Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre Open Day Returns for 2023

Bournemouth Pavilion, the town’s Grade II listed Art Deco theatre and ballroom, is hosting a free-to-attend open day, on Sunday 19 March, the day the theatre officially opened nearly 100 years ago in 1929.

Bournemouth’s Pavilion Theatre will be welcoming members of the local community with a free-to-attend open day on Sunday 19 March 2023 between 10am and 5pm. Celebrating the magic of theatre, music, and film, the open day will give a revealing look inside the life and times of this iconic theatre.

The open day is organised BH LIVE, the registered charity which runs the venue in partnership with BCP Council.

Councillor Beverley Dunlop, BCP Council’s Portfolio Holder for Tourism, Culture and Vibrant Places said: “The Pavilion is embedded in Bournemouth’s cultural identity, hosting a wealth of musicals, operas, ballets, pantomimes, comedy shows, gala dinners, banquets, receptions, fairs, dances and fashion shows throughout its illustrious history. It’s a wonderful opportunity for visitors to go behind the scenes and explore one of our most iconic landmark venues.’’

On behalf of BH Live, Steve Turner, Associate Director of Venues added: “We are honoured to be the custodians of such an important cultural venue and are delighted to be able to open the theatre doors and welcome in the community to participate in some of the fantastic culture we bring to the BCP region.” 


From 10-10.30am theatre music fans will have the opportunity to learn more about the venue’s resident Compton Organ. Dating back to the theatre’s official open day in 1929 the organ was built specifically for the theatre’s concert hall. It is now used by musicians who still perform monthly organ recitals. Acclaimed theatre organists Cameron Lloyd and Alec Walters, from Blackpool Opera House, will perform on the Compton Organ and Steinway Piano throughout the day – both the organ and the piano will be available on the stage to have a close look at throughout the day. 

For those who want to learn more about the theatre’s past, a number of guided tours (with limited capacity) will be run by local experts and members of the theatre’s team.  Visitors will be guided around the theatre, ballroom, on stage and behind the scenes with running anecdotal commentary about the theatre’s history. Visitors will be able to explore the building’s more intricate workings in the wings and watch backstage footage of areas not previously seen by the public. This includes original stage equipment from the 1930s, the fly floors and the stage loading gallery. *

Displays of archived programmes, photographs, and posters will line the East Corridor, this year sees an additional exhibition of historic memorabilia, posters, programmes and pictures from local theatres and cinemas including the Electric Theatre, Theatre Royal, Pier Theatre and Playhouse.  In addition, short film excerpts will be shown on 35mm vintage film – both the projector and the film will be on view in the Pavilion Circle area and children can enjoy a fun ‘Star Trail’ quiz taking them on a trail of discovery around the venue. 

The open day also includes a free-to-attend afternoon tea dance from 2-4.30pm. This will welcome beginners and more experienced dancers, to an assortment of Ballroom, Latin and popular dances live music will be provided by Cameron Lloyd and Alec Walters on keyboard. 

*Tours will be running at 10.30am 12noon, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Each tour is strictly limited to 20 spaces only and will be available on a first-come-first-served basis – visitors should ask at the main reception on the day to check availability. Each tour lasts approximately 1 hour and will be hosted by key members of the Pavilion team. Places will be limited, and some areas contain steep stairs.