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Fast forward to fun! Fab things to do in 2021

Is that a hint of spring I feel in the air? No? Oh well, take solace in the fact that by summer there'll be warm weather AND loads of things to do. Here’s our list of fab events and exhibitions to pencil in the diary.

Ashmolean, Oxford

Starting with the big guns, Oxford’s most famous museum is teeing up to launch a new exhibition in July, Tokyo: Art & Photography, that promises to explore Japan’s incredible capital through the city’s art over the past 400 years. So that’s shoguns to 24-hour megacities all under one roof. Very exciting.

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock

Blenheim is moving at the same pace as vaccinations – at speed. First up is the Summer Jaguar Festival on 16 May followed closely by the Blenheim Palace Food Festival on 29-31 May. Nocturne Live, between 17 and 20 June, is a series of concerts held in the palace grounds while the Blenheim Palace Flower Show will take place between 25 and 27 of the month. July sees the Battle Proms Picnic Concert and doggie show Paws at the Palace. Phew. All events (except Nocturne Live) are free with an annual pass.

Stonor Park, Nr Henley

Stonor Park is showing few signs of slowing down either. Sun 6 June is the Stonor VW rally, Giffords Circus will be entertaining the crowds with their show The Hooley from 22 July to 2 August, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra taking the stage on 14 Aug (tickets are available now), followed by the Henley Country Craft Show on the weekend of the 27 August.

Chiltern Open Air Museum

The Handlebards

As kids have been locked indoors for most of the year, we’re expecting COAM to do incredible business in 2021. And they’ve got plenty on. There’s a Wellington’s Army weekend on 5 & 6 June, where life in the Napoleonic era will be brought to life. On 30 June, the museum is hosting an open air, bicycle-powered and farcical evening performance of The Comedy of Errors by the all-male troops The HandleBards. Picnics are welcome (as are waterproofs). Tickets are available in March.

Waddesdon, Aylesbury

Unlike most of the other National Trust properties, Waddesdon is already publicising its 2021 plans. Two exhibitions will be shown in the house: Collecting Stories: Private Worlds to Public Spaces (24 March to 31 Oct) which will detail the Rothschilds’ habit of collecting incredible items and Gustave Moreau: The Fables (12 Jun to 31 Oct), watercolours from the famed French symbolist. Artisan food markets are promised from March, but obviously that will depend heavily on Covid, while the Chilli Fest during the first weekend in September looks more like a dead cert.

Oxfordshire Artweeks 1-23 May

Covid measures will no doubt be in place for this three week festival that sees art and craft studios across Oxfordshire open their doors to the general public. Demonstrations, talks and pop-up shops will populate the festival guide and contributing venues will be available to view in March.

Wilderness Festival, Oxfordshire 5-8 Aug

Wilderness Festival

Huzzah! Festival season is back! Tickets are now on sale for the four-day event in Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire and they will no doubt fly like the hottest of cakes. Line up includes Foals, Britpop favourites Supergrass and RnB superstar Kelis.

Henley Festival, Oxfordshire 7-11 July

Henley Festival

Have you been enjoying Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Kitchen Discos? Well now you can see her shake her thang on stage as she’ll be gracing Henley’s floating stage with her presence, along with other headline acts – Madness, James Blunt and Kathy Sledge of the famous disco outfit Sister Sledge. Tickets can be booked here. And remember, it’s strictly Black Tie. Thankyouverymuch.

Pub in the Park Marlow 14-16 May & St Albans 10-12 Sept

Pub in the Park

Mid May might be a push for big shindig in a field, but what’s life without a little hope, eh? After last year was cancelled, Tom Kerridge and his crew are keen to make their party in Higginson Park work this year, with some headline acts already confirmed: Lightning Seeds, Basement Jaxx, Marc Almond, Heather Small and Craig David. Tickets on sale 7 Feb.

Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire 9 -11 Jul

Cornbury Festival

The Great Tew Park is host to this three-day music fest that only has one headliner confirmed at present, but that is none less than Canadian soft rocker Bryan Adams. The rest of the line-up is promised in the next few weeks but if they had you with ‘Bryan’, you can book your tickets here.

The Big Feastival, Cotswolds – 27-29 Aug

The Big Festival

Blur’s Alex James is opening his farm to the hungry (and greedy) in late August and all the headlines from 2020’s cancelled events are to return, so Sigala, Nile Rodgers & Chic and Rag n Bone man will take to the stage on respective nights. The Friday Night Supper Club and various dining experiences will also make a comeback. Grab tickets here

Garsington Opera 

Garsington Opera

This year, it’s Garsington’s 10th year at the Wormsley estate so celebrations will no doubt abound. There are four performances currently on the books – Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier (2 Jun- 3 Jul), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (3 Jun-23 Jul), Handel’s Amadigi (19 Jun-24 Jul) and Rossini’s Le Comte Ory (2 -25 Jul) – with priority booking available now.

Truck Festival, Oxfordshire 23-25 July

Truck Festival

Tickets are on sale for Oxfordshire’s most banging indie festival and as there was a 70% rollover from last year’s cancelled event, weekend slots are almost gone so you’ll need to be quick. The line up has yet to be released but then if you’re just going for the party, as long as there’s some music, a bar, some food, and a flat surface to sleep on, you’ll be fine, right?

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