What’s on this Easter
It’s come around fast don’t you think, but begads we’re prepared for you, Easter hols! Muddy Stilettos will not be defeated by children or boredom (or, um, both) and so here, for your delectation, is the definitive, comprehensive, curated, totally indispensable Muddy Guide to the Easter holidays.
As always in the holiday guides, events are listed for kids and adults separately, and there’s also a section that covers events going on weekly. No need to thank me, just buy me a very large champagne martini.
ALL WEEK (ADULTS):
If you haven’t already booked your tickets for the Oxford Literary Festival which started last Saturday (21 March), get to it for the final few days with the likes of Philip Pullman, David Lodge and Frank Cottrell Boyce all taking centre stage from 26-29 March. A new exhibition, Great British Drawings, opens at the Ashmolean today (until 31 Aug) and is going to be brilliant – over 100 drawings from Turner, Gainsborough, Rossetti and others, many unseen before, will be showcased.
Still at the Ashmolean, Love Bites, Caricatures by James Gillray also starts today, and celebrates the brutal wit of James Gillray who died 200 years ago this year. The celebrated Ai Wei Wei exhibition is still creating headlines at Blenheim Palace (ends 30 April) and is well worth a look. Also worth a gander is Renaissance Museum: Treasures from the Smoking Rooms at Waddesdon (25 March – 25 Oct) or off into London there’s a behind-the-scenes tour at Buckingham Palace with an exclusive guided tour of the State Rooms ( Fri 27 March – Mon 4 May). Go on, see if they nail the cigarette trays to the tables!
ALL WEEK (KIDS)
A deluge of bunnies and eggs but the best of the bunch includes the daily Easter Egg hunts (from Sat 28 March-Sun 12 April) and hands-on activities at The River and Rowing Musuem, Henley; the Eggstraordinary Easter Eggventure trails at Pitt Rivers museum (Sat 28 March – Sun 12 April); and overdoses of fluffy cuteness at Mead Open Farm Easter Bunny Bonanza where you can help bottle feed lambs, meet the Easter chicks and gaze at the little hoppy rabbits. At Whipsnade, there’s a daily Easter Fayre on the main lawn from 28 March – 13 April (between 11 am-4.30pm).
On Waddesdon Manor‘s North Front, kids will love the brilliant Colourscape (above) on the North Lawn from Weds 1 – Sun 12 April – 66 interlinked chambers, filled with light and music. Meanwhile, Horrible Histories returns to the brilliant Warwick Castle with Mediaeval Mayhem (Sat 28 March to Sun 12 April), bringing the hideously horrid sights, sounds and smells of mediaeval England to life.
Thespy kids can put on a play in a week on one of Creation Theatre‘s respected holiday courses in Oxford (different age groups available), while 4-7 year olds can take a three day course with Perform in locations around Bucks & Oxon with the theme of Knights and Princesses. Staying with thesping, Harry Potter Studios has just opened a 20,000ft² expansion, including the original Hogwarts Express steam engine (which you can climb onto) and a recreation of Platform 9¾.
DAY BY DAY
THURSDAY 26 MARCH
Pirouette your way to Moscow Ballet La Classique’s performance of Swan Lake at the Wycombe Swan tonight, or play mindgames with Derren Brown when he comes to New Theatre Oxford with his show Miracle (until Sat 28 March). There’s an NT Live screening of the acclaimed A View From The Bridge. starring Mark Strong at The Regal Henley (also showing on 9 April), while there’s live music at Clayton’s Marlow with Laura Williams playing R&B, soul, funk and pop covers. Dig out your fluffy bra – Judge Jules is playing a set at The Warehouse in central Oxford tonight, alongside The Gallery resident Gavyn Mytchel & Oxford DJ Producer Archie B.
