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The social calendar is starting to crank up and there’s plenty to occupy this week in Oxon, Bucks and beyond. Strap up and pop that cork, we’re ready for take off.

Thame Literary Festival, Weds 12 – Sun 16 Oct


Coming off the back of the massive recent Food Festival in the town, Thame’s small but perfectly formed literary festival is a relaxed five day event, offering 41 events for local book lovers. Headliner Roger McGough has already sold out but there’s plenty else to excite, including a talk by Anne Fine (above), the former Children’s Laureate and writer of Madame Doubtfire (which became the Robin Williams Hollywood hit Mrs Doubtfire), and Kev F Sutherland’s Comic Art Masterclass, with the Beano and Marvel writer and artist teaching kids 7+ all there is to know about making comic strips.

Frieze London Art Fair, Regent’s Park, Thurs 6 – Sun 9 Oct



It’s a total artfest at Regent’s Park for the next few days as Frieze London Art Fair returns to the city, along with the Frieze Masters and the Frieze Sculpture Park which brings large-scale artworks presented by galleries in the English Garden. Frieze  has become a massive undertaking with 160 leading galleries taking part, plus an ambitious programme of new artist commissions and talks. New this year is The Nineties gallery section, which recreates important exhibitions from the decade, plus The Reading Room returns for its second year, offering visitors the chance to poke, prod and whip out their autograph books for writers, editors and artists.

Regent’s Park, London,

Ronnie Scott’s All Stars Present The Ronnie Scott’s Story, Cornerstone Arts, Fri 7 Oct


This sounds awesome. A celebration of the legendary jazz club combining live jazz from the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars Quintet with narration and rare archive photos and video footage charting the club’s rise from a basement bar to its landmark status today. The Cornerstone’s cafe has just been revamped so you can sit there at half time in your turtle neck talking sagely about mixolydian syncopation.

Cornerstone Arts, Station Rd, Didcot,

Russell Kane, Right Man, Wrong Age Tour, Old Town Hall, Wycombe, Sat 8 Oct


Another week, another comedian rocks up to the area – we should be weeping with laughter the whole time, shouldn’t we? Russell Kane skips over to the Wycombe Swan this Saturday in a new show about ‘growing up and growing down’, with a minimum age of 14+.

Old Town Hall, High Wycombe,

Picasso Portraits, The National Portrait Gallery, 6 Oct – 5 Feb 2017


The big autumn show from The National Portrait Gallery takes a look at some of the lesser known works of PP, following his abstract use of portraiture through his career. A  no-brainer if you happen to be in central London.


The Natural History of Pokémon, Oxford Museum of Natural History, Sat 8 Oct

Brush off your Pokéballs! Collections manager Mark Carnall shows how the zoology of Pokémon introduces players to concepts such as sexual dimorphism, genetics and advanced classification. Seriously I  have no idea what any of this means, only that teenage children who ordinarily would scoff at the idea of going anywhere near a museum on a Saturday night may actually set foot in OUMNH arches.

Suitable for adults and young people. 7- 8pm Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford,

Hand Made at Kew, Thurs 6 – Sun 9 Oct


Finally, somewhere I can sell my crocheted tea cosies. Four days of global handcrafts awaits us at Kew Gardens with work bought directly from over 200 artists and makers in ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles, metalwork, wood, sculpture and jewellery. The ticket price gives you access to whole of Kew gardens at this beuatiful time of year.

Kew Gardens, Surrey,

Little Missenden Festival of Music and the Arts, Bucks, Fri 7  – Sun 16 Oct

The Little Missenden Festival of Music and the Arts slinks elegantly into its 57th year, and it’s well worth the effort if you’re really into your music. An intimate, high quality festival set mostly in the ancient village church of St John the Baptist, a small Saxon/Norman building enriched with exquisite 12-17th century wall paintings (above), the acoustics in the church are just phenomenal, all the better for the early, baroque, classical, jazz, folk and contemporary music on offer. There are also art lectures (mostly sold out it seems), poetry and kids events, and all in this gorgeous, unspoilt village in the Chilterns.

Commander Chris Hadfield – The Darkest Dark, Blackwell’s Oxford, Sun Oct 9


Commander Chris Hadfield, the retired Canadian astronaut and most famous cover artist of David Bowie’s Space Oddity ever, is rocketing into Oxford and Blackwell’s bookshop for a book signing of his first book for children, The Darkest Dark this weekend. Inspired by  Hadfield’s childhood watching of the first moon landing, The Darkest Dark follows a young boy who plays at being an alien-fighting astronaut, but at night is scared of the darkness only to realise that space is even darker than his bedroom and is not scary but fascinating and exciting. Hadfield will be on hand to read, sell and sign. Did someone just say ‘Christmas present alert’?

Free to attend. 3.30- 6pm. Blackwell’s, Broad St, Oxford,

The Budapest Cafe Orchestra, Arts at Stowe, Fri 7 Oct


Led by jazz violin superstar Christian Garrick, The Budapest Café Orchestra plays traditional folk and gypsy-flavoured music from across the Balkans and Russia at the state-of-the-art auditorium at Stowe School. Expect classics like the theme to Schindler’s List and Andy Statman’s beautiful Flatbush Waltz as you float down the Danube.

Ugland Auditorium, Stowe School, Bucks,

Cara Dillon, Mill Arts, Banbury, Thurs 6 Oct



Northern Irish singer Cara Dillon has won every folk award going, and she’s at the Mill Arts Centre promoting her fifth solo album this week, after a five year break. Dillon has been in the industry for eons, and aside from making albums, she’s done her bit for a Disney soundtrack (singing on Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue), and had one of her songs turned into a techno remix club sensation. Basically she’s a pro, so if you’re in the area, go see what the fuss is about.

Mill Arts Centre, Spiceball Park, Banbury,


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