Mon 29 Apr - Sun 5 May
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEK
ART: Oxfordshire Artweeks, various locations, Sat 4 – Mon 27 May
Oxfordshire Artweeks festival kicks off at the beginning of the month and it’s a biggie- the UK’s oldest and largest free artist open studios and pop-up exhibition with hundreds of works ranging from painting, sculpture and ceramics to furniture, jewellery and photography (no doubt you’ll snaffle bargain). Galleries all over Oxfordshire get involved and there are loads of meet the artist events, talks and demonstrations to get stuck into during the festival. For the first week (Sat 4 – Sun 12), the fest hits central Oxford and then moves south along the Thames to Faringdon, Henley, Wantage and Thame (Sat 11 – Sun 19) and finally to north and west Oxfordshire including Chippy, Bicester and the Cotswolds (Sat 18 – Mon 27). Full festival guide here.
DRINK: Champagne rooftop event, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Wed 1 May
The Ashmolean opens up its beautiful rooftop restaurant for an evening of Champagne tasting, light bites and live music. The terrace will also be open if the sun is shining. Well worth checking out the awesome Jeff Koons exhibition whilst you’re there, too! Tickets here.
MUSIC: Jazz Fest, The Rickety Press, Jericho, Thurs 2 – Mon 6 May
The Rickety Press’ Jazz Fest returns with five days of live jazz including music from The Swing Hoppers (Thurs), Imperial Leisure, who performed at the venue’s street party last year (Fri) and record-breaking beatboxer turned electronic singer-songwriter SK SCHLOMO (Sun). There’ll also be a Tropical Tea Party Takeover (Sat) and bottomless brunch to finish off the weekend on Mon. More info here.
THEATRE: Electrolyte, The North Wall, Oxford, Thurs 2 May
This multi-award-winning piece of gig theatre explores mental health through spoken word poetry, underscored by original music. The show is performed by six talented multi-instrumentalists and won (*deep breath*) the Mental Health Fringe Award, The Stepladder Award, The LET Award, The Voice Mag Pick of The Fringe Award and the Pleasance Best Newcomer Award in 2018. 14+ thenorthwall.com
Book that babysitter ASAP – supper club aficionados Native Feasts pop up in the vintage greenhouse at Peterley Manor Farm, below, with a five course menu made with local spring produce. On the menu for April is wild garlic cracked spelt risotto (yum), pressed shoulder of Oxfordshire lamb (double yum), rhubarb and ginger fool and more. There’ll also be a pop-up bar serving artisanal tipple in the form of an English wine list, seasonal cocktails and soft drinks (Fri 3, Sat 4, Fri 10, Sat 11). Tickets here.
Young chef/blogger Jack Greenall’s super groovado supper clubs always prove popular, but this week he’s doing something a little different and turning his self proclaimed ‘beautiful and unjustifiably expensive polished wooden table’ into a humongous charcuterie board from 1pm on Sat 4 – Mon 6. Tickets here.
COMEDY: The Potters Arms Comedy Festival, Winchmore Hill, nr Amersham, Fri 3 – Sun 5 May
A-list comedy nights in, er, Winchmore Hill, who would’ve guessed?! We’re pretty well provided for in the venue department for big time comedians in Bucks & Oxon, but this little powerhouse of a pub near Amersham is one of my favourites. The Potters Arms hosts its annual comedy festival (I’ve already got my ticket) with a stellar line-up of Andy Parsons (Fri 3), Edy Byrne (Sat 4) and The Cutting Edge who perform regularly at The Comedy Store (Sun 5). There’s a kid’s show too, performed by The Noise Next Door on Sat afternoon.
THEATRE: Madagascar The Musical, New Theatre, Oxford, until Sat 4 May
Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo and a troupe of pesky penguins explode onto the New Theatre’s stage in Madagascar The Musical, a guaranteed hit with kids (and grown ups for that matter) who like to move it move it (sorry). Tickets here.
