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This weekend

Fri 12 - Sun 14 Jul


THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, 8 Jul – 7 Sept 

Tis the season to dodge the rain and enjoy some outdoor thespian action so grab your rug, brolly and, of course, a sneaky hipflask as Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre is pitching up at Blenheim Palace with Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Romeo & Juliet– the 13-sided scaffolding theatre, with three tiers of covered seating and open courtyard for ‘groundlings’, will be accompanied by a Shakespearean Village selling local ales, ice cream and side shows.


COMEDY: The Oxford Festival Fringe Preview Comedy FestivalOxford, Mon 1 – Wed 31 Jul

The Oxford Festival Fringe Preview Comedy Festival,  (try saying that after a few G&Ts) kicks off this week with over 50 shows from the best comedians who’re heading to Edinburgh Fringe and other large arts festivals in several venues across Oxford. This week you can see Desiree Burch (Mon), Adam Hess and Glen Moore (Wed) and Tara Newton Wordsworth (Sat) to name a few.


NEW EXHIBITION: Lynsey James, The Owen Mumford Gallery, Chipping Norton Theatre, 8 Jul – 5 Aug

Inspired by Old Masters such as Cezanne, Monet, Turner along with contemporary painters such as Streeton and Fred Cuming RA, Lynsey’s work is mostly a collection of picturesque seascapes in oil and water-based paint. A nice, easy viewing for a lazy afternoon.


THEATRE: Pictures of Dorian Grey, Blackwell’s bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford, Tues 9 – Sat 27 Jul (excl Sun)

The every quirky Creation Theatre perform Oscar Wilde’s Pictures of Dorian Grey in the atmospheric setting of Blackwell’s bookshop with the four main cast members swapping roles for each performance.



FESTIVAL: Henley Festival, Oxon, Wed 10 – Sun 14 Jul 

Henley Festival is for people who’re too posh for festivals! The genteel shebang is a black tie event which takes place over five days with some mega headline acts this year including Boy George, Jessie J and Tom Odell. There’s also a line up of comedy, arts and loads of food stalls to soak up the Champers.


MUSIC: FollyFest, Faringdon, Oxon, Fri 12 – Sun 14 Jul

FollyFest is a totally free a community arts festival with music, fringe events, arts and crafts, local businesses and lots of family fun. Whatever your taste in music, the whole spectrum is covered with soft rock, blues, folk, jazz, dance bands plus DJs doing their thang.


EVENT: Wallingford Cycling Festival, Wallingford, Fri 12 – Sun 14 Jul 

Set up in 2015,  Wallingford Cycling Festival is a non-profit festival which has thousands of people attend each year to see cycling races and activities across the town including fun rides and sportives and a giant air bag for daring 10+ year olds who want to practice flips and bike stunts.


NEW EXHIBITION: First Animals, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, from Fri 12 Jul

Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s new major exhibition First Animals opens this month, the exhibition will look back on the first origins of life as we know it on earth with fossils and specimens, some of which are over hundreds of millions of years old (!), loaned from museums around the world.  Highlights include an interactive, 360-degree diving installation, digital reconstructions and virtual reality. And if you can’t wait that long to get your fossil fix (no judging), then check out The North Wall’s First Imprints exhibition, a collaboration between Oxford Printmakers and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the exhibit will feature work from 25 artists inspired by First Animals (9 – 10 Jul).


KIDS: The Three Little Pigs, Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, Sat 13 Jul

This brand new version of the classic children’s tale The Three Little Pigs is set in France with puppets, Parisian piggies and a grumpy old chef/wolf who wants pigs’ tails for his soup.


FESTIVAL: The Cotswold Show and Food Festival, Glos, Sat 13 – Sun 14 Jul

For a red trousers and champers-type affair there’s the 30th anniversary of The Cotswold Show and Food Festival, just over the Glos border, with stalls, trade stands, falconry, dog show and Bathurst Arena with equestrian antics.


OUTDOOR THEATRE: Oxford Shakespeare Festival, Oxford Castle and Prison, until 10 Aug 

If you missed Romeo & Juliet and Richard III at the Oxford Castle last month, fear thee not! This week the festival moves onto its second performance of Macbeth by Tomhawk Theatre, against the brilliant backdrop of the castle and prison (until 27 Jul). The final performance will be Twelfth Night (29 Jul – 10 Aug).


