About the Open Air Theatre

In Debrecen, Hungary, the original Nagyerdei Open Air Theatre was built among huge pinewoods and oaktrees in Debrecen’s most beautiful ‘Nagyerdő’ (Great Forest) area back in 1950. At its opening ceremony on 10 June 1950, world-renowned Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály’s popular 1932 singspiel called Székelyfonó (The Spinning Room) was presented in a monumental performance directed by Imre Csenki and featuring a set design by famous Hungarian painter József Menyhárt that also included the iconic Szekler gate. Mr. Zoltán Kodály himself also honoured the city of Debrecen by attending this legendary performance.

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the Nagyerdei Open Air Theatre became an elemental force within Debrecen’s cultural life, entertaining many generations all the way till the new millenium. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the 2000s, the general condition of the Theatre was failed terribly, and thus it needed to be closed permanently. However, its unforgettable performances were destined to be kept in the hearts of the citizens, and it was obvious that the Theatre deserves a proper renovation.

No question, the local government was about to keep a good eye on conditional issues, and a major government support of 2 billion Hungarian forints was ready to be spent on the recovery and expansion of the Nagyerdő area, which also included the full renovation of the Theatre. The newly rebuilt 1,017-capacity, state-of-the-art Nagyerdei Open Air Theatre opened its gates in June 2014, which is currently one of the largest purpose-built open air theatres in Hungary. Since its renovation, various programmes (street theatre, concerts, family events) can now also be organised at the Theatre’s brand-new 500-capacity Event Space which is situated in front of the Theatre’s main gates, on the shore of the Békás-tó (Frog’s Lake). Having thus regained the sparkling spirit of its glory days, the Theatre – which is currently being programmed and managed by Debrecen City Council’s Főnix Rendezvényszervező Közhasznú Nonprofit Kft. – is once again back on track and providing entertainment on the highest level.

The place to meet again

Each year, the summer season of the Nagyerdei Open Air Theatre (1 May – 30 September) offers over 40 programmes, including a wide range of large-scale theatre and dance performances, classical, pop and rock concerts, as well as family events and open-air cinema screenings to both locals and visitors of Debrecen. In addition to these, the Theatre occasionally also acts as host to a number of local, national and international festival events, including the Béla Bartók International Choir Competition and Folklore Festival, International Festival of Military Bands, Debrecen Wine Carnival and the Debrecen Flower Carnival.

For the Theatre’s upcoming shows and events, please check out our website’s What’s On section.

Delve into the unforgettable programmes of the Nagyerdei Open Air Theatre; we very much look forward to welcoming You at one of Debrecen’s best-loved outdoor venues.

The Csokonai Theater