions, lectures, arts festivals and other arts events in the Canterbury district.

Tarvos Wealth, who specialise in providing independent Financial Planning advice, and work with the clients of solicitor and accountants as well as directly with individuals and businesses. Tarvos Wealth are sponsoring our production of Romeo and Juliet.

The Pound Bar and Kitchen, which sits within Canterbury's atmospheric former City Gaol & Police Station. It’s a perfect setting for spending time with family & friends in a relaxed and vibrant setting. The Pound Bar and Kitchen are sponsoring our production of Antony and Cleopatra.

The Canterbury Tales is an attraction in the centre of Canterbury, celebrating the life and work of Geoffrey Chaucer. The ‘Tales’ have been a long-standing friend and supporter of the Canterbury Shakespeare Festival, and we acknowledge that support with gratitude here.

Westgate Hall, has been a dynamic community space within Canterbury’s city walls for over a century, and has hosted a number of Festival events, including our production of Julius Caesar when our outdoor venue was flooded in 2017.

We are also grateful to the following individuals who have supported us financially over the years as the Festival has grown:

  • Rita Hayes

  • Ruth Chamberlain

  • Paloma Valcarce

  • Jane Chamberlain

The Vision of the Festival

Canterbury has long been associated with one of England’s finest literary talents. We rightly celebrate the fact that the characters from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales finish their pilgrimage here in the city.

But we believe that there is room to celebrate another of England's literary sons here in the city. Writing some two hundred years after Chaucer, William Shakespeare produced work which expresses the human condition in the most profound way. His plays still speak to us four hundred years after his death.

This leaves us with the challenge of where to stage our plays. Looking around the city, we are constantly reminded of Canterbury’s literary and ecclesiastical connections, but there is also a great deal of natural beauty here. Ours is a city full of green spaces as well as history.

Taking these factors together, it seems right to honour both the bard and the beauty of our city, by staging some of his works outside in the open air. This vision is the driving force behind the Canterbury Shakespeare Festival, which will continue this year in July and August after the huge success of our two shows last year Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In fact, last year was so successful that this year we have doubled the number of productions that will be produced.

Come and join us as we celebrate Shakespeare in the open spaces of our city this summer.


Benjamin J Chamberlain

Festival Director
Canterbury Shakespeare Festival


Festival Patrons
Rita Hayes
Paloma Valcarce
Canterbury Connected BID
Canterbury Arts Council

Community Engagement

Canterbury Shakespeare Festival doesn’t just offer a summer programme of high quality performances. We are also committed to providing a range of other opportunities, through which the community can get involved with and learn about ours and the Bard’s work. We believe that in doing so; we can help foster a shared love of and enthusiasm for one of the most historically significant, and profoundly talented literary figures to emerge from this part of the world in the last four (just over, in fact) centuries. His influence doesn’t stop just south of the Thames!

Although our previous efforts have mostly been in school outreach, we are eager to work with a number of community partners to create exciting events in and around Canterbury. If you would like to know more, or discuss the possibility of working with us, please get in touch at and we’ll see what we can do.


Tickets available here!

Romeo and Juliet



There are no pre-booked tickets for Romeo and Juliet. It is a free show, although we traditionally collect donations at the end of our free productions. We have over 100 capacity for each show, and there will be seating for most of these places - however if you have your own chairs please do bring them, thank you.

This show is sponsored by Tarvos Wealth.

Whether you are a professional advisor, an individual or a business, at Tarvos Wealth we have the experience and skills to provide you with the financial planning solutions to meet your needs.


Dane John Gardens
Westgate Hall


100 +

Show Times

Dane John Gardens
Friday 27th July - 7.30pm
Saturday 28th July - 2pm and 7.30pm
Sunday 5th August 2pm and 7.30pm
Sunday 19th August 2pm and 7.30pm
Westgate Hall
Sunday 29th July - 7.30pm


“Is love a tender thing?” Romeo and Juliet; the classic coming of age tale, exploring rebellion, innocence and the relevance of tradition. Shakespeare’s famous love story is reimagined with a 1950s twist. Over ten years since the end of World War Two, two families continue to feud over the past whilst the new generation of teenagers hope the future, paving the way for trouble and tragedy. The production will incorporate music from the time, telling the story of these two star crossed lovers surrounded by the beauty of Dame John’s Gardens.

