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This weekend

FRI 25 - SUN 27 MAY 2018

Colourscape, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 26 May – Sun 3rd June

For the fourth year in a row, the spectacular Colourscape returns to Waddesdon with 56 interlinked chambers for the trippiest experience outside of Glastonbury. There’s a new structure to fit the Aviary glade with long views of intense colour and light plus music and dance performances inside the larger spaces. To be honest, the performances are a bit bonkers but you can easily whizz off down another bouncy tunnel if they’re just too, erm, ethnic, for you. Obviously, it’s great for kids too so although the queues are often daunting, persevere as it’s one of the most unusual experiences around.


Pop-up Cult Screen Cinema, The Old Prison Exercise Yard, Oxford, Wed 23 – Sat 26 May

Old Prison Yard Oxford

We’re loving all these outdoor cinemas in unusual locations, especially with the fab sunshine. Cult Screens are bringing their luxury screening experience (with bar) to the prison yard at Oxford Castle. It kicked off on Wed with the amazing Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (well deserved of its Oscar) but you can still settle down in your bean bag to see Get out on Fri 25 and finishing off with Dirty Dancing on Sat 26 (No one puts my bean bag in the corner….)


Live Friday, American Cool, The Ashmolean, Oxford, Fri 25 May 

John Wayne cowboy

Yee-hah! Join in the evening fun at the Ashmolean in Oxford as it relives the roaring Twenties through to the end of the Great Depression with its first Live Friday of the year. I’m a big fan of these eclectic after-hours immersive events, bringing together performance, music, talks and booze. This time round it’s all about showcasing the America’s Cool Modernism exhibition, so you can expect hidden speakeasy bars, live band Hoedowns, a 1930s Photo Booth and a private mooch around the much-lauded O’Keefe and Sheeler paintings. Vintage American dress is encouraged. I’m already digging out my chaps (hopefully this time I won’t forget my trousers underneath).


The Leander Club Exhibition, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, now until 16 July

Fit men (and women) alert! The new exhibition at the delightful River & Rowing celebrates the Leander Club which was founded in 1818 in London but is now located by Henley Bridge. With 124 Olympic and 3 Paralympic medals, it’s the most successful Olympic sports club IN THE WORLD!


The Sneaky Supper Club, Isis Farmhouse pub, Iffly Lock, Oxford, Fri 25 May

Back for another sneaky supper from this top notch supper club, the menu tonight includes gin and beetroot cured salmon, stuffed guinea fowl and salted caramel dark chocolate mousse. Frankly they had me at ‘gin’ but there’s the added bonus that the Isis Farmhouse pub is by the river and on a sunny eve in May, where else would you want to be?


Nomada Spanish Night, Warwick Hall, Burford, Sat 26 May

Nomada food prep

Another pop-up supper club but this time it’s a Spanish theme so dig out your sombreros and castanets. Acclaimed Cuban chef Ruben Leon-Acosta has brought his culinary expertise back from Spain’s gastro hub, San Sebastian, and has created a traditional menu of pintxos (tapas) accompanied by Pisco Sours.


English Wine Week, Various locations, Sat 26 May – Sun 3 June

purple grapes

If you fancy a local tipple, now’s your opportunity to discover the movers and shakers in the English wine industry with a week of wine tastings. We are blessed in our beautiful Bucks/Oxon with quite a few award-winning vineyards where you can book a tour, learn about viticulture, sample the wines and buy bottles to enjoy at home. Harrow and Hope in Marlow, Bothy Vineyard in Abingdon, Chafor Vineyard in Gawcott, Chiltern Valley in Hambledon, and Daws Hill in Radnage are all now open for tours and tastings (the latter by appointment only). If you’re not convinced about English wine you could surprise yourself at Roast Restaurant in Borough Market, London (where 26% of the white wine on their menu is English). On Mon 28 and Tues 29 May you can take part in a blind tasting with food and wines from Europe with prizes up for grabs. Bottoms up!


Common People, Oxford, 26-27 May


Hurray for a city centre festival that it’s easy to get home from. Based in the pretty South Park, this is Bestival founder Rob da Bank’s latest venture which is now in its third year. It’s brilliantly organized, the bands are good (this year’s performers include The New Power Generation of Prince fame, Boney M, Morcheeba and Tiger Mendoza, to name but a few), ditto the kids’ area. And tent refuseniks will be pleased to hear there’s no camping on site.


Springtime Vintage Weekend, Bletchley Park,  Sat 26 – Mon 28 May

Back to the Forties at Bletchley Park. (Blimey, doesn’t anyone want to do anything in the present day any more?). The home of wartime code breaking, a fascinating visit in its own right, is putting on a weekend of  live music, food, stalls, lawn games, historical displays and re-enactors.


Alice in Wonderland, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sun 27 May

Here I am dressed as the Easter Bunny jumping for joy as it’s Bank Holiday Sunday…ahem. Those clever dancey types at Let’s All Dance are performing Alice in Wonderland with two to eleven year olds and special needs kids in mind. Looks thoroughly charming.


Joho Soho Pop-up, Cinnamon Kitchen, Westgate Roof Terrace, Oxford, now until September

The glam roof terrace at the Westgate Centre is well and truly open and if you haven’t been, now’s a good time with the launch of the Joho Soho pop-up outside Cinnamon Kitchen. Renowned chef Vivek Singh has teamed up with mixologist extraordinaire Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, to offer street food and ‘upcycled and recycled’ cocktails (think watermelon rind and pistachio shells – note to self, must check out the contents of my compost caddy) on the shabby chic terrace festooned with flowers, lanterns and comfy wicker chairs. And relax….