There’s a brand new ‘Extreme’ route now open at Go Ape in Wendover Woods (Bucks), the only one in the UK, with a scrambling net and climbing wall to conquer just to reach the start! (1o+ years). Take the kids to a tour at the Bodleian Library – it’s fantastic. They’ll get to see the 15th century Divinity School the 17th century Convocation House, where Parliament was held in the Civil War and Duke Humfrey’s mediaeval library. Tours daily every day for 11+. Families with small children can do a history trail and quiz, taking in the Radcliffe Camera, the Old Bodleian Library and the Sheldonian Theatre. Over in Didcot, Teechers is Blackeyed Theatre’s production of John Godber’s classic comedy about life at a comprehensive at Cornerstone (Didcot) – perfect for your streetwise secondary-schoolers.
FRIDAY 27 MARCH
The very first Bedford and Milton Keynes Jazz Festival kicks off today, a three-day event with some serious talent. Worth a gander. Or if flamenco is more your thing, check out Flamenco Live! at The Mill Arts Centre (Banbury) featuring musicians and dancers brought together by acclaimed flamenco guitarist Jero Férec. Catch the much-lauded performance of Maxine Peake as Hamlet today in a special screening at the Regal, Henley, or see Olivier-nominated actress Caroline Horton in her one woman show Penelope Retold, at The Theatre, Chipping Norton. 7.45pm
One strictly for the girls – Cinderella starring Lily James (Lady Rose from Downtown Abbey) opens. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and also starring Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter, it should stay the right side of saccharine for grown-ups too. In London, the Natural History Museum launches Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea, where kids can encounter 200 strange and beautiful specimens from the NHM collection including the gigantic Turbinaria coral, the venomous blue-ringed octopus and coral collected by Charles Darwin, plus take a virtual reef dive and see live sea coral and fish in our aquarium. Meanwhile at The Science Museum they’ve teamed up with Unlimited Theatre to create You Have Been Upgraded (for 12-16 year olds), a dramatic exploration of human ‘enhancement’, from prosthetics and implants to brain boosting devices. Probably more fun than it sounds! (until 29 March).
SAT 28 MARCH
Exciting! London-based French producer and DJ The Reflex, beloved of Giles Peterson, Craig Charles and the Radio One planners, is playing an exclusive DJ set tonight at Clayton’s Marlow, whilst Charlie Wood performs as part of the Bedford and Milton Keynes Jazz Festival at the cool MK Gallery. If you’re into esoteric comments on consumerism (er, aren’t we all?!) Modern Art Oxford shows Upward Mobility, a new exhibition by Mexican artist, Debora Delmar Corp blending sculpture, video and installation. Blimey. It’s the last weekend at the Oxford Literary Festival – worth checking out for last minute tickets, or if you have kids, for good young-people events as the OLF has created a good programme this year.
It’s Lambing Weekend at The Earth Trust in Abingdon. Bring your wellies and visit its working farm to see the new spring lambs at their cutest today and tomorrow (10am-4pm)! I like the sound of The Boy Who Bit Picasso, for kids 4-8 years, at The Oxford Playhouse – an interactive theatre show that introduces Picasso to kids with storytelling, music and lots of opportunity to make art. If it’s castles you’re in the mood for, head to Family Saturday at Windsor Castle – kids are encouraged to dress as a Knight or Princess and discover the stories and legends of those who’ve lived at Windsor Castle over the centuries. At The Story Museum, there’s CoderDojo coding club for kids – it’s free, just make sure you sign up and bring a laptop (and powercord!). From today (until 12 April), the River and Rowing Museum in Henley has an Easter Egg hunt – a puzzle to solve while following the bunny trail for a mini Easter egg.
SUN 29 MARCH
If you’re in central oxford, don’t miss the fantastic Coffee Concerts at the Holywell Music Room performed Navarra String Quartet, though actually for some reason this one has moved to the stunning Wadham Colllege Chapel. Of if your taste runs to jazz, this morning is the last Jazz on the Terrace at Blenheim until November. Suitable for all levels of runners (allegedly – they haven’t seen me lurching yet), The Chiltern Warrior Run takes place at the Chiltern Open Air Museum and adjoining Woodland Trust property and offers 5/10k courses. Mary ‘Marmite’ Portas. talks about her memoir Shop Girl at the Oxford Literary Festival today, or if you’re into crafts more than books, head along to Craft Cafe at The Pitt Rivers Museum, a craft event just for grown-ups, taking place today,29 March and Sun 12 April (2-4pm) where you can focus on printing, customising, painting etc and all that stuff I’m rubbish at.
