Go on, try something different!
Storms, War and Shipwrecks Day, Ashmolean, Sat 16 July
A lovely activity day based around The Ashmolean’s new summer exhibition Storms, War and Shipwrecks (see my review here). It’s a free event, where kids can handle objects, and play games and in the galleries, meet real divers and learn about the oldest submerged town in the world which *cough* of course we all know is Pavlopetri off the coast of Greece.
Worth seeing the actual exhibition while you’re there too – a 200-strong four room show that focuses on 2500 years worth of treasures rescued from its waters including pieces from an incredible ‘flat pack’ church and bronze battering rams once mounted on the prows of Roman warships.
Ashmolean, Beaumont St, Oxford, ashmolean.org
Art in Action, Waterperry Gardens, Thurs 14 – Sun 17 July
The last ever Art in Action (*sob*). This is the 40th and final year of the event, and organisers are expecting up to 400 artists, crafters, performers and musicians to gather together in the lovely Waterperry Gardens in Wheatley to demonstrate their skills and work. There’s also a practial classes section where you can have a go at flicking paint or flinging the clay off the potters’s wheel and seeing how far it travels (oh, just me?). Kids can let off steam around the gardens and there’s a sweet tea room too.
Waterperry Gardens Ltd, Waterperry, Oxon, artinaction.org.uk
Creation Theatre: Hamlet, Oxford, on now til Sat 13 Aug
The brilliant Oxford-based Creation Theatre have transformed University Parks into Hamlet’s castle and , playground and personal hell (da, da, daaaaaaaa!). The location is perfect for taking a stroll before the show, packing a picnic and then rollicking through Hamlet in two hours (plus a 20 minute interval). Having snuck out of watching Kevin Branagh’s four hour Hamlet in the 90s from sheer exhaustion, this one has Muddy written all over it.
The Creation, Joseph Haydn, Garsington Opera, Thurs 14 – Sat 16 July
I love it when I find unusual creative collaborations and this is right up with the best of them. Garsington Opera is performing with Rambert, Britain’s national dance company, to bring Haydn’s groundbreaking oratorio The Creation to life through music and dance. How brilliant and bonkers is that?!
It’s choreographed by Rambert’s Artistic Director Mark Baldwin and performed by the company along with Garsington Opera’s Orchestra and Chorus so it will be really different and special, plus it’s being perfomed at the stunning Wormsley Estate in Stokenchurch. Go see.
Garsington Opera, Wormsley Estate, Bucks, garsingtonopera.org
Peter Pan in Scarlet, Oxford Playhouse, 12 Aug – 4 Sept
My big family flagwave for the summer, this is a big deal – the world premiere of the play Peter Pan in Scarlet, based on the best-selling novel by three-times Whitbread Children’s Book Award winner (and local writer) Geraldine McCaughrean, and adapted/ directed by the brilliant exec director of the New Vic Theresa Heskins. It promises circus and fire, shipwrecks and battles, as the grown up Wendy and the Lost boys return go Neverland to rescue Peter in one last adventure armed with, er, fairy dust (and let’s be realistic, probably a few swords too when it comes down to it). It’ll be amazing, don’t miss it.
The Sounding Chamber unveiled, Cliveden House, open now
An underground chamber which is apparently a Jacobean surround sound system has been discovered at Cliveden. The chamber acts like an amplifier, built so the sounds of an invisible orchestra could drift around the guests at parties. Now the space is full of music again, with sound artist Robin Rimbaud having created, at the instigation of The National Trust, an installation called Ghosts, a hypnotic background loop based on a piece fo music by Vivaldi, while elswhere you hear elements of opera, music hall and even the audience awaiting a concert, chatting away, as the orchestra tunes up. Worth a visit if you’re heading Cliveden way.
Cliveden, Taplow, Berks, nationaltrust.org.uk
Crown Bazaar 2016 , The Crown at Bray, Sat 16 July
The Crown pub in Bray is holding its fourt annual family Bazaar. Expect BBQ and garden bar, stalls with edible goodies and gorgeous gifts, bouncy castle, face painting, village fete games, raffle and some Heston-quality good food! Free entry.
