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This weekend

Fri 7 - Sun 9 Jun



Grab the popcorn, Pimms and a parka as al fresco cinema season has begun! If you’re after a blockbuster location that’s as dramatic as the Hollywood films on the big screen, Stonor, Henley-on-Thames, is showing Bohemian RhapsodyMary Poppins Returns and The Greatest Showman (Fri 7 – Sun 9). Or over in Bucks, there’s Hellfire Caves, High Wycombe- apparently watching a film in a cave is the coolest thing EVER (ask my 10 year old). Here you can watch ’80s adventure-fantasy Labyrinth starring David Bowie as the mullet adorning Goblin King, or The Dark Knight underground in Hellfire Caves. Christian Bale or Bowie, however will you choose? Find my full list of summer outdoor cinema here.


KIDS: Tom Gates live on stage, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, until Sun 9 Jun

Based on the best-selling books by Liz Pichon, about a cheeky boy called Tom desperate to go on the school trip, this world premier production is a feel-good family comedy with catchy songs, comedy and Liz’s illustrations which are animated for the stage. It’s produced by the same team behind Horrible Histories and Gangsta Granny so should be a goodie. 


CIRCUS: Gifford’s Circus, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until Mon 10

Gifford’s Circus pitches up its Big Top once again at Blenheim Palace, on its summer tour with a brand new (and by the look of it, messy) show Xanadu– the theme this year is the Summer of Love, set in Hyde park 1973, so expect hippies, hipsters, rock stars and all-out grooviness alongside Nell Gifford’s brilliantly curated circus acts.


ART: Twist summer pop-up, The North Wall, Oxford, Tues 4 Jun – Sat 15 Jun

Print by Carolyn Horton

On the hunt for a new piece of art? Twist, an art initiative that partners with British artists, is a good place to start. It’s popping up in Oxford for the second year running with 14 artists’ work, all available to purchase. Exhibiting this year are Bucks based abstract sculpture artist Paul Acton, Jo Gorner, who studied at Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art and printmaker Carolyn Horton. The exhibit is free to view.


CHILDREN’S THEATRE: The Tiger Who Came to TeaAylesbury Waterside, Aylesbury, Fri 7 – Sun 9

Judith Kerr’s tea-guzzling tiger bounds out of the book and onto the stage at Aylesbury Waterside, featuring sing-a-long songs and good old-fashioned slapstick. Tickets here.



Glasto eat your heart out! The biggie may be this month but if you didn’t manage to score tickets then there are loads of smaller local festivals in Bucks & Oxon too starting with NapfestHigh Wycombe, a family friendly affair with a concert on the Crick featuring live bands and local talent, a circus themed fete and classic car show with 400 vehicles on consecutive days (Fri 7 – Sun 9 Jun); Stony LiveStony Stratford, nr Milton Keynes, a week-long celebration of the cultural talent in and around the area with over 70 events across the week with drama, music, comedy, art, dance and spoken word (until Sun 9 Jun); Woodstock RazzMaTazzWoodstock, a town-wide table top sale with shops, cafes, museums, restaurants, hotels all mucking in, plus local food, drink and live music (Sat 8); Love MarlowMarlow, a two week community festival with over 60 events including music, kayaking, paddle boarding, yoga, music, workshops and more (until Sun 16 Jun); Wantage CarnivalWantage, with a giant funfair, market, VW Campervan bar, gin and Prosecco bar (oh, hello!) and music from local bands and indie group CU Tuesday (Sun 9).


THEATRE: Napoli, Brooklyn, Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, until Sat 8 Jun

The Original Theatre Company present the UK premier of Meghan Kennedy’s Napoli, Brooklyn, direct from Broadway. Based on a true story, and starring Georgia May Foote (Coronation StreetGrange Hill), the poignant play is set in ’60s New York and follows the three passionate Muscolinos sisters who each harbour a secret longing that could tear the family apart. Oxford is the last stop before the play hits London’s Park Theatre.


OPERA: Garsington Opera Season, Wormsley Estate, until Fri 26 Jul

Good news for opera fans as Garsington Opera Season is in full swing. The bucolic Wormsley Estate above is the setting every year for a spot of warbling of the highest form. This week you can see The Bartered Bride (Thurs 6, Sat 8) and Don Giovanni (Fri 7) which includes a pre-performance talk. The performances are sung in Czech and Italian respectively, both with English supertitles.


