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This Week

MON 27 NOV - SUN 3 DEC 2017

Christmas at Stonor, Stonor Park, Weds 29 Nov – Sun 10 Dec

 Yeah, my fireplace looks just like this one. If you want to see a manor house beautifully decorated for the festive season (and get a sense of how the other half live – the Stonor family are still in situ) then head to Stonor Park. No I’m not jealous at all. *gnashes teeth*. It’s only open for a fortnight so get in there quickly for a nosey.Stonor Park, Stonor, Henley-on-Thames,


Bingo Bongo Spoken Word Cabaret, The Jericho Tavern, Oxford, Weds 29 Nov

Black and White man nail varnish feathers

A brand new quarterly event at the revamped Oxford music venue The Jericho Tavern. Guests for the first quarterly Bingo Bongo Spoken Word Cabaret include comedian and broadcaster, Elvis McGonagall,  stack-heeled duo, The Antipoet, and 2016 Saboteur Award Winner, Emily Harrison. Hosts and owners Tina Sederholm and Neil Spokes are also the hosts of Hammer & Tongue, Oxford’s long running and sellout Open Poetry Slam so they know what they’re doing. Go along and see what you think!


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,


Waddesdon Christmas Fair, Waddesdon Manor, now until Sun 10 Dec

Better than ever this year, Wadddesdon’s Christmas fair is set  against the stunning backdrop of the floodlit Manor where there’s all manor of light and sound shows going on, all adding up to a really festive atmosphere. There’s cute wooden chalets with over 80 exhibitors selling gifts, crafts and decorations. Oh and LOTS of seasonal scran too from the street food stalls offering everything from raclette to crèpes to grilled turkey to roasted chestnuts. Muddy tip: bring cash – not all the stallholders have a card machine.


Christmas Artisanal Craft Fair, Henley Town Hall, Weds 29 Nov

boy in matching star print vest and shorts in mid run

As tasteful and elegant as a town artisan craft fair can get – this is Henley after all –  the brands include a real mix of national and local inlcuding Neal’s Yard, Elliot and Powell portraiture (pictured, head to them for free fizz!) , and a massive range of jewellery, food hampers and candles.


Russell Brand: Re-Birth, Hexagon Theatre, Reading, Wed 29 Nov

The hyperactive hairy one only lives down the road in Henley, so this gig is a short commute for him. Following a series of sell-out preview shows last year, Brand is back this Weds with RE:BIRTH, a show that tries to make sense of life as once you’ve become a parent. The man’s got questions… well, parenthood leaves most us baffled right?


Christmas at Waddesdon Manor, now until 2 Jan

lights on waddesdon manor

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.

© Lauren Booth. Photo: Kat Manning.

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 homage to the 1889 aviary. Perfect too for getting your littlies into the Christmassy mood, there’s Letter Writing to Father Christmas until 23 Dec and a special free Children’s House Trail until 2 Jan.


Après Ski Supper Club, Peterley Manor Farm, Fri 1 Dec

Can’t afford to stump up for a week on the slopes this winter? This pop-up supper club in  the farm’s lovely yurt this Friday is the next best thing, offering three delicious courses (hot melted Alpine cheese will feature) and lashings of gluhwein for effective sorrows-drowning. It’s £40 per person (minimum 4 people per booking) and as much mulled wine as you can drink (*puffs out chest* is that a challenge?). Dress code (optional but we think you should): cheesy Christmas jumpers.


Commotio: Choral Music for Advent and Christmas, St John the Evangelist, Oxford, Sat 2 Dec

Can’t beat a Christmas concert for getting in the festive mood. Commotio features seasonal choral works written in the past 40 years, with the centrepiece Arvo Pärt’s Seven Magnificat Antiphons. This show will also premiere a new work, Poor Baby Jesus, by the American composer, Stephen Montague, and perform works by British composers including Richard Allain and Richard Rodney Bennett.

SJE Arts, 109a Iffley Rd, Oxford,


Coffee Concerts, Holywell Music Rooms, Oxford, Sun Dec 3

Coffee and classical music of a Sunday morning? How deeply civilized. The Holywell Music Rooms’ weekend coffee concerts have been running for 30 years now. This one sees the Heath String Quartet performing Hadyn, Widmann and Mendelssohn. I’d nip to the Westgate for a spot of Christmas shopping afterwards if I were you.


Christmas at Bletchley Park, Bucks, dates through Dec

Time travel back to a 1940s-themed Christmas at home of World War II code-breakers, Bletchley Park near MK. There’s live retro music (on 2, 3, 9 & 16 Dec) and a 1940s-style Christmas Grotto on selected dates between 2 – 23 Dec, which is apparently for kids aged 2 – 17. (Somehow, I can’t image my 15-year-old son being seen anywhere near a grotto or grown ups dressed as elves  – but, hey, each to their own, I guess!)Bletchley Park, The Mansion, Bletchley Park, Sherwood Dr, Bletchley, Milton Keynes,


Day Out With Thomas and Father Christmas, Bucks Railway Centre,  Sat 2 & Sun 3 Dec

real life thomas the tank engine train on tracks blowing out smoke blue skiesThat Father Christmas gets around – this time he lugs his pop-up grotto onto a steam train pulled by Thomas The Tank Engine. Tickets include pressies, refreshments, a live children’s show, face-painting, Thomas-themed colouring and badge making. And can meet The Fat Controller (let’s hope he hasn’t eaten all the mince pies). Once you disembark, don’t miss the 18ft Christmas tree and restored locomotives on display in the visitor centre.Bucks Railway Centre, Quainton Road Station, Station Rd, Quainton, Bucks,


Pinocchio, National Theatre, London, from 1 Dec

After a Christmas show with the kids in London? This looks fantastic – and would I lie to you? (Geddit?) This spanking new production of Pinocchio has music and songs from the Disney film, is overseen by John Tiffany, the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and penned by Dennis Kelly, the writer of Matilda the Musical. Previews from 1 December and half-price tickets for under-18s are available for all performances. Get thee to the train station pronto.

National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX,


A Christmas Carol, North Wall Theatre, Oxford, Sat 2 Dec – Sat 6 Jan

The ever-excellent Creation Theatre group promise a totally different take on Dickens, with their reboot of A Christmas Carol. Only a total Scrooge wouldn’t warm to this one, I reckon. This year they’re offering cabaret seating, so you sit round a circular table as a group.The North Wall Arts Centre, South Parade, Summertown, Oxford ,


Illuminated Woodland Walk, Basildon Park, until January

Wrap up, wellies on and trudge through the woods of this Berks National Trust property to see the trees in all their glory – preferably before the  leaves get blown off. Now that we are spending most of our time in darkness, we might as well get something out of it. In this case, an enchanting woodland walk, twinkly lights and all the Winter wonderland magic that goes with it. No need to book.


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 mistletoe. They’re promising a ‘mince pie martini’ which sounds frankly 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 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?


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.


Christmas at the Green Dragon Eco Farm, to 24 Dec

Roll up, roll up for Father Christmas Land, featuring Santa on his gigantic magic red tractor (I’ve heard the sleigh failed its MOT, sadly). This cute eco-farm near Quainton has lots going on this festive season, including reindeer feeding (they’re mad for magic moss, apparently), some new animal arrivals, a nativity experience, a wishing tree, Christmas crafts and Santa’s sandpits.


Christmas afternoon tea, Hartwell House, Bucks from 1 Dec 

If the Christmas shopping frenzy and social merry-go-round is giving you a nervo, then how about taking a reviving afternoon tea in genteel surroundings? Hartwell House’s festive menu launches this week, and includes turkey sarnies, seasonal spiced scones and Christmas Mess. No, not the state of my house (or indeed brain) during the entirety of December, rather a festive twist on Eton Mess. How very civilized.
Hartwell House, Oxford Road, Vale of Aylesbury, Bucks, HP17 8NR;


Botanic Garden Christmas Fair, Oxford, Sat 2 – Sun 3 Dec

I love the botanic garden – it may be bang on the high street with its maddening tourist throngs, but it still feels like a glorious bucolic escape. This weekend is its annual Christmas fair in a heated (hurray) marquee amid the foliage. There’s seasonal gifts, artisan food, festive music and mulled wine.The University of Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Lane, Oxford,


Victorian Christmas, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Sat 2 – Sun 3 Dec

Dig out your corset and petticoats, and get involved in this Victorian festive event. (Actually, can I borrow that corset? I’ve eaten too many mince pies already this season). Costumed actors will reenact a Victorian Christmas, the historic buildings will be decorated in 19th century style (wot no tinsel?) and there’s trad Christmas story telling and festive family crafts. And mulled wine (*loosens corset*).

Chiltern Open Air Museum, Newland Park, Gorelands Lane, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks,


Nutcracker, Kenton Theatre, Henley, Sun 3 Dec

Theatre company Let’s All Dance specialize in making ballet accessible and fun for little-uns and their new show is well worth a gander. It promises dazzling dancing, sumptuous music and crystal clear storytelling (so you won’t be constantly having to explain in whispers what’s going on every two minutes). So let’s join the Sugar Plum Fairy and gang in the magical Land of Sweets (make mine a massive bag of Minstrels, thanks). Performances at 1pm and 3pm.

The Kenton Theatre, New Street, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon,


Puppets Go Wild, The Abominable Snowman, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, Sat Dec 2

Looking for a festive show for very little ones? The Oxford theatre presents The Abominable Snowman this weekend, a wintry wondrous  puppet show. And you get to meet the titular snowman afterwards – who’s actually affable rather than abominable – for a cuddle, aaah. Suitable for children aged 2-7 with shows at 2pm and 4pm.

Pegasus Theatre, Magdalen Road, Oxford,


Christmas at Legoland, Windsor, through Dec

Stamina levels set to maximum, comfy trainers and a full wallet? OK, we’re ready to go. Legoland is all twinkly lights and snow-dusted Christmas magic, with the entry price for the festive season including a visit to Lego Santa in his grotto for kids and a Lego gift to take home. Free h ot drinks and cookie for adults – although, if we ask nicely can you make it a mulled wine? I’ve actually bought my hipflask with me, just in case, you know.

Legoland Windsor Resort, Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berks,


Christmas at the Green Dragon Eco Farm, to 24 Dec

Roll up, roll up for Father Christmas Land, featuring Santa on his gigantic magic red tractor (I’ve heard the sleigh failed its MOT, sadly). This cute eco-farm near Quainton has lots going on this festive season, including reindeer feeding (they’re mad for magic moss, apparently), some new animal arrivals, a nativity experience, a wishing tree, Christmas crafts and Santa’s sandpits.

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