There’s a winning performance of The Ugly Duckling at Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot combining puppetry and music. Force feed them some culture – go on! – with Marks of Genius at the incredible new Weston Library in Oxford which opened on 21 March (until 20 Sept). Part of the Bodlian Library, it is exhibiting frankly jaw-dropping collections such as Shakespeare’s first folios, manuscripts by Mendelssohn and Handel, the Magna Carta of 1217, pages from the oriignal draft of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein amongst many more. Afterwards head off to the Isis and do some punting as the stations are now open – Magdalen Bridge and Cherwell Boathouse are the two main points.
MON 30 MARCH
Breaking Bad fans are in for such a treat at The Wycombe Swan tonight when LA actor Miles Allen delivers One Man Breaking Bad, his fast-paced parody of the brilliant TV show (above), while smash hit Broadway and West End musical The Producers reaches Milton Keynes Theatre tonight and tomorrow (Tues 31 March). Hopping over into Cheltenham if you’re close enough to make it, Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, recently voted the nation’s favourite play, opens at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham for the week.
Ever been to Black Park? It’s a massively child-friendly park near J2 of the M40 with a huge playing area and lovely lake – but it’s also a popular location for loads of films from Harry Potter to James Bond. Today there’s a Film Walk at Black Park if you want them to look at more than the ducks and zip wires. Over at The Theatre in Chippy, there’s a two-day Mask and Mime Workshop for 8-12 year olds at The Theatre, Chipping Norton to bring out your child’s inner Marcel Marceau.
TUES 31 MARCH
This sounds good – a one day Intro to Planting Design at Kew (£55) so you can transform your weedy back yard into a specatacular border! Closer to home, there’s screening of the so-violent-audience-members-faint-in-the-stalls production of Shakespeare’s violent Titus Andronicus. at The Ultimate Picture Palace in Oxford.
Terrific Tuesday today at the Chiltern Open Air Museum has special craft activities, games and dressing up or you can explore the historic buildings, playground and woodland all for the standard admission price. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returns to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre tonight until Sat 4 April, while there’s a lovely sounding Button & Bows Workshop at The Oxfordshire Museum where kids can make a springtime decoration inspired by the Keeping Up Appearances exhibition.
WED 1 APRIL
The stunning house and grounds of Buscot Park and the Faringdon Collection open their doors for the first time this year – explore the eighteenth century home and pleasure gardens and see an art collection including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Reynolds, Rubens, van Dyck and Murillo. All ages will love Farringdon Folly Tower and woodland open day. The unusual 100ft tower is Faringdon’s icon and the last major folly to be built in England sitting on Folly Hill, within a charming circular 4 acre woodland The tower is open on the first and third Sundays of each month from today until Oct. The Tudor Chenies Manor House in Bucks with its award-winning gardens overlooking the Chess valley opens today. Look out for the 22 individual cut brick chimneys distinguish the manor house and are echoed throughout the estate village.
At The Oxford Playhouse, Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful I Believe In Unicorns is presented by Theatre Alibi whose Why The Whales Came ran in the West End to acclaim. Worth seeing (6-12 years), not least because I’ve negotiated some money off for Muddy readers! Just quote ‘Muddy’ to the box office on 01865 305305 or put it as your coupon code and you’ll shave £4 off the price. All ages will love Farringdon Folly Tower and woodland open day. The unusual 100ft tower is Faringdon’s icon and the last major folly to be built in England sitting on Folly Hill, within a charming circular 4 acre woodland . The tower is open on the first and third Sundays of each month from today until Oct. Or if that feels a bit sedate for your crazy kids, how about the Extreme Stunt Show, back at Campbell Park in Milton Keynes for two nights, showcasing stunt riders include BMX, mountain bikes, quads, monster truck Action and Extreme FMX: Freestyle Motorcross Team. See for details.
