Opera House

A brief history


Buxton is known to have had theatres from at least the 18th century.  The present Grade II listed building was designed by the famous theatre designer Frank Matcham and opened on the First of June, 1903.  It initially housed live performances, including touring Shakespeare, West End successes, ballet and comedy before becoming a cinema.

Both interior and exterior are iconic with decoration ranging from Baroque Revival in the auditorium to the Art Nouveau glasswork in the foyer and on the stairs.


The cantilever design for the Dress and Upper Circles mean no supporting pillars obstructing the view of the stage.  It seats just over 900.

The 1940’s saw the theatre decline and it was eventually closed in 1976.  It reopened in 1979, completely restored and with an orchestra pit added, finally allowing it to become a music venue.

Since then it has hosted the Buxton International Festival of Opera, Music and Literature and the Festival Fringe every July and a variety of other major events.


By 2001 it had again been restored to its original magnificence with the help of Heritage Lottery funding.


What it is used for now?


The Opera House presents 450 live performances each year, including drama, dance, comedy, children’s shows, concerts, pantomime and opera.  It also hosts the Fringe Theatre and runs community and education programmes.


Did you know?


The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended the 2005 Royal Gala at the Opera House the day before their engagement was announced.


Our visitor experience...

tells the stories of Buxton, The Crescent, its famous water and the many people who came to seek its cure. Click here to read more.

Our Premium Guided Tours set off in the morning, where you can dive deep into the rich history of our area aided by our warm and wonderful hosts.

For those who prefer to discover at their own pace, the Experience opens to Self-Guided visitors at 1pm.

Large group? Or a sensory tour during quiet times? Please contact us and we can help get that arranged.