Plymouth has got all of your entertainment needs covered with some of the best venues in the south-west. The Plymouth Pavilions alone have hosted some of the biggest names in music and comedy, while there’s a range of smaller options that help to showcase the talent breaking out of Plymouth’s theatre and dance scene. There’s also professional basketball, football and rugby union teams if you’re keen to see some sports action during your stay.
Entertainment in Plymouth
The Plymouth Pavilions is one of the biggest music venues in the south-west, boasting the best programme of bands and artists of any venue in Cornwall and Devon. From the Arctic Monkeys to Kylie Minogue or Radiohead to Björk, some stellar names have sold out its 4,000-capacity over the years, so be sure to take a look and see what’s on during your stay. But it’s also more than an iconic music stadium. As you can see from the page dedicated to the Plymouth Pavilions, even if there aren’t any gigs that take your fancy, it’s also the home of a professional basketball team, an ice rink and welcomes the cream of the crop when it comes to comedians.
Technically it’s a Thai noodle bar, but that doesn’t stop The B-Bar from making its way into our guide to music in Plymouth. Part of the Barbican Theatre, which you can find hidden down an alleyway opposite the Mayflower Steps Memorial, visit on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month to tuck into some delicious chicken pad Thai while enjoying ‘Café Acoustica’ – a fortnightly acoustic session for local artists. The B-Bar frequently hosts gigs from a wide range of genres; check out its website during your stay to see what’s on.
Our video guide to Plymouth entertainment
As the Barbican Theatre has already been mentioned, we may as well tell you a bit more about this wonderful venue. It set up shop in 1980, with founders who were determined to inspire young and old alike with challenging dance and theatre productions. The team behind the Barbican Theatre continues to take on exciting, unusual and oppressed topics in the belief that it’ll help Plymouth harbour a culture where its people and communities can be more open about their needs, opinions, and beliefs. The programme of dance, theatre and live performance helps to showcase the work of emerging local artists and companies. Famous in the south-west theatre scene, Le Navet Bete frequently performs at the Barbican Theatre with their hilarious renditions of familiar shows.
The largest theatre in town is the Theatre Royal Plymouth. You’ll find a wide range of productions across its two main performance spaces. The Lyric is a 1,320-capacity auditorium that brings in huge touring companies and West End musicals. Meanwhile, The Drum is a 175 seat studio that puts on smaller, often local, productions. It’s one of the creative hubs of the south west, so there’s an entire page dedicated to the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
Go west of the city centre towards the naval base and pay a visit to the Devonport Playhouse. The Plymouth Theatre Company bought it in 1987 and over the years has been transformed into a wonderful home for its highly regarded productions. Visiting companies of all genres are welcomed too, with past shows including Oliver!, Legally Blonde, Dr Dolittle and Goodnight Mr Tom.
New kid on the block, The House also deserves a quick mention. Part of Plymouth University’s campus, it’s hard to miss this stunning architecture just over the road from the City Museum & Art Gallery. Its state of the art 200 seat studio theatre continues to attract impressive bookings thanks to its diverse programme of contemporary performing arts.
If you’re looking for a laugh, some of the biggest and best comedians in the country perform at the Plymouth Pavilions. Whether it’s single night shows or week-long residencies, the Pavilions have attracted the likes of Russell Brand, Sarah Millican, Jason Manford, Michael McIntyre and Bill Bailey.
Local stand-up acts take to the stage at The B-Bar. Its comedy nights, run on the first Wednesday of every month, are popular and typically sell out. It may well be a Thai noodle bar, but the only thing that’ll give you bellyache here is the laughs. Speaking of unorthodox venues to get your ribs tickled, the Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre also hosts a hilarious comedy night on the first Friday of every month.
It’s not all that often you get to see a professional basketball game in the UK. So while you’re in The Ocean City, pay a visit to the Plymouth Raiders. The team plays their home games in the Plymouth Pavilions in front of a lively crowd, Foxy (their mascot), and their chirpy cheerleaders. Even if you only think of dribbling as something you do in your sleep and a three-pointer as a driving manoeuvre, it doesn’t matter; you don’t really need to know what’s going on to enjoy seeing the Raiders play.
If you’re a footy fan, you can see Plymouth Argyle FC play at Home Park. Nicknamed ‘The Pilgrims’, they proudly display the Mayflower ship on their crest, but sadly their traditions haven’t helped their fortunes – Plymouth is England’s largest city to have never hosted top-flight football, currently playing in League One after being promoted in the 2016/17 season. An adult’s ticket will set you back just over £20. Meanwhile, children under 12 are around a fiver.
Plymouth Albion RFC is the city’s rugby union club. Founded in 1876, they currently play in the third tier of English rugby at The Brickfields stadium. Adult tickets are just under £20 while standing tickets for children under the age of 16 are free, or around a fiver for a seat.