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This week

MON 20 - SUN 26 AUG 2018

FAMILY FUN: Summer Bytes, National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, now until Sun 2 Sep

Drag the midgets away from their screens and put their tech-obsession to good use! The Summer Bytes festival teaches kids (without them knowing!) useful skills like coding, programming and engineering through fun workshops. This week’s plethora of free events include a Lego Mindstorms Workshop, two Raspberry Pi Workshops and a Minecraft Workshop. Food will also feature every Sat morn with a different MK independent restaurant presenting tasters of its latest fare.


FAMILY FUN: Tiddler & Other Terrific Tales, Oxford Playhouse, Weds 22 – Sat 25 Aug

This fantastic touring show for younger kids makes its last stop in our ‘hood before heading to Stoke, so catch it while you can! With characters from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Tiddler, Monkey Puzzle, The Smartest Giant in Town and A Squash and a Squeeze, its the perfect activity for if it – whisper it –  rains.


FAMILY FUN: Survive the Summer! Xscape Milton Keynes, Weds 22, Sat 25 & Sun 26 Aug

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time at Xscape over the last few months because there always seems to be something happening at this North Bucks activity Mecca. The summer celebrations come to an end this week with a jungle party 25-26 Aug and Glen the Gorilla will be making his final appearance on Weds for a fun family show.


THEATRE: Anything Goes, The Old Fire Station, Oxford, Weds 22 – Sat 25 Aug

theatre old fire station

Famous for its Indi theatre offerings, The Old Fire Station is throwing caution to the wind this month and staging a traditional production of Cole Porter’s classic musical Anything Goes. Expect toe-tapping, tails and fabulous costumes, with old favourites including You’re the Top and I Get A Kick Out of You.


MUSIC: Oxford Proms, University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Thurs 23 Aug

The last of three spectacular concerts at this year’s Oxford proms, star pianist Jocelyn Freeman will be joined by violinist Edmund Jones performing Mozart’s Sonata in E minor K 304, Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.


EVENT: Big Birthday Bonanza, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, Thurs 23 Aug

The River & Rowing Museum is turning 20! Join in the celebrations with a full day of birthday fun and surprises. Lots of crafting activities including making birthday bunting (20 metres worth, a metre for each year of the museum), badges, photo frames, party hats, decorating biscuits and a huge 3D birthday card that children can draw on. Mr Toad will be hosting party games and there’s a display of events from the past that happened on this day – 23 Aug. Whilst there, it’s worth visiting the Nick Sharratt: Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants exhibition (of Tracy Beaker fame). You can have a go at drawing a selection of his characters on a touch screen or draw whatever you like on the wipe clean wall plus dress up in whacky costumes. Hours of fun, then a stroll to the river and a mooch round Henley – another enjoyable day of the holidays sorted.


MUSIC: Opera Anywhere… On Punts! Wolfson College, Oxford, Fri 24 – Sun 26 Aug 

If you’re looking for something a bit whacky, local favourites Opera Anywhere are performing H.M.S.Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance on punts this week. The first is a tale of mismatched love across different social classes whilst the latter depicts an unfortunate case of mishearing when Frederic sets course to become a pirate rather than a ‘pilot’!


SPORT: British Grand Prix MotoGP, Silverstone Racecourse, Towcester, Northants, Fri 24 – Sun 26 Aug

Cal Crutchlow will be hoping to build on his winning streak as he takes on World Champion Marc Marquez. But it’s so much more than just a race – the Moto Grand Prix is basically a weekend-long party. The non-stop entertainment will keep any reluctant petrolheads happy and includes a gig from Plan B.


CULTURE: Oxford Storytelling Festival, Waterperry Gardens, Fri 24 – Mon 27 Aug

New to 2018, Oxford Storytelling Festival explores magic and the spoken word through stories, poetry and song in the gorgeous Waterperry Gardens. Expect naked women dancing around a fire whilst men with painted faces share a pipe. Apparently (and this bit is true) there’s also a line-up of some of the UK’s best storytellers, a grand tipi, therapy and relaxation areas, craft workshops and an ‘open mic’ if you’re feeling brave enough.


SHOPPING: Henley Country Craft Show, Stonor, Fri 24 – Mon 27 Aug

Arts and crafts, handmade jewellery, hand-finished furniture and everything in between at Henley Country Craft Show that rocks up at the lovely Stonor Park this bank holiday weekend. Tickets includes entry to Wonder Woods, a falcon show from The Hawking Centre, terrier racing and archery. Kirstie Allsopp, eat your heart out.


