MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
Offbeat Festival, various locations, Mon 17 – Sat 29 Jun
The brainchild of Oxford arts venues Oxford Playhouse and Old Fire Station, Offbeat Festival, kicks off this month with a cultural extravaganza of never seen before productions. Started three years ago, the festival is like a mini Edinburgh Fringe and only showcases brand new material with a jam packed programme of theatre, comedy, dance, family shows and music. Full line up here.
The biggie this month is Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, a festival for people who are too posh for festivals! This is more a series of chichi al fresco concerts in ridiculously elegant surroundings, with Gladys Knight, Ms Lauryn Hill, Tears for Fears and Kylie (sadly sold out) on consecutive summer nights. Having once waited many, many hours for a Ms Hill gig back in the day, I wish all attendees good luck on that front (Thurs 20 – Sun 23).
Good news for opera fans too 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 with The Bartered Bride, Fantasio, The Turn of the Screw and Don Giovanni on the bill for June (Sat 1 – Sun 30). Or, for something a little more modern, Oxford Playhouse is showing a fantastically lowbrow retelling of Donizetti’s classic comic opera Don Pasquale, with Pasquale the owner of a, erm, kebab van. The show features a small cast from the Welsh National Opera and on-stage orchestra (Tues 18).
Two rugby teams, both alike in dignity… oh wait. It’s Romeo & Juliet but with a twist at Oxford Fire Station this June with the star-crossed lovers portrayed as players on opposing rugby teams, performed with a gay, all-male cast (Sat 1). On a very different note, Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Les Misérables is showing for one more week at Milton Keynes Theatre, 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 (until Sat 8). Or you can catch Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake ballet, above, at the Amey Theatre, Abingdon– I love a bit of Bourne and saw this menacing, witty production when it opened last year- it’s well worth a watch. Even those who aren’t in love with the ballet will enjoy (Thurs 13).
It’s been a Broadway smash hit and now Amelie, above, is coming to a theatre near you, Wycombe Swan (Tues 11 – Sat 15) and New Theatre Oxford (Mon 17 – Sat 22) to be precise. Based on the award-winning 2001 rom-com starring Audrey Tautou, it’s a feel-good musical about a young girl with a big imagination. And, get your fuchsia pink spandex out and ready – FAME The Musical shows at Milton Keynes Theatre on its 30th anniversary tour (my god, it really is gonna live forever). A West End cast to boot with Chicago’s Mica Paris and Any Dream Will Do’s Keith Jack (Mon 24 – Sat 29).
Also at New Theatre, there’s the 50th anniversary of award-winning HAIR the Musical– a psychedelic, hippy, sexy, rock song fandango set in the late ’60s in New York’s East Village just after the Vietnam War. Dancing on Ice winner Jake Quickenden, Daisy Wood-Davis (Hollyoaks) and Marcus Collins (X-Factor finalist) star- it looks like a goodie (Mon 24 – Sat 29).
OPEN AIR THEATRE
Grab your rug and sausage rolls, ’tis the season to dodge the rain and enjoy some outdoor thespian action. There are loads of al fresco performances this month staring with five-strong troupe The Three Inch Fools who’ll be performing a musical reimagining of Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing at Ascot Racecourse (8 Jun); Chapterhouse Theatre Company perform Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling adventure Treasure Island on the East Lawn of West Wycombe Park (15 Jun); Oxford Castle Quarter’s annual Shakespeare festival which kicks off with back-to-back abridged (me likey) Romeo & Juliet and Richard III from BMH Productions (17 – 29 Jun).
There are also two outdoor shows on Gloucester Green, Oxford, We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat featuring cage diving, shark hunting in the small town community of Selsey (22 Jun) and feminist dance/theatre/puppet piece Jane (22 Jun), about pre-Raphaelite artists’ muse Jane Morris, part of Offbeat Festival; A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by The Rep Theatre youth group at Wycombe Museum (22 – 23 Jun); a super silly all-male production of Much Ado About Nothing by the world’s first cycling theatre company, The Handlebards, at Stowe House (25 Jun); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Fri 28 Jun) and Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta HMS Pinafore (Sat 29 Jun) at Waterperry Gardens’ amphitheatre, Oxon, part of Handmade Oxford festival; the Oxford Playhouse Tent pops up on Blenheim Palace’s grounds with The History of Everything– a fast paced, sixty minute hurtle through history, packed with facts, comedy, music and puppets. The show is suitable for kids aged four to eleven and their families (29 – 30 Jun). For more outdoor theatre coming up this summer, check out my full guide here.
