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The cool stuff

Feel like exploring somewhere new? Muddy tenticles cover the South of England and who better to know the cool stuff that’s hard to unearth than our brilliant regional Muddy editors (all national journalists in their own right) who are constantly scouring their counties for the best arts and cultural highlights? Whether you’re day tripping or planning for longer, here are some of the treats in store for you.


Seth Lakeman, The Hexagon Reading, Sat 4 Mar

The West Countrys certainly produced a few musical hotties. Chris Martin for starters, Ben Howard and Seth Lakeman (pictured) – the poster boy of folk. Let’s be honest Seth’s not really a boy, more a man… with, er, three kids. He’s still hot though. Anyway, Seth was shortlisted for the Mercury music prize back in 2011, scooped up by a major label, there were festivals a go-go and an invitation to meet Colonel Gaddafi (bit awkward). Basically, he’s single-handedly made folk cool and he’s set to raise the roof of The Hexagon Reading on Saturday night playing tracks from his eighth album Ballads of the Broken Few and live faves. Door opens at 7pm. Tickets: £24.50.

Faust x2, The Watermill Bagnor, Thur 2 Mar

The force is string with this one… Olivier and Tony award-winning actor Ian McDiarmid, best known as Palpatine in Star Wars, will be bringing his supreme skills to The Watermill stage for Faust x2. An atmospheric and moving re-telling of the immortal legend of Faust, Ian will be showing the young cast how it’s done as he brings Goethe’s masterpiece to life in a bold new adaptation. Tickets: from £15.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Berkshire


Dancin’ Oxford, around the city, Fri 3 – Sun 12 March

An eclectic programme combining big names like Matthew Bourne (see his Early Adventures, above) and more community based events like Baby Boogie, dance workshops and circus games. Dancin’ Oxford kicks officially on Saturday with a day of dance in Oxford’s public spaces, so it’s a fun day to go shopping.

Live Friday, Ashmolean Musuem, Friday 3 Mar

The Ashmolean’s creative monthly-ish Live Friday returns with Supersonic as the theme. Oxford Contemporary Music takes over the Ashmolean with live music performances, sound installations, film, instrumental workshops, interactive talks and soundscapes. The Rooftop Restaurant and Crypt Café will also open all evening if you want to hear the sound of fizz, glug and pop.

FUNomusica Family Concert, Oxford Town Hall, Sun 5 March


The lovely Funomusica family concert returns this Sunday afternoon at the Oxford Town Hall, with Alasdair Molloy and the Oxford Philharmonic introducin 4-8 year olds to classical music. This year’s theme is dance, and promises music from ballroom to barndance, salsa to samba, including Mozart’s Macarena (surely worth the entry fee along). There are pre-concert craft activities at 2pm and the concert finishes by 4pm.

More insider tips on what’s happening this week in Bucks & Oxon


Family First Saturday, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Sat 4 March

Fitzwilliam museum

The Fitz is a great place to bring the kids and the free drop-in on the first Saturday of the month is a fun way for youngsters to enjoy the museum. This Sat it’s all about activities and art-making on the theme of powerful figures. There’ll be a chance to have a go at embossing coins inspired by powerful figures in the collection and a Treasure hunt in Babylon, inspired by Marduk, the great god of Babylon. Booking is essential and it’s geared towards those ages 8+

Fitzwilliam Museum, 32 Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RB,

Breath of Fresh Air 2017, Byard Art Gallery, Cambridge, ends Sun 19 Mar

Byards Art Cambridge

The annual Breath of Fresh Air exhibition returns to Byard Art, a contemporary art gallery on buzzing Kings Parade. The gallery runs an exhibition programme involving 10 group and solo displays and this event showcases new and talented contemporary artists involving painters, ceramicists, sculptors and jewelers. Whether you enjoy looking at art, or are interested in investing it’s a great opportunity to see contemporary art from emerging artists.