What else? Kids can join in with craft and spy workshops, children’s guided tours, trails, quizzes and handling collections at Bletchley Park today (also Mon 6 & Weds 8 April ) and meet Benedict Cumberbatch (not really but let’s enjoy that thought for just a moment). Fancy something crafty? Buzzwangling Bird Houses today at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden. Ages 6+. Or there’s a hands on Science Day – Sun and Earth at the Cornerstone Arts Centre (Didcot), or a ‘recycled’ puppetry workshop Bin Goblins for 5-7 year olds at The Theatre Chipping Norton.
THURS 2 APRIL
If you’re yet to catch the Ai Wei Wei exhibition at Blenheim Palace, here’s your chance – it’s really fantastic, it finishes at the end of this month. A treat for classical music fans – the Oxford Philomusica playing Bach’s St John Passion, with the Choir of Queen’s College at the Sheldonian. Musical comedians, Jonny & the Baptists bring Rock the Vote to The Old Fire Station, Oxford tonight.
The brilliant Tweedy the clown, best known from Gifford’s Circus, performs Tweedy’s Lost Property at The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury. Tweedy gets a job in a Lost Property Office to try and find himself. It will be brilliant, book it. If you can still bear to hear Frozen in any way, shape or form, at The Wycombe Swan there’s Sing-A-Long-A Frozen at 11.30am and 3.30am and, then in the early evening at 7pm Sing-A-Long-A The Sound of Music. If that’s not enough crowd participation for you, there’s Sword in the Stone, described as a ‘participatory musical’ for children and their families is at The Chippy Theatre, Chipping Norton. All together now!
Over at Cornerstone Arts, Didcot there’s a Clay Sculpture: Making Stars workshop where kids can make their own star-themed piece of ceramic to be professionally glazed and fired, or if you’re Bucks way make Roly-Poly Pots at The Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden (Ages 5+). Count your Chickens at The Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock is a drop in workshop where children can make an Easter chick themed money box, or kids can find out more about the Amazing Armour at The Pitt River from today until 4 April (1-4pm), and make a porcupine helmet – but of course! If London is more your thing, hop on deck for the first ever Cutty Sark Sleepover in Greenwich, or a performance of English National Ballet My First Ballet: Swan Lake at The Peacock Theatre Holborn (from today until 12 April).
FRI 3 APRIL
One for everyone – there are massive celebrations for Hampton Court’s 500th Anniversary Party all Easter Weekend, including a spectacular 25 minute son et lumiere show each evening. At Waddesdon Manor, the stunning Windmill Hill Archive and Reading Room opens it doors to the public on Friday afternoons from now to 23 Oct. It’s a amazing space to enjoy the contemporary Rothschild art collection and looks very cool too. The Easter Food festival starts in Great Missenden today (until 6 April), choc-ful with demonstrations, street food, kids cookery, wine tastings and all that jazz. Sounds yummy.
There’s a sweet children’s easter egg hunt and ‘little lamb corner’ at The Quince Tree in Stonor today from 10am, with actual lambs from Fawley on the terrace! It’s £15 per child and they get bunny ears and a little egg basket and they also promise to entertain your kids while you have a relaxing coffee. I’m totally there! Or how about a spot of Den Building by the Campfire at Black Park Country Park, Wexham? Toasted marshmallows and a hot drink by the campfire will probably seal the deal (10am-12pm). There are Easter Specials on the Chinnor Steam Railway (from today until 6 April) at various times and locations. If your kids insist on an Easter egg hunt, head to Waddesdon Manor where they can solve clues in a detective trail round the gardens for their chocolate reward. There are Easter Egg Trails at Cliveden while just across the border into Herts, Tring Museum has an Eggtastic Egg Hunt where kids have to work out which eggs are real and which fake (all 3-6 April).
There’s A Truly Scrumptious Day Out cooking event for little ones at Chiltern Open Air Museum where kids can make Easter Treats, join in with historic cooking and take part in craft activities and games (from today until 6 April). Or how about ex Candyskins musician Nick Cope at Cogges Manor Farm with his live gigs for kids? Finally, if that won’t do, there’s Sadler’s Wells Family Weekend in London where you can see Varmints, an original piece of dance theatre for children and families (today and tomorrow).
