The Malvern Theatres is a respected centre for the arts in the UK. Bernard Shaw and Barrry Jackson founded the Malvern Festivals back in 1929, and the Malvern Festival Theatre has since been refurbished enabling it to host drama, dance, comedy, theatre and cinema. As such, it has a full programme of events throughout the year and attracts many acclaimed shows as they tour the UK. Events from the Malvern Theatres as well as other places in Malvern can also be found here.
The Theatre was originally built in 1884/5 as Malvern Assembly Rooms. It was a time when much of the water cure popularity was wearing off. However, by then, many important people had bought land and moved to Malvern and there was a need for large public premises, especially in the winter. Much of the building was made from glass like a green house and many plants were grown inside. This gave it the name of Winter Gardens, by which the whole theatre complex is now known. It included the theatre and the entire park. For over 40 years people enjoyed concerts, dances, political gatherings, lectures and all sorts of other entertainment here.
In 1927 Malvern Urban District Council bought the Assembly Rooms and 1929 saw the first of the Malvern Festivals, after which the theatre is named. The venue would show plays by playwright George Bernard Shaw and music by Edward Elgar which would help to put the theatre into the forefront for potential performances.
During the early 1960’s the venue saw a vast collection of artists perform with the likes of Gene Vincent, Johnny Kid and the Pirates and the Hollies to name a few. There would also be performances by local bands in contests, with the fans and judges voting on the best acts. Due to new fire regulations to the venue, the capacity was lowered and the hire price was raised, leading to these contests coming to an end. By the second half of the 60’s, big promoters came and brought bigger names to perform, with The Who, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Yes, all performing at the Winter Gardens.
Throughout the 70’s a large number of high-profile bands were performing, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, The Undertones and Motorhead all appeared in Malvern. Many of the artists during the 70’s was brought in by Cherry Red Promotions, established by Iain McNay, Richard Jones and Will Atkinson with the intention to promote bands at Malvern Winter Gardens. This went on until 1981, when they eventually decided to pursue other paths by forming their own record labels. Meanwhile, the bands and their prices had become too big and the Winter Garden was now too small to accommodate them. This led to less performances throughout the 80’s and in 1998 the theatre was refurbished into the Forum Theatre that it is today.