The Crown at Bray,High Street, Bray, Maidenhead, Berks, thecrownatbray.com
Henley Boat Festival, Fri 15 – Sun 17 July
Goodbye Henley Regatta, hello Henley Boat festival! This year features the largest display of traditional boats in Europe – the fleet of Dunkirk Little Ships, the royal row barge Gloriana, plus amphibious vehicles, a WW1 air display team and live music. Basically use it as an excuse to head down to the waterside in Henley!
Free entry to 17s and under. Fawley Meadows, Henley-on-Thames, tradboatfestival.com
Piercing the Sky, Old Fire Station, Fri 15 Jul – Sat 13 Aug
Piercing the Sky is an installation by homeless artists based in Oxford made in collaboration with artist Jon Lockhart. Beginning with Turner’s painting The High Street (1810), recently acquired by The Ashmolean Museum, the artists have used it as inspiration to capture and articulate their experiences of living in Oxford today. Interesting.
Arts at the Old Fire Station, 40 George St, Oxford, oldfirestation.org.uk
Big Camp Weekend, Ashridge Estate, Sat 16 – Sun 17 July
Two nights of camping in the Ashridge Estate medieval meadows, plus day and night time activities for the family, if toasting marshmallows, joining rangers on night time bat walks, and counting butterflies is your bag. The Ashridge estate on the Bucks/Herts borders is totally stunning and these are the only two nights in the year you can stay over.
Ashbridge Estate, Moneybury Hill, Ringshall, Near Berkhamsted, Hert , nationaltrust.org.uk
Outdoor Cinema: Top Gun & Grease, Stonor, Fri 15 & Sat 16 July
This one’s a goody. Take me to bed or lose me forever with Top Gun on 15 July or get a hickey from Kennicky in Grease on 16 July in the stunning surrounds of Stonor Park. You can order blankets and back rests (!), as well as premium tickets, plus there’s an onsite estrella bar, and pre-bookable street food. If you’re planning to snog in the back row, remember to pack your extra strong mints. Just saying.
Stonor Park, Stonor, Henley-on-Thames, stonor.com
Henley Fringe, Mon 18 – Sat 23 July
It’s been going for nine years now, a lovely riverside pre-Edinburgh festival teaser in many ways, with comedy drama, musicals, film and new writing. Worth checking out – Norris & Parker’s dark surreal comedy, comedians Will Duggan and Tom Ward, Comedy on Water, Alice and Twelfth Night, all in venues around the lovely town.
Much Ado About Nothing, Oxford Castle, now to Sat 16 July
Two days left to catch Much Ado About Nothing at the Oxford Castle Unlocked castleyard. A great one to take kids too as Tomohawk make Shakespeare really accessible, keeping the language and themes but packing the shows with live music, dances and songs. And of course one of the main protagonists is ‘fair Hero’ which is always highly amusing for yours truly.
Oxford Castle Quarter, Castle St, oxfordcastleunlocked.co.uk
The Tempest, Oxford Castle, Mon 18 – Sat 30 July
More outdoor Shakespeare, this time at the Oxford Castle Quarter. After the bloody epic of last year’s production of Titus Andronicus, Siege Theatre has set its sights on The Tempest as part of the Oxford Shakespeare Festival. We’ll all be speaking in iambic pentameter by the end of the summer at this rate.
Oxford Castle Quarter, Castle St, oxfordcastleunlocked.co.uk
Juxtaposition, The Oxfordshire Museum, Sat 23 July
I love the Oxordshire Museum in Woodstock and this Juxtoposition exhibition sounds interesting, matching items for its modern crafts collection with their historic counterparts. A dipper-into if you’re in the area.
David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, Royal Academy Of Arts, 2 Jul-2 Oct
You will definitely have to book in advance if you fancy checking out this huge new show from David Hockney. After his last landscape exhibition, which was massive, he’s turned to portraits — and the subjects are all family, friends, acquaintances from his life in LA. Sounds absolutely stunning.