SAT 4 APRIL
Massive newsflash – the incredible Jane’s Teas in Kirtlington reopens for business today. Take a walk through the leafy quarry and enter a bucolic English paradise with, um, enormous cakes. An absolute must and only open on the first and third Saturdays each month. Kids will love it too. Privately owned country house Mapledurham in Oxfordshire opens its doors to the public for the first time this year today for ‘Mapledurham at War‘, a massive event in which in which up to 500 re-enactors portray life in wartime Britain (also tomorrow). From today the 16th century Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire, home to George Washington’s ancestors, opens to the public on weekends from 11am-4pm.
It’s the last day to catch Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful I Believe In Unicorns at The Oxford Playhouse. Presented by Theatre Alibi whose Why The Whales Came ran in the West End to acclaim, it’s well worth seeing (6-12 years). There’s an Elephant Appreciation Weekend at Woburn Safari Park (until 6 April) where you can have you photo taken next to the elephants and donate some money to a great cause. If you’re looking for crafty pursuits, kid can paint their own egg cups at TheRoald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden today and listen to storytelling from The Twits.
It’s International Pillow Fight Day – whoo hoo! -so it’s the perfect chance to get silly at the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford at 2.30pm. Fiiiiiiiggghht! Afterwards wander down to the river in Oxford – Saturday is a buzzy day to get a punt from Magdalen, Cherwell Boat House or Head of the River. If you’re thinking Easter egg hunts, check out River & Rowing museum for little ones (and try the new Quince Tree cafe on site afterwards – result!), Waddesdon‘s version is always a winner (and kids can have fun in the brilliant Colourscape installation too), and there are massive celebrations for Hampton Court’s 500th Anniversary Party all Easter Weekend, including a spectacular 25 minute son et lumiere show each evening.
SUN 5 APRIL
One for all the family is a visit the fabulous moated and fortified Broughton Castle (near Banbury), a Muddy favourite and recent filming location for Wolf Hall. It’s open to the public today and tomorrow, and selected times now until October. The Henley Boat Races taking place today (no not those ones, these are the smaller local races!). Temple Island Meadows is the best spot to watch the races – there’ll be refreshements, a brass band and face painting for kids. If you fancy a night out, Alan Carr’s new show Yap, Yap, Yap! plays at Milton Keynes Theatre tonight. Or catch him on Thurs 9 at The New Theatre Oxford.
More Easter egg hunts than you can shake a stick at, so here are a selection of the best. Kew Gardens’ egg hunt ties in with their Shaun the Sheep Festival (so lots of Shaun-related sheepy events and activities). There’s an Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Bonnet Competition with masses of prizes Langley Park Country Park in Iver (note: you have to prebook it) and bouncy castles and afternoon tea on offer with the choccy hunt at Missenden Abbey. Kids can solve clues in a detective trail round the gardens for their chocolate reward at Waddesdon Manor and Cliveden while just across the border into Herts, Tring Museum has an Eggtastic Egg Hunt where kids have to work out which eggs are real and which fake (all 3-6 April).
Moving on from eggs, see Ivor the Engine in action at the Cholsey & Wallingford Railway this weekend (Sat 4 – Mon 6 April), or head over to Highclere Castle for an Easter special. A fiver entry gives you a choccy egg (oops, we’re back to eggs again), photo ops with Frozen‘s Elsa and the Amazing Superman, a battlefield assault course to take part in, an animal petting Farm, an Easter Bonnet Parade (to be judged by m’Lady Carnarvon), a vintage car display, birds of prey, face painting, inflatable rides and a trip to the moon and back. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised.
MON 6 APRIL
Don’t look now! Gary Lucy goes The Full Monty at the Wycombe Swan today (until 11 April). If there’s anything better to do with your Monday night I haven’t found it yet… Humph, I’ll come back to you on this one, I promise. Chenies Manor House is open today – drag the kids along with you, as there’s an Easter Egg hunt (2–5pm. Adults £7, child £4).
