In 1987 an open air stage was built in the plaza between Festival Park and the Grand Entrance to the Towers. The stage became the park’s sixth new performance venue since 1980, and was dedicated to bring music to the park, even having its own houseband, Red Sun.
Location: Festival Park
Opening Year: 1987
Closing Year: 1998
In 1988, Henry Hound bounded into the park taking over the stage to house his very own musical extravaganza, Henry’s Celebration. The distinctive dome, which became something of an icon in the park, was added for the 1989 season, when the park had realised that the Great British climate wasn’t ideal for a fully open air stage.
The Festival Park Dome, as the venue became known, carried on hosting Henry’s shows for nearly the whole duration of the hound’s time at the park, with Henry’s Festival Spectacular (1989), Henry’s Time Machine (1990-1990) and Henry Hound’s Super Sounds (1991-1992). In 1993 Super Sounds gave way to Music Mania, which was essentially the same show, only without featuring Henry Hound.
The final show to be performed in the Festival Park Dome was the Music Powerhouse, which ran from 1994 through to 1998, the last year the dome was used as a theatre venue. While shows ceased to be performed the dome remained as a redundant and yet dominating feature within Fountain Square for several years, until 2002 when it was converted into a restaurant, eventually becoming the Hogs Head Bar and Grill.
After nearly twenty years, the dome’s time at the park came to an end when it was eventually demolished at the start of 2007 to make way for a more permanent restaurant, Rita’s Chicken and Ribs.
When Henry Hound arrived at Alton Towers he was drawn to the Open Air Theatre like a moth to the flame. At the same time as starring in the Birthday Parade, he also appeared in his first show, Henry’s Celebration – a 30 minute long party to celebrate the park’s 60th Birthday.
Also during 1988, The Open Air Theatre played host to the magician, Martin Daniels in a show that ran alongside Henry’s Celebration. As well as performing tricks there were also cabaret elements to the show, with impressions by Kerry Wilson, as well as songs performed alongside a backing group. If the name sounds familiar, Martin Daniels is of course the son of Paul Daniels.
Henry’s Festival Spectacular
It was all change at the Open Air Theatre in 1989, with the distinctive dome being added resulting in a change in name. Whilst the building itself saw big changes the show remained rather familiar. However, as it was no longer a birthday year the name was renamed as Henry’s Festival Spectacular.
Henry’s Time Machine
In 1990, Henry and Henrietta took a trip through time in an all new show, Henry’s Time Machine. This all singing, all dancing adventure was sure to get guests tapping their feet along as the hounds and their friends went on an adventure through time to discover music from the past, present and future.
Henry’s Mega Mix
The next season saw The Count join in the musical adventures in the Festival Park Dome. Whilst most people would create a mix tape for someone they care about, Henry took this to a whole new level by creating Henry’s Mega Mix specially for all his friends, where a host of talented performers performed a variety of popular song and dance routines.
In a dramatic twist on what had gone before, 1993 saw Music Mania arrive at the park – a fast paced show filled with popular music and dance… that no longer featured Henry Hound. Instead the focus moved much more onto the music itself as well as other cabaret acts, such as the impressionist Kerry Wilson.
1994 saw the introduction of Music Powerhouse, the show which would run for the remainder of the Festival Park Dome’s years as an entertainment venue. For the new show the park took the successful format and rebooted it bringing in new sets and a much more contemporary feel to the show.
Fountain Square BBQ / Hogs Head Bar and Grill
With the arrival of Ug Land, the Festival Park Dome fell out of use and was probably used as an undercover picnic area for the following years until it became the Fountain Square BBQ in 2002. In later years it would become known as the Hog Head Bar and Grill until it was demolished at the end of 2006 to make way for Rita’s Chicken and Ribs.