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This weekend

Fri 17 - Sun 19 May


FESTIVAL: Pub in the Park, Higginson Park, Marlow, Fri 17 – Sun 19 May

Get yer glitter and denim hotpants out as festival season is upon us! Tom Kerridge’s popular gourmet scran meets live music fandango, Pub in the Park, returns to Higginson Park, Marlow, with the Kaiser Chiefs, Jake Bugg and All Saints in tow, as well as cookery demos and talks from Masterchef: The Professionals judge Monica Galetti, Dominic Robinson from Michelin-starred The Blackbird, in Berks and food critic Jay Rayner. For more info, check out Muddy’s interview with Tom here.


THEATRE: Les Misérables, Milton Keynes Theatre, until Sat 8 Jun

Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Les Misérables (which broke box office records when it premiered in 2009), comes to Milton Keynes Theatre on its major UK tour. One of the longest running West End shows, this production featuring new staging and scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. No Hugh Jackman (sorry), but a great cast of established actors including Olivier Award nominated Killian Donnelly (The Phantom of the Opera, Kinky Boots) as Jean Valjean.


CIRCUS: Gifford’s Circus, Sudley Castle, until Tues 28 May

Roll up, roll up! Gifford’s Circus pitches up its Big Top with the stunning backdrop of Sudley Castle- this year’s theme is midsummer 1973 so expect hippies, hipsters, rockstars, and flower power. Groovy baby.


POP-UP: Simon Sarin x OasisArt Box, High Wycombe shopping centre, until Sun 2 Jun 

Photo by Simon Sarin

Rock’n’roll is coming to Wycombe! Well, kind of. 26 photographs snapped by rock photographer Simon Sarin will be on display in a pop-up gallery, for Mental Health Awareness Week, including images of Pete Doherty, Franz Ferdinand, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Jake Bugg, Slaves, Blossoms and Royal Blood. The pop-up gallery, in collaboration with mental health charity Oasis Partnership, will be displayed in the shopping centre where the charity has its HQ.


FESTIVAL: Museums at Night, various locations, until Sat 18 May

This biannual festival of Lates in museums and galleries is hitting Bucks, Oxon and beyond this month with a Ghost Tour and Bat Walk at Knebworth House (Thurs 16 – Fri 17); Art Rocks, an exploration of how heritage science reveals, preserves and shapes the history of sculpture, at the History of Science Museum, in Oxford (Fri 17); an evening of 17th century music from Oxford Waits and Oxford Horns at Abingdon County Hall Museum. The museum will also be open, plus fabulous rooftop views of Abingdon’s countryside. And, saving the best ’til last, Bletchley Park hosts a Gin-Tology Experience, with an after hours guided tour of Bletchley, live music, history lesson on gin. And you’ll get to create a bespoke G&T from a selection of 40 gins (Fri 17 – Sat 18).


TALK: The Guilty Feminist, Aylesbury Waterside Fri 17 & New Theatre, Oxford, Sun 19 May

Host of the hit comedy podcast The Guilty Feminist and author of the book of the same name, Deborah Frances-White, tackles the state of 21st century feminism in her touring version of the show. We’ve got the inside scoop from Debs herself, check out our interview here.


COMEDY: Russell Kane, Wycombe Swan, Fri 17 May

Packing more energy than a Duracell factory, Russell brings his high-energy brand of comedy to Bucks with his new show The Fast and the Curious. 14+



Wood Festival is the under-the-radar diddy offshoot of July’s Truck Festival– it’s held in Braziers Park, near Wallingford in gorgeous woodland, it’s kiddy-friendly, plus it has some serious green creds (composting toilets, reusable cups, a stage literally made of wood). No major musical names but you can expect country, folk and indie rock vibes (Fri 17 – Sun 19). And, just over the Bucks border, in Cookham, there’s Let’s Rock The Moor festival, an ‘80s-tastic one-dayer with Marc Almond, Nik Kershaw (Muddy interview coming soon!), Limahl and, er, Black Lace (Sat 18 May). Jason Donovan will also be there, especially for you…


WALK: Breast Cancer Care Pink Ribbon Walk, Blenheim Palace, Sat 18 May 

A scenic walk around Blenheim’s beautiful grounds (a 10 mile or 20 mile), and for a good cause, too! There’ll be snack stations on route and a hot meal and massage when you get over the finish line. Don’t forget to wear pink.


