Fri 6 - Sun 8 Dec
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEKEND
EXHIBITION: Tommy Fiendish, Dantzig Gallery, Woodstock, until 27 Dec
New on the art scene this month is a solo exhibition of up-and-coming East London artist Tommy Fiendish at the brilliant Dantzig gallery in Woodstock. Each of Tommy’s pieces begin as a 2D image of an abandoned property with layers of colour, mythological animals, ’50s tattoos, swans and a touch of Gothic. Very cool.
THEATRE: Billionaire Boy, New Theatre Oxford, 4 – 7 Dec
David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy comes to New Theatre Oxford, about 12-year-old Joe who is the richest boy in the country and receives £100,000 a week pocket money (don’t go getting any ideas, kids). It’s produced by the same team that created the award-winning West End show Gangsta Granny so should be a goodie and, knowing Walliams, will be packed with humour for adults too.
CAROLS: Carols in the Courtyard, Stowe, Bucks, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22 Dec
Stowe’s New Inn courtyard will be hosting local musicians throughout the Yuletide period.
ART: ArtBag Studio opening, Old Amersham, now open
THEATRE: The Last Noël, Old Fire Station, Wed 4 – Mon 23 Dec
Old Fire Station do things a little differently at Christmas and put on a more grown up show every year (12+). This year it’s The Last Noël, a funny and moving tale about family dynamics at Christmastime. Last year’s show, Snowflake, received top marks so it should be a goodie. oldfirestation.org.uk
CAROLS: Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, 2 – 31 Dec
There’s nothing quite like a carol concert to get you properly in the mood for Christmas, right? The utterly fabulous Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton is hosting a series of concerts for the festive period, each including a five course dinner and Champagne Laurent-Perrier. The concerts are on the pricey side, but no surprises there as you’re getting double Michelin star quality.
MUSIC: Gentlemen’s Dub Club, O2 Academy, Oxford, 6 Dec
Leeds-based Gentlemen’s Dub Club are bringing their ska and reggae fusion to Oxford’s O2 Academy on their Lost in Space tour. I’ve seen the band a couple of times at festivals and they really are worth a watch – they’re full of energy and will bring a fantastic atmosphere to the venue.
PANTO: Beauty and the Beast, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, 6 Dec – 5 Jan
Who’s the biggest pull – EastEnders’ regular Danny Walters, who stars as the Prince or Britain’s Got Talent’s drag act La Voix and local celeb Andy Collins, a duo who have made your correspondent snort with laughter for the last few years? It’s too tough to call – maybe we’ll have to ask the talking furniture to decide. atgtickets.com
CULTURE: YuleFest, Blackwell’s bookshop, Broad Street, 7 – 8 Dec
For bookworms, head to Blackwell’s on Oxford’s Broad Street for the bookshop’s annual Yule Fest, a series of talks on the run up to Christmas. Highlights include talks by Jo Wood on her new book Stoned, about her life on the road with The Rolling Stones (I bet she has some wicked secrets to spill), author of Bad Words Philip Gooden and children’s book launch of Castle of No Return.
PANTO: Aladdin, Milton Keynes Theatre, 7 Dec – 12 Jan
Lee Mead! Did you hear me randy women of Bucks & Oxon, flipping LEE MEAD! And, er, squeaky comedian Joe Pasquale, but there, you can’t have it all. Want to see them messing about on a magic carpet? Your wish is my command! They’re both performing in MK Theatre’s Aladdin panto this year alongside a live orchestra.
THEATRE: The Adventures of Pinocchio, Cornerstone, Sat 7 – Sun 29 Dec
The creative team behind Didcot’s Cornerstone’s 2018 show return to the venue with a vibrant new version of The Adventures of Pinocchio promising humour and original songs performed live on stage by musicians supported by local talent. cornerstone-arts.org.uk
CAROLS: CarolFest, St Mary’s Church, Aylesbury, 8 Dec
CarolFest returns to St Mary’s Church in Aylesbury – a day of family festive-themed family entertainment, games, crafts and activities culminating in a carol service led by The Next Stage Chior and local groups (8 Dec).
