Let’s make the sun shine on the last month of Summer.
Pop Up Picturehouse Cinema, Ashmolean Museum, Fri 4 – Sun 6 Aug
Can I confess that I never really understood why Withnail & I became such cult viewing? Anyway, I’m clearly in the waaaaaay minority, so if you’re one of the enlightened, head to The Ashmolean plaza by he main entrance on Sunday for an open air screening watching two deadlegs and the great quantities of alcohol they consume (or save yourself the £11 and just drop into the Muddy office). Alternatively there’s Roman Holiday on Fri 4 Aug or Romeo & Juliet on Sat 5.
8.45pm (doors 7pm). Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street Oxford. ashmolean.org
Tuckers’ Feast Family Food Festival, Cogges Manor Farm, Mon 28 Aug
Cogges are throwing a massive family feasting fun day on Bank Holiday Monday to celebrate ‘Tuckers’ Feast’ – a trad Witney feast that was held in honour of the master weavers of local blanket factories. As well as lots of tasty food stalls, there’ll be cookery demos, a chance to get involved in the manor house kitchen with local food heroes, live music, a summer bar and heaps of stuff to keep the kids entertained.
Cogges Manor Farm, Church Lane, Witney, cogges.org.uk
Henley Handmade Fair, Stonor Park, Fri 25 – Mon 28 Aug
Arts and crafts, handmade jewellery, hand-finished furniture and glassware and everything in between at the Henley Handmade Fair that rocks up at the lovely Stonor Park this weekend. The ticket includes entry to Wonder Woods, a falcon show from The Hawking Centre, terrier racing and chocolate workshops. As it happens your local superblog has 10 lots of two tickets to give away, so if you fancy a freebie head over to our Facebook page with a friendly follow and a reason why you’d like the tickets and they could be winging their way to you!
Stonor Park, Henley on Thames, thecraftshows.co.uk
We Love Eighties Night, Clayton’s Marlow, Sat 19 Aug
Grab your shoulderpads, swipe that blusher across your temples and hit the dance floor at former Muddy Award winner Clayton’s Marlow. Free before 10, or £5 from then on. 9pm-2am.
Clayton’s, Oxford Rd, Marlow, claytonsmarlow.com
Luna Open Air Cinema, Blenheim Palace, Fri 11 – Sun 13 Aug
Open air cinema returns to Blenheim Palace this year as The Luna Cinema presents three nights of classic films under the stars on the South Lawn. Bring a picnic, deckchairs and blanket, tank up on drinkies and settle back for Top Gun (Fri 11 Aug), Grease (Sat 12 Aug) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Sun 13 Aug).
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon. blenheimpalace.com
Bar-Bados, Clayton’s Marlow, Sun 27 Aug
Bikini bodies at the ready (so NOT!). The well-loved Bar-Bados All Day Carnival Party & Caribbean BBQ returns to Clayton’s Marlow this month with steel bands, rum punch and DJs galore. Free entry before 8pm and £6 afterwards.
Clayton’s, Oxford Rd, Marlow, claytonsmarlow.com
Merry Wives of Windsor, Cogges Manor Farm, Weds 23 Aug
Not had your fill of Shakespeare yet? Excellent, book yourself in to see The Festival Players Theatre Company at Cogges as part of a huge nationwide tour. It’s an open air performance with the option to use the 17th century barns in case of bad weather (nice work Cogges). This being Oxfordshire, it’s all done in the best possible taste, so there’s a bar, salads from the walled garden, picnics and chairs available. Doors open at 6pm so you can have a cheeky drink while you swat up on your Letts’ notes before the performance starts.
Cogges Manor Farm, Church Lane, Witney, cogges.org.uk
The Big Feastival, Alex James’s Farm, The Cotswolds, Fri 25 – Sun 27 Aug
This three day festival with Jamie Oliver and Alex James is a middle-class foodie fest, awash with live music performances from Olly Murs, Madness and Haçienda Classical, plus top chefs including Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw, DJ BBQ, Gizzie Erskine and Carluccio. It’s immensely family friendly so there’s a Neff Little Kitchen for small cooks, Justin Fletcher (surely the richest children’s entertainer in the UK by now?) has his own spot, there’s tree-climbing, crayons and crafts and a kids’ den.
