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This week

MON 18 - SUN 24 JUNE 2018


ART: Nick Sharrat: Pirates, Pants & Wellyphants, River & Rowing Museum, Fri 22 June – Sun 16 Sept

If you have kids, you’ll have a book somewhere in your house with Nick Sharrat’s fabulous illustrations. An interactive exhibition of his work starts this month and a drawing workshop takes place with the man himself on 14 July (book now as it’s bound to be a sell-out). This delightful, gentle museum is a great place to take kids but there’s plenty of adult amusement with all you ever wanted to know (or not know) about rowing, visiting painting and sculpture exhibitions, a café with posh nosh, and a short stroll to the river and shops of Henley.


THEATRE: Shakespeare Festival, Oxford Castle Quarter, Mon 18 June – 11 Aug

This 8 week Shakespeare binge kicks off with 2 hours of back-to-back abridged (me likey) Othello and Much Ado About Nothing – so one hour of each. How is this possible, I hear you cry? Well BMH Productions have cut out 500 year old jokes, politics and exposition. Shakespeare will be turning in his grave but it sure makes his work accessible to all. Both plays have similar themes and are still relevant today – jealousy, racial prejudice, love, friendship. Bring a picnic or pre-order one with your tickets and even your GCSE taking teen won’t object to this kind of cramming.


ARTS & CULTURE: Mary Beard book signing, Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford, Tues 19 June

As part of Blackwell’s  philosophy in the bookshop series of events, English scholar and classicist Mary Beard will be signing copies of her latest book Civilisations along side copies of her extensive backlist. The standard bearer for middle aged women since her put down to AA Gill when he criticised her appearance, Beard has become cool to those who put being smart above appearance (shouldn’t we all sisters!). Grab the chance to meet her.


THEATRE, MUSIC, COMEDY: Offbeat Festival, The Old Fire Station, Oxford, Fri 22 – Sun 30 June

theatre old fire station

This fringe festival returns for the third year running with new performances of theatre, comedy, dance, family shows, spoken word and music, billed as a blind date with a show you could fall in love with, under the Offbeat Festival umbrella. Trump the Musical (comedy satire obviously!), Denim (a drag pop group), Celia’s Guide to Being a Wife (a one woman monologue on the vagaries of marriage) and Eleanor Colville’s Google Me (a sell out at Edinburgh last year) caught Muddy’s eye plus with prices this low (£10 or under), it’s a brilliant way to see up and coming stars before they hit the big time.


FOOD: National Picnic Week, now until Sun 24 June

picnic basket being opened by woman

With a scorchio weekend in store, what better than to rustle up a picnic and head outdoors? Yeah, yeah, we know a lot of you will be glued to the England match on Sunday but take your phone or tablet with you, grab a picnic and check out our guide to the top spots to indulge in this summery pleasure.


FESTIVAL: Oxford Festival of the Arts, various venues throughout Oxford, Sat 23 June – Sat 7 July

Now in its tenth year, this cultural event has grown massively and now packs a massive punch around Oxford with two weeks of full-on cultural immersion. The performances, workshops and talks around theatre, literature, art, film and music, as well as dance and sport have the theme of Journeys this year. Try your hand at traditional Chinese dancing, give rowing a go, watch a free screening of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin from Garsington Opera, do a steel band workshop, join actress Emilia Fox in conversation with screenwriter Tim Prager, or just grab a drink and raise a glass to this ram-packed celebration of Oxford’s diversity.


EVENT: Garden in a Day, Nicholsons Nurseries, North Ashton, Oxon, Sat 23 June

Nicholsons gardens design

If you’re interested in a garden makeover and/or have read our feature on local garden designers extraordinaire, Nicholsons, they’re hosting their Garden In A Day event on Sat 23 June from 10am – 12.30pm. They’ll help you explore ways to make the most of your outdoor space, from screen and hedging through to dining, border inspiration and overall garden design. There’s also Prosecco and jazz on offer to, shall we say, lubricate the day. If you get too piddled amongst the peonies, the Yurt Café will be open for sustenance.


DANCE: Flamenco Celebration, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sat 23 June 

Grab your castanets and get in the holiday mood, with this celebration of Flamenco. Musicians and singers from Spain will whip everyone up into a frenzy whilst the Camino del Flamenco head teacher, Rosa Maria Reed, and her students past and present perform.


THEATRE: Alice in Wonderland, West Wycombe Park, Sat 23 June

There’s something very special about outdoor theatre don’t you think? Just being outside can add depth and atmosphere to any performance. Anyhoo, Muddy will be bringing you a round up of the top ones in our neck of the woods but in the meantime, try this one for size – a production for all the family to enjoy overlooking the lake at West Wycombe Park of Alice in Wonderland.


