MON 16 - SUN 22 APRIL 2018
Oxford Book Fair, Headington, Sat 21 – Sun 22 April
Running since 1975, Oxford’s biggest book fair of the year will host over 90 dealers from across the country in the main hall of Oxford Brookes’ Headington Hill Campus. With thousands of antiquarian, fist-editions and collectable books for sale, its a dead cert for picking up pressies or adding to a collection. £2 on the door or download your free ticket here.
St George and the Dragon, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, Sat 21 – Sun 22 April
With St George’s Day on Sunday, here’s your chance to bring the family to the Chiltern Open Air Museum near Chalfont St Giles to meet the knight in person and enjoy a masquerade starring, you guessed it, the dragon. There’s a dragon trail around the museum plus some dragon inspired crafts, and watch the middle aged men – I mean, the brave knights – battle it out in armed combat. If you don’t know this museum, it’s very gentle and outdoorsy, with 30 historic buildings that have been saved and rebuilt there, including an historic working farm. Let the little people run amok!
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 17 – Sat 21 April
Awards aplenty for Daniel Jamieson’s The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk after selling out at London’s Globe Theatre and the Traverse in Edinburgh, where it won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award. Presented by Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic, the play follows partners in life and on canvas, Marc and Bella Chagall, through some of the most devastating times in history, navigating the Pogroms, the Russian Revolution, and each other. It looks awesome.
Aged 10 plus and 90 minutes with no interval. Book tickets £10- £30
My First Ballet: Swan Lake, New Theatre Oxford, Sat 21 – Sun 22 April
My First Ballet: Swan Lake is aimed at children aged 3+, and performed by students at the English national Ballet school in a simplified version of the fairytale. These performances are massively popular – the My First Ballet series has been running since 2012 – and they’re beautifully staged with a narrator to help the young audience follow the story, and a shortened version of Tchaikovsky’s score.
Folk Singer Cushion Concert, JDP Music Building, Oxford, Sun 22 April
I’m always banging on about these Cushion Concerts at the stunning Jaqueline du Pré building in St Hilda’s College Oxford, because they’re such a fantastic way for young kids to explore music. Musicians Rozzy or Tom introduce different instruments each week, with performances suitable to 5+ and under fives. Bring cushions (ear plugs optional depending on your patience levels) and watch the craziness unfurl.
Rothschild Wines from around the World, Waddesdon Manor, Sun 22 April
Spring show, Carina Haslam Gallery, Great Missenden, Thurs 19 April
Opened in 2011 in the lovely village of Great Missenden, this respected gallery exhibits life-sized bronzes, land and seascapes and semi-abstract work and has sold to the likes of Flemings bank, Fortnum and Mason and The House of Lords. Haslam exhibits her clients all around the country and internationally but her Spring show in Buckinghamshire is, let’s face it, waaaaay more convenient!
Folk Weekend: Oxford, Fri 19 – Sun 22 April
The seventh Folk Weekend: Oxford is on this weekend with headliner Eliza Carthy (MBE no less) and her fiddle, gleefully raucous guitar band False Lights, The Furrow Collective, Jackie Oates and many, many more. There’s Morris dancing in Gloucester Green, folk singing at the kids’ cushion concert at St Hilda’s and live bands in some of Oxford’s most inspiring venues. Add craft stalls, workshops and family fun in to the mix and there really is something for everyone.
CADA Antique Fair, Blenheim Palace, Thurs 19 – Sun 22 April
World-class art and antiques by over 30 dealers come together at at the seventh annual Blenheim Palace CADA Fair, featuring everything from furniture to clocks, textiles to garden ornaments. Prices go from a passable £100 to a choke-on-your-breakfast £100,000+. Still, it’s free to look.
It’s Always Tea Time, Story Museum, Oxford, until July 7
Journey down the rabbit hole and discover It’s Always Tea Time, a fab new Alice-themed exhibit at Oxford’s Story Museum. Visiting the UK for the first time ever, this award-winning collection celebrates the world’s most famous tea party from Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 72 Artists from 19 countries including Iran, Russia, Spain, Hungary and the Baltic States explore the theme with interactive picture trails, dress-up stations and artwork displays which appeal to the WHOLE family.
