The Top 20 things to book in 2020
Crack out your calendar, folks (and maybe your credit card). Here are the hottest tickets for Bucks and Oxon in 2020 - see you there!
Ready to ditch the slippers and box sets yet? Here are 20 excellent reasons to get out and about in Bucks & Oxon over the coming months. Book up, grab some mates, and out you go.
Oxfordshire Mind Comedy Gala, Oxford Playhouse – 18 Jan 20
Break through the January fog with a night of comedy at Oxfordshire Mind Comedy Gala. The show is in aid of mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind, meaning you can put a smile on someone else’s face as well as your own. The line-up includes Hal Cruttenden (you might have spotted him on Have I Got News For You), Double Edinburgh Comedy Award ‘Best Show’ nominee Ahir Shah, and Jericho Comedy co-founders Alex Farrow and Harry Househam for a little local talent.
Bleak House, Blackwell’s Bookshop Oxford – 1 Feb-7 Mar 20
Where better to watch classic Charles Dickens mystery Bleak House than surrounded by over three miles of bookshelves in Blackwell’s imposing Norrington Room? A typically inventive production by Creation Theatre – the live music and five actors playing multiple roles should be enough to transport you away to a world of intrigue.
Cabaret, New Theatre Oxford – 4-8 Feb 20
Snap up this chance to see Mr Jazzhands himself, EastEnder-turned-West-Ender John Partridge, as the Emcee in Cabaret this February after its two smash hit runs in London. Anita Harris also joins the line-up for an extra sprinkling of star power. Grab your lipstick (loving your look there, John) and get ready to head to 1930s Berlin.
Educating Rita, Wycombe Swan – 4-9 May 20
It might be a slightly different vibe to his A Christmas Carol panto run, but we’re thrilled to see Stephen Tompkinson in the role of Frank for this 40th anniversary staging of Educating Rita. If you miss it at Oxford Playhouse in early Feb, then head to the Wycombe Swan in May to catch this classic.
Pride & Prejudice (sort of), Oxford Playhouse – 10-14 Mar 20
This tongue-in-cheek production of Pride & Prejudice (sort of) has our name written all over it – where else can you can see the Bennett sisters singing karaoke? Although the all-female cast begs the question: who’s going to be getting out of the lake in the wet shirt?
Holes, Wycombe Swan – 31 Mar-4 Apr 20
This stage production of Holes at the Wycombe Swan is a lovely introduction to theatre for kids ages 8 and up (I know my daughter’s read the book about a million times), but with enough creativity and off-beat comedy to hook in adults too.
9 to 5 The Musical, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre – 29 May-6 Jun 20
Not seen 9 to 5 The Musical yet? Where’ve you been?! This is absolutely the right time to snap up these tickets – Louise Redknapp had to delay her starring role in the production due to a nasty fracture last year, but is back centre stage now.
Footloose, Milton Keynes Theatre – 29 Jun-4 Jul 20
My little Gareth Gates, how you’ve grown. The 16 year old Pop Idol winner has long swapped sickly pop hits for a career in musicals. I’ve seen him in a couple along the way and he’s quite the pro. Go see for yourself when he demonstrates six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon in the musical version of Footloose at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Oxford Beethoven Festival – Jan-Dec 20
If there was ever a year to introduce more classical music to your life, this is it. The Oxford Beethoven Festival is running at select venues throughout the year to mark 250 years since the composer’s birth. Our top picks? Mission:Earth at Oxford Town Hall on 7 June for those with little ones, and the Juilliard Quartet performing at the Sheldonian Theatre on 8 December.
Kiefer Sutherland, O2 Academy – 2 Mar 20
What is it about actors deciding they’re suddenly musicians? Although, that said, we have to hand it to Kiefer – he’s pretty nifty with a guitar. Catch him performing his latest country album at the O2 Academy in March. Laurence Fox (best known as Lewis’s DS James Hathaway) will also be at The Bullingdon on 26 Feb performing his latest album, A Grief Observed.