Churchill Heath Farm, Kingham, Chipping Norton, thebigfeastival.com
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, 3-6 August
Bit posh? Then you’ll love Wilderness, which is a lot more genteel than its name suggests. This year’s bash at the idyllic 400 acre country estate includes an outpost of Petersham Nurseries, a long-table banquet cooked by Ottolenghi and talks hosted by Tate Britain and School Of Life. Rock’n’roll! Music -wise, be sure to catch disco diva ne plus ultra Grace Jones – always an utter mentalist when playing live.
Cult Screens, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, Weds 23 – Fri 25 Aug
Whoo-hoo! Cult Screens are taking over the Museums’ Lawn for a luxury outdoor cinema experience, so book a deckchair or beanbag or bring your own seat/blanket and settle back for Jurassic Park (Weds), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Thurs) or Moulin Rouge, pictured.(Fri).
Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford, prm.ox.ac.uk
Oxford Piano Festival & Summer Academy, continues to Mon 7 Aug
Ivory-tinklers like me will find much to love at Oxford’s Piano Festival, which celebrates the world’s best players, both old and new. Highlights this week include Sir Andras Schiff giving Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier Book in some welly at The Sheldonian (Sat 5 Aug) and a lecture plus demonstration by Alfred Brendel, the first person ever to record Beethoven’s complete piano works, will give a lecture with demonstrations on Beethoven’s late sonatas.
Wind in the Willows, Waterperry Gardens Amphitheatre, Sat 12 Aug
Poop poop! One of my favourite children’s books ever pops out of the page and into the Waterperry amphitheatre, thanks to Boxtree Production’s energetic touring show starring Nigel Farage as Toad (see for yourself, just check out that photo!). It starts at 5pm so perfect timing for littlies and die-hard Brexiteers.
The Angel at Burford Summer Festival, Fri 18 – Sun 20 Aug
If you’re near-ish to this idyllic Costwold town, the totally gorgeous Angel pub has its annual Summer Festival across a long weekend that’s packed with fun for the whole family – entertainment, live music, shire horses, a gin bar and a traditional South African ‘Braai’ cooking up lots of tasty stuff.
The Angel, Witney Street, Burford, theangelatburford.co.uk
Family Cycling Day, Blenheim Palace, Sun 13 Aug
Grab your bikes and helmets and head to Blenheim Palace for the once-yearly chance to cycle around the idyllic parkland. Make sure you bring a picnic so you can justifiably stop before you start to puff embarrassingly. No age restrictions for kids but they have to wear the safety gear and be escorted by adults. There are two bike routes, one around Queen Pool or the second around the Park perimeter if you’re feeling extra energetic.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon.blenheimpalace.com
Ashmolean After Hours, Oxford, Fri 25 Aug
Too busy working to find time to visit museums? Yep, me too. But hey, we’re in luck: every so often, the clever Ashmolean stays open until 8pm giving you the opportunity to see the collections after hours. This month, you can enjoy the current exhibition, Raphael: The Drawings (there’s an evening talk on Raphael too) and, of course, there’s music and bars serving food and drink.
Oxford Proms – Romantic Classics, Sheldonian Theatre, Sat 12 Aug
Jocelyn Freeman has been hailed as ‘one to watch’ by Piano magazine, and no wonder – she’s accompanied Bryn Terfel and Alfie Bow, and performed as a concert soloist, recitalist and instrumental duo partner. She performs Liszt’s Piano concerto No2 in A major, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, plus Rachmanivov, Liszt and Chopin.
Sheldonian, Theatre, Oxford, oxfordplayhouse.com
Peter Rabbit: Mischief and Mayhem, River & Rowing Museum Henley, until 24 Sept
Bounce over to Henley for the River and Rowing Museum’s latest kid-friendly attraction – Peter Rabbit: Mischief and Mayhem. This exhibition includes original artworks, first editions and early Peter Rabbit merchandise. You can can even help Mrs Tiggywinkle hang up the laundry or visit Mrs Rabbit’s burrow! Dress up (probably best to save your bunny girl outfit for another day), help in Mr MacGregor’s Garden and listen to stories.