The Family in Disorder, Modern Art Oxford – now until 27 May

modern art Oxford

No, this is not the Muddy office during the Awards but it could be a fair representation of my fried brain at the moment. Popping into Modern Art Oxford the other day I was stopped in my tracks by this dramatic art installation by Cinthia Marcelle, one of Brazil’s most significant artists. Having created two barrier-like structures out of a mix of materials, Cinthia then invited six local artists (Aaron Head, Chris Jackson, Kamila Janska, Andy Owen, Sebastian Thomas and Aline Tima) to destroy them and then rebuild one of the structures. Apparently it’s saying something about political protest against patriarchal structures in these troubled times. Right on, sister!

Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, OX1 1BP


Oxford Art Weeks, various venues in Oxon, Sat 5 – Mon 28 May

Stella Campion 18 Carat Gold Bowl

Be inspired to get your canvas out with this free county-wide art festival. Works will be popping up all over the place as the artists of Oxfordshire show us how it’s done. Painting, sculpture, furniture, digital art and much more in some unexpected venues, you can buy, have a go yourself or just admire the spectrum of talent on display.


Wedding Bells of Windsor Music Festival, Moat Garden Windsor Castle, Sat 26 May

Three young girls playing dress up in royal court clothes Windsor Castle

The Wedding celebrations are gonna be geeked out until autumn, I reckon. A week after the I dos, Windsor Castle will celebrate royal wedding past and present with a music festival in the Moat Garden. Take part in special wedding-themed storytelling sessions, picnic beneath the Round Tower and listen to live music throughout the day. Perfect opportunity to catch up on some zzzz in the sunshine.


Sonning Regatta, Sat 26 May

tow path walk in Sonning, Berkshire, with the river running past and an old red brick humpback bridge surrounded by willows

If you’re going to mess about by the river in a Wind In The Willows styles, then you can’t beat the Sonning Regatta. It’s a fun, family event with races for all ages and all rowing abilities – from aspiring Redgraves to novices. You can also try a dongola or a katakanu. Er, no clue – but the beer tent and BBQ sound right up my street.


Newbury Spring Festival, various locations Sat 12 – Sat 26 May

Sting musicians using violin bows to attack the bass man Graffiti Classics

This whopping music festival has grown over the last 40 years to now attract the very best in classical, jazz and world music acts. Over 40 concerts will take place this year from 12 to 26 May in some glorious venues, including Englefield House, Highclere Castle, Donnington Priory and the Corn Exchange Newbury where you can catch saxophonist YolanDa Brown and Graffiti Classics (above).



RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London, Tues 22 – Sat 26 May

The mother of all flower shows returns and there are just a few tickets remaining. Brand new for this year, The Chelsea Late takes place on Fri 25 May – once the main show closes at 8pm The Ranelagh Gardens host an evening of live music (from Ronnie Scott’s no less), cocktails, artisan food, pop up plant fair and garden advisors on hand to answer your questions. More than half the show ground will be available for you to enjoy at your leisure but you’ll find me learning to turn courgettes and carrots into musical instruments (yes, that is on offer!).


Peter Pan, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London, Thurs 17 May – Fri 15 June

Photo: Tristam Kenton

The Open Air Theatre in Regents Park is such a magical venue and swooping in this summer is this reinvention of the Peter Pan story told through the lens of the First World War. Remembering a generation of Lost Boys, it’s promising swashbuckling and puppetry and Captain Hook played by Benedict Cumberbatch in incredibly tight leather trousers. (disclaimer: one bit of this sentence was made up).


The Shape of Light, Tate Modern, Wed 2 May to Sun 14 Oct, and Tate Late, Fri 25 May

Antony Cairns, LDN5_051 2017 © Courtesy of the artist Antony Cairns

This new exhibition chronicles 100 years of photography and abstract art, exploring the development of abstraction with photography from early pioneers to our 21st century digital innovators with over 300 works by artists such as Man Ray and Jackson Pollock.

Tate Late takes place on the last Friday of every month for after-hours music, art, food and workshops. This month’s offering celebrates The EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame and Tragedy, and I’m intrigued by the promise of a surreal life-drawing class with larger than life models posing as iconic portraits. If you manage to pop along, do let us know what it entails….


The Design Museum, London, from Thurs 10 May to Sun 7 Oct

Fascinating exhibition of the sculptor turned couturier, Azzedine Alaïa, who found fans in Michelle Obama, Rhianna and Grace Jones, with his flair for couture and refusal to stick to fashion week deadlines.


Chalke Valley History Festival, Church Farm Nr Salisbury, Wilts, 25 June – 1 July

child dressed as roman soldier charging with wooden sword and shield at Chalke Valley History Festival Wiltshire

If you and your kids love Horrible Histories, dressing up and a game of spot the celeb then book up for the Chalke Valley History Festival nr Salisbury in wiltshire. It is absolutely HUUUUUUGE! This 7 day summer jaunt is dedicated entirely to history in the UK, it’s set across 70 acres with enactments, sword school, a trench experience and more more more. It’s an awesome day out – A* in History almost guaranteed.



The Little Welly Adventure Course, Culden Faw Estate Henley, 9-10 June

Little Welly adventure course pool of foam

Give it some welly and book now for this summer’s much-loved Little Welly kids’ obstacle course (even the most iPad-obsessed nippers can’t resist). It’s 9 and 10 June in Henley. Go, go, go! Snap up your tickets.

Find more ideas here

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