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This week

MON 23 - SUN 29 JULY 2018

EXHIBIT: Civilisations: An Interactive Lego Adventure, Bucks County Museum, Weds 25 Jul – Weds 5 Sept

This sounds great fun for the kids – and adults – I once bumped into a Lego Darth Vader in John Lewis and it was quite a thrill. Pose for a selfie next to life-sized Lego figures from ancient civilisations, including an Aztec, Samurai Warrior, Egyptian pharaoh and traditional Thai dancer. Learn about different cultures through Lego dioramas including the Easter Island heads, Machu Pichu, an Arab souk, Rio carnival, Milan fashion show and a stunning model of St Basil’s cathedral in Russia. Enter the Big Brick Building Competition with the chance to have your creation displayed amongst the Lego figures (closing date 20 Aug) and then pop into the Roald Dahl gallery whilst you’re there. Hours of fun sorted.


FESTIVAL: Vagabond Film Festival, Milton Keynes, Weds 26 – Sun 29 Jul

As Milton Keynes International Festival draws to a close this weekend, Independent Cinema Milton Keynes will be launching this celebration of the moving image from its base in Campbell Park with premieres, animation, special family events, international films, talks, Q&As and a 48-hour film-making challenge.


EXHIBIT: Peter Rabbit – Mischief and Mayhem, The Oxfordshire Museum, until Fri Sept 9

An interactive exhibition celebrating Beatrix Potter’s delightful creations. You can view original illustrations and memorabilia, whilst the kids help Mrs Tiggywinkle hang up her washing or visit Mrs Rabbit in her burrow, dress up as Peter Rabbit or help plant carrots in Mr McGregor’s garden.


THEATRE: The Importance of Being Earnest, Langley Park, Iver Heath, Fri 27 Jul

Cucumber sandwiches at the ready, as Oscar Wilde’s classic farce gets the Immersion Theatre treatment. Enjoy the sunshine as mistaken identities and jolly banter ensue.


FILM: Luna Cinema at Stonor Park, Fri 27 – Sun 29 Jul

On Fri 27 Jul, Moulin Rouge can-cans into Stonor Park ‘come what may’ (yes, I have the soundtrack), followed by Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone on Sat 28 July and ending with the classic of all time Casablanca. Hot food and a full bar will be provided but you’re welcome to bring a picnic if you can be bothered (er, nope).


THEATRE: Alice in Wonderland, Waterperry Gardens, Fri 27 Jul

Chapterhouse Theatre Company’s production of Alice in Wonderland is a delight. Set in the beautiful amphitheatre at Waterperry with Victorian costumes, original music, songs and dancing, the performance runs from 5.30 – 7.30pm so you can enjoy it with the kids and a picnic, get them to bed at a reasonable hour and still have some evening left to yourself.


FESTIVAL: Cogges Manor Farm Beer & Cider Festival, Witney, Fri 27 – Sun 29 Jul

stone wall hall flagstone floor sunflowers

This festival has become a local institution and although it helps if you like beer or cider (with over 30 different local ones on offer), there’s plenty for everyone with live music, Morris dancers and traditional games. Sunday is Drink Up Day with local microbreweries, more live music, kids activities and the obligatory bouncy castle.


FILM: Top Gun, Paddock Picturehouse, Watlington, Sat 28 Jul

Tom Cruise, 12 years old and in charge of a fighter plane.

Pop-up cinemas are all the rage now and luckily we have the weather to enjoy them to the full. Classic Top Gun is being shown in the Paddock in Watlington at 9pm. Doors open at 7pm so you can feast first on your own picnic or buy food and drink from The Social. Dig out your aviators and enjoy the ride.


FESTIVAL: Folly Fest, Faringdon, Fri 27 – Sun 29 Jul

A free music and community arts festival with two music stages, fringe events, arts and crafts, local businesses and lots of family fun. Whatever your taste in music, the whole spectrum is covered with soft rock, blues, folk, jazz, dance bands plus DJs doing their thang. Kids can enter a brownie making competition, go to the pirates and princesses disco, watch a movie and get crafty plus there’s loads of stalls to buy crafts, jewellery, clothing, accessories, food and drink. Loving the sound of the Positive Pigeon Project – residents have been asked to make an origami pigeon to be part of an installation at The Corn Exchange. Apparently, former resident, Lord Berner, used to dye his doves and pigeons pink and release them to fly around town! The whole town goes to town during Folly Fest and there’s even a man-made beach so you can really get into the holiday spirit and revel in our fabulously sweltering summer.