There are a few food festivals for you to sink your teeth in to this month, starting with Towcester Food Festival, at Towcester Racecourse, just over the border in south Northants (hey, it’s allowed!) 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 (Sat 8 – Sun 9).
Stonor Food Festival, south Oxon, returns for its second year in time for Father’s Day- what better way to spend it than stuffing your face? Celeb chefs Jean-Christophe Novelli and Atul Kochhar are headlining the Festival Kitchen alongside local chefs, 60 food and drink stalls and a free bottle of Brakspear ale for dads. Tickets include entrance to Stonor House and Gardens as well as the Wonder Woods Adventure Playground for children (Sat 15 – Sun 16). And finally, there’s Eat Food Fest, Henley, a fortnight of foodie activities showcasing local producers, eateries, distilleries and more with a series of pop-ups, supper clubs, demos, films and activities. Highlights include the festival’s opening event The Big Feast (Sun 16), the Riverside Fiesta (Sat 29) and chef demonstrations at Kenton Theatre throughout the festival (Sat 15 – Sat 29).
As if you needed another excuse to sink a G&T (or five), the Ashmolean, Oxford, 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 (Sat 8).Later in the month there’s Banbury based Slurp Wines’ first ever Gin Festival with over 30 varieties and 10 local producers including Cotswolds Distillery, TOAD and Salcombe Gin. Tickets include gin sampling, four G&Ts, sourdough pizza and live music (Fri 21).
ART & EXHIBITIONS
Following on from Oxfordshire Artweeks last month, over 600 artists and makers across Buckinghamshire are out in force this month for the 34th annual Bucks Art Weeks (Sat 8 – Sun 23). 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.
On the exhibition front there’s loads going on this month too including Claudette Johnson: I Came to Dance at Modern Art Oxford. An overview of the artist’s life, the exhibit 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 (Sat 1 Jun – Sun 8 Sept). Over at Milton Keynes’ mega new MK Gallery (I’ve been, it’s brilliant) you can see Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance, the largest retrospective of the political artist’s work in England for 20 years with pieces focusing on gender discrimination, violence, slavery, abortion and political tyranny (Sat 15 Jun – Sun 22 Sept). Heavy stuff. And, for families, check out Woodstock based Oxfordshire Museum‘s Wonderland – A wander through the world of Alice, in collaboration with The Story Museum, Oxford. The interactive exhibit will have a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, croquet with flamingos and a final escape from the Queen of Hearts (Sat 15 Jun – Sat 7 Sept).
Ongoing 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).
Pass the popcorn, al fresco cinema season is officially up on us! Kicking things off is Film Oxford‘s annual Under the Stars event- a showcase of short films made by local filmmakers shown in community spaces across Oxford including Bury Knowle Park, part of Headington Festival and Florence Park (Sat 1 Jun – Fri 7 Sept). 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 Rhapsody, Mary Poppins Returns and The Greatest Showman (Fri 7 – Sun 9). Then there’s Hellfire Caves, High Wycombe, not an open air cinema (quite the opposite!) but you can watch ’80s adventure-fantasy Labyrinth starring David Bowie as the mullet adorning Goblin King, or The Dark Knight underground in the caves which is pretty cool (Fri 7). Christian Bale or Bowie, however will you choose?
Queen is officially richer than the Queen, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, and it’s all thanks to the Oscar-winning epic biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. You can watch Rami Malek’s portrayal of the strutting showman Freddie Mercury at The Paddock Picturehouse, Watlington, on Sat 29 June. Find a full list of outdoor cinema in Bucks, Oxon and beyond here.
Other screenings this month include Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at Aylesbury Waterside, based on the 2011 BBC Three documentary, the story follows a 16 year old Jamie as he becomes a drag queen. It really is faaaabulous (Jo at Muddy HQ raves about it) and has scooped up 5 Olivier Awards so well worth watching if you can’t make it into London (Thu 13). And, there’s a National Theatre Live screening of Small Island, based on Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning novel (Thurs 27). Find your nearest screening here.
