Minack Theatre

Image courtesy of Kat Louise

In Brief

Type: Major arts and stage attraction
Suitable for: Theatregoers
Address: Off The Valley, Porthcurno
Price: Vary depending on the show. Check their website
Dog friendly?: Yes for a visit, but no during a show

A Shakespearian tragedy acted out with passion inside a glorious olde-worlde theatre blows us away. An opera or ballet in one of the world’s great performance houses blows us away. A musical with a hundred-strong cast bursting with energy on a West End stage blows us away. But nothing blows us away like watching a performance at Cornwall’s Minack Theatre. This is mindblowing drama at its most spectacular, whatever the show.

Minack Theatre has to be one of Cornwall’s greatest attractions. The shows can be world-class and all about the drama but even before you get to them, this open-air arena – which looks like it could have been built by the Greeks or the Romans thousands of years ago – is all about the drama as it’s cut into the granite and is perched on sheer rugged cliffs at the edge of Porthcurno right out on the westernmost tip of the county. The spectacular coastline and ocean views create a backdrop like no other to this unique amphitheatre.

The story behind Minack – which literally means ‘a rocky place’ in Cornish – is as awe-inspiring as the attraction itself. The late Rowena Cade, who bought the headland spot for £100 in the 1920s, created the theatre not just through artistic endeavour and planning but through hard work and the use of her own hands, as well as the able hands of her enthusiastic team. Cade also built Minack House, which can still be seen at the top of the cliffs on the approach to the arena. All this happened simply because a theatre company wanted her to help the crew stage ‘The Tempest’ and she offered up the cliff garden, leading her to making one of the most spectacular stage and seating areas ever.

More than 200 live performances a year are staged at Minack, give or take a pandemic. Plays, opera, music concerts, musicals – you name it, some of the best companies, performances and bands have played the venue. Watching shows under the stars on the cliff-edge next to Porthcurno Beach is an unmatched experience for all theatregoers. For casual visitors, there is an exhibition centre devoted to Cade before you take in that theatre. The glorious subtropical gardens are also a massive draw, as is the café on the site.

Flicking through Minack’s website to look for what shows are coming up is obviously a must if you want to catch a performance but it’s still worth visiting the attraction even if a show isn’t on so you can pop into the exhibition centre and see this glorious, unrivalled theatre spot for yourself. Advanced booking is essential for all visits, though, not just for the shows. Create your own panoramic drama on the sheer edge of Cornwall.