FILM: Vintage Cinema, The Large Barn Hall, Amersham, Fri 27 Jul

If you haven’t yet experienced Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri and you live Amersham way, then it’s really worth making the effort for this masterpiece of a film. Sit on comfy beanbags with a free bag of gourmet popcorn and become immersed in this dark, comic, moving and superbly acted movie which will stay with you long after you’ve seen it.


MUSIC: Oxford Piano Festival, Sat 28 Jul – Sun 5 Aug

Ivory-tinklers like me will find much to love at Oxford’s Piano Festival, which celebrates the world’s best players, both old and new, with performances, masterclasses and lectures. This Sun 29, the Oxford Philamonic is joined by the winner of 2015 International Chopin Competition, Seong-Jin Cho, playing Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor, Op.11 plus Marios Papadopolous conducts Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55, ‘Eroica’ at the Sheldonian Theatre.


EVENT: Ragged Victorians, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Chalfont St Giles, Sat 28 – Sun 29 Jul

Watch out for pickpockets! This outdoor family museum brings the less savoury aspects of the Victorian age to life with costumed re-enactors, including the rat catcher and his rats, street urchins, doctor (with real leeches!), rogues and vagabonds. Your kids will love it!


EVENT: World Picnic Day, Campbell Park, Milton Keynes, Sun 29 Jul

picnic basket being opened by woman

It’s all going on in Milton Keynes this month. The World Picnic in Campbell Park is a celebration of dance, music and global cultures. There’s arts and craft workshop tents and stalls selling food from across the world. Don’t forget your picnic blanket. And the Scotch eggs of course.


ART: Lynn Chadwick, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, until Oct 2018

Lynn Chadwick metal work sculptures of human form at Cliveden House

If you loved the Benar Venet sculptures at Cliveden last year, then the new installation of English sculpture and artist Lynn Chadwick’s awesome abstract metal works inspired by the human form and natural world. His big, bold sculptural pieces are doted around the grounds. Take a stroll, admire and then pop into Cliveden House for afternoon tea or lunch at the Astor Grill.


COMEDY: Oxford Comedy Festival, The Jam Factory, Oxford, until Thurs 26 Jul

No need to schlep to Edinburgh for the Fringe, some of the finest comedy shows are being performed in Oxford now. A huge choice of shows with 2 on each night, grab your chance to see our up and coming comic stars without the ridiculous price tag (only £5 a ticket or 2 for £8 if you book in advance). Bargain!


FESTIVAL: Milton Keynes International Festival, until Sun 29 Jul

This ten day festival of international theatre, film, music, art installations and events is a whopper, there’s simply loads to see and do. While we revel in balmy evenings, I rather fancy checking out For The Birds at Linford Manor Park. Wander through the woodlands in the evening transformed by light and sound installations that celebrate birdsong, movement and flight. Or pop along to The Stables Speigeltent for comedy, caberet and music at its best and most intimate. Or whilst shopping in the MK Centre, marvel at The NoFit Circus and Motionhouseperformers who combine circus and acrobatics on giant Jenga-like blocks. Hats off to Milton Keynes for hosting this cutting-edge event.


THEATRE: Globe Theatre Players at the Bodleian Library, until Sun 29 Jul

So my lovely luvvies, more Shakespeare and this time set in the awe-inspiring Old Schools Quadrangle at the Bodleian. In true Elizabethan style, a small group of actors (8 to be precise),  juggling a variety of roles from their extensive repertoire, have left Shakespeare’s Globe in London and headed off on tour. Traditionally the choice of play performed was left to the most powerful person in the household. So, in a first for the Globe, the audience will get the chance to choose which of three plays they should perform: The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew or Twelfth Night. Sounds unmissable.


DRINKIES: Ashmolean Museum Pop-up Bar, until Mon 30 July

ashmolean museum oxford sunny

Whoo-hoo! For 3 weeks only, you can bask in the sunshine in a deck chair on the gorgeous Ashmolean roof top lawn and enjoy a drink or two (or if you’re me, three) from the summer pop-up bar. No need to dine, just wine! Or try the new Ashmolean gin before wobbling down the stairs to stumble round the galleries.


