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8 unmissable events in Bucks/Oxon this week

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I get around a lot this days (in the nicest sense of the phrase, if you don’t mind) but I’m really impresed with the amount of cool stuff going on in Bucks & Oxon at the mo. Grab your diaries and book this week of wonderment.

Roald Dahl Festival (Aylesbury) v Alice’s Day (Oxford) Sat 7 – Sun 8 July

It’s literary fisticuffs this weekend as Buckinghamshire’s Roald Dahl takes on Oxfordshire’s Alice in Wonderland. On Saturday 7 July, the 10th Roald Dahl Festival takes place in Aylesbury town centre, with a parade of giant puppet characters and themes from Dahl’s stories at 11am, plus street theatre and samba. After the parade, head to Vale Park for the Roald Dahl Games and watch your little maggots tossing snozzcumbers and other linguistic oddities.

Alternatively, go all surrealist and head to Oxford, where an impressive weekend of activities has been put together to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first telling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice’s Day (now in its fifth year, mostly on Saturday but going into Sunday) includes an exhibition of Salvador Dali’s illustrations for the book at Christ Church Picture Gallery (until 22nd November), an Alice flotilla down the Thames, activities at the Ashmolean, plus promenade theatre, walks and talks.

Best fun of all is The Caucus Race which takes place in Christ Church’s Merton Field (2-5pm) on Sunday 8 July with its stunning backdrop of Oxford colleges and the River Isis and will involve dance, street theatre, and Wonderland games for all ages. The ‘Race’ is produced by Cirque Bijou, who are also delivering the Battle for the Wind, one of the highlights of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, so it should be quite a spectacle. For a full programme, click here.

 Haddenham Summer Beerfest, Sat 7 July, 11am-9pm

This is among the biggest beer festivals in the country and is always expertly organised. Great for families because kids can run amok safely in the school grounds, or for beer connoisseurs who want to compare/contrast/flake out under a tree, this year promises two bars (one covering local breweries, and one with beers around the country), plus a world beer tent, Pimms & wine bar, live jazz, four rock and pop bands, deli food, pig roast, BBQ, paella, Morris Men and Hoofers and a bouncy castle for the kids. Where’s the Nurofen concession though?
Haddenham Beer Fest, Haddenham Junior School, Woodways, Haddenham, HP17 8DS. Last entry 6pm.

Designer Sales UK Sample Sale, Fri 6 – Sun 8 July, Chelsea Old Town Hall

The high street sales not cutting it for you? Pah, forget about them! Head down to the King’s Road instead for the chance to buy pieces from Vivienne Westwood and Jimmy Choo at up to 90 per cent off the original retail price. Womenswear, menswear and accessories are on sale over the three days, and there’s a vintage boutique, personal stylists on hand and collections by young fashion graduates to get you in the mood. Noon-8pm Fri 6 July; 11am-7pm Sat 7 July; 11am-4pm Sun 8 July. £2 entry.
Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Rd, London, SW3 5EE

Festival Fever continues, Sat 7 – Sun 8 July

Who knew that Snap! still had such a fervent fan base?

Two lovely local festivals on this weekend worth your perusal. Marlow holds its very first Live at Riley Festival on 8 July, with local bands, a bar bus, zorbing, dancing workshops, a handmade market and lots more. It’s very civilised too – starts at 12pm and finishes at 8pm. Otherwise, Penn Festival (7-8 July) now a relative veteran in its second year, is calling in the Eighties big guns with Soul II Soul, Altered Images, The Beat and Snap!, plus a huge array of kid-friendly circusy stuff. My bet is you’ll have a fun time at either – or both if you have the stamina!

Abingdon Town Hall, reopens 12pm, Sat 7 July

This beautiful 17th century hall, closed for two years whilst £3m of renovations took place, is reopening on Saturday. Get there at 12pm and you’ll see one of the Horrible Histories actresses dressed at Elizabeth I doing the grand ribbon cutting (sorry, I can’t be more specific than that because the woman at the Town Hall didn’t know herself). If the weather holds, all four floors will be open. Exhibitions include the Fifty Years of MG complete with the last MG ever made in Abingdon, plus the history of bun-throwing – a local tradition doncha know, and now the inspiration for the ‘Buns in the Basement’ cafe.

Jenny Saville exhibition, Modern Art Oxford, until 16 September

Jenny Saville is one of those artists whose work repels and fascinates in equal measure. I find her work disturbing in the same way I struggle with Lucien Freud’s depictions of female nudity but I still feel compelled to see her work. Modern Art Oxford has the honour of presenting the first solo show of the artist in a UK public gallery including her latest work.

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