EAT: Towcester Food Festival, Towcester Racecourse, Sat 8 – Sun 9 Jun 

Just over the border in south Northants (hey, I’ll travel anywhere for a food fest), you’ll find 100 artisan food and drink stalls, cooking demos including Paris House’s award-winning chef patron Phil Fanning, talks, free tasting, cocktail masterclasses, music and, new for 2019, cheese pairing sessions.


KIDS: Little Welly, Henley-on-Thames, Sat 8 – Sun 9 Jun 

Little Welly obstacle courses are all about having fun and getting muddy, so naturally, I’m on board. The 3km obstacle course (the longest for kids in the UK) is popping up in Henley this month along with the accompanying festival which includes  – deep breath – kart racing, rope climbing, circus skills workshops, live music, helter skelter, laser tag, climbing wall, pony rides and loads of family activities. Guaranteed to peel them away from the iPads and out into the fresh air.


ART: Bucks Art Weeks, Buckinghamshire, Sat 8 – Sun 23 Jun

Following on from Oxfordshire Artweeks last month, over 600 artists and makers across Buckinghamshire are out in force for the 34th annual Bucks Art Weeks. Galleries, pop-up displays, open working studios and demonstrations are all free for the public. Find your nearest venue here, or you can order a free directory from local libraries, tourist centres and participating venues.


FAMILY: Great Barn Festival, Great Coxwell, Oxon, Sat 8 – Sun 9 Jun 

Started last year, this new family friendly arts festival is held in and around this gorgeous 700 year old Cotswold stone barn in the Oxfordshire countryside and has loads of activities across the weekend including music, theatre and children’s workshops. Highlights include an interactive Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and a pop-up production All the World’s a Stage, which is ‘pay as you like it’- ha! The festival is in association with the National Trust so bound to be brilliant.


FESTIVAL: Oxford Green Week, various locations, Sat 8 – Sun 16 Jun

Oxford’s annual eco festival kicks off this week with a programme of pop-up cultural talks, activities and events across Oxford to promote climate change awareness and sustainability. Opening the festival is the Big Green Day Out, the biggest environmentally friendly festival in the UK, with Oxford’s Broad Street packed with live music, food and drink as well as activities and info stalls showcasing sustainability in and around the city (Sat 8).


DRINK: World Gin Day, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Sat 8 Jun

As if you needed another excuse to sink a G&T (or five), the Ashmolean is celebrating World Gin Day with two local gin distillers pitching up outside on the forecourt with tipple inspired by collections at the museum and Oxford’s Botanic Gardens. Expect cocktails, tastings, snacks and deck chairs to crash into after too many free samples.


SHOW: Build It Live, Bicester Heritage Events Centre, Bicester, Sat 8 – Sun 9 

Planning on building your own house, renovating or adding something a little bit extra? This weekender exhibition has you covered with hundreds of exhibitors from our neck of the woods (hello Sundance Pools!) and further afield. There are also loads of free workshops, demos, seminars to get stuck into,plus helpful advice from home building and DIY experts. Snaffle two free tickets with the code BICSC929 too.


THEATRE: The Turn of the Screw, Oxford Playhouse, until Sat 15 Jun

This brand new adaptation of Henry James’ 1898 horror novella The Turn of the Screw comes to Oxford Playhouse on the last stop of its UK tour. Janet Dibley (Doctors, EastEnders, The Two of Us) stars as the haunted governess alongside Maggie McCarthy (Dancing on the Edge, Call the Midwife). 14+


NEW EXHIBITION: Claudette Johnson: I Came to DanceModern Art Oxford, Sat 1 Jun – Sun 8 Sept

This powerful and moving new exhibition is an overview of artist Claudette Johnson’s life and features her early work from the ’80s when she joined the newly formed BLK Art Group, comprised of black British art students, and the moving, political large-scale drawings of black men and women she is best know for.


CYCLE: Oxford Bike Week, various locations, Sat 8 – Sun 16 Jun 

On yer bike! Bike Week is the UK’s biggest mass participation cycling event, with almost half a million people participating at events across the country to encourage people to cycle more often. There’re 10 local events this year from family bike rides, classes for kids and women-only bike rides. Most events are free too.