Much Ado About Nothing


Show Times

Thursday 2nd August – 7.30pm
Friday 3rd August – 7.30pm
Saturday 4th August – 2pm and 7.30pm


Tyler Hill House, 13 Calais Hill, Tyler Hill, Canterbury CT2 9LT


Full Price: £12.00
Concessions (Student, Child, Senior (60+), Disabled): £8.00
Group Ticket: £7.50
Under 5s and Carers Free




Sun. Fun. Badminton. Barbecues. Old Friends. Young Lovers. Join us for a party in Don Leonato’s garden as Beatrice and Benedick war at wits, Hero and Claudio fall madly in love, and the spurned Don John plots to plague them all. The sun is bright, tensions are high, and it’s not always clear who is doing what. Or whom. A vibrant, playful and modern production of Shakespeare’s hilarious comedy performed in a real garden.

Antony and Cleopatra


Canterbury Shakespeare Festival’s production of Antony and Cleopatra is sponsored by The Pound, home to a unique collection of experiences set within England’s largest surviving medieval gateway, and Canterbury’s former city jail and police station.


Greyfriars Garden, 72 Stour St, Canterbury CT1 2NQ

Show Times

Thursday 9th August – 7.30pm
Friday 10th August – 7.30pm
Saturday 11th August – 2pm and 7.30pm


Full Price: £12.00
Concessions (Student, Child, Senior (60+), Disabled): £8.00
Group Ticket: £7.50
Under 5s and Carers Free


Antony and Cleopatra is one of history's greatest and most tragic love stories. This year CSF takes that story and places it in the glitz and glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood, but with that edge of seedy darkness that the time revelled in.



The Tempest


Show Times

Thursday 16th August – 7.30pm
Friday 17th August – 7.30pm
Saturday 18th August – 2pm and 7.30pm


Eliot College, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NS


Full Price: £12.00
Concessions (Student, Child, Senior (60+), Disabled): £8.00
Group Ticket: £7.50
Under 5s and Carers Free




Shakespeare's fantastical problem play, surrounded by sea shanties, sprits and salt spray. A fun, magical romp orchestrated by a cranky old wizard, this shipwreck is sure to make waves this summer!

Bard to the Future


Show Times

Canterbury Tales
Wednesday 8th August – 7.30pm
Sunday 12th August – 7.30pm
Wednesday 15th August - 7.30pm


All tickets £5.00
Under 5s and Carers Free


The Canterbury Tales:
St Margaret’s Street, Canterbury, CT1 2TG
Capacity: 50


In keeping with our usual tradition we like to present the best experimental work and so this year we present 'Bard to the Future'. William Shakespeare is the most famous playwright in history, at least he was! When Shakespeare’s timeline is altered by a malevolent time traveller out to erase his legacy he finds himself unwittingly thrown into an adventure spanning centuries! Join us as Shakespeare travels to the future and fixes his timeline before history forgets him altogether, battling overprotective parents, true love and writers block along the way! If you love Back to the future, Shakespeare and high concept nonsense then this is will be your idea of a good TIME. Recommended for Age: 13+

2015 Productions

A Midsummer Night's Dream

"Lord, what fools these mortals be... "
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3.2


Shakespeare weaved three interconnecting plots together to give us the heady mix that is A Midsummer Night's Dream. The bard effortlessly throws together commoners and aristocracy, lovers unrequited and comic, and the worlds of men and faeries. A delightful entertainment for a summer evening.

Romeo and Juliet

"Some consequence yet hanging in the stars shall bitterly begin his fearful date with this night's revels... "
Romeo and Juliet, 1.4


If there's ever a Shakespeare play that gets under the radar and strikes us in the heart, it must surely be his early romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. This poignant, tragic tale of star-crossed lovers is ia potent mix of politics, testosterone, and beautiful, doomed love.

