In 1816 the gardens were commissioned by the BritishGovernor of GibraltarGeneral George Don. It was his intention that the soldiers stationed in the fortress would have a pleasant recreational area to enjoy when off duty, and so inhabitants could enjoy the air protected from the extreme heat of the sun.
In the Second World War the gardens were a popular meeting place for the thousands of homosexual soldiers and sailors that passed through Gibraltar on their way to the various fronts. In the later years of the war the Military Police regularly raided the gardens to enforce the ban on homosexuality in the British and American armed forces and Merchant Navy.
The gardens were resurrected in 1991 by an external company when it was realised that since the 1970s they had fallen into a poor state. Three years later the gardens had the addition of a zoo: the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park.
The Alameda Open Air Theatre was inaugurated once again on 12 April 1996 at four o'clock with three bands of music playing - the same number of bands as had attended 180 years before to the hour at the opening of the Alameda Gardens in 1816. In order to extend its use from just theatre to general use, a number of new features were introduced, like the waterfall and lake - the largest area of open fresh water on the Rock, with Koi Carp and a collection of exotic lilies. Since its opening, this venue has been used for a variety of purposes, from beauty contests to band concerts, also weddings, dinner dances, conferences and variety shows. It also is the main venue for the GIB Fringe.
The theater is available for hire and all proceeds will go directly into continued improvements in the theatre and in the rest of Gibraltar's historic and rapidly improving Alameda Gardens.
Useful information about the theater and its facilities: Seating Capacity: 435 Stage Area: 120 sq. mtrs. Lighting Equipment: 34 Wide and Beams with colored filters if required. 3 stage and 3 public entrances. Bar, changing rooms and toilet facilities. Seating with table maximum capacity: 300