Penguin, North Wall Theatre, Oxford Sat 27 Jan
This book from Polly Dunbar was one of my favourites to read my kids – clever, sweet and a bit subversive (firing penguins into outer space in a fit of pique is perhaps not cool), it’s an ideal story to recreate for the stage. Songs by Tom Gray of Gomez, and puppetry from Long Nose Puppets, who previously charmed at North Wall with Arthur’s Dream Boat and Flyaway Katie. For ages 2-8.
Book tickets 11am & 2pm. £8, concessions £6.
The Corridor, New College Chapel, Oxford, Tues 23, Thurs 25 and Sat 27 Jan
Harrison Birtwistle’s subversive opera comes to the Oxford stage for the first time having premiered in 2009 at The Aldeburgh Festival. It’s a short, pared down work for two singers and a small orchestral ensemble so probably one that will intrigue purists more than those of us who chirrup along to Mozart’s comic arias. The entire opera focuses on the point at which Orpheus, leading his beloved Eurydice out of Hades, turns to make sure that she’s following, and, in doing so, loses her forever. Da-da-daaaaaaa!
New College Holywell Street Oxford OX1 3BN. Tel: 01865 279108. Tickets £12, concessions £7.
Peppa Pig was my favourite kids show back in the day (now my children are bigger, I’m obsessed with Class Dismissed on C Beebies – the funniest show ever, seriously watch it with or without your kids). Anyway, I digress! Peppa Pig’s back with buddies Pedro Pony, Suzy Sheep and Gerald Giraffe. Lots of fun for fans of the cute cochon, and live music to boot. atgtickets.com
Meet The Expert, Windsor Castle, Sat 27 Jan
Between now until May, it’ll be wall to wall coverage of Harry and Meghan’s Windsor Castle shindig. So don’t miss this chance to have a nose around the State Apartments and St George’s Chapel and meet to the conservationists who have been applying gold leaf and restoring paintings. royalcollection.org.uk
George’s Marvellous Medicine, Aylesbury Waterside, Tues 30 Jan – Sat 3 Feb
A Roald Dahl adaptation that’s perfect for kids ages 5 plus, as George tries to cure his rather mean Grandmother of her nastiness with a special potion that sets him off on a big adventure. atgtickets.com
Spamalot, The Hexagon Reading, Tues 30 Jan
Monty Python’s award-winning musical Spamalot is coming to Reading. Yup, it really is. Lovingly ripped off from the 1975 film, this spammier than ever production is a riotous comedy full of misfit knights, killer rabbits, dancing nuns and ferocious Frenchmen. It’ll sell out in a flash. readingarts.com
The pantos are still going!
Missed the pre-Christmas scramble for panto tickets? Fear not – there’s still plenty of time to catch a show if you’re quick. Cinderella in Milton Keynes with Brian Conley and Gok Wan (until Sun 14); Peter Pan at the Hexagon in Reading until Sun 7 Jan with Mr Tummmmmmble as Smee, and a whole load of others. See the Muddy panto guide for full details.
The BFG in Pictures, River and Rowing Museum, Henley, until 21 Jan 2018
Last few weeks to catch this exhibition, curated by Quentin Blake himself, of everyone’s favourite giant. It includes unpublished illustrations that have never been exhibited in public before. The exhibition includes Blake’s first designs that weren’t included in the book, and provide a glimpse of a BFG that might have been in 40 original artworks. Don’t forget there’s the permanent John Piper exhibition at the museum too – that’s well worth seeing in its own right. rrm.co.uk
Imagining the Divine – Art and the Rise of World Religions, Ashmolean, Oxford, until 18 Feb 2018
This major exhibition is the first to look at the art of the five world religions as they spread across continents in the first millennium AD. Brand new research from a major project between The Ashmolean Museum, the British Museum and Oxford Uni, with amazing objects created when the iconography of each of the major religions was still being developed… ashmolean.org
Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, until 4 Feb
You’ll have decent elbow room to see Hogwarts in the Snow post-Christmas if you’re still in the mood to indulge your children (er, NO). Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room is dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors can touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, wbstudiotour.co.uk
Hannah Ryggen, Modern Art Oxford, until 18 Feb
Another corker of an expo from Modern Art, Oxford. Hannah Ryggen was one of Scandinavia’s most outstanding artistic figures of the 20th century, an impassioned artist responding to the socio-political events of her time, from the the rise of fascism and the Nazi occupation of Norway, to nuclear power and media coverage of the Vietnam War. This is the first major presentation of the artist’s work in the UK and surveys her career from early portraiture through to the intricate tapestries that characterised her career from the 1920s onward. Don’t forget that Modern Art Oxford is free entry, and there’s a brill café on site too. modernartoxford.org.uk
BOOK NOW FOR…
Temperley Trunk Show, Black Swan Bridal Studio, Wallingford, Fri 16 – Sat 24 Feb
The Black Swan Bridal Studio is hosting its very first Temperley Trunk Show. This exclusive event will give brides the chance to see Temperley’s 2018 collection at the beautiful riverside boutique in Wallingford (full review here). By appointment only, on a first come first serve basis. Don’t miss it! blackswanbridalstudio.co.uk
Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, Sadler’s Wells, London, now until Sat 27 Jan
Matthew Bourne’s productions are always stunning and this is no exception. He transposes the story of Cinderella to London during the Blitz, rebooting it as a wartime romance between our heroine and an RAF pilot. The reviews have been of the rave variety, with Lez Brotherston’s sumptuous costumes and sets winning Olivier Award.