2016 Productions

As You Like It

“All the world’s a stage…”
As You Like It, 2.7


Exiled from her home, Rosalind escapes with her cousin to the Forest of Arden, only to find the man she loves there as well. Coincidently, she is disguised as a man. Featuring a melancholic lord, a knowing fool, a deposed duke, a love-sick shepherd and a flock of sheep, As You Like It explores love, gender and freedom in all its complexities.


“Something wicked this way comes.”
Macbeth, 4.1


Ambition, greed and history combine to make this production of Shakespeare’s ‘unspeakable’ Scottish play a night of unmissable tragedy. Set within the grounds of the historic Norman Castle in the centre of Canterbury, witness the bloodthirsty Macbeth's as their unending search for glory sets them on a path of self-destruction.

The Merchant Of Venice

“If you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
The Merchant of Venice, 3.1


A production of Shakespeare's black comedy, involving a reneged deal with possibly fatal consequences, a sympathetic villain who may not be all he seems, a pound of flesh that has to come from somewhere and a few love stories (some comic, some tragic, all romantic).

Twelfth Night

“If music be the food of love, play on.”
Twelfth Night, 1.1


One of Shakespeare’s most well-known comedies, exploring the pain of unrequited love, satire and mistaken identity, all highlighted by beautiful verse and songs. It follows the journey of Viola, who has been shipwrecked and separated from her brother, as she meets a love-sick duke, mourning lady, scheming drunk, vain pedant, musical fool and cunning maid.




Please note, you will have to bring proof of eligibility with you to the performances. Concession tickets are available to those under 18 years of age, students, senior citizens, unemployed and those who are registered disabled.



There is no reserved seating available for any of the Festival’s performances. There will be a limited number of chairs at each venue, made available on a first come, first served basis. If you or one of your party has particular need of a chair, please email ahead or let one of the stewards know as soon as you arrive.

We invite audiences to bring their own blankets and picnic/camping chairs, in addition to food and drink to enjoy throughout the performances, in order to fully take advantage of the alfresco theatre experience. Please remember to dispose of any rubbish responsibly, and bring appropriate clothing for an outdoor event.

Due to the outdoor nature of the festival we advise audience to bring umbrellas, raincoats, bottled water and sun cream. We often at the mercy of the weather so we advise everyone to come prepared.

Wet Weather Policy:
If we have to cancel a performance because of bad weather, your tickets will be valid at any of our other performances. We will endeavor to advise by email all those who have bought a ticket for a production if, for whatever reason, it needs to be cancelled or rearranged. If you have bought a ticket and the weather forecast is not good please check your inbox, and spam folder, for any message from us. We may move a performance to another location if the weather is bad, and if we do we will advise you of this.

We kindly request that no reviews be written or published without the Festival's consent. This is in respect of the commitment and hard work of all those involved in the Festival, which is entirely voluntary.

Audiences are advised to arrive no later than 10 minutes before a performance (7.20pm for evening performances, for a 7:30pm start; 1:50pm for matinees, for a 2:00pm start), to find suitable seating and settle in before the shows. This also gives you time to purchase any food or drink that you may want before the show begins.
Yes, in fact it is encouraged! However, please remember to dispose of any rubbish responsibly.
A parental advisory warning will be attached to any performance that has content which may be considered inappropriate for young children. However, at Canterbury Shakespeare Festival we actively encourage the participation of children and young people in the full scope of what Shakespeare and theatre in general have to offer, so although measures will be taken to ensure that all of the performances will be inclusive events in the greatest possible respect, we cannot guarantee that everything on offer will be to everybody’s tastes. What we hope, though, is that each performance will be a memorable and deeply enjoyable experience.
In short: children of all ages are happily welcomed to our performances!
Each production will last no longer than 2 and a half hours including interval.
We kindly ask that audiences refrain from using cameras, camera phones and other recording equipment during the performances.
In the event that the limited seating provided by the Festival does not suffice, the use of folding garden chairs or camping stools is permitted.
Some venues have toilets at them, whilst others have toilets at a local business near to the venue. These will be explained prior to the performance
All our shows should be accessible via wheelchair though we will require you to email us in advance explaining your needs, this is so we can make sure everything is in place for your arrival