FESTIVAL: Chilterns Walking Festival, various locations, Sat 18 May – Sun 2 Jun 

In case you didn’t know, you either live in or very close to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. No, not Aylesbury rather the gorgeous Chilterns, The Chiltern Walking Festival involving over 70 walks with expert guides plus stories and fun activities right across the Chiltern region. Find a walk here


THEATRE: Lost in Time, Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury, Sat 18 May 

Eeeek! Someone has stolen Professor Chronomier’s time machine and the ghosts of Aylesbury have been set loose around Bucks County Museum. Aylesbury Town Council and Queens Park Arts Centre’s in-house theatre company Unbound have teamed up for this new interactive play blending historical facts with original story.


SHOP: Babylon Plants open day, The Stables, nr Watlington, Sat 18 May 

Sprucing up your garden this spring? Usually just open to the trade, the brilliant Babylon Plants is opening its doors to the general public for the day. Wholesale prices, expert advice and more cake than even Prue Leith can handle. 10.30-4.30pm.


KIDS: The Flying Bath, Cornerstone, Didcot, Sun 19 May

Created by Julia Donaldson, the brains behind kid’s classic The Gruffalo of course, Little Angel Theatre presents The Flying Bath at Cornerstone, Didcot, a playful adventure story featuring catchy songs, humour and bath toys that come to life.


EVENT: Supercar Sunday, Stonor House, nr Henley, Sun 19 May

Supercar Sunday returns to Stonor House’s pristine front lawn, with race cars, super-sleek sportscars (I’ll take two please) and ultra modern hypercars. Throughout the day there’ll also be interviews with the owners, judging, prize giving and street food stalls. Heaps for kids too, including an adventure playground and treasure hunt in the Wonder Woods, traditional fair rides, laser tag and laser clay pigeon shooting. Or, over in Aylesbury’s Weedon Park, opposite the Bucks County Showground there’s the 25th Chiltern Hills Rally (Sun 19)- over 1,000 classic and vintage vehicles, including busses, tractors, scooters and motorbikes, live music, dog show, trade stands and food and drink stalls.


TENNIS: Open day, Prestwood Tennis Club, Sun 19 May

Any fledgling Andy Murrays in the fam? The tennis courts will be open along with a pop-up toy stall, cakes, free BBQ in the Club House and games to test the speed of your tennis ball. There’ll also be free coaching sessions throughout the day for all ages, from 5 to adult.


TOUR: Twilight Vintage Bus Tours, Oxford Bus Museum, Oxford, Sun 19 May

Oxford Bus Museum sends out its beautifully restored 1950s and 60s double decker busses onto the streets of Oxford. The buses are restored by volunteers at the museum and will depart from 11.30am and 2.30pm. More info here


DRINK: Danesfield Gin Bar, Danesfield House Hotel, Marlow-on-Thames, until Sun 1 Sept

Did someone say gin (*grabs coat*). The terrace Gin Bar at the exquisite Grade II-listed Danesfield House Hotel returns for summer with a curated selection of 5 gins and cocktail list- if it’s good enough for George and Amal Clooney’s wedding party, it’s certainly good enough for us.



Young chef/blogger Jack Greenhall, of Smoke & Thyme supper club, pops up at Roves Farm, near Faringdon, with a ‘field to fork’ menu using meat-reared on the farm for the venue’s first supper club (Sat 18). The Secret Supper Society, near Bicester (Fri 17, Fri 24, Fri 31) is BYO with a completely secret menu that’s revealed on the night, or go for Granary Watlington’s menu is tbc (Thurs 16 May, Fri  31 May). For something spicier, there’s fragrant and authentic South African food from Durban Spice, in Wheatley, with a five-course menu revealed on the night (Fri 17, Sat 18, Fri 24, Sat 25, Fri 31). Let me know if you try any of them out (you can borrow my elasticated reviewing trousers if you like).


ART: Oxford Artweeks, various locations, until Mon 27 May

Photo by Dee Robinson

My face exactly when I’m doing the laundry. Oxfordshire Artweeks festival is a biggie – the UK’s oldest and largest free artist open studios and pop-up exhibition, with hundreds of works ranging from painting, sculpture and ceramics to furniture, jewellery and photography. Galleries all over Oxon get involved and there are loads of meet-the-artist events, talks and demonstrations to get stuck into during the festival. The festival is moving on from central Oxford this weekend, on to Faringdon, Henley, Wantage and Thame (Sat 11 – Sun 19) and finally to north and west Oxfordshire including Chippy, Bicester and the Cotswolds (Sat 18 – Mon 27). Full festival guide here.