We love a lit fest here at Muddy and Buckingham Literary Festival, Buckingham, is small, but a goodie, with 25 events taking place in venues across the market town. Highlights this year include Sir Alan Sugar’s right hand man and Countdown wizz Nick Hewer, Luke Jennings whose Villanelle novels inspired the brilliant Killing Eve and Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop, author of The Island (Thurs 13 – Sun 16). And later in the month there’s WizzFizzFest, now in its 17th year, the family friendly arts festival takes place in Aylesbury town centre with talks, events and activities. Headlining the literary line up this year are Cressida Cowell, author of the incredible How to Train Your Dragon series and Nick Butterworth, the award-winning author and illustrator of the Percy the Park Keeper series. The festival will also be celebrating the life and work of Judith Kerr OBE, author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, plus Strictly’s Darcey Bussell will be hosting a dance competition (Sat 22).
Julian Clary performed in Bucks last month and now it’s Oxford’s turn to experience the grand dame of filth. Julian will be performing at Oxford Playhouse where he’ll murder a few songs and, no doubt, single out punters foolish enough to sit on the FROW (Sun 2). Al Murray rocks up at New Theatre, Oxford (Mon 3) and Wycombe Swan (Thurs 27) with his new stand-up Landlord of Hope and Glory or you can catch the brilliant Ricky Gervais, Mon 10 – Tues 11, at New Theatre on his SuperNature tour (FYI, if you haven’t seen his Netflix series After Life- do!)
Muddy met Shappi Khorsandi recently and we can confirm, she is hilariously funny (read the full interview if you don’t believe me), so it’s definitely worth snaffling a couple of tickets for her new show Skittish Warrior which she’ll be performing at The Stables MK, Milton Keynes (Sat 15 Jun). And, also at The Stables MK, you can catch comedy magician Pete Firman; Pete’s creds include ITV1’s The Next Great Magician and Tonight at the London Palladium, as well as BBC One’s Comic Relief and The John Bishop Show (Thurs 27).
KIDS & FAMILY
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 (Sat 8 – Sun 9).
Gifford’s Circus pitches up its Big Top once again at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, on its summer tour with a brand new 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 (Thurs 6 – Mon 10). Gifford’s Circus also comes to Oxford’s University Parks (Fri 14 – Mon 24). Or 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 Stonor in a Jousting Tournament. Throughout the weekend there’ll also be falconry displays, archery and dancing dragons (Sat 29 – Sun 30).
Family friendly shows this month include BBC presenting duo Sam & Mark (or Smark, apparently), at Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, the duo met when competing against eachohter on Pop Idol back in 2003, became besties (aw!) and hold a BAFTA for Best Children’s Presenters (Sun 2); Oxford Philharmonic’s FUNomusica, an animal themed concert for ages 4 – 8 held in the Town Hall, Oxford (Sun 2 Jun); Judith Kerr’s Tiger Who Came to Tea at Aylesbury Waterside, featuring sing-a-long songs and good old-fashioned slapstick (Fri 7 – Sun 9).
Illustrator and children’s author Nick Sharratt, of Tracy Beaker fame, hosts a drawalong at Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, to celebrate his latest book Nice Work for the Cat and the King. He’ll be giving a tutorial on how to draw his most iconic characters as well as unicorns, dragons and other fantastic creatures (Sat 15). And finally, brand new In The Night Garden Live comes to Wycombe Swan, I’ve personally never seen the appeal of the freakish pastel-coloured puppets but kids always seem to go wild for Igglepiggle and the gang (Sat 22 – Sun 23).
GET YOUR GLAD RAGS ON!
We all love a good excuse to get out of jeans and a t-shirt, or (*ahem*) pyjamas, so you’ll be please to know there are a few stiletto worthy events happening in our neck of the woods this month. First up is Marlow Town Regatta, Marlow, a weekend of eyeing up the muscle, I mean messing about on the river, with competitive rowing on the Saturday and family fun with the Dragon Boat Festival, live entertainment, food, drink and craft stalls on the Sunday (Sat 15 – Sun 16). Pass the Pimms!
