The Hobbit comes to Lancaster’s Williamson Park this summer

Russell Richardson will play Gandalf in The Dukes outdoor walkabout version of The Hobbit in Lancaster's Williamson 'Park
Russell Richardson will play Gandalf in The Dukes outdoor walkabout version of The Hobbit in Lancaster's Williamson 'Park
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The Hobbit will be taking a dramatic and epic journey across Lancaster parkland this summer.

Tolkien’s fantastical adventure, which celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2017, will be performed outdoors in the UK’s biggest walkabout theatre season from July 5-August 13.

The scene will be set for a rare theatrical experience presented by the Dukes theatre which has a tradition of memorable outdoor productions for all the family, attracting more than 500,000 people since 1987.

With every show, the audience follows the action by moving from one location to another in Lancaster’s Williamson Park and former shows have transformed the park into Neverland, Oz, Ancient Greece and now Middle Earth.

Bilbo, the dwarves and Gandalf will take the audience on a journey through the woods and along parkland pathways which will become enchanted forests and misty mountains filled with strange and wonderful creatures.

“I feel like the park chose The Hobbit,” said artistic director Joe Sumsion. “There are some shows – and this is one of them – where people’s instant reaction is to say that will be great in the park. It’s the natural environment for it.

“The strongest elements in the book are its humour and charm. We plan to capture this, offering an intimate experience where the audience can get really close to all these fascinating characters and creatures.”

It is thought Tolkien was inspired by the Lancashire countryside to write his books, having visited during World War Two when his son was studying for the priesthood at a seminary which is now part of Stonyhurst College.

Tolkien taught some lessons there and is believed to have worked on The Lord of the Rings, the follow-up to The Hobbit, while staying at Stonyhurst which now has a library named after him.

Many years later, the blockbuster films adapted from his books starred Andy Serkis as Gollum who began his professional career at The Dukes 30 years ago and appeared in its first outdoor production.

There’s a ‘Meet the Makers’ free ticketed event in the theatre on June 9 and to book tickets for The Hobbit (recommended for anyone aged five plus) ring The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or visit They are £18.50-£24 for adults and £14.50-£20 concessions and £12-£14 for children.