The birthplace of poet Philip Larkin and home to the first purpose-built civic theatre in the UK, the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry remains a city dedicated to the finer arts, with nearly half a dozen city centre theatres putting on everything from off-Broadway shows to seasonal pantomimes, youth productions and more!

Leading the theatrical charge is the Belgrade Theatre; built in 1958 as Britain’s first purpose-built civic theatre. With a capacity of 858 seats, it remains one of the largest production theatres in the UK and underwent an expansion in 2007, adding a second auditorium, rehearsal and exhibition spaces. With a diverse booking policy – everything from Desi comedy shows to pantomimes and westerns have shown in recent times – it’s the main artistic hub for the city. The Belgrade Theatre Café comes highly recommended, as does the afternoon tea, and you can eat and drink safe in the knowledge that, as a registered charity, every penny spent goes towards helping the theatre.

Reopened in 2013, Albany Theatre is another professional space boasting a stunning Art Deco interior dating back to the 19th century. A multi-purpose space, it hosts a mix of theatre, dance, music, comedy and film. Past guests feature an eclectic mix, including the likes of cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, off-Broadway musical Forever Dusty and a balletic interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And for City Centre (Earlsdon Park) Premier Inn customers, the theatre is literally on your doorstep, as the hotel shares an entrance with the theatre.

On a much smaller scale – but still just as professional – is the Criterion Theatre, a mile from the city centre. An intimate theatre with just 122 seats, it prides itself on set design and acting standards. Made up of 200 volunteers, the theatre puts on around ten shows a year, plus visits from other groups and performers. It has been running for over 60 years, powered by contributions from the local community – an impressive feat!

Taking things in a different direction entirely is Theatre Absolute. Operating since 1992, they throw high-concept ideas into the mix. They host their creative concepts at Shop Front Theatre – once a run down fish and chip shop but now a dedicated art and theatre space that has welcomed over 10,000 people since its launching in 2009. Endlessly inventive and passionate, it’s one of the most unique theatre spaces in the UK and is more than deserving of a visit.

Belgrade Theatre

Belgrade Theatre

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