What’s on this August in Bucks, Oxon & beyond
Summer is saved! There's a whole month of outdoor fun ahead of us from fine-dining pop-ups and drive-in cinemas to hot new exhibitions and comedy.
DRIVE-IN CINEMA: Luna Cinema, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, 4 – 9 Aug
The ever-popular Luna Cinema is back at the 18th century stunner. Expect giant HD LED screens and gorgeous backdrops. This time you can watch Knives Out, Dirty Dancing, Greece, Rocketman & The Greatest Showman.
COMEDY: Livestream, Cherwell Boathouse, Oxford, 5 Aug
From award-winning Jericho Comedy, Livestream is a floating outdoor comedy show performed on punts. Bound to be brilliant, plus added laughs if the comedians fall in the water.
POP-UP: Barefoot Chic, Bicester Village, until 21 Aug
If you’re looking to expand your summer wardrobe, make sure you hotfoot it over to Bicester Village’s latest luxe pop-up Barefoot Chic. The boutique features sartorial stunners and accessories from over 20 luxury designers including super-cool (and actually really affordable) eyewear brand Cubbits, high-performance plant-powered skincare brand Votary and Fashion Week favourites Erdem and Mary Katranzou with gorgeous summery prints.
EAT: KERB street food, Stonor Park, Henley, 6 – 9 Aug
Bored of banana bread and sourdough? Hotfoot it over to Stonor Park to catch its Street Food Summer, in association with mega-cool crew KERB (who you may know from Covent Garden’s foodie exploits). The street food line-up changes every week and you’ll need to book a free slot to pick up your goodies from the likes of Mother Flipper, aka one of the best burger operators in the London game, Oh My Dog for heritage breed franks and high-end steaks, and Polu Poke with their super-fresh Hawaiian sushi rolls.
OUTDOOR CINEMA: Chilfest Cinema, Tring, throughout Aug
With Chilfest music festival postponed until 2021 (*sob*) the organisers are instead putting on an outdoor cinema to keep us entertained, just a hop, skip over the border in Tring, Herts. Enjoy a drink from the bar and park your bottom in a deck chair for a new line-up of films each week.
POP-UP: The Lockdown Lodge, Hambledon Lock, nr Henley, 8 Aug – 1 Sept
Cool new pop-up alert! Popping up on the bank of the Thames is a 35-seat terrace restaurant offering a five-course tasting menu, inspired by Henley, by celebrated chef and restauranteur Jimmy Garcia. Expect fine-dining food plus cocktails featuring local gins such as Muddy favourite Mr Hobbs Gin. There’ll also be takeaway street food in the day time.
RE-OPEN: Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, 11 Aug
Modern Art Oxford will be opening its bright and airy galleries, showing Tools for Life, the first solo show from Chilean artist Johanna Unzueta that combines art, clothing, a large-scale felt installation and a short film for a multi-faceted look at function and form.
COMEDY: Open–Air Comedy, The Oxford Artisan Distillery, South Parks, Oxford, 8 & 15 Aug
A hilarious night out with pals, plus lashings of gin. Sounds good to me! This open-air gig, from Jericho Comedy, will be performed overlooking South Parks and the (hopefully glorious) sunset over Oxford’s spires. There’ll be an award-winning comedy line-up, plus locally made cocktails, Tap Social beer and oven-baked pizza.
RE-OPEN: Ashmolean museum, Oxford, 10 Aug
I’ve missed our brilliant museums, haven’t you? The Ashmolean will be opening it’s doors once again to show it’s major exhibition Young Rembrandt, a chronological journey through the artist’s early career beginning in his native Leiden with paintings, prints and drawings and ending in Amsterdam when his career rocketed to stardom. You’ll get to see 34 paintings by Rembrandt, along with a further 90 drawings and prints including the newly discovered Let the Little Children Come to Me, which is making its public debut at the exhibition.
THEATRE: Alice in Lockdown, Oxford Castle & Prison, 14 Aug
A red queen, a white rabbit, some hand sanitiser, and, erm, a brawl over loo roll. This new take on Alice in Wonderland, by Heartbreak Productions, is popping up for an outdoor performance in the stunning setting of Oxford Castle & Prison. You can book your own socially distanced ‘island’ for up to six people to watch the show.
EAT: Picnic at the Palace, Blenheim Palace, until 16 Aug
Live music, comedy and cocktails, anyone? Blenheim has transformed its grounds into a al fresco dining space with socially distanced deck chairs and pergolas (you can book a space for two to six people) overlooking the lake. From Tuesday to Thursday, you can choose from a lunchtime hamper or indulgent afternoon tea, and on weekends you can pick up a graze box to nibble on as you watch the entertainment.
EAT: Picnic in the Park, Nuneham Estate, Oxon, 16 & 30 Aug
A picnic doesn’t have to involve soggy sandwiches and squashed scotch eggs, you know! Jericho Kitchen is hosting two picnic events this month, A Latin American Picnic and A very British Picnic, both prepared by John Fernandez.
THEATRE: Wind in the Willows, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, 17 – 18 Aug
Pack up a picnic and perch on the 18th-century stunner’s lawn for an outdoor performance of Wind in the Willows. Performed by Immersion Theatre, there’ll be (socially distanced) audience interaction, funky costumes and bags of family fun.
GLAMPING: Camp Hox pop-up, Eynsham Hall, Witney, throughout Aug
Run by the same lot behind London’s Hoxton hotels, this chic take on a camp site features 12 lotus tents decked out with all the necessities (actual beds, electricity, Roberts radios and tea and coffