We are a theatre situated in the heart of Bolton and aim to be bold, adventurous and popular, making theatre of the highest quality and to be a brilliant creative home for the people of Bolton and beyond.

We lovingly bring stories to life on our stages designed to make you laugh, cry and sit on the edge of your seat. Over the course of a year, you might see a comedy or two, a brand new play, a musical, thought-provoking drama, a historical retelling and more.

Off our stages, we help nurture and develop stories of others.  Through our work in the communities from our storytelling sessions for under 5s to our drama group for over 50s we believe everyone should have the opportunity to be creative. 


At just over 50 years old we were the first theatre to be built in the North West since World War One. Beginning as the brainchild of a university lecturer and a group of students to build a theatre for the people of Bolton, the Octagon was going to be a little bit different from the usual.

 "There was a sense of enormous achievement and a feeling that anything was possible, which was typical of the late 60s. The feeling behind the Octagon was to get everyone interested in the theatre." 
Octagon founder and Artistic Director (1967 – 1972), Robin Pemberton-Billing

With amazing support from the local government, and the people of Bolton who helped raise funds brick by brick, our building was officially opened on 27 November 1967 by HRH Princess Margaret and we opened our doors for the very first time to begin our long journey of telling wonderful stories to the people of Bolton and beyond.


We are Bolton and proud and even have our own stamp to prove it. We believe in making in Bolton and the majority of our theatre is created in the town. To facilitate this we have a large workshop where sets are constructed, a small sound engineering studio, a wardrobe department where all costumes are cut, fitted and sewn, and a prop store where furniture and smaller items are housed. 


We are leaders ensuring arts and culture thrive in Bolton. Our community, participatory and education work is recognised as a benchmark both regionally and nationally. From a popular Youth Theatre programme to our work with young people with learning disabilities, to groups within our community partner Bolton at Home, we believe everyone has their own story and theatre can be an amazing tool in empowering and building the confidence in people to tell theirs.

Take a look at our Get Involved section to see the work we do today within our communities.