More insider tips on what’s happening this week in Cambs


World Pasty Championships, Sat 4 Mar

The ultimate Cornish bake off! The sixth annual World Pasty Championships return to The Eden Project this Saturday. Entries are invited from around the world, from pro and amateur bakers alike and there will be live music and comedy from Kernow King, folk star Kathryn Williams (performing with Michele Stodart of The Magic Numbers) and Port Isaac shanty singers, Fisherman’s Friends. Find out more at

Foodie Dates For Your Diary, March (and a bit of April too)


Cornwall’s best feast nights, supper clubs, themed events, tasting menus and special offers aren’t always easy to find out about and often sell out fast. Luckily, our friends at Barefoot Cornwall put together a brilliant Foodie Diary, so you can plan ahead and get excited about scoffing your way through the coming months. I’m most tempted by Ben Quinn’s wood-fired feast at The Lost Gardens of Heligan, the second of The Great Food Fight at The Rosevine, Nancarrow’s Farm Feasts and the Wild Cornwall Wine Supper at The Gurnard’s Head. See all the upcoming foodie events here

More insider tips on what to do this week in Cornwall


Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Fri 3 – Sat 4 March

[Photo Johan Persson]

Wowsers.  This is a little bit different for Plymouth.  Brace yourselves, Cuba’s  flagship contemporary dance troupe, is shimmying into town this weekend,  bringing with them a blend of Afro-Caribbean rhythms, jazzy American modernism and inflections from European ballet. Their shows have been described by the Telegraph as ‘drop dead gorgeous, performed in such synch and with such sexy intensity, that you can’t tear your eyes away’.  There’s ‘partial nudity’ and everything.

Omid Djalili, Babbacombe Theatre, Torquay, Sun 5 March

Award-winning comedian and actor Omid Djalili has been a busy man, recently starring in the BBC’s Dickensian and Sky’s Lucky Man.  Now, he’s back on tour and has been lured to the English Riviera with his show Schmuck for a Night.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Devon


Launch of Solaris 2016, Frithsden Vineyard, Sat 4 March

Let’s get our priorities right. Wine first. On Saturday, Natalie and Simon Tooley will be flinging open the gates of their vineyard to launch their Solaris 2016. It’s free entry, and you’ll be able to taste the wine, have a tour of the vineyard, enjoy a barbecue, repair for afternoon tea and stagger home again. There’s a shop with well chosen gifts and clothes, and of course you can bag a bottle to take home. 11am – 5pm.

Solaris launch

Nell Phoenix, Fireside Festival, Sat 4 March

I have seen Nell in action more than once and she is amazing. She’s a member of the famous Crick Crack Club. Ace storyteller, engaging performer: you’ll be a-tingling and gripped all at the same time. The Fireside Festival has been setting Baldock alight for the last few days. I was lucky enough to go to the gala evening last week. There’s a wonderful atmosphere and it’s well worth a visit. Two events: Five Fearless Friends, suitable for age 6+ and adults welcome. 3pm. Then in the evening, it’s Little Red Riding Hood and Other Lost Girls. This is aimed at age 16+, so make sure you book appropriately! 7.30pm.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Herts


Rebel Soul Music Club, The Retreat, Cheltenham, Thu 2 March

Feeling inspired by The Voice and reckon you’ve got one on you? Well, it’s The Retreat in Cheltenham’s fortnightly open mic night on Thursday. And because The Retreat is an eternally cool hangout, it’s called Rebel Soul Music Club. Can’t promise or Sir Tom, but, hey, you never know. And even if don’t fancy exercising your lungs, the red-walled interiors of The Retreat with its long bar, bistro-style tables and raffish regulars is the perfect drinking hole. And the food is pretty special, too.
The Retreat, 10-11 Suffolk Parade, Cheltenham GL50 2AB. Tel: 01242 235436.