FOOD & DRINK: The Big Feastival, Alex James’ Farm, near Kingham, Fri 24 – Sun 26 Aug

This posh nosh extravaganza from cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James hosts top chefs including Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc, Pierre Koffmann, Ashley Palmer Watts, and music from Professor Green, Clean Bandit, Paloma Faith, Basement Jaxx, James Arthur and Tom Odell. There’s various camping options with glamping bolt-ons and lots of fun for the kiddos too, including appearances by Paddington, Peppa Pig & George and Justin Fletcher (Mr Tuuuumbleee) plus a creche for under 5s provided by Nipperbout.


FOOD & DRINK: Foodies Festival, Oxford South Parks, Sat 25 – Mon 27 Aug

Break out the elasticated trousers! The UK’s biggest food festival returns to Oxford South Parks with a mouth-watering summer festival. Highlights include live cooking in The Chefs Theatre with MasterChef 2018 winner Kenny Tutt and Great British Bake Off 2017 winner Sophie Faldo, performances from The Hoosiers and Top Loader, plus *deep breath* over 30 street food stalls, chocolate making workshops, a Tequila Shack, Tikki Rum Bar, Gin Station, chilli eating competitions, cream pie throwing, cheese stretching  and an obligatory Kidzone with craft area, bouncy castles and face painting.


MUSIC: Bar-Bados, Claytons Marlow, Sun 26 Aug

Bikini bodies at the ready (so NOT!). The well-loved Bar-Bados All Day Carnival Party & Caribbean BBQ returns to Clayton’s Marlow this bank holiday weekend with steel bands, rum punch and DJs galore. Free entry before 7pm and £7 afterwards.


FESTIVAL: Uffington White Horse Show, near Farringdon, Sun 26 – Mon 27 Aug

Covering 20 acres of showground, this traditional two day country show overlooked by the famous bronze age figure of the Uffington White Horse, is fun for the whole family. The main attractions include helicopter rides, an aerobatic display, memorial flypast, BMX show and K9 2000 dog display (one of the UK’s leading dog display teams!). If that’s not enough, there’s also various ‘zones’, from a Retro Zone boasting vintage motorbikes and classic cars, to a Kids Zone with Punch & Judy, go -karts and an outdoor play area.


FILM: Pop-Up Cinema Action, various locations, various dates

The Natural History Museum & Pitt Rivers team up for Jaws on Tues 21 (er, a good idea surrounded by skeletons and stuffed animals?), Coco on Weds 22, Top Gun on Thurs 23 and The Greatest Showman on Fri 24. Chiltern Open Air Museum is also dipping its toe into pop-up cinema waters for the first time tis week with La La Land Weds 22, Back to the Future Thurs 23, Gladiator Fri 24 and round-up your Pink Ladies for Grease on Sat 25. Last but not least, catch the last two days of Film4 Summer screen at Somerset House with civil rights thriller Selma Tues 21 and the UK premiere of American Animals Weds 22 Aug.


ART: A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artists’ Drawings, Modern Art Oxford, until Sun 9 Sep

If you’re going into Oxford this week, take a 30-second detour from the Westgate Centre and see the last few weeks of this lovely gallery. Celebrating tradition and the sustained power of drawing in the digital age, the exhibition brings together a selection of recent works using paper and pencil.



ART: Oxford Sculptors Group at Kiftsgate Gardens, Chipping Camden, until Weds 22 Aug 

Back by popular demand, the beautiful Kiftsgate Garden will once again transform into a fantastic sculpture exhibition for the summer. Over 100 pieces, from small intimate models to huge two meter eye-catchers in a wide range of genres, styles and materials will be proudly displayed on the lawn. Don’t forget your purse – they are all up for sale!


CULTURE: Disney in the West End Summer Pop-Up, Convent Garden, London, until Sat 26 Aug

If you’ve got a child with mini jazz hands, they will go nuts for this free pop-up experience in London’s Covent Garden. See the masks, costumes and puppets from The Lion King and step inside Aladdin’s cave to get a photo with the legendary lamp. There will also be events taking place each day, including a Mac make-up demonstration, a puppetry display, plus singing and dancing workshops.


ART: All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life, Tate Britain, London, until Mon 27 Aug

Paulo Rego, Bride 1994.

A fascinating exhibition celebrating the painters in Britain who have tried to capture human figures, their relationships and surroundings, in paint. With works by Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon (including 3 of his works which have not been shown in Britain for decades) amongst others, the intimate representations of reality make for a powerful experience.