Next up is Royal Ascot, Ascot Racecourse– grab your hat, keep the hemlines long, the fake tan light and enjoy a day of sunshine (fingers crossed), celeb spotting and apparently there are few horses running too. It’s the perfect place to people watch, just don’t overdo the bubbles for fear of making it into the Daily Mail (Tues 18 – Sat 22). And finally, one of my favourite summer events, The Boodles hosted at Stoke Park. I’ve been a few times and apart from getting massively sozzled and trying on jewellery worth more than my house (I checked the exits, they were all covered unfortunately), it’s a brilliant, local, fun and cost-effective alternative to Wimbledon. The line up is always fantastic (this year you can see 21 year old tennis wizz Stefanos Tsitsipas and former US Open champion and double Olympic silver medallist Juan Martin del Potro) and tickets sell quick- so you need to move swiftly (Tues 25 – Sat 29 Jun).
Glasto eat your heart out! The biggie may be this month but if you didn’t manage to score tickets, there are loads of smaller, local festivals happening in Bucks & Oxon staring with family friendly day fest All My People, in Chalfont St. Peter– Soul II Soul are headlining and there’s also an Acoustic Garden showcasing emerging talent, yoga, wellbeing workshops, street food, kids activities and a vintage fair (Sat 1 Jun); Love Marlow, Marlow, a two week community festival with over 60 events including music, sport, workshops and kids activities across the town (Sat 1 – Sun 16); Headington Festival, Oxford, now in it’s 16th year there’s a street party on London Road on the Sat, followed by an al fresco cinema, and fete-style festival on Sun in Bury Knowle Park (Sat 1 – Sun 2); Stony Live, Stony Stratford, with loads of events across the town including Classic Stony car show for petrol-heads, concerts, dance and comedy (Sat 1 – Sun 9 Jun); Napfest, High Wycombe, another family friendly affair with a concert on the Crick featuring local talent, circus themed fete and classic car show with 400 vehicles on consecutive days (Fri 7 – Sun 9).
Woodstock RazzMaTazz, Woodstock, a town-wide table top sale with shops, cafes, museums, restaurants, hotels all mucking in, plus local food, drink and live music (Sat 8); Wantage Carnival, Wantage, 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); Sistafest, a three day camping festival based in Duns Tew, Oxon, now in its third year the fest celebrates women in music with an all female line up (girl power!) and eco friendly ethos. FYI the festival is solar powered (Fri 14 – Sun 16). Also in Oxon, is the concluding weekend of Witney Music Festival, one of the largest free music festivals in the UK with local acts and those from further afield performing over three weeks. The main event (Fri 14 – Sat 15) concludes the festival with three headline acts: Prodigy tribute Jilted Generation (RIP Keith Flint), ’90s band Republica and N-Trance.
Pitching up at Lower Farm, Chipping Norton, Tandem Festival looks like a goodie if you want a laid back, family friendly vibe with the option to camp- no big names but there’s a wide range of music from orchestras and balkan beats to late night DJs. Loads of activities like dance, storytelling, crafts, yoga and it has pretty good eco creds too only serving veggie/vegan food- so a no go if you can’t live without steak for a couple of days (21 – 23 Jun). And finally, Oxford based indie label Big Scary Monsters is hosting a mini day-festival, BSM’s Summer in the City, in venues along Oxford’s cool Cowley Road including The Library, BrewDog and the Truck Store (22 Jun). The festival, that was launched last year in Hackney, showcases local Oxford talent- phew!
What could make Blenheim Palace‘s grounds even more lovely you ask? Hundreds of gorgeous flowers and Mr George Clark off the telly (The Home Show, The Restoration Man and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces). I’m a sucker for baby blues, sorry Mr M. Blenheim hosts its seventh Flower Show with a Grand Floral Marquee featuring flower art created by international artists, show gardens, shopping village and talks from professional gardeners (Fri 21 – Sun 23). Chelsea who?
I live down the road from Turn End, Haddenham, and it really is stunning- a series of interlocking garden rooms each with a different planting style, with a Grade II listed house and artist studios within. The gardens, part of the National Gardening Scheme, are having a rare public opening with free entry for kids (adults £15). Artist in Residence, Heather Hunter’s studio will be open to look around and there’ll also be a small selection of plants for sale from Turn End’s nursery (Sat 1). Or, if you fancy a challenge, how about checking out Waddesdon Manor’s maze above? The new design, which will be ready to explore on Fri 21, takes its inspiration from a book called New Principles of Gardening in Baron Ferdinand’s collection.