Dyrham Park World Book Day weekend, Sat 4 and Sun 5 March

This 17th-century National Trust gem in Dyrham, Bath, is hosting a World Book Day weekend with a trail, storytelling sessions and free books with your £1 book tokens. The ancient deer park with its stunning mansion house and garden is a bit of treat for grown-ups too. There are free, daily walks of the impressive deer park and gardens, and Saturday sees the spring opening of the dressed rooms in the house, which offer a flavour of life four centuries ago, with some new sensory additions such as smelling pouches and 17th-century hot chocolate. The Victorian kitchen is home to an atmospheric second-hand bookshop. And you can buy Dyrham Park venison in the gift shop.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Glos


The Grapes of Wrath, Nuffield Southampton Theatre, 6-25 Mar

Books punctuate my life: Jane Eyre and Cider With Rosie as a country teen; Kerouac’s On the Road as a feckless student in Florence; then bumping along East Africa’s dust rivers to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath — but here was another time, another place when people were not on the road by choice. They were Okies, Elvis amongst them, refugees from the American dust bowl. At the height of the Great Depression, one family begins an epic journey driven as much by fear as by hope. Route 66 to California, the Promised Land. In search of work. A new life. The Grapes of Wrath is a towering testimony to the integrity, strength and perseverance of the human spirit.

P&G Well Booksellers, Under-3 Story Time, Wednesdays 10am, Winchester

World Book Day is upon us, bring on that last minute dash for costumes. To celebrate, head to the wonderful P&G Wells Booksellers in Winchester (the oldest bookseller in the UK #HantsBraggingRights) for its weekly story time for Under-3’s. On your way back to the carpark scoot by Flat Whites for the best  coffee on the go. Meanwhile have a squizz at the Top Ten Books for Small People from P&G’s Children’s-books guru, Clare Maltby.

P&G Wells Booksellers, Kingsgate Village, Winchester, So23 9LZ,

More insider tips on what to do this week in Hampshire


Entangled: Threads and Making, Turner Contemporary, Margate, Sat 28 Jan – Sun 7 May

Fancy a cultural trip to the coast? The Turner Contemporary has launched a major exhibition of sculpture, installation, tapestry, textiles and jewellery from the early 20th century to the present day. It features over 40 international female artists who take the traditional arts of knitting and embroidery, weaving, sewing and wood carving to a whole new and imaginative level.

Boat Jumble, The Hop Farm,  Sun 5 Mar

Looking for a new hobby ready for the summer? Or, er, just want to get the man in your life out the house for a few box-set-catch-up hours? The hop farm are holding a giant boat jumble. Yes… a jumble sale… for boats.  Stall holders will be selling everything from kayaks to dinghies and from wet suits to fishing reels. Timings: 10:00 – 15:00

More insider tips on the best things to do in Kent


Film Festival Day, Screen-next-the-Sea, Wells-next-the-Sea, Sat 4 Mar

One day; five cult classic movies. Head to the Alderman School for five films run back-to-back as part of the Movie Duo Film Festival. Commencing at 10am with The Odd Couple, the reel keeps running with About a Boy (12.45pm), The Adventures of Priscila Queen of the Desert (3pm), Thelma & Louise (5.30pm), concluding with Se7en at 8pm. A great day for film buffs. Tickets  per movie: £5 adults, £3.50 children.

Cley Marshes Beach Clean, Cley-next-the-Sea, Sat 4 Mar

Do your bit for the environment: head to Cley Beach at 10am this Saturday and help a group of volunteers clean up one of Norfolk’s prettiest pebble beaches for the benefit of the local wildlife. There’s bound to be some washed up treasures to delight in, and some beautiful wildlife overhead. Once you’re done, reward yourself with a pub lunch in one of the nearby country pubs. 

More insider tips on what to do this week in Norfolk


Royal Mistresses: A quest for love,10.30-11.30am, 9 March

This may be of no surprise to you, but did you know that English aristocratic families actually supplied the British royal family many mistresses over several generations to secure influence at court? So before Randy Andy and Koo, or Chaz and Camilla there was a right royal carry on, carrying on. During his talk Roger Powell (an expert investigative genealogist specialising in the British Royal Family) exposes the amazing stories behind those royal (bedroom) doors.