EVENT: Blenheim Palace Flower Show, Woodstock, Sat 23 – Sun 24 June

So many flower shows around these days, but this one’s pretty special. The Blenheim Palace Flower returns for its fifth year for this three day event chockful with growers, nurseries and trade stands. Plus there’s a champagne wagon to keep your spirits up amongst the dahlias and hybrid teas, just so you know.


EVENT: Living History Weekend, Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, Sat 23 – Sun 24 June

To commemorate the end of World War II, Waddesdon is hosting re-enactors to take us back 100 years and get a sense of what life was like as the war drew to a close. Free with grounds admission, this is a great way to bring history to life and get those kids off their screens and thinking about how grateful we should all be – back straight, Sergeant Major!


EVENT: Waterperry Gardens Midsummer Picnic and Music Festival, Sat 23 June

The festival vibe has made it to Waterperry with a brand new mini music festival, to be held in the beautiful Amphitheatre at Waterperry Gardens. Four hours of live music from 6.30pm performed by local bands to include The Shapes, Peerless Pirates and Beware this Boy. Bring your own picnic and you can scoff and quaff to your heart’s content. Tickets are £10 which goes to the Helen & Douglas House charity.


EVENT: Oxford Green Week, now – Sun 24 June

child watering plants

A rebel without a cause? We’ll here’s one for you – join in a county-wide festival to inspire people to take action against climate change. Lots of events under the banner of Oxford Green Week and many are free. How about a walk in Uni Oxford Parks with a choice of 3 treasure trails (and chance to enter a prize draw for a Frog bike) or a Teddy Bears Picnic on Meadow Farm (Bicester) Want more? On Wed 20 June you can see a screening of the film Albatross by Chris Jordan at the Shulman Auditorium, Queen’s College, highlighting the plight of our planet in the face of so much plastic waste. Suitably inspired you can pop along on Thursday for a free workshop on how to reduce your plastic waste at the Common Ground Coffee shop (Little Clarendon Street) or take part in a foraging workshop on Sat 23 June, meeting outside Oxford Brookes Sports Centre. After a 2 – 3 hour walk you get to eat a wild food lunch (£20), some of which you will have picked yourself (note to self – pack a sandwich).


EVENT: Pitt Fest, Pitt Rivers Museum, Sat 23 June

Not just a collection of fascinating objects, cutting-edge research takes place at the Pitt Rivers and this one day mini-festival enables visitors to understand more about it through a series of interactive activities for all ages (most of which are drop-in and free). Go behind the scenes with a curator and get hands-on with objects from the handling collection but I’m also liking the sound of the Pitt Rivers in the Movies tour. Who’d have thought?


EVENT: Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival, Willen Lake, Sun 24 June

Fancy paddling a boat to the beat of a drum? Enter your crew (max 21 people) and race your Chinese style dragon boat with a drummer at the helm at this popular spot in Willen Lake. No previous experience is needed so be prepared to get wet. You’re guaranteed at least 3 races with prizes up for grabs, plus there’s music and entertainment.


EXHIBITION: Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, Weston Library, Oxford, until 28 Oct

The extensive archive of artefacts from the Lord of the Rings author are on display in the biggest Tolkien exhibition in a generation. Top attractions are parts of the manuscripts for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but there are also pieces of fan mail, private letters, maps, drawings and an interactive display on the Elvish language. A third of the 200 items have never been seen before so it’s a real thrill for all you superfans out there.


THEATRE: Giffords Circus, Oxford University Parks, until 25th June

gifford Circus workers in red jackets outside big tent

Giffords Circus is celebrating 250 years since the birth of the big top with its new summer show My Beautiful Circus in a new handmade tent with plush red velvet seats – no more achey bum cheeks from the wooden benches! As well as the regulars such as the Cuban acrobats, Nell on horseback and Tweedy the clown, I’m liking the sound of the Russian dachshunds and a talking turkey (could be a useful skill come Christmas). Plus on June 21 at Oxford Uni Parks you can question Nell Gifford herself at a special Q&A after the show.


THEATRE: Matilda, Milton Keynes Theatre, until Sat 30 June

Be quickity quick and grab some tickets for this wonderful show whilst it tours around the UK. A touching and joyous story of loneliness and rebellion, it deserves all 85 and counting of its international awards. Writer Dennis Kelly and composer / lyricist Tim Minchin go to top of the class with their interpretation of Roald Dahl’s classic tale. Don’t miss it!


ART: Bucks Arts Weeks, various locations, until 24 June

Photo: Alexandra Buckle at Claydon Gallery

Didn’t get round to seeing any of Oxford Art Weeks? Naughty! Well, here’s your chance to redeem yourself with the launch of Bucks Art Weeks with exhibitions, events and artists’ studios open to the public. There’s the full range of artistic endeavours from linocuts (above), paintings, ceramics, jewellery, glassware, photography, textiles – and even paintings created on an iPad (check out Nancy Taylor in Naphill, High Wycombe). You can plan your visits on their website but I prefer the magical mystery tour approach and to stop off at random places when I see the sign. Being nosey and mooching around some lovely gardens and studios is half the fun.