The Big Batsford Bug Hunt, Batsford Arboretum, Tues 1 – Thurs 31 Aug
Love creepy crawlies? (er, NO). Well never mind, your children will love peering amongst the foliage, finding the bugs and marking their locations to win a prize. No need to book, just turn up and ‘enjoy’.
£2.50 per child, plus Arboretum admission fee. Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucs, batsarb.co.uk
BBC Countryfile Live, Blenheim Palace, Thurs 3 – Sun 6 Aug
Can’t get enough of Adam Henson and the Countryfile gang? Roll up, roll up, catch the show while you can at Blenheim Palace as the team showcase the best of the British countryside. Expect live arena shows where Matt Baker does a semi-naked trapeze act while John Craven tames the Fresian cows in top hat and fishnets. Apparently (and this bit is true) there’s also a dog arena, waterside activities, off-road experiences, animal displays and 700 exhibitors.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, blenheimpalace.com
The Big Tree Climb, Hughenden, Weds 2, Weds 16 & Mon 21 Aug
I’m never organised enough to get my kids to one of these tree climbs (yup, the irony is not lost) but they seem really good fun. Two instructors are on hand to help your kids into the canopies, while you wave at them with a cappuccino down below.
Hugenden Manor, High Wycombe, Bucks, nationaltrust.org.uk
Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden, activities throughout August
This month, you can make a Buzzwangling Bird Feeder or a Biffsquilling Bug Jar. You can take a Swishwiffling Storytelling Walk or a Gloriumptious Guided Trail. You can listen to stories and explore the museum and even take a peek at some of the behind-the-scenes archives of Dahl’s letters and manuscripts. And that isn’t even half of it – there’s lots happening all month.
The Gruffalo, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 22 – Sat 26 Aug
If you have kids you will know this story inside and out but who cares, it’s a goodie. It’s a one hour job with no interval so it’s ideal for the little ones, and you’re bang opposite The Ashmolean afterwards for a jaunt up to the top floor cafe or a trip around the artefacts.
Macbeth, Oxford Castle, Mon 31 July – Sat 12 Aug
Out damned spot! Sorry, this weather is playing up with my skin something terrible. Anyway, this production of Macbeth, part of the Oxford Shakespeare Festival by Siege Theatre, takes place in the exquisite surroundings of the Oxford Castle courtyard. Performances start at 7.30pm.
Comedy of Errors, West Wycombe Park, Weds 16 Aug
Shakespeare and classic romance are on the programme in these Bucks National Trust gardens, with Chapterhouse Theatre production this summer: of The Comedy of Errors on 16 Aug.
West Wycombe Park, West Wycombe, Bucks, nationaltrust.org.uk
The Secret Garden & Pride & Prejudice, Cliveden, Thurs 24 – Sat 26 Aug
Surroundings rarely come more rarefied than Cliveden House and its glorious gardens. This month, catch The Secret Garden (24 Aug), based on the children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett or a new take on Pride and Prejudice (25 & 26 Aug). Here’s hoping Mr Darcy emerges, wet of shirt, from the swimming pool.
Cliveden House, Taplow, Berks, nationaltrust.org.uk
Draw! Ashmolean Museum, starting Thurs 26 July Weds & Thurs throughout the summer holidays
Sometimes you just need an emergency something for the kids and this could be it. Drawing games, doodling, artists in the galleries giving tips and all inspired by the stunning Ashmolean collections from on Weds & Thurs 2-4pm until 31 Aug. While we’re on the free and fabulous tip, also worth knowing that the Pitt Rivers Museum has family object handling on a Saturday and the Museum of the History of Science on Broad St (a museum I love, and seems to be much under-utilised) has family drop ins too.