THEATRE: Brave New World, Westgate Centre, Oxford, until Sat 11 Aug

Aldous Huxley with your H&M? You’ve finished your shopping, had a drink and dined on the roof terrace, but still don’t want to leave Westgate. How about a trip to the theatre? With the brand new shopping centre as the backdrop to Creation Theatre’s version of Auldous Huxley’s Brave New World, this vision of future consumerism is scary, pertinent and thought-provoking.


ARTS & CULTURE: Family Museum, Libraries and Gardens Trawl, Oxford, all month 

Want to encourage your kids to visit all the great museums, libraries and gardens in Oxford this summer? If they’re of an age where stickers and prizes are enough to get them through the door then take part in this family campaign. Grab a passport from the information desk at The Ashmolean, Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers, Museum of the History of Science, Harcourt Arboretum, Bodleian Library or Botanic Garden and each time you visit get a sticker. Three stickers equals prizes equals happy kids equals smug parents.


THEATRE: Swallows & Amazons, Oxford University Parks, until Sat 11 Aug

The marvellous Creation Theatre are at it again, bringing us imaginative theatre in every sort of location other than theatres. Originally performed in Bristol’s Old Vic, this adaptation of children’s classic Swallows & Amazons is being performed in Oxford University Parks. I’m sure Arthur Ransome would approve.


EXHIBIT: Nick Sharrat: Pirates, Pants & Wellyphants, River & Rowing Museum, until Sun 16 Sept 

If you’ve got kids, you’ll have a book somewhere in your house with Nick Sharrat’s fabulous illustrations. An interactive exhibition of his work is now on at this lovely venue which 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 cafe with posh nosh, and a short stroll to the river and shops of Henley.


THEATRE: Shakespeare Festival, Oxford Castle Quarter, until Sat 11 Aug

This 8 week Shakespeare binge kicked off with 2 hours of back-to-back abridged (me likey) Othello and Much Ado About Nothing but is now showing the much loved Midsummer Night’s Dream (until Jul 28) and then Romeo and Juliet. Bring a picnic or pre-order one with your tickets for a fabulous summer evening’s entertainment in these magnificent historic surroundings.



THEATRE: Kids Week in August, various London locations

Sound and Sourcery at The Vaults, London – 3 July – 30 Sept: Immersive music concert experience inspired by Disney’s Fantasy. Under Waterloo station, collect your headphones at the door and step inside the tunnels. Dance with a funky hippo, walk in a prehistoric wasteland, seek out the fairies in a magic forest and sneak into the Sorcerer’s lair. Also Hip Hop Hippo Dance Workshop on selected dates. Suitable for 8 +

Star Seekers,  National Theatre, London – 8 Aug – 1 sept – help the star seekers save their space station in this interactive 50 minute show for 3 – 8 year olds.

42nd Street, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane – free tickets to this musical extravaganza on selected dates in August.

Pressure, Ambassador’s Theatre, London – free tickets to this funny and tense play about the D-Day landings. Suitable for older kids.


EVENT: Countryfile Live, Blenheim Palace, Thurs 2 – Sun 5 Aug 

Can’t get enough of Adam Henson and the Countryfile gang? Roll up, roll up, catch the show while you can at Blenheim Palace as the team showcase the best of the British countryside. Expect live arena shows where Matt Baker does a semi-naked trapeze act while John Craven tames the Fresian cows in top hat and fishnets. Apparently (and this bit is true) there’s also a National Trust theatre, waterside activities, off-road experiences, animal displays and 700 exhibitors. This year they are also throwing a BBC Countryfile Live Summer Party on the Saturday 6-9pm, headlined by country duo The Shires (a BBC Radio 2 favourite) and supported by Newton Faulkner and Ferris & Sylvester.



EVENT: Circus Sampler, Somerset House, London, Wed 25 Jul – Tues 7 Aug

With 2018 being the 250th anniversary of the birth of circus, you can celebrate with a free exhibition Circus Originals opening on 25 Jul plus live circus events at Somerset House. Dance artists Far From The Norm perform Union Black that combines humour, hip hop and circus using Chinese poles and tight-wire. Between performances, you can watch international record-breaking hula hooper extraordinaire, Marawa. She’s joined by her team of hoop performers, The Majorettes, and they’ll teach you to hula hoop after the show.


ART: Tate Late, Tate Modern, London, Fri 27 Jul

These free after hours evenings offer pop-up talks, live music, DJ sets, street food and drinks plus you can see The EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932, Shape of Light and Joan Jonas for just £10.



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