EVENT: Royal Ascot, Ascot Racecourse, Berks, Tues 19 – Sat 23 June

Grab your hat, keep the hemlines long, the fake tan light and enjoy a day of sunshine (fingers crossed), celeb spotting and apparently there are few horses running too. It’s the perfect place to people watch, just don’t overdo the bubbles for fear of making it into the Daily Mail.


Lillibroke Manor, Cox Green, Maidenhead, Berks, Weds 20 June

Your glass of Pimms may have to be replaced with a something a little less alcoholic (dammit) for this after school screening of the family fave Paddington 2, but an afternoon spent in the stunning Great Barn at Lillibrooke Manor, kids’ tea and entertainment sorted. You’ll be winning at life, right there. Doors open at 4pm, film starts at 4.30pm, then straight to bed. *Pours wine at 7.17pm*. Tickets: adults £8.80; kids, £5.50; family tickets from £16.50. Not your bag? It’s only freaking 40 years since it was released (dear god!) Grease Sing A Long, Wed 20 June, 8pm; Victoria & Abdul, Thu 21 June, 12.30pm and The Greatest Showman, Thu 21 June, 8pm.


THEATRE: Aidan Turner, in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Noel Coward Theatre, London, Sat 23 June

Fresh from his Cornish sojourn, Aidan Turner treads the boards with this revival of Martin McDonagh’s satire on terrorism. Set in Ireland in the early 1990s, the protagonist Padraic (a member of an IRA splinter group) ventures back to the island of Inishmore after discovering that his cat has been killed. Padraic’s penchant for violence is a long way from Aidan’s most well known role as Poldark (oh Ross!) and this is not for the fainthearted. Running until 8 September, there are over 200,000 tickets at just £10. Stampeeeeede!


THEATRE: Turn of the Screw, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London, Fri 22 June

Photo: Feast Creative

Hurrah for a bit of spooky excitement courtesy of The English National Opera and the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in this reworking of Henry James’ classic novella by Benjamin Britten. The suspenseful story of a young governess trying to protect her children in a remote country house will certainly get the hairs standing up on the back of my neck at this outdoor venue.


DANCE: RSC Midsummer Party, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Sat 23 – Sun 24 June

Kinetika dancers RSC

Photo: Kinetika

Remember the scene in the Leonardo di Caprio and Claire Danes Romeo and Juliet where they meet at a party and fall in love? So magical and romantic with no hint of what is to befall them. The RSC have joined forces with artists from Kinetika to create a spectacular dance party for the midsummer weekend, inspired by this scene. Join in with making costumes and decorations for the party and learn dance routines so that your ARE ON IT for the climax of the weekend when the dance will be filmed.


ART: Frida Kahlo, Making Herself Up, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, until 4 Nov

The iconic Mexican’s artist’s personal belongings were locked away by her husband when she died and are being exhibited outside Mexico for the first time. There are some beautifully embroidered clothes but more interesting are her cosmetics (no jokes about eyebrow tweezers please), swimsuit and brightly painted prosthetic leg (Kahlo suffered Polio as a child and had a deformed limb) in this intimate and fascinating exhibition.

V&A Museum



ART: Sleep Rock Exhibition, Camden Arts Centre, London, now until Sun 24 June

New York artist Sadie Benning has been exhibiting her bold and unusual artwork in a place that appreciates the bold and unusual – Camden. Sleep Rock is dramatic and vibrant and  it’s worth a butchers if you’re in the Big Smoke because of Benning’s unique use of materials. Analogue photos (those we had before digital, doncha know), digital prints and transparencies are placed on panels and covered in layers of resin, enamel and spray paint. The effect is shiny and almost jewel-like in some cases. Once you’ve ticked the culture off your list, you can head into Camden for some excellent people watching before scurrying back to the Shires.



FESTIVAL: Geronimo, Knebworth House, Herts, Sat 30 June and Sun 1 July

Geronimo is the ultimate family festival that’s known as ‘Glasto for Kids’. Now in its 4th year, Geronimo will continue to celebrate its success at Arley Hall in Cheshire, but it’s venturing further afield, and has chosen a new field, or rather parkland, at Knebworth House. On the main stage you can expect to see Justin Fletcher and Mr Bloom among other talented and friendly faces. Delights on the ground include activities with two circuses, a Victorian fun fair, den building, zip wires, family crafts, a gaming bus, willow weaving and more. Once you’ve bought a ticket, most of the activities are free, and a day ticket (£25) includes entrance to the Dino Trail at Knebworth House.



ART: Michael Jackson On the Wall, National Portrait Gallery, from Thurs 28 June

This promises to be amazing. An exhibition exploring the influence of Michael Jackson on some of the leading names in contemporary art, spanning several generations of artists across all media. It opens on 29 June to to coincide with what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday (on August 29, 2018).

National Portrait Gallery


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