Court Room of The Guildhall, St Giles’ St, Northampton NN1 1DE

Get Outside – Visit Salcey Forest, Open 7am – 7 pm Hartwell, NN7 2HX

Come on, let’s go and explore and learn shall we? This ancient woodland, the remains of a Royal hunting forest, is now a great place for a day out. Walk along the Tree Top Way, a canopy walkway rising to a height of 20 metres. The Tree Top Way rises to 15 metres above the woodland floor, with a crow’s nest platform at 20 metres reached by steps. The lookout provides amazing views across the forest. And Elephants don’t forget do they? Apparently during the second world war elephants were used to move logs in the forest, and the nearby pond is where they used to cool off! Probably give a paddle a miss? Pay and Display Car Park open from 08.00 to 19.00 in the summer months/from 08.00 to 17.00 in the winter at a cost of £1 for an hour or £3 for the day.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Northants


Frome Independent Market, Frome, Sun 5 March

It’s the first Frome Independent Market of the year on Sunday – hurrah!  If you haven’t been to this brilliant market yet,  you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s not just that the streets of the town will be filled with independents selling local and regionally produced food and drink, all sorts of home wares, collectables, furniture and fashion both from contemporary designers and makers as well as vintage – it’s the buzz in the air that makes it unique.  So stay, play and reclaim the high street this Sunday, from 10am-3pm.

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair, Bath Pavilion, Fri 3-Sun 5 March

Don’t be put off by the word ‘antiques’ in the name of this famous fair, now in its 28th year. There’s lots of mid-century, Scandi and gorgeous garden stuff here to browse and buy from exhibitors from across the UK and Europe. Take a sneak peak here and get your FREE ticket here.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Somerset


Innovate Guildford Science Festival – G Live, Guildford – Sat 4 Mar

Guildford’s cracking science festival back with loads of free events at G Live on Saturday. There are exhibits, activities, workshops, talks and competitions. There are four zones to explore: Engineering, One Health, Digital Media and Future Living, interactive performances, speakers including Peter Molyneux, the  leading gaming designer and programmer, and Professor Nick Bacon, the animal health specialist. There will also be theatre and music throughout the day. It’s on from 10am til 5pm.

Rent: The Musical – New Victoria Theatre, Woking – Tues 7 to Sat 11 Mar

This is a brand-new production of the multi-award-winning rock musical to mark its 20th anniversary. Inspired by Puccini’s classic opera La BohèmeRent tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive in New York’s East Village during the days of Bohemian excess. Tickets are £16.25 to £44.75.

New Victoria Theatre, The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre, Woking, GU21 6GQ, Tel: 0844 871 7645.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Surrey


Turner and the Age of British Watercolour, Petworth House, until  Sun 12 Mar 


This major new exhibition features 36 watercolours by Turner and his contemporaries on loan from the Higgins art gallery in Bedford. It’s a rare chance to see this important collection alongside many of Petworth’s oil paintings and sculptures from the same period. Entry is £12 and it’s open 10.30am to 2.00pm.

Chichester Festival, general booking from Sat 4 March 

Chichester’s Festival 2017 programme has just been unveiled, with general booking opening on Sat 4 March.  There’s a mix of classic and contemporary plays and musicals. Catch Alan Bennett’s first play Forty Years On, set in a school on the South Downs; Shakespeare’s King Lear; Tennessee Williams’ s Sweet Bird of Youth, Olivier Award-winning musical Caroline, Or Change – an uplifting portrait of 1960s America which mixes blues, soul, Motown, classical music and Jewish folk songs, and a brand new staging of Fiddler on the Roof. New plays at the festival meanwhile include the likes of Ian McKellen, Omid Djalili and Richard Wilson. 10,000 tickets are available at £10, while Prologue tickets for 16 – 25 year-olds are  £5.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Sussex


Subodh Gupta’s From Far Away Uncle Moon Calls, The Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, ends Mar 11

Admire the ingenious work of one of India’s foremost contemporary artists, Subodh Gupta, who is famous for transforming the everyday materials of Indian life into artworks at the

Snow in Midsummer, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

A modern interpretation of a 13th Century Chinese fable by playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and directed by the funky Justin Audibert. Dou Yi is framed for a murder she didn’t commit so she calls on heaven and earth to prove her innocence – and is answered by a snowstorm in midsummer. Dou Yi is played by BAFTA breakthrough artist Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter films and Mei Ashley in the BBC’s 2016 drama One Child.

More insider tips on what to do this week in Warwickshire

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