OPERA: Garsington Opera Season, Wormsley Estate, until 26 Jul

More opera this month from Garsington Opera– lovely setting, sunny weather (hopefully) and warbling of the highest form. There are loads of the performances on the bill this week including Fantasio (8, 11 Jul), Don Giovanni (12, 14 Jul) and The Turn of the Screw (13 Jul).


KIDS: It’s A Small World, Kenton Theatre, Henley, Sat 13 – Sun 14 Jul

You might want to take your ear plugs to sit through this one as the show is based on the Disney ride, It’s A Small World, with that ear-splitting theme song. Good luck.



Photo: Edmund Blok

Ongoing exhibitions this moth include Paula Rego: Obedience and Defianceabove, at Milton Keynes’ amazing new MK Gallery, the largest retrospective of the political artist’s work in England for 20 years with pieces focusing on gender discrimination, violence, slavery, abortion and political tyranny; Claudette Johnson: I Came to Dance at Modern Art Oxford– an overview of the artist’s life, the exhibit features her early work from the ’80s when she joined the newly formed BLK Art Group, comprised of black British art students and the moving, political large-scale drawings of black men and women she is best know for (Sat 1 Jun – Sun 8 Sept); Waddesdon Manor‘s two exhibitions, Brought to Life: Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered, the largest ever show of the British painter’s work who’s best known for his still life and landscape paintings (until Sun 20 Oct)- check out my new review here, it was a surprise hit with the kids. And Framing Madame de Pompadour, a recreation of François Boucher’s famous portrait that’s on display at the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. The project, in collaboration with digital art conservators Factum Arte has used 3D reproduction technology to reproduce the painting which will be displayed in its original 18th century frame with an accompanying interactive exhibition (until Sun 27 Oct).



If you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes- you can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.



Must-see exhibitions in London this month include a new collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s designs at The Wallace Collection above, which contrasts the designer’s work with paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement. The intimate collection has been curated  by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives (until Sun 1 Sept). Or you can check out Beasts of London, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals which are brought to life using video projection mapping.

Muddy visited the Mary Quant retrospective (until 16 Feb) above at the V&A recently and it’s definitely worth checking out- over 200 items from the iconic ’60s designer’s career, from miniskirts to her make up range, accompanying images and a strong feminist undertone (girl power!) Also at the V&A is the the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, it’s sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance, or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A (until 1 Sept). The major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain is also worth a gander, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery (until 11 Aug). And finally, if you’re heading up north, there’s the new Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene, the exhibit features 85 works including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.



EVENT: The Henley Country Craft Show, Stonor Park, Henley, 23 – 26 Aug 

Ready to get crafty? The lovely Stonor Park hosts this family friendly craft show with outdoor marquees filed with up to 200 stalls selling handmade jewellery, homewares, clothing and more. Snaffle a bargain, then head over to the artisan food and drink stalls to stuff your face. There’ll also be live music, a vintage fair and new for 2019, a pop-up petting zoo, clay pigeon shooting, candle making and weaving workshops.


THEATRE: War Horse, New Theatre, Oxford, Thurs 22 Aug – Sat 7 Sept

The brilliant War Horse comes to New Theatre next month- set in WW1, this spectacular production is theatre at its best with the puppetry so clever that after a while you forget about the operators and models- a must see.


THEATRE: The Girl on the Train, Oxford Playhouse, Mon 15 – Sat 20 Jul

I read Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train a few summers ago when it came out and was hooked (it’s the sort of novel you binge-read) but was less enamoured with the film (Emily Blunt was its only saving grace), so I’m excited to see how the thriller plays out on stage. The show stars Samantha Womack, who plays Ronnie Mitchell in Eastenders and Oliver Farnworth (Hollyoaks, Coronation Street) – looks like a goodie.


FESTIVAL: Prosecco in the Park, Rye Farm MeadowAbingdon-on-Thames, Fri 19 – Sun 21 Jul

Prosecco in the Park runs festivals across the Muddy counties and this month it’s coming to Rye Farm MeadowAbingdon-on-Thames, where you can guzzle away on fizz all weekend in the pop-up Champagne and Prosecco tent and stuff your face with street food. There’ll also be a Gin House, Beer Bunker and Cocktail Box. There are 8 al fresco screenings over the boozy weekender too, including Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper getting hot and steamy in A Star is Born (Fri), family fave Incredibles 2 (Sat) and Hugh Jackman’s musical fandango The Greatest Showman (Sun).

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