Fidelio, Garsington Opera – 25 Jun-17 Jul 20
Hats off to Garsington Opera – the local opera company has garnered a strong national reputation for its inventive productions and beautiful staging. This year they’re tackling Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera, in the incredible grounds of the Wormsley Estate, high in the Buckinghhamshire Chilterns. I’m so there, are you?
Paint Park, MK Gallery – 8 Feb-1 Mar 20
Who would have thought it was the year of ‘phygital’ painting (a combination of physical and digital, keep up!)? Alison Goodyear’s Paint Park exhibition at MK Gallery’s Project Space involves donning a VR headset, leaving you feeling like you just jumped into a painting à la Mary Poppins. A great one to take your kids to – just make sure you let them have a turn with the headset.
Johanna Unzueta: Tools for Life, Modern Art Oxford – 8 Feb-10 May 20
This fascinating exhibition is the first solo show from Chilean artist Johanna Unzueta, who’s made her name touring throughout Europe and America. The space combines art, clothing, a large-scale felt installation and a short film for a multi-faceted look at function and form – and if that isn’t quite exciting enough for you, you’ll definitely want to catch the opening night music event Sink Ya Teeth (I’m so loving that name) which promises Eighties and Nineties bass-heavy electronic dance music as presented by Young Women’s Music Project.
Roses from My Garden by Nick Knight, Waddesdon Manor – 28 Mar-26 Oct 20
I’m a massive fan of Nick Knight’s legendary fashion work (aren’t we all?) – but don’t expect more of the same with his new exhibition Roses from My Garden. This nature-based exhibition is a radical departure, and holding it at the beautiful Waddesdon Manor is a stroke of genius. Enjoy the brilliant gardens and dining options while you’re there (we highly recommend the Sunday lunch).
Tokyo: Art & Photography, Ashmolean Museum – 16 Jul-8 Nov 20
After the Young Rembrandt exhibition due to open at the start of spring, we’re looking forward to Tokyo: Art & Photography launching this summer to coincide with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It explores the history of Tokyo through photography and art, from its military past as the headquarters of the Tokugawa shoguns in the 1600s to the avant-garde, super-tech Mecca we know today.
MORE COOL STUFF
Oxford Literary Festival – 27 Mar-5 Apr 20
This beast of a fest needs no introduction, for ’tis a whopper. The 24th annual Oxford Literary Festival already has a whopping 200 events to choose from and book. Our advice? Get in and nab tickets for Chris Packham (28 Mar 20) and Anthony Horowitz (4-5 Apr 20) pronto.
The Story Museum – 4 Apr 20
After a £6 million makeover, The Story Museum in Oxford is re-opening its doors in April with a shiny new look and a full program – just in time for the school Easter break (phew). We’re looking forward to abandoning reality and popping into the Whispering Wood, Oxford’s very own answer to Narnia.
The Boodles, Stoke Park – 3-27 Jun 20
Forget Wimbledon – The Boodles is the tennis event to be at this summer, and you don’t even have to show up 16 hours early. Squirrelled away in the fabulous 300-acre estate of Stoke Park, this boozy, bijou event hosts some of the world’s best tennis players. Last year I was so close to Novak Djokovic on court I was virtually patting his bum. Get the best views in tennis, and all with champagne in hand – I’m not even joking, you can drink court-side too!
Marlow Regatta and Festival – 13-14 Jun 20
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Marlow Regatta and Festival, a buzzy, super-fun regatta with a community vibe and plenty to interest you beyond the lycra (though truth be told, that can hold my attention for quite some time). There’s a riverside bar and 3-course dining, or food stalls and picnic pitches to keep you fed and watered, as well as extra events such as a dog show and cake competition. Can’t make it? The bigger, more prestigious Henley Regatta, a couple of miles down the road, takes place this year on 1-5 July.
Blenheim Palace Flower Show – 26-28th Jun 20
Blooming lovely! Even if you kill every plant you touch, Blenheim Palace Flower Show takes top spot for a bit of floral frittering. As well as the Grand Floral Marquee showcasing the best nurseries, there’s a brand new Floral Street this year, ideal for picking up a few plants and flowers, either for yourself or for gifts. Not a flower fan? You can always hit the well-stocked food, craft and shopping tents.