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Heritage Exhibition and Tours

The Grand Opera House has a rich and fascinating history dating back more than 125 years. If you want to know more about the famous entertainers who have appeared on our iconic stage, or the events that have left their mark on this beautiful Grade A listed building, our Theatre Tours and heritage exhibition are for you.

Theatre Tours

A guided tour of the Theatre, led by one of our Customer Experience Assistants, is the best way to hear the story of the Grand Opera House. Follow in the footsteps of Charlie Chaplin, Luciano Pavarotti and Darcey Bussell by walking out onto our famous stage; see what happens behind the scenes during a show, and explore the symbolism and meaning of the gods, elephants, stars and other stunning architectural features inside Frank Matcham’s 1895 auditorium.

Theatre Tours last for approximately 45 minutes, and take place Monday – Saturday from 6 July at 11.30, 13.00, 14.30 and 16.00. Tour participants will have exclusive access to the heritage exhibition for 30 minutes before their tour start time.

While Covid restrictions are in place, tours will be limited in number to allow for social distancing, and advance booking is essential. Face coverings are mandatory for tour guides and participants, and hand sanitiser will be readily available. The heritage exhibition and the route of the tour will be regularly cleaned, and anyone unable to attend a tour because of Covid symptoms, diagnosis, or close contact with someone else with Covid, can simply swap their booking for a tour on another date.

Tours cost £9.50 or £7 for under-16s and over 65s, and tickets can be purchased by clicking the button below.

The Heritage Exhibition

Completed in 2021 with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Grand Opera House Heritage Exhibition charts the history of the Theatre from its 1895 construction on the former site of Ginnett’s Circus, to the present day.

The exhibition begins in the stalls foyer with a gallery of some of the best-known performers to have appeared on the Grand Opera House stage. In the Grand Circle foyer you can learn about the life and work of the Theatre’s architect, Frank Matcham, and in the Grand Circle Bar you can see photos from some of the biggest shows to have visited in recent years.

The main part of the exhibition is in the Gods foyer, where a visual timeline and interactive touchscreens take you through the key dates and events in the Theatre’s history. Go ‘backstage’ to learn what happens behind the scenes, and join May McFettridge in her dressing room for gossip and acting tips.

While Covid restrictions are in place, access to the heritage exhibition will be limited to those with tickets for Theatre Tours. We hope to open the exhibition to everyone later in the year, subject to government guidance.

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