From today until 10 April there’s an Adventure Week at the vast Willen Lake (Milton Keynes), a multi-activity week (9.30am-4.30pm daily) including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, raft building, archery, katakanus (nope, I’ve no idea either), and a range of fun games. Sticking with sport, kids will love Stoke Park’s tennis camp today – with some of the best sports facilities in the country including HAWKEYE so no cheating!
This looks good – illustrator Steve Lenton brings his pens to the Roald Dahl Museum as he reads/draws the story of robber dogs Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, and the dragon-hunting Princess Daisy (6+ years). And while you’re in Missenden, it’s the last day to enjoy the Great Missenden Easter Food Festival – there’s a full kids programme of cookery including Jelly Eruptions and Edible Slime (!), plus pottery, crafts and an Easter egg hunt. Into London, and now is the time to young jazz lovers 12-17 to apply to the legendary Ronnie Scott’s for its Big Band In a Day for children (generally Grade 6 and above). A brilliant opportunity.
TUES 7 APRIL
I missed this in Oxford, and if you did too, Peep Show‘s Robert Webb stars in Jeeves and Wooster at The Milton Keynes Theatre from tonight until Sat 11 April. If you’re into music, check out The Listening Room, a monthly, laid back music night at The Old Fire Station, Oxford that gives emerging bands and artists from the local music scene to showcase their music. See Maxine Peake as Hamlet at the Ultimate Picture Palace.
It might be a bit esoteric but I’d recommend taking the kids on a tour at the Bodleian Library – it’s stunning. They’ll get to see the 15th century Divinity School (above), the 17th century Convocation House and the mediaeval library. Tours daily every day for 11+. Families with small children can do a history trail and quiz, taking in the Radcliffe Camera, the Old Bodleian Library and the Sheldonian Theatre.
Want something more physical? Send your kids out on the ‘Extreme’ route at Go Ape in Wendover Woods (Bucks), the only one in the UK, with a scrambling net and climbing wall to conquer just to reach the start! (1o+ years).
Jazz hands at the ready! Your dancey, thespy 5-8 year old kids will get a kick out of this 3 day Musical Theatre Experience workshop at Chippy Theatre (mornings only), culminating in an all-singing all dancing performance on Thursday. Crafty types might prefer making a Chirpy Chick Puppet today at The Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden. Activate Dance Festival is on today and tomorrow at The Aylesbury Waterside – 30 local groups and 450 dancers strutting their stuff. Also it’s Terrific Tuesday today at the Chiltern Open Air Museum with special craft activities, games and dressing up.
WEDS 8 APRIL
One of the prettiest National Trust properties in Oxfordshire, Greys Court is now conducting it house tours and has its 17000 spring bulbs about to explode. Also check out the stunning Rousham Gardens near Bicester, designed by William Kent – one just for the adults, as kids under 15 are banned!
There’s a sweet Catapillar Crazy event on at River and Rowing Museum (above) for 4-7 year olds, showing how a catapillar turns into a butterfly, and of course you’re right by the river afterwards for walks, playgrounds and lunch at the brand new Quince Tree cafe on site. Dig out the wellies – Minibeast Hunts are running at 1 and 3pm today in Black Park Country Park (book ahead for a slot with the Rangers), or Get Gardening! at Oxford’s Botanic Garden. This is just a drop-in where kids can make their own plant pot to take home along with some seeds to grow in it. There’s Glow in the Dark Printmaking at Cornerstone Arts Centre (Didcot) which sounds pretty funky, or how about a Comedy Workshop aimed at 8-14 year olds at Chippy Theatre? Kids work on punch-lines, learn insider tricks of the trade and write their own routines before performing them on stage. Terrifying. Back at Cornerstone, Duck in the Truck at Cornerstone ticks all the boxes. Based on the bestselling book by Jez Alborough, it’s billed as a ‘silly yucky mucky show’, and probably perfect for littlies.