SUPPER CLUB: Native Feasts, Claytons Marlow, Sun 9 Jun 

Party at Clayton’s MarlowNative Feasts are popping up on the outdoor terrace with a Bajan BBQ of Jerk chicken, salt beef curry and more, cooked by Michelin starred chef Chris Godfrey. There’ll also be DJs and a rum shack serving cocktails, punch and frozen Daiquiris- I’ll take two please (£15).


EVENT: Tythe Barn wedding day, Launton, nr Bicester, Sun 9 Jun 

wedding ceremony outside wooden barn doors bride and groom standing side by side

Ding dong, is that wedding bells I hear? A wedding fair but with a twist, the gorgeous 14th century wedding venue Tythe Barn (Muddy HQ’s Kerry Potter got married here!) is hosting a fictional wedding day with all the trimmings from flowers and different ceremony set ups to seating and lighting options. Contact to book a slot to run down the aisle.


POP-UP: SCOOP Zero Waste, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Sun 9 Jun

Feeling green? The first of a new, regular pop-up at Cornerstone Arts, SCOOP Zero Waste will have a selection of dry goods, wholefoods and plastic free products all sold by weight or volume- don’t forget your Tupperware. The pop-up will appear every other month on the second Sunday.


EVENT: MK Film and Comic Con Festival, MK Theatre, Milton Keynes, Sun 9 Jun

Nerd alert! Fancy a selfie with a life sized Dalek? Milton Keynes is getting its very own Film and Comic Con Festival, coming to MK Theatre- geeky goods galore from film props, memorabilia and mini figures to light sabres, steampunk merch and comics. There’ll also be role-playing games (er, I’ll pass on that one) and talks from special guests who’ve worked on all the biggies from Star Wars and Harry Potter to James Bond and Pirates of the Caribbean. hereTickets .


THEATRE: Les Misérables, Milton Keynes Theatre, until Sat 8 Jun

It’s your last chance to catch Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Les Misérables (which broke box office records when it premiered in 2009), at Milton Keynes Theatre on its major UK tour. One of the longest running West End shows, this production featuring new staging and scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. No Hugh Jackman (sorry), but a great cast of established actors including Olivier Award nominated Killian Donnelly (The Phantom of the Opera, Kinky Boots) as Jean Valjean. Tickets here.


FESTIVAL: Oxford Festival of Nature, various locations, until Sat 8 Jun

Organised by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, Oxford Festival of Nature showcases the wild and whacky wildlife we have here in Oxfordshire with a programme over 40 events, walks, workshops, comedy nights and activities in venues including Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Highlights this week include drop in family activities at OUMNH, garden flower pressing, a bat walk and a wildlife cruise down the Thames.



Exhibitions this month include, Waddesdon Manor‘s two new exhibitions, Brought to Life: Eliot Hodgkin Rediscovered, the largest ever show of the British painter’s work who’s best known for his still life and landscape paintings (until Sun 20 Oct)- check out my new review here, it was a surprise hit with the kids. Also at Waddesdon is Framing Madame de Pompadour, a recreation of François Boucher’s famous portrait that’s on display at the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. The project, in collaboration with digital art conservators Factum Arte has used 3D reproduction technology to reproduce the painting which will be displayed in its original 18th century frame with an accompanying interactive exhibition (until Sun 27 Oct).

There’s also Mechanical Circus at Banbury Museum, an exploration of entertainment before the age of iPads (*gasp*) with optical illusions, over 40 automata and interactive elements (until Sat 7 Sept). And it’s your last chance to see Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean, Oxford, 17 works spanning the contemporary artist’s career, never shown in the UK before, plus a new painting commissioned for the exhibition (until Sun 9).



KIDS: New Children’s Garden, Kew Gardens, London 

As if it wasn’t already a prime spot for day tripping, the clever sausages at Kew Gardens have added a brand new Children’s Garden. Two years in the making, the interactive garden (aimed at ages 2 – 12) has over 100 varieties of mature trees, bamboo tunnels, hammocks and in-ground trampolines all under the cover of a huge 200 year old oak tree.



Must-see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include Beasts of London, above, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation 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 beasts, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals. Or you can check out the V&A‘s retrospective of 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). It is sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance – it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A. Also worth checking out is the major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery. 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).


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