Painting Sea and Skyscapes, Be in Art, Headington, Sat 21 April
These super-relaxed, mindful art classes (where you don’t need to be Picasso to participate) are run by self-taught artist Jane Beinart, who, thanks to her training as a life coach, understands the therapeutic benefits of painting and is big on boosting your confidence as you develop your daubing. You will come away with 2, er, masterpieces ready to hang on the wall, as well as 6-10 on paper.
The Making of Harry Potter, Watford, now – Sun 23 Sept
This WB Studio Tour company never runs out of new reasons to get families back to this paean to the boy wizard. A new special feature dedicated entirely to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth installment of the magical film series, revealing secrets behind the characters, costumes and props that made it so special.
Out of the Block: Henry Moore’s Carvings, Henry Moore Studios & Garden – until October
Just over the border into Herts and well worth the travel as Henry Moore’s Studio and Gardens (near Bishop’s Stortford ) open to the public once again for Spring and Summer. There’s a wonderful new exhibition celebrating Moore’s carvings but you can also meander through the beautiful gardens with sculptures galore and spring lambs running around bronzes, plus there’s a fab new cafe, and you can also visit Henry Moore’s house.
BOOK NOW FOR
The Little Mermaid, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, Weds 25 April
I’ve seen Swan Lake a trillion times, but The Little Mermaid as a ballet is new to me. Not for long though – the brilliant Leicestershire-based Ballet Theatre UK comes to the Wycombe Swan for one night only in this dramatic interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy story. Tissues at the ready for the mermaid who gives up everything to win the love of a human Prince, making a tragic bargain with an evil Sea Witch in the process.
Chipping Norton Lit Fest, Thurs 26 – Sun 29 April
Loving the sound of this eclectic festival. Reggie Yates and Gorky Paul rub shoulders with Terry Waite and Lionel Shriver in various venues throughout this elegant Cotswolds town in North Oxfordshire.
Great Antique Vintage Car Boot Fair, Stonor Park, Sun 6 May
Looking for a vintage find? This upmarket car boot fair has been a massive hit for Stonor Park and it’s back in the gorgeous 850 year old surrounds again for May. You can celeb spot – last year Russell Brand, Pete Doherty and Mary Berry have all been spotted in previous years all on the rummage for a bargain – and you can make a day of it with the cafe, chapel and the Wonder Woods play area all open. A day’s fun right there.
An Officer & A Gentleman, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, Mon 7 – Sat 12 May
This is a movie etched forever on my brain – anyone else have happy teenage memories of Richard Gere in full navals (or maybe, er, half navals)? Like all films pre 1990 An Office & A Gentleman has now been judged ripe for a musical makeover, and this is its premiere season, having started last month in Leicester’s Curve theatre. The soundtrack includes the hit song from the movie Up Where We Belong along with Eighties anthems including Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Livin’ On A Prayer, Heart of Glass, Material Girl, and ‘The Final Countdown’. The Muddy fromage-ometer is riper than a blue cheese in the midday sun but pass those goddam crackers and fill up my wine glass, I’m grabbing my girl posse and GOING!
The Little Welly, Henley, Sat 9 – Sun 10 June
This one’s all about getting muddy, so naturally us Muddy crew are very much on board. The Little Welly organise summer children’s obstacle courses and festivals, in various locations in Oxon, Herts, Kent and Surrey. The 2018 dates local to us are 9 and 10 June in Henley.
The course is a 3km hop, skip, jump and dash through 30 challenges, taking in streams, trails, mud and woodland. If that doesn’t tire out the little blighters, what will?! Then there’s the accompanying festival with – deep breath – go-karting, live music, soft-play bus, helter skelter, zorbing, den building, climbing wall and pony rides. What more could you want? I think this is such a fantastic idea – get ‘em away from screens, into the fresh air and doing some exercise. And I quite fancy a pony ride myself.