FRI 20 - SUN 22 OCT 2017
Stilettos on but nowhere to go? Ah, I can help with that.
Imagining the Divine – Art and the Rise of World Religions, Ashmolean, Oxford, 19 Oct – 18 Feb
This major exhibition is the first to look at the art of the five world religions as they spread across continents in the first millennium AD. Blimey! Brand new research from a major project between The Ashmolean Museum, the British Museum and Oxford Uni, with amazing objects created when the iconography of each of the major religions was still being developed.
October Half-term at Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, Sat 21 – Sun 29 Oct
Steeling yourself for half-term? No need, Waddesdon Manor has more pumpkin carving, trails and spooky afternoon teas than your kids can handle! There’s also the Fête Worse than Death (full marks to whoever came up with the name of that one), a two day Halloween party filled with games, stalls, live music, face painting and dress up photo booths.
Cockfight, Pegasus Theatre, Fri 20 Oct
A cross between The Office and an Aussie-style cage-fight, Cockfight’s all about the dynamics of power games between two men. With a bit of everything from slo-mo fight sequences to an unexpected dance piece, this sounds like physical theatre at its best.
Pegasus, Magdalen Road, Oxford, pegasus.org.uk
Halloween Half Term at Stonor Park, Sat 21 – Sun 29 Oct
Go on, exhaust the buggers! Stonor Park has a full list of Halloween Half Term activities, from pumpkin carving to trails and all with the Wonder Woods adventure playground thrown in free for good measure.
Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames, Oxford, stonor.com
Pick Your Own Pumpkins, Farmer Paul’s, Weedon, October
Surprisingly not many pick your own pumpkin farms in the area – clearly we’re all too middle class to get our hands dirty! If you’re feeling adventurous, check out Weedon Hill Farm outside Aylesbury, and Millet’s Farm in Abingdon, and if anyone else knows of any, let me know.
The BFG in Pictures, River and Rowing Museum, Henley, Thurs 19 Oct – 21 Jan 2018
Curated by Quentin Blake himself, the exhibition of everyone’s favourite giant includes unpublished illustrations that have never been exhibited in public before. The exhibition includes Blake’s first designs that weren’t included in the book, and provide a glimpse of a BFG that might have been in 40 original artworks. Don’t forget there’s the permanent John Piper exhibition at the museum too – that’s well worth seeing in its own right.
Brick or Treat, Legoland, Windsor, Sat 14 – Mon 30 Oct
I’ve run out of jokes about Brick or Treat – that’s how long this Legoland event has been running! Over 55 ‘spooktacular’ rides, live shows and attractions, plus firework displays on 21, 22, 27 & 28 October. Don’t forget to read my tips on how to survive Legoland.
Dark Arts, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios, Sun 1 Oct – Sun 12 Nov
Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios are brilliant at ringing the changes with their events and for this one the Great Hall will be decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, just as seen as in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Art – wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels as well as filmmaking snot, blood and drool. Er, nice!
Warner Bros. Studio Tour london, Studio Tour Dr, Watford, Leavesden, wbstudiotour.co.uk
La Voix Humaine, North Wall, Oxford, Fri 20 Oct
Olivier Award-winning OperaUpClose returns to The North Wall this autumn with a new production of Poulenc and Cocteau’s La Voix Humaine. Poulenc and Cocteau had shared the perils and pleasures of early-20th-century gay life – including Nazi occupation – for decades by the time the composer tackled his friend’s hit play, and this intense 50-minute tour de force for solo soprano is the result. Performed by Sarah Minns and Richard Black on piano and directed by OperaUpClose’s Artistic Director, Robin Norton-Hale, it’s a devastating musical portrait of a human being on the brink of disintegration. Sneak in a stiff drink if it all gets too much.
Oh come now, you’ve always wanted to go to a Lieder Festival! Lots of Mahler knocking around, plus a talk on the history of music in silent films by author Matthew Sweet, and a narrated recital of My Dearest Hedgehog by Henrietta Bredin, exploring the relationship between Richard Strauss and his wife, Pauline. Strauss wrote many of his greatest songs with her voice in mind and the fascinating and witty narrative, delivered by two renowned actors, is interspersed with a number of these works.
Family Arts Takeover, North Wall, Oxford, Sat 21 Oct
Lots of theatres do take over days but my money is with The North Wall’s version with the return of its Family Arts Takeover. Behind-the-scenes theatre tours, special shows and a huge range of wondrous workshops.
The North Wall Arts Centre, S Parade, Oxford, thenorthwall.com
Ellie Taylor: This Guy, Cornerstone Arts, Sat 21 Oct
Comedian Ellie Taylor’s show following a sell-out Edinburgh Festival season and 2016 tour. She’s been getting around in all the right ways, as the star of BBC’s Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week and The John Bishop Show, Channel 4’s 8 Out of 10 Cats, and BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show.
Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Rd, Didcot, cornerstone-arts.org
October Steaming Days, Bucks Railway Centre, Quainton, Dates throughout Oct
Can’t get your fill of Thomas the Tank Engine? Go give the Fat Controller some cholesterol advice on Sundays throughout October with the Bucks Railway Centre’s Steam Days.
London Restaurant Festival, 1 – 31 Oct
Rack up the plates, here I come with my elasticated pants. The London Restaurant Festival takes place in 350 restaurants across the Smoke, from neighbourhood favourites to Michelin-starred fancy pants eateries, so it’s your perfect excuse to try somewhere new with chef-hosted lunches and tasting menus on offer all month.
London Literature Festival, Southbank, London, Fri 13 Oct – Weds 1 Nov
The big ticket here is Hillary Clinton, who’ll be talking about her new book, What Happened – and you probably don’t need me to spell out what that refers to. In equally exciting news, Hollywood megastar Tom Hanks (pictured) will close the festival with a reading from his book of short stories (if you’ve never listened to his Desert Island Discs, look it up – it’s a doozy). Philip Pullman and Annie Leibovitz are also in attendance at this twenty day marathon event at the Southbank Centre. Definitely worth a jaunt to the big smoke.