DRINK: Oxford Beer Week, various locations, Sat 4 – Sun 12 May
Oxford Beer Week brings together pubs, clubs and shops to celebrate the amazing diversity of local brewery beers. New this year is the aptly named Big Event at TOAD in South Park which will have a beer village and programme of music and family-friendly sideshows. Other highlights include Muddy favourite, The Perch Beer Festival, in Binsey (Sat 4 – Mon 6), over 50 different beers, ales, ciders and lagers from Oxfordshire and neighbouring counties, live music on Sat and home-cooked food; meet the brewers night at Isis Farmhouse nr Iffley Lock (Fri 10 May); vertical beer tasting (whatever that is!) at the Jolly Postboys nr Florence Park (Fri 10 May).
KIDS: My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty, Wycombe Swan, Sat 4 May
Mudlets can catch My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty this week, a simplified version of the fairytale, for kids 3+, performed by students at the English national Ballet school. Shows are massively popular – the My First Ballet series has been running since 2012 – and they’re beautifully staged with a narrator to help the young audience follow the story, and a shortened version of Tchaikovsky’s score.
JOUSTING: Jousting Tournament, Blenheim Palace, Sat 4 – Mon 6 May
Here ye, here ye! Put on your best fair maiden impression and cheer on the knights on horseback as they go head-to-head in medieval-style combat against the majestic backdrop of Blenheim Palace. Throughout the weekend there’ll also be Jesters workshops, dragon parade, birds of prey and blacksmith demonstrations, plus kids can turn their hand to archery at the kid’s range. blenheimpalace.com
OUTDOORS: Bee Month, Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, Wed 1 – Fri 31 May
This month long event celebrates the blossoms, blooms at bees that live at National Trust site Hughenden Manor, with workshops on how to make hive frames and beekeeping basics with the Manor’s in-house team, meet the beekeeper events, children’s activities and tours. nationaltrust.org.uk
SAFARI: Night Safari, Earth Trust, Wittenham Clumps and Little Wittenham Woods, nr Didcot, Sat 4 May
No elephants on this safari, but you will spy on local wildlife like moths and bats that live in and around Wittenham Clumps and Little Wittenham Wood, and get to use techy torches and bat detectors. The safari runs 8pm – 10pm. earthtrust.org.uk
PARTY: Tighten Up Bank Holiday, Clayton’s Marlow, Marlow, Sun 5 May
Fancy a boogie with your BBQ? Clayton’s Marlow hosts its annual Tighten Up Bank Holiday Sunday Party; an all day BBQ with over 8 hours of vinyl only jazz, funk & soul into the early hours of the morning (yep, it’s a hardcore finish at 1am!). Tickets here.
CONCERT: Oxford Alternative Orchestra, Freud, Jericho, Sun 5 May
Oxford Alternative Orchestra (a string ensemble at Oxford Uni) perform in unusual places around Oxford as well as your usual high-strung venues and have previously performed in refugee detention centres, homeless shelters and hospitals. Their next pop-up concert is in Freud cocktail bar, a beautifully converted church in Jericho (amazing acoustic, no doubt) this weekend, where they’ll be performing Dvorak 9 – ‘From the New World’. It’s free, too. oxfordalternativeorchestra.com
Ongoing exhibitions this month include: Matilda at Thirty at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, in Great Missenden- eight new drawings of a grown up Matilda by Quentin Blake (until Sun 2 Jun); An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & the Thames at River & Rowing Museum in Henley, featuring textiles inspired by the Thames collated from the the V&A, The William Morris Gallery and the British Library (until Sun 14 July); Samurai, at Bucks County Museum in Aylesbury’s Old Quarter, with awesome artefacts from ancient Japanese Samurai armour to ornate helmets and swords (until Sat 13 July); Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean, showcasing 17 works spanning the artist’s career that have never been shown in the UK before. The exhibit includes his popular series Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures, plus a brand new limited edition print (oooh exclusive!) created especially for the exhibition. It’s also your last chance to catch the supercool British Life Photography Awards exhibition, at Banbury Museum, before it moves way up north to Yorkshire- the exhibit candidly documents everyday life in Britain, from street life and portraiture to Brits on holiday and even the weather- many of them thought provoking, humorous and poignant.
