Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Drama of the Minack Theatre

One of the places we were looking forward to visiting on our Cornish holiday this year is the absolutely wonderful Minack Theatre. The Minack is an open air theatre carved into the granite cliffs of Porthcurno in Cornwall, with breathtakingly stunning views of the Atlantic ocean. And to complement its gorgeous views are its equally gorgeous succulent garden with many exotic plants thriving in the exposed yet mild coastal location.

Have I mentioned enough positive adjectives already regarding this theatre? I don't think so, for this place truly deserves all the wonderful words you can throw at it. 

We have visited several times before and the excitement of seeing this place again never diminishes. Whether our visit may be on a sunny and warm day, or a cool and damp one the beauty of this place, just like my personal sense of excitement doesn't diminish either. A truly special, world famous place and so I'll let the photos do most of the talking!

The opera that was on that night, Cavalleria Rusticana sounded really appealing so we decided to buy tickets. The planting in front of the ticket office was fantastic and is just a preview of even better things to come as you towards the theatre itself.

Even the views at the car park are stunning!
Walking towards the main theatre, you can see beautiful things ahead...
There is a garden just before you enter the theatre itself and is planted with various succulents and other wind tolerant exotic plants. Because of its mild location (and in this case exposure helps as frosts are very rare on coastal areas) there are several half hardy exotics thriving in the garden, the most notable of which is the silver tree, Leucadendron argenteum.

Leucadendron argenteum

A Yucca filifera in the middle with several Echiums in bloom
Nolina longifolia

The theatre was planned, built, and created by Rowena Cade. An inspirational woman who was determined to realise her vision of a wonderful theatre, even if she had to do most of the hard work herself

Seats carved with names of previous productions held at the theatre

As you enter the theatre, and from the top part you are greeted by the sheer majesty of the place...

And the planting within the theatre itself is wonderful, especially if you are into succulents, with plenty of Agaves, Aloes, and Aeoniums thriving in the sunny, mild, and (very) well drained planting beds.

Agave pedunculifera

Scilla peruviana
They have some new plantings too...

And a charming little plant sales area (or cupboard more like it!)...

And if you're not into plants, you can't help but admire the stunning views from the theatre...

In the afternoon there were rehearsals going on for the show later in the evening...

With such stunning backdrop, you don't need an elaborate stage set...
And come evening we were treated to a fantastic performance by the New Cornwall Opera of the opera Cavalleria Rusticana...

We were there all afternoon and well into the evening until the end of the performance. A truly magical place that we would never tire of visiting over and over again. And if you are ever down in Cornwall and have never been, then I'd say it's a must to visit this place!

Great views, great garden, great theatre!
Mark :-)


  1. What a fabulous place. The views are breathtaking and the cliffs are beautiful with the stone being so colored. The gardens are fantastic, that Silver Tree is gorgeous. No way you could take it all in, you would have to visit many times and still see more each time you went.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. All that beauty AND opera. It's breath-taking - an amazing place.

  3. Wow, those plants, that die for. How were the acoustics?

  4. One of my favourite places. My step mother owns one of the houses up on the cliff nearby and I used to go into the auditorium alone at night and watch the moon over the sea. A really magical place - and the echiums have inspired me though I doubt mine will put on such a show. Dave

  5. It is a fabulous place Cher, and yes multiple visits highly recommended as there's so much beauty to take in!

    Missy, it is breathtaking on many angles. Even in misty and grey days the place looks fantastic and just adds to the atmosphere :)

    Hi Loree, the plants and views are fantastic aren't they? The acoustics were great, I think it was something the creator noticed, that the area is a naturally good place for acoustics and all. Performances are rarely cancelled too unless the weather is really bad.

    Hi David, you're lucky to have a close relative living in the area and to be able to visit the auditorium in the night, it must be wonderful being there alone on a clear night. Echiums are still worth persevering though, you might get lucky!

  6. OMG, my heart almost stopped when I saw this post. Porthcurno was my absolute favorite spot on our Cornwall trip a few years ago. I did not want to leave. Your post brings back lots of great memories. Thank you for that. I could SOOOO live there!

  7. Hi Gerhard, glad you enjoyed it. The Minack really is a special place to visit!

  8. It's less than 2 hours away for me but I've never visited. I tried once - and got lost in the lanes coming from Land's End. Ironic really as one of my old clients was the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum and I found that OK. Definately time for another trip, methinks.

  9. I love the Minack, your photos do it proud. Weather is perfect for your trip - good timing!

  10. Hi John, the roads that lead to the theatre are narrow and winding so it's easy enough to get lost and not spot the right way there. Definitely worth trying visiting soon, you'd love it :)

    Thanks Martin! Glad the weather was superb when we visited, perfect timing :)

  11. @Trainer John - if you can find the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum you just have to carry on along the same road past the Cable Station Inn and Beach Cafe, up the (steep) hill and once you've gone round the hairpin bend, it's the first turning on the left with a green and yellow sign saying "Minack Theatre Entrance" - can't miss it! You then just follow that road along and to the right into the car park. I've just got back from my 5th show there and we've had all 4 seasons in 6 days - As the old adage goes, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!

  12. Definitely the best summer retreat in the United Kingdom!

  13. Breathtaking views (seem to look good from every angle), plants to drool at and plant for sale, plus a show. I can definitely understand why you would get all excited about a visit.
    Just out of curiosity, how does the opera handle the acoustics of an open air theatre?

  14. Aurehsalla - SatNav helps too! The Minack is a place to wrap up warm at night as it can get cool next to the sea.

    Aparaajit - It really is something different, and well worth including on any visit to Cornwall.

    Bom - glad you liked it. In terms of acoustics they were not bad considering, with extra speakers etc to amplify everything. We had fairly good seats so had no trouble. Not sure what the sound is like if you are near the top of the cliffs though.

  15. The photos you have taken of our wonderful and magical theatre in Cornwall are truly fantastic and thank you from all of us at New Cornwall Opera we all really look forward to playing at the Minack and has a special place in our hearts.
    Bruce Cross

  16. Hi Bruce, I'm pleased you enjoyed the photos, we really enjoyed the performance, although not our first visit to the Minack, we had not seen a show there before.

  17. I think that was the theatre that featured in Coast and I thought what a great setting for a play or the opera. The plants down that way are stunning especially the agave and the echiums. Great post.

  18. Hi Janet, glad you enjoyed our visit :)

  19. This is a very beautiful place you have visited. The views are breathtaking. I love the silver tree.

  20. Autumn Belle, the views are fantastic. They are lucky with their position that the Silver Trees do well for them.


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