Organised by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, Oxford Wildlife Festival 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 (until Sat 8 Jun). Or, if you’re feeling green, Oxford Green Week kicks off this month, promoting sustainable living with talks, clothes swaps, cooking demos and events across the city. This year, Oxford Green Week coincides with Bike Week, the UK’s largest mass participation cycling event, with the two ventures teaming up on events including the Big Green Day Out (Sat 8)- live music, food, stalls and activities along Oxford’s Broad Street all promoting sustainability (Sat 8 – Tues 18)
Think Fit, Feel Fit, Eat Fit. Yep, you guessed it, Fitfest is all about promoting a fit and healthy lifestyle and if it will make me look like this hula hooping goddess above, I. AM. IN (Sat 15)! Started two years ago, the festival that’s held at the Oxford Academy has a large programme of workshops, fitness classes and foodie, wellness and beauty talks including HoopTone, Bounce Body Fit (a fitness class on trampolines), roller skating lessons, cocktail making with Dirty Bones and ‘how to achieve the perfect blow dry’ workshop- you’ve got to look good to feel good, right? And finally, Handmade Britain, which collaborates on art fairs with the likes of Kew Gardens is partnering with Waterperry Gardens, Oxon, on a brand new contemporary arts festival Handmade Oxford. The show will feature craft and design, sculpture, artisan food, interiors and lifestyle, print and photography, workshops and demonstrations from artists, designers and makers in Oxford and worldwide (Thurs 27 – Sun 30 Jun).
If you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema including a HAWT Jason Momoa in Aquaman (4 Jun), a live screening of Royal Ballet’s Romeo + Juliet (11 Jun) as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes. You can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing. Or if you’re heading to Covent Garden, there’s Covent Garden in Bloom (until Sat 15 Jun), with floral artists Fleurs de Villes returning Covent Garden to its roots as the original (or OG, as the kids say) flower market in London. All the retailers and restaurants muck in with botanical window displays, it’s super pretty.
Also this month is the first ever Chilterns Live festival, just over the border in Herts (Sat 29 Jun). Held in Pendley Meadow, Tring, it has a stellar pop line-up of Busted, above, (this got a few squeals in Muddy HQ), Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling. And history buffs, we’ve got you covered too with Chalke Valley History Festival, nr Salisbury– an extensive programme of talks, debates and interactive events and a mega-impressive list of speakers from Dan Snow to Mariella Frostrup, with a jaunt through Al Murray, Harry Enfield, Niall Ferguson and Antonia Fraser in between. Oh, and there’s camping too (24 – 30 Jun).
EVENT: Downton Abbey Live, Highclere Castle, Berks, Sat 22 Jun
Downton Abbey has long left us, but if you’re still harbouring visions of yourself as Lady Grantham (with a naughty dalliance with Lord Gillingham in the staff quarters – oh just me?!) head down to the stunning grounds of Highclere Castle where the Chamber Orchestra of London will be performing with the television show’s composer John Lunn on piano. The al fresco concert will be hosted by actor Jim Carter in character as Mr Carson. highclerecastle.co.uk
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. kew.org
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).
Prosecco in the Park, 19 – 21 July, Abingdon
Bubbles, you say? Race you to the bar! The brilliant Prosecco in the Park is swaying its way from town to town this summer and is rocking up at Rye Farm Meadow in Abingdon in mid July – think live screen for movies, cocktail, beer and gin bars, and – of course – the beautiful Prosecco bar that kept me entertained for hours last year. Epic screenings for 2019 include Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born, The Greatest Showman and Mary Poppins Returns. Gawd bless you, P in the Park!
The Hidden Garden, Henley Royal Regatta, Wed 3 – Sun 7 Jul
If you’re heading down to Henley Regatta this July and want to escape the riff raff (not that Henley does real riff raff, of course) book now for The Hidden Garden. New to the Regatta this year, the luxe but laid-back riverside venue on the Berkshire bank offers brilliant views, VIP hospitality, musical entertainment, gourmet food and – most importantly – lashings of booze (chilled Henriot champagne and local favourite, Mr Hobbs gin to be precise). Pre-booking is a must so grab your other half, bezzies or workies and get organised pronto! findthehiddengarden.com