EXHIBITION: Beasts of London, Museum of London, Fri 5 – Sun 5 Jan
This looks amazing- a fully immersive, digital installation (here’s a sneak preview) exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the animals, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London. There are some major British celebs involved too, with Kate Moss, Brian Blessed, Pam Ferris, Joe Pasquale and more voicing the beasts. museumoflondon.org.uk
Must see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include the V&A’s retrospective on iconic 1960s designer and the mother of miniskirts, Mary Quant– over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive (until Sun 16 Feb 2020); also at the V&A is this year’s biggie, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, which traces the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him (until Sun 1 Sept). The exhibit is sold out (*boo*) but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am (from the Grand Entrance) and it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibit by purchasing a membership for the V&A (plus you get loads of added extras like sneak previews, a magazine subscription and access to the members room). Also worth checking out is the new major Van Gogh exhibit at Tate Britain- over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery, London. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg (until Sun 11 Aug).
HOME & INTERIORS
In need of some home inspo? Award winning event, Grand Designs Live, lands at London’s ExCeL (Sat 4 – Sun 12) with loads of exhibitors, product launches and expert advice on how to pimp your pad whether you’re planning a self-build, renovation or are adding the finishing touches. Kevin McCloud will be on hand for a natter, too. Or, there’s Clerkenwell Design Week (I’ve been a few times, it’s well worth the trip)- home to more creative businesses and architects per square mile than anywhere else on the planet, this will be the 10th annual festival, which attracts some of the best of designers in the world, including a huge range of home-grown talent (Tue 21 – Thurs 23). Finally, feeling crafty? London Craft Week (Wed 8 – Sun 12) showcases exceptional craftsmanship in London with a programme of workshops by both unknown makers and celebrated masters held in famous studios, galleries and shops. This year London’s hippest new hangout Coal Drops Yard is getting involved for the first time with loads of cool workshops and installations.
KIDS: Great Brick Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Beds, until Sun 2 Jun
More Lego! New for Easter, Whipsnade Zoo introduces its Brick Safari- there’ll be loads of LEGO brick beasts and animals around the mammoth zoo (it’s the biggest in the UK doncha know) made from over one million bricks, as well as hands-on family activities. Included in entry price. zsl.org
KIDS: The Little Welly obstacle course and festival, Henley, Sat 8 – Sun 9 June
This is all about getting Muddy so we are IN! A 3km hop, skip, jump and dash through 30 challenges, taking in streams, trails, mud and woodland The Little Welly’s obstacle course is the largest in the UK for kids. There’s also an accompanying festival with – deep breath – kart racing, rope climbing, circus skills workshops, live music, helter skelter, laser tag, climbing wall, pony rides and loads of family activities. I think it’s such a fantastic idea – get them away from screens, into the fresh air and doing some exercise.
FESTIVAL: Chilterns Live, Pendley Meadow, Tring, Sat 29 June
Oooh, new and shiny! There’s a brand new festival near our ‘hood! Chilterns Live will be popping up in Tring with a stellar pop line-up of Busted (this got a few squeals in Muddy HQ), Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling.
TALK: Margaret Atwood, New Theatre Oxford, Wed 30 Oct
To celebrate the launch of her new book The Testaments, a sequel to the totally brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale (which I am very excited to get my mitts on), author Margaret Atwood is going on a live tour- an evening of conversation, exclusive readings and special guests. She’s only touring for eight dates in the UK and our ‘hood is super lucky to secure a spot, so get booking if you fancy it as no doubt it will be a sell out. The tour follows the book launch on Tues 10 Sept where Margaret will be speaking at the National Theatre- the talk will be screened to 1,000 cinemas worldwide with loads of Bucks & Oxon cinemas taking part. Find your nearest screening here.