THURS 9 APRIL
Not likely to make it to a London theatre any time soon? A NT Live: A View From The Bridge screening takes place at The Regal Henley today. Alan Carr’s brand new stand up show Yap, Yap, Yap! plays for one night at The New Theatre, Oxford, while over at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury Lorraine and Alan, winner of the Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence, and described by The Guardian as ‘a very lovable show with buckets of charm’ is on today. If you fancy being creative, there’s a hand-Printing Workshop for adults (or ages 16+) at The Story Museum. Get your mitts on the historical printing presses, set your own name in type and print to make something really unique and beautiful.
Whipsnade Zoo kids 12+ can meet the lions and tigers, 3+ for elephants or minimum height of 3ft to meet the giraffes in small groups – it’s an extra cost on your normal entrance ticket. There’s Tree Climbing at Cliveden today and tomorrow with the help of the Great Big Tree Climbing Company. Kids with rhythm (or without it – maybe they need it more!) can try the two-morning Dance Workshop at Chippy Theatre aimed at 8-12 year olds, while Youth Dance is a two-morning dance course for 5 – 9 year olds at Cornerstone Arts in Didcot.
FRI 10 APRIL
Ripped muscles at the ready, The Dreamboys bring their undoubted, er, talents to Oxford’s New Theatre tonight. Hip-hop stand up Doc Brown bring his show The Weird Way Round to The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, while The Kenton Theatre, Henley has the coup of The Heart of Things direct from its West End Premiere run (tonight and tomorrow). I love the look of this Tate exhibition of Marlene Dumas if you’re heading into London, or as an alternative don’t forget the brilliant V&A exhibition Savage Beauty about Alexander McQueen’s work and legacy.
Ventured to LegoLand yet? It’s well and truly open and no doubt past its early season glitches if you can bear the queues (use my handy guide on how to make the most of your time there). There’s nothing particularly new to try this season that I can see, but if your children love putting little bright bits of plastic together, what’s not to like? Animation: Kool Science at Cornestone Arts, Didcot will help your kids make animated short movies inspired by weird, wonderful science. If you haven’t made it skiing this year, or you want to do something a bit different, Milton Keynes SnoZone offers 45 minutes of sledging down their real snow slopes for kids 3-15 and adults. The lovely Waterperry Gardens is a great runaround for kids outside – it will take them an hour to make it round to the cafe at the end!
SAT 11 APRIL
Do you care about The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race? You might do when you cop a look at the blokes rowing in it (just saying) and happen to be around Fulham today. Closer to home, catch Jimmy Carr’s brand new stand up show, Funny Business at New Theatre Oxford tonight.
An opportunity to experience the South American Rainforest Weekend at Heythrop Park’s private zoo, one of only a couple of times it opens to the public each year. Hugless Douglas at The Theatre, Chipping Norton is fun morning performance ideal for younger children from 3+ and with plenty of opportunity to sing along. In London it’s the opening night of the long-awaited musical Bugsy Malone. Bring on the shimmies and show-tunes (til 1 Aug 15). At Whipsnade Zoo kids 12+ can meet the lions and tigers, 3+ for elephants or minimum height of 3ft to meet the giraffes in small groups – it’s an extra cost on your normal entrance ticket, while they’re bringing out the big guns at Longleat Safari Park, with acrobatic performances from the internationally renowned Sichuan Chunmiao Acrobatic Troupe in the undercover arena as part of your ticket (performances on most days – check the timetable here).
SUN 12 APRIL
Haven’t you suffered enough already this Easter? Hand the kids some electronic equipment, and settle back with a flat white to read Muddy Stilettos at your leisure!
Oh alright then, here are a few things for the kids *sigh* A sweet show at the Pegasus Theatre, Oxford (above) as part of its Funday Sunday. The Grow Show is packed full of puppetry, interactive songs, gentle clowning and a chance to meet the puppet stars after the show. It’s your last chance to allow your kids an easter egg sugar rush. Choose from the Easter Egg hunt at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley, Kew Gardens’ egg hunt tying in with its Shaun the Sheep Festival or the detective trail at Waddesdon Manor that leads only one way – to a chocolate reward.