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Top 10 things to do this weekend

Feeling a bit peeky about the American election results? There’s only one thing for it – rack up the cocktails, book some theatre tickets, put on your stilettos and thank your lucky stars we only have Nigel and Boris to deal with.

Christmas at Blenheim, Woodstock, 25 Nov – 2 Jan 2017


An early flagwave for Blenheim Palace’s whopper Christmas offering. For the first time, the Blenheim estate will be illuminated for an hour-long festive trail that will transform the Capability Brown-designed Gardens into a winter wonderland. The highlights include a scented Fire Garden, Christmas trees that sing, a swaying lawn of fibre optic colour; the lake filled with brightly-lit boats filled with snowflakes and presents (dont be tempted to swim for it). Other highlights include a fairy-lit arbour and the lakeside boathouse which will become a temporary home for that fat bloke with the white beard. A festive no-brainer.

The Shawshank Redemption, New Theatre, Oxford, Mon 7- Sat 13 Nov


Housewive’s hottie Paul Nicholls, well known on our screens from everything from Eastenders to The C-Word and In the Club, stars in the stage production of The Shawshank Redemption, based on the novella that turned into the Oscar-nominated film starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Nicholls plays Andy,  an innocent handed a double life sentence for the brutal murder of his wife, with the Freeman role taken by Ben Onwukwe (RSC, Royal Court and *cough* London’s Burning). It’s not going to be a barrel of laughs, let’s be frank about that, but the film was brilliant and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be too.

Buy tickets

The Vanished Reality, Modern Art Oxford, Sat 12 Nov – 31 Dec


Starting this Saturday Modern Art Oxford’s final Kaleidescope exhibition of 2016 as part of MOA’s 50th anniversary that’s seen a series of interconnected shows bringing back many international artists from previous years. In this last exhibition, The Vanished Reality, show work by nine influential artists including Iman Issa, Louise Lawler, Maria Loboda, Kerry James Marshall, working with photography, sculpture, painting, video and installation. The exhibition explores the relationship between art and the social, political and cultural conditions in which it is created (it says here). No, I don’t know what that means either, but it’s probably worth going along to find out.

Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke St, Oxford,

The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography, The Tate Modern, Thurs 10 Nov – 7 May 2017


Just opened today (Thurs), this is your opportunity to admire Sir Elton John’s private collection of Modernist photography at the Tate Modern – 150 of his faves, 60 seminal artists including Man Ray, Berenice Abbot and Alexander Rodchenko).

Woodstock Poetry Festival 2016, Fri 11 – Sun 13 Nov


A poet and you didn’t know it? Then you’ll love Woodstock’s Poetry Festival starting Friday and going through the weekend, with some seriously impressive participants including Lemn Sissay (above), official poet of the 2012 Olympics, Liz Lochhead, former Makar of Scotland and Gillian Clarke, formerly National Poet of Wales. Theres’ also a free children’s event, an open mic session and a poetry and music combo.

Woodstock, Oxon,


Story Bash 2016, Banbury Museum, Sat 12 Nov

A sweet drop in idea if you’re around Banbury on Saturday. Story Bash day (great name btw) is Banbury Musuem’s biggest event of the year when they celebrate all the stories of Banbury and bring the museum collections to life with a day of free events and activities. There’s the usual facepainting and crafts for littlies but for older enthusiastics there’s storytelling, English Civil War displays and even a pop up cinema.

Banbury Musuem, Spiceball Park Road Banbury,

EFG London Jazz Festival, London Southbank, Fri 11 – Sun 2- Nov



The London Jazz Festival has been going for 24 years now so  just imagine how the stops will be pulled out for next year’s celebration. But this year’s not looking too shabby either – a 10 day extravaganza on the South Bank, featuring over 2000 artists, 300+ gigs, 50+ venues and  a heady mix of emerging and international artists.

Southbank Centre, London SE1,

Ross & Ross Pop Up at The Three Pigeons, Milton Common, Fri 11 & Sat 12 Nov



If you didn’t manage to snaffle tickets for Native Feasts at LASSCO next month – they sold out in a flash – here’s an alternative. Former head chef of The Thatch in Thame, Ross Whitmill is creating a pop-up supper club at LASSCO over Fri 11-Sat 12 Nov and Fri 25-Sat 26 Nov. Tickets are £35 for a 4 course diner with a cash bar.

LASSCO Three Pigeons, Milton Common, Thame,

Wine Tasting Supper Club, Peterley Manor Farm, Fri 11 Nov

peterley yurt

Tis the season for supper clubs and I love it! Peterley Manor Farm near Great Missenden mid Bucks  has done a great job of diversifing its offering with its popular yurt cafe/event space, and this evening do offers a tasting menu with guided wines to match.

Peterley Manor Farm, Peterley Lane, Great Missenden, Bucks,

Night at the Museum, Oxford Museum of Natural History, Fri 11 Nov


Not an overnighter with Ben Stiller but a fun-sounding Friday evening sojourn for budding natural historians, where kids 12-14 years can explore their inner scientist by taking part in a riddle-filled adventure around the Oxford Musuem of Natural History.

6-9pm. Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford,
Puccini, The Cutty Sark, London, Sat 12 Nov


So bonkers it has to be included. OperaUpClose seem like the busiest opera company in the biz, and this weekend it”s wobbling the tonsils at the Cutty Sark with its Olivier-Award winning La Bohème starring Rupert Everett’s better looking nephew.

Cutty Sark, King William Walk, Greenwich SE10,

Stick Man, Wycombe Swan, Sun 13 Nov



Scamp Theatre’s adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stick Man promises a trio of actors, puppetry, songs, dancing and live music. More fun than you can shake a stick at for kids 3+.

Wycombe Swan Theatre, St Mary St, High Wycombe, Bucks,

Festival Of Light, Longleat Safari Park, Fri 11 Nov – Jan 2017



Looking to visit Longleat? Then you might want to coincide it with this Festival of Light that includes Europe’s largest Chinese Lantern Festival. To celebrate the Safari Park’s 50th anniversary, there are also giant characters of Beatrix Potter taking centre stage.

Longleat, Warminster, Wilts

Knebworth Christmas Fair, Fri 11 – Sun 13 Nov


And so the Christmas Fair onslaught begins. The usual selection of jewellery, handicrafts, photography, ceramics and food/drink, plus Father Christmas in his Grotto (yes in November) and the promise of some special festive friends. Better bring some carrots just in case.

Knebworth House, Knebworth,


Steve Backshall’s Wild World, Aylesbury Waterside, Weds 16 Nov

My kids love this guy. Nearly as famous for being the sobbing other half of rowing Olympian Helen Glover as for his day job of adventurer and TV presenter, Steve Backshall comes to the Aylesbury Waterside to talk about the real life expeditions that have inspired his books The Falcon Chronicles and his new novel in the series, Shark Seas and also includes Q&As.

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange St, Aylesbury,

Field of Light, Bruce Munro,Waddesdon Manor –  until 2 Jan 2017

Winter Light At Waddesdon: Bruce Munro

Artist Bruce Munro’s immersive installation, Field of Light, returns to Waddesdon Manor this winter with a massive whoop from yours truly, because let me tell you, it’s totally utterly awesome. Munro has been artist in residence at Waddesdon for a couple of years and this year Field of Light is in a new location, to celebrate 25 years since its conception with Munro planting 9,000 slender stemmed optic fibred glass spheres around the Aviary Glade to the East of the manor house. The idea is that they ‘bloom’ or lightup as darkness falls drawing visitors into the installation. Wrap up warm and enjoy it with your kids, they’ll adore it.





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