THEATRE: Dinosaur World Live, Regents Park Open Air Theatre, London, until Sun 9 Sep

Paulo Rego, Bride 1994.

Join the intrepid Regents Park explorers across uncharted territories and discover a prehistoric world of (remarkably life-like) dinosaurs at this new interactive show. You will meet a host of impressive creatures, from Triceratops to every child’s favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus rex. Tickets are £16.50 which is pretty good value for the most famous outdoor theatre in the country.


ART: Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy, Tate Modern, London, until Sun 9 Sep 

Don’t miss this first ever solo Pablo Picasso exhibition at the Tate Modern, focusing on 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings, mixed with family photographs and rare glimpses into his personal life. Three of his extraordinary paintings featuring his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter are shown together for the first time since they were created over a period of just five days in March 1932.


ART: Scoop: A Wonderful Ice Cream World, The British Museum of Food, London, until 30 Sep

Finally! A valid excuse to stuff my face. The British Museum of Food returns with its first major exhibition Scoop: A Wonderful Ice Cream World. Dedicated entirely to the frozen treat, explore memorabilia from the world’s largest collection of ice cream paraphernalia, discover the neuroscience behind it and try scoops of bygone eras, from daffodil to all-day-breakfast flavour (hmm). Other highlights include ice cream-flavoured weather (vanilla fog!) and glow-in-the-dark concoction that you can eat in a futuristic luminescent cave. Pass the ladle, I’m going in…



FILM: Pop-Up Cinema, Babylon Plants, Watlington, Fri 31 Aug

This wholesale nursery spread over 4 acres is heaven for garden designers and landscapers with a wonderful selection of plants and gardening must-haves. On the last evening of August, they open their doors to the general public for a screening of the wonderfully quirky The Grand Budapest Hotel with its all star cast including Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Defoe, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton and Jude Law. Tickets cost £20 which includes a complimentary cocktail plus there’s a licensed bar with food. Sounds like the perfect way to bid a fond farewell to August and welcome in the autumn.


EVENT: Tractor Ted, Stonor Park , Sun 9 Sep

giant bouncy castle green tractor ted

If your nippers’ two favourite things in the world are Tractor Ted and bouncy castles then 9 Sep sure is their lucky day. A giant Tractor Ted bouncy castle will be popping up at Stonor Park, Bucks, ideal for letting off some end-of-the-summer-hols steam. Suitable for under 7s, the activities also include getting up close with animals at the mobile farm plus there’s the Wonder Woods adventure playground to make sure they’re fully exercised and ready for a week of school.


EVENT: Chilterns Heritage Festival, various venues, Sat 22 Sep – Sat 6 Oct

In case you didn’t know, you either live in or close to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. No, not Aylesbury, but the gorgeous Chilterns and for the first time ever there’s a festival to celebrate the diverse heritage of our region. The Chiltern Society has organised 25 special events which include an Iron Age weekend at Wendover Woods (where families will have the opportunity to meet the Iron Age inhabitants of Boddington Hillfort, and help them with their everyday jobs like grinding grain, making butter and cooking stew), pop-up cinema screenings at the National History Museum in Tring and at the Hellfire Caves in West Wycombe, exclusive visits to Chenies Manor, Stonor House, the Chiltern Open Air Museum,  Hartwell House and Milton’s Cottage amongst others, a Roald Dahl guided trail and afternoon tea in Great Missenden, an afternoon at the Wormsley Estate owned by the famous Getty family and history walks around some of the best loved market towns including  Berkhamsted and High Wycombe. If you’ve always meant to visit some local attraction but never got round to it, now’s your chance.


THEATRE: Jason Donovan & His Amazing Midlife Crisis, Wycombe Swan, Mon 24 Sep

Especially for you…..Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Celebrating his 50th birthday, the Australian cheesemeister we all secretly love is sharing a whole load of funny and insightful stories from his career spanning Neighbours, Joseph, I’m a Celebrity and Strictly , all interspersed with some musical favs. We’re told a certain Ms Minogue will get a mention or two as well. Can’t wait!


EVENT: Graham Norton in Conversation, Old Town Hall, Wycombe Swan, Fri 28 Sep

Plugging his second novel The Keeper (his debut Holding was a Sunday Times bestseller), Graham pops up in High Wycombe to talk about his book – a tale of secrets and ill-fated loves – followed by a Q&A. Let’s face it, the opportunity to ask Graham some questions is the draw rather than the free signed copy of his book but we’ll humour you, Graham.


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