Ongoing exhibitions this month include: Matilda at Thirty at the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, featuring eight new drawings of a grown-up Matilda by Quentin Blake (until Sun 2 Jun); An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & the Thames at River & Rowing Museum in Henley, with textiles inspired by the Thames (until Sun 14 July); Samurai, at Bucks County Museum in Aylesbury, with awesome artefacts from ancient Japanese Samurai armour to ornate helmets and swords (until Sat 13 July) and Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean, showcasing 17 works spanning the artist’s career that have never been shown in the UK before.



FLOWERS: Covent Garden In Bloom, Covent Garden, London, Wed 15 May – Sat 15 Jun

Miller Harris window display

Following their London debut in Covent Garden’s iconic Central Avenue last year, floral artists Fleurs de Villes will return to showcase the best floral designs in the Big Smoke and return Covent Garden to its roots as the original (or OG, as the kids say) flower market in London. Covent Garden retailers and restaurants are all mucking in with botanical window displays, exclusive products and spring collections,  bespoke cocktails and dishes made with herbs and ingredients from Covent Garden’s veggie garden.


NEW EXHIBITION: Beasts of London, Museum of London, until Sun 5 Jan 

This looks amazing- a fully immersive, digital installation (see above for a sneak preview) exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the beasts, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London. There are some major British celebs involved too, with Kate Moss, Brian Blessed, Pam Ferris and more voicing the beasts.



Must-see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include the V&A‘s retrospective of iconic 1960s designer and the mother of  miniskirts, Mary Quant– over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive (until Sun 16 Feb 2020); also at the V&A is this year’s biggie, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, which traces the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him (until Sun 1 Sept). It is sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance – it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A. Also worth checking out is the major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain, 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. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg (until Sun 11 Aug).


KIDS: Great Brick Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Beds, until Sun 2 Jun 

I’ll be a few of you have a LEGO obsessive under your roof. At Easter Whipsnade Zoo introduced its Brick Safari, with one million bricks’ worth of beasts and animals dotted around the mammoth zoo (it’s the biggest in the UK doncha know), as well as hands-on family activities. It’s included in entry price and running throughout this month.



Design Academy, Oxford Brookes University, Mon 5 – Fri 9 Aug

Calling all teen creatives! This new summer school is the only of its kind in the UK and is perfect if your child is thinking about choosing a creative course at university but is unsure of what path they want to take. Each day covers a different creative subject including Information & Graphics, Architecture & Graphics, Automotive & Transport, Product & Industrial, with the last day dedicated to UCAS portfolio development (super important stuff). Get booking before 30 May to snaffle an an EarlyBird offer of £250 for the week. More info here


The Hidden Garden, Henley Royal Regatta, Wed 3 – Sun 7 Jul

If you’re heading down to Henley Regatta this July and want to escape the riff raff (not that Henley does real riff raff, of course) book now for The Hidden Garden. New to the Regatta this year, the luxe but laid-back riverside venue on the Berkshire bank offers brilliant views, VIP hospitality, musical entertainment, gourmet food and – most importantly – lashings of booze (chilled Henriot champagne and local favourite, Mr Hobbs gin to be precise). Pre-booking is a must so grab your other half, bezzies or workies and get organised pronto!


KIDS: The Little Welly obstacle course and festival, Henley, Sat 8 –  Sun 9 June 

This is all about getting Muddy so we are IN! A 3km hop, skip, jump and dash through 30 challenges, taking in streams, trails, mud and woodland The Little Welly’s obstacle course is the largest  in the UK for kids and is always popular so book now. There’s also an accompanying festival with – deep breath – kart racing, rope climbing, circus skills workshops, live music, helter skelter, laser tag, climbing wall, pony rides and loads more. I think it’s such a fantastic idea – get them away from screens, into the fresh air and doing some exercise.


FESTIVAL: Chilterns Live, Pendley Meadow, Tring, Sat 29 June

guitar grass summer

There’s a brand new festival near our ‘hood! Chilterns Live arrives in Tring with a pop-tastic line-up including Busted, Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling.


TALK: Margaret Atwood, New Theatre Oxford, Wed 30 Oct

To celebrate the launch of her new book The Testaments, a sequel to the totally brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale, author Margaret Atwood is going on a live tour- an evening of conversation, exclusive readings and special guests. She’s only touring for eight dates in the UK, so get booking as no doubt  it’ll be a sell out. The tour follows the book launch on Tues 10 Sept where Margaret will be speaking at the National Theatre – the talk will be screened to 1,000 cinemas worldwide with loads of Bucks and Oxon locations taking part. Find your nearest screening here.

Find more ideas here

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