PANTO: Dick Whittington, Wycombe Swan, 13 Dec – 5 Jan
Heart-throb Love Island contestant and younger brother of Strictly’s AJ Pritchard, Curtis Pritchard, makes his panto debut in Wycombe Swan’s Dick Whittington (13 Dec – 5 Jan). Check out our interview where he talks tans, secrets and AJ’s budgie smugglers – ooh! wycombeswan.co.uk
PANTO: Puss in Boots, Theatre Chipping Norton, 13 Nov – 12 Jan
The Theatre in Chippy always punches above its weight and this year’s Puss in Boots, set in 1950s London, offers a cool twist on the usual routine. For those not encumbered by little people, there are adult-only evenings on offer – the mind fair boggles, doesn’t it Puss? chippingnortontheatre.com
PANTO: Beauty and the Beast, Oxford Playhouse, 29 Nov – 12 Jan
Can’t stand Z-list pantos? The Oxford Playhouse continues its policy of not bothering with the soap star brigade, with its in-house panto. If you enjoyed last year’s Dick Whittington and his Cat then it’s a dead cert as it’s the same team behind the production. oxfordplayhouse.com
December is here so it’s now officially acceptable to go full throttle on festivities and there are loads of Christmas markets popping up over Bucks and Oxon to get you in the Christmas mood.
For wow-factor settings there’s Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury, with a 20ft Christmas tree, 80 exhibitors standing to attention in charming wooden chalets. Don’t forget to check out the amazing light show whilst you’re there (until 22 Dec). Or over in Woodstock there are more lights (we’re talking a 100k Light Tunnel and laser show) at Blenheim Palace alongside twinkling wooden chalets lining the Great Court selling a curated range of ceramics, textiles, gifts, homewares, fashion and foodie items (until 15 Dec).
Oxford Christmas Market, on Broad Street, runs right up to the big day and is a lifesaver for those last minute Christmas gifts – it’s rescued me a couple of times! (5 – 21 Dec) while Chipping Campden Christmas Market is a traditional one with local choirs, stall and Christmas lights switch on (7 – 8 Dec). There’ll be 40 stalls selling botanical inspired gifts and Hot Toddies at Oxford Botanic Garden (7 – 8 Dec); Cogges Manor Farm‘s market focuses on festive food with local produce, hampers and Santa’s grotto. You can also pick out a Nordman Fir Christmas tree (7 – 8 Dec).
THEATRE: The Snow Queen, The North Wall, Oxford, until 5 Jan
The ever quirky Creation Theatre is turning down the thermostat at North Wall Theatre for its new production of The Snow Queen (below). We caught a press show last weekend and it’s witty and enchanting for kids and adults alike. Make sure you get stuck in to the immersive snow ball fight!
THEATRE: Snow White, The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, 6 Dec
Anyone else really get that festive feeling at the ballet? The Vienna Festival Ballet will be performing their interpretation of Snow White, complete with hip-hopping dwarves.
CHRISTMAS AT NATIONAL TRUSTS & STATELY HOMES
Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Bucks, until 5 Jan (Wed – Sun)
The decorations at the house this year are influenced by the National Trust site’s connection to music, from traditional carols to Christmas hits. There’s also a stunning light trail (see the Muddy review here) around the Aviary and light shows on the facade of the manor house. Head to the stables to snap a picture inside one of the two huge LED baubles.
Stonor, Henley, Oxon, until 15 Dec
Stonor opens its doors to the public at Christmas for the fourth time, with this year’s theme being A Candlelit Christmas. The house will be decorated with holly, mistletoe, sweet scented pine and greenery grown by the Head Gardener, plus a 20ft Victorian decorated Christmas Tree in the Gothic Hall.
Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, Bucks (8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 Dec and 1 Jan)
The manor will be decorated in traditional splendour, inspired by the make-do-and-mend world of wartime Britain, and there’ll also be a children’s trail following Sergeant Hadfield’s little Scottie dog around the winter gardens (7 – 29 Dec).
Chastleton House, Moreton-in-Marsh, Oxon (7, 8 Dec)
Built by a prosperous wool merchant in the 17th Century, Chastleton House remained in the same family for 400 years until the National Trust renovated it in the 1990s. The beautiful house will be decorated for a Victorian Christmas and open to the public for select dates.
Stowe, nr Buckingham, Bucks, 1 Dec – 5 Jan
There’s a landscape advent calendar in the stunning Stowe gardens with 12 displays dotted around the frosty garden to celebrate the Georgian tradition of the Twelfth Night.
Grey’s Court, Henley, Oxon, 5, 9, 12, 17, 19 Dec
This year, the picturesque 16th-century mansion is celebrating its 50th year as part of the National Trust with candlelit tours round the mansion with stories of the owners’ Christmas traditions, followed by mulled wine and homemade warm mince pies in the Old Kitchen.
Cliveden, Taplow, Berks, until 23 Dec (Sat, Sun & school holidays)
Just over the Berks border, expect a charming Christmas trail round the stunning grounds inspired by stories of Astor family Christmases on the estate.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon
Blenheim always goes the whole hog with its Illuminated Light Trail and this year there’ll be over 100,000 for the Tunnel of Light, a Laser Garden, scented Fire Garden and light finale on the Water Terrace and front of the Palace set to music. For kids there’ll be a Victorian-style fairground and Santa, plus the Palace will be decorated in the theme of Alice in Wonderland.
EXHIBITION: ICON, Old Fire Station, Oxford, until 23 Dec
Another must-see befroe it concludes at the end of the month is ICON at Old Fire Station, in Oxford, which will be exhibiting iconic photographs that have been recreated by Rory Carnegie and artists who have experienced homelessness (until 23 Dec). I’m absolutely loving this idea!
At The North Wall theatre in Oxford there’s Wildsong by Jane Duff, with work inspired by the artist’s upbringing on the edge of Snowdonia and experience working as a guide in the Himalayas (until 7 Jan); The Young Turner: Ambitions in Architecture and the Art of Perspective, on display at Banbury Museum which is a collection of JMW Turner’s work from the 1780s to the 1810s, on loan from The Ashmolean, The Tate and private collections (until 12 Jan); George Stubbs: ‘all done from Nature’ , (below) at MK Gallery, the first first overview of the British artist’s work in the UK for over 30 years (until 26 Jan).
In central Oxford you can see a Kiki Smith show ‘I Am Wanderer’ (until 19 Jan), at Modern Art Oxford, which promises to take visitors on a mythological and folkloric journey in her huge tapestries to her exquisitelyfashioned gold shells; the Ashmolean’s current display, Last Supper in Pompeii, with 400+ exhibits from the ancient Roman site buried by the enormous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD (until 12 Jan); First Animals, an interesting exploration of the first life on earth at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (until 24 Feb).
Mama Mia! A brand new (and, quite frankly, must-see) exhibition is coming to The O2, London this month – ABBA: Super Troupers is a journey through the Swedish band’s career and will feature personal items and artefacts never seen before in the UK (6 Dec – 21 Aug 2020).
Another newbie is Tutankhamun – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at the Saatchi Gallery. One of the biggest cultural events in the winter calendar, the exhibit features 150+ original artefacts found in the Pharaoh’s the tomb that was unearthed in 1922 (open now).
Other exhibitions worth a snoop are Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane collection of work at the V&A (until 8 March); William Blake at Tate Britain, with the visionary painter and poets work blown up to enormous scale using digital technology (until 2 Feb 2020); Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s (4 Oct – 19 Jan).