Sadlers Wells, Rosebery Av, London EC1, sadlerswells.com
London Art Fair, Islington, London, Weds 17 – Sun 21 Jan
The London Art Fair in my old stomping ground of Islington, North London, offers punters museum-quality Modern British art alongside contemporary work from today’s leading artists, covering the period from the early 20th century to the present day. Besides the main Fair, there’ll be specially curated contemporary spaces which feature the next generation of artists and collectives. A great chance to find something beautiful for your walls that doesn’t cost the earth.
Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, London N1, londonartfair.co.uk
War Horse, New Theatre Oxford, until Sat 6 Jan 2018
The last few days to see this outstanding National Theatre production of War Horse is at Oxford New Theatre. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and featuring those incredible, life-size puppets of the horses, it’s nearly sold sell-out and for good reason!
New Theatre, George Street, Oxford, atgtickets.com
Gourmet Picture Company, Bisham Abbey Berkshire, until Fri 5 Jan
Following the sell out screenings at Cliveden House this Summer, Tom Kerridge is back with his pimped up daddy of pop-up cinemas. The stunning Tudor grandness of Bisham Abbey is the setting with only two nights of Rick Stein cooking left, on the 3 and 4 Jan while you settle in for classics Withnail and I and Spinal Tap. gourmetpicturecompany.co.uk
Craftivism, Modern Art Oxford, Sat 6 Jan
These textile workshops sound amazing and waaay different from your usual craft-type sessions. Sarah Corbett is a really forward-thinking craft ‘activist’ and she’s created these workshops in response to the brilliant Hannah Ryggen tapestry that’s currently showing at Modern Art Oxford. There’s sessions for children with their grown ups making ‘solidarity bunting’ and for just adults and older children (from 14 upwards) which introduce the idea of craftism as a ‘gentle protest’ and give you the chance to make mini banners together. modernartoxford.org.uk
Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s Snow Maiden & Nutcracker, New Theatre Oxford, Mon 8 – Weds 10 Jan
Fluffing its feathers and getting ready with the pirouettes, the Russian State Ballet of Siberia, one of Russia’s leading ballet companies, comes to Oxford’s New Theatre on Monday 8 to perform The Snow Maiden. A quick costume change and they’re out on stage again on Tuesday and Wednesday with The Nutcracker.
Decluttering Your Life and Mind Workshop, Sonning Common, Wed 10 Jan
Decluttering is all the range as we struggle to contain the craziness of life (fact: my house is a total hovel). Organisation guru Messy Moo and Lucy Cavendish Counselling have teamed up to help you dust away those post Christmas blues with this unique ‘Decluttering Your Life and Mind’ workshop. Book now to see things more clearly and turbo charge your 2018! messymoolifestyle.com
Vintage Cinema: About Time, Kings Chapel, Old Amersham, Thurs 11 Jan
The Snowman, Milton Keynes Theatre, Weds 17 – Sat 20 Jan
Birmingham Repertory Theatre bring to life the classic Raymond Briggs story in a magical show that’s somehow been going for twenty years! Worth it just for that moment when they sing Walking In The Air’.
Milton Keynes Theatre, 500 Marlborough Gate, Milton Keynes, atgtickets.com
Early Years Workshops, Modern Art Oxford, 11 Jan – 8 Feb
The brilliant Modern Art Oxford is running Make Play sessions, creating a sensory space for little ones (6 months – 5 yrs) to explore with their parent/carer to explore. To tie in with Hannah Ryggen’s tapestry expo, there’ll be wool, line, colour and more. Sessions run from 11am-12pm. modernartoxford.org.uk
The Vinyl Frontier 2018 Album Championships, Norden Farm, Sat 20 Jan
It’s the vinyl countdown: 8 contestants bring their fave LP to battle it out to be crowned 2018 Vinyl Frontier Album Champion. The audience chooses the winner of each round. Last year’s winner was American Idiot by Green Day. Come and have a go if you think you’re muso enough. norden.farm