MON 20 - SUN 26 NOV 2017
Flashdance, Aylesbury Waterside, Mon 20 – Sat 25 Nov
Pass me my legwarmers, high-leg leotard, and heavy duty welding visor – finally I’m ready for my Flashdance closeup. The current Strictly champion Joanne Clifton continues her successful foray into musicals taking on the role of Alex, tomboy building site worker by day, gyrating sweaty permahaired foxtress by night. She stars with A1’s Ben Adams in this touring production that I reviewed on opening night.
Blenheim Palace Christmas Lights, Fri 24 Nov – 1 Jan
The second year for these impressive illuminations, following the beautiful winding paths around the Capability Brown landscapes. Expect a Tunnel of Light, a swaying lawn of fibre optic colour and the Great Lake glowing with brightly-lit bobbing boats. I did this last year and it was stunning, but wrap up really warm and make sure little ones have sturdy boots – it can get a bit muddy.
Super Science Saturday, Natural History Museum, Oxford, Sat 25 Nov
Family friendly free science fair in central Oxford, promising experiments and surprising things with scientists (the mind fair boggles but I’m sure it’s all legal). Ages 8+.
Hannah Ryggen, Modern Art Oxford, until 18 Feb 2018
Just opened last week is Hannah Ryggen at Modern Art Oxford. Ryggen was one of Scandinavia’s most outstanding artistic figures of the 20th century, an impassioned artist responding to the socio-political events of her time, from the the rise of fascism and the Nazi occupation of Norway, to nuclear power and media coverage of the Vietnam War. This is the first major presentation of the artist’s work in the UK and surveys her career from early portraiture through to the intricate tapestries that characterised her career from the 1920s onward. Don’t forget that Modern Art Oxford is free entry, and there’s a corker of a cafe on site too.
Christmas at Waddesdon, Waddesdon Manor, until 2 Jan
No Bruce Munro light installations this year at Waddesdon Manor (he’s up the road on the approach to Bicester Village) but instead there are several light shows to enjoy as dusk falls. Waddesdon Imaginarium is a light and sound show projected onto the Manor’s façade including roaming porcelain animals, dancing musical clocks, cascades of flowers, and 18th-century portraits, accompanied by an original score composed by students at the Guildhall School of Music. Also worth checking out is is Electric Menagerie, light-based artworks throughout the grounds by American artist Lauren Booth, inspired by the real and fantastical animals associated with Waddesdon (Baron Ferdinand collected a ‘zoo’ of animals and birds to amuse his weekend party guests, including antelopes, kiwis and even kangaroos). Check out Dylan, Rolo and Murphy (2017), three Neon Goats placed on the rockwork, and her neon Parrot, Bleeding Heart Dove and Rothschild Mynahs created in response to the 1889 Aviary.
Back to the 90s, Clayton’s, Marlow, Sat 25 Nov
I’m so there! Hang on, I’m just digging out my combat, crop top and trainers here…alrighty then, let’s head to Clayton’s Marlow for the best of Nineties music. Starts at 9pm, and it’s free entry until 10pm, at which point you’ll have to hand over a fiver. Ends 2pm.
Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas! The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, wbstudiotour.co.uk
Terry Alderton – All Crazy Now!, Potter’s Arms Comedy Night, Thurs 23 Nov
Leaf by Niggle, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sat 25 Nov
In 1939 J.R.R Tolkien was despairing of ever bringing The Lord of the Rings to a conclusion. One morning he woke up with Leaf by Niggle complete in his mind and wrote it down. Surrounded by ladders, bicycles and heirlooms, Richard Medrington recounts Tolkien’s miniature masterpiece, with soundtrack by Karine Polwart and MJ McCarthy. An enchanting family show based on Tolkien’s book about an artist Niggle whose painting of a tree keeps getting bigger and bigger until he realises he has to go on a journey…
Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Rd, Didcot, cornerstone-arts.org
Cézanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, 26 Oct – 11 Feb 2018
This started just last week, Brings together over 50 of Cézanne’s portraits from collections across the world, including works which have never been on public display in the UK . Over a working life of some forty-five years, Cézanne made almost 1,000 paintings of which around 160 are portraits and this exhibition offers a fascinating insight into this central aspect of his work.
Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens, London, Weds 22 Nov – 1 Jan 2018
Such a brilliant time to visit Kew as they do the Crimbo thing so well with it one mile sparkling path winding its way through the world-famous Gardens. This year they promise a million twinkling lights, Singing Trees, ribbons of light and a flickering Fire Garden, plus Father C and his elves at the North Pole Village, vintage fairground rides (a fee for that one) and shopping. Worth going with the fam.
Modigliani, Tate Modern, 23 Nov 2017 – 2 April 2018
Ghost Tours, Hampton Court, selected dates from 5 Nov – Jan 2018
Want to petrify your kids? Course you do! There are Family Tours on 5 Nov at 6.30 (and also 7 Jan 2018, but seriously I’m not even thinking next year yet!). It’s a 75-90 minute walking tour hearing stories of ghostly apparitions and paranormal activity Minimum age is 8 years and a maximum of 3 children per accompanying adult.
Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, East Molesey, hrp.org.uk
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Native Feasts pop up supper clubs, College Farm, Long Crendon, throughout Dec
The Native Feasts dynamic duo of Chris Godfrey (ex Michelin star chef of The Sir Charles Napier in Chinnor) and Greg Jones continue to create gastro evenings in cool locations. Long Crendon is a chocolate box village just on the Bucks/Oxon border (close to Thame), and the lodge is set to be decked out with fairy lights, holly and misteltoe. They’re promising a ‘minc pie martini’ which sounds franklly perilous but I dare say will hit the spot, plus artisan wines and beers. Some of the evenings are already sold out but there’s availability at the time of writing this for Dec 2, 8, 9 and 15 December, plus a New Year’s bash at the cool Coopers industrial cafe space in Marlow. Tickets for the supper clubs are £45 for four courses, complimentary ‘winter warmer’ shooters on arrival and ‘pass the Christmas present’. What more do you want, table service by the elves?
Son of a Preacher Man, Wycombe Swan, Tues 28 Nov – Sat 2 Dec
Ever wondered what happened to Diana Vickers of X-Factor? She went the way of all good finalists and got herself a career in musical theatre. She stars in this touring production of Son of a Preacher Man along with Debra Stephenson (The Impressions Show, Bad Girls) about Preacher Man, a swinging Soho joint where the owner used to offer advice to lonely hearts. When three strangers all in need of help with their hopeless love lives are drawn to the venue, it’s cue a whole load of Dusty Springfield greatest hits. Choreography is by – who else? – Craig Revel Horwood – owner of the busiest jazzhands in the west End.
Wycombe Swan, St Mary St, High Wycombe, wycombeswan.co.uk