Much Ado About Nothing, Wadham College, Oxford, all week (now to 19 Aug)
I’ve seen a fair few interpretations of Much Ado over the years – from a 1960s hippy setting to one bizarrely featuring senior citizens Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones as lead characters Beatrice and Benedick. Oxford Shakespeare Company have taken their latest production of this hilarious Shakespeare comedy to a 1943, war-struck Messina where the Italian Resistance meet Mafiosi and it sounds pure brilliance. Catch it now until mid August in the gorgeous outdoor setting of Wadham College Gardens.
Wadham College, Parks Rd, Oxford, ticketsoxford.com
Dinosaur World, Banbury Museum, now – 9 Sept
This is a summer hols saviour if you have little ones who love dinosaurs. At Banbury Museum they can create their own dinosaur lands, creature, masks and fossil collages and even a hatching dino baby. It’s on Saturdays and every day during the Oxon school holidays, with two daily sessions: 10:30am – 12:30pm or 2pm – 4pm.
Summer Jousting Tournament, Blenheim Palace, Fri 18 – Sun 20 Aug
Charrrrgggggge! It’s the epic Jousting Tournament on the South Lawn with the ‘Knights of Arkley’ and their mighty steeds. It’s all about the traditional tilt, battle on foot with the mace and quarter staff and hamming it up to the max.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, blenheimpalace.com
The Full Bronte, Blackwell’s Bookshop, Oxford, Thurs 24 – Sat 26 Aug
A theatrical homage to the legendary literary sisters, this Creation Theatre production melds comedy, storytelling, music and games and has been described by one critic as “the anarchic love child of French & Saunders and Hinge & Bracket”. Wowzers. Catch it in Oxford following its sell-out run in Edinburgh and on national tour.
BOOK NOW FOR:
The Muddy Literary Salon at Thame Arts & Literature Festival, Thurs 12 Oct
Booking opens on Tues 1 August and there are only 120 tickets available to see 5 frankly awesome authors at our inaugural literary event. Blogger/food author Sasha Wilkins (aka LibertyLondonGirl), Clover Stroud, Elizabeth Heathcote, Tamsina Perry and Alexandra Heminsley make up the line up, plus there’ll be more Prosecco than you can shake a stick at. Read all about it, or go straight for the jugular and book here now at a bargainous £10.
Tractor Ted, Stonor Park, Sun, 3rd Sep
If your nippers’ two favourite things in the world are Tractor Ted and bouncy castles then 3 Sep sure is their lucky day. A giant Tractor Ted bouncy castle will be popping up at Stonor Park, Bucks, ideal for letting off some end-of-the-summer-hols steam. Suitable for under 7s, the activities also include getting up close with animals at the mobile farm, a Tractor Ted driving test and a bout of welly wanging. Which always sounds a bit rude to us but we’re sure it’s good wholesome family fun.
Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, stonor.com
Giacometti, Tate Modern, 10 May – 10 Sept
Last few weeks to catch the UK’s first major retrospective of Alberto Giacometti for 20 years, at the Tate Modern. Celebrated as a sculptor, painter and draughtsman, Giacometti’s distinctive elongated figures are some of the most instantly recognisable works of modern art in Tate Modern’s ambitious and wide-ranging exhibition of over 250 works. It includes rarely seen plasters and drawings and showcases the full evolution of Giacometti’s career across five decades, from early works such as Head of a Woman [Flora Mayo] 1926 to iconic bronze sculptures such as Walking Man I 1960.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London
It involves trekking up to the smoke, but it’s absolutely worth it for an evening at this picturesque fairy-light strewn theatre, which is the big daddy of al fresco productions – and the London Theatre Of The Year in 2016’s The Stage awards, no less. This summer’s extensive programme includes A Tale of Two Cities (7 July – 5 August), a brand new adaptation of the Dickens tome that’s alarmingly topical once again. Then there’s a family-friendly Oliver Twist (17 July – 5 Aug) suitable for children age 6+. Finally, bring out the big guns: namely, the Olivier and Evening Standard award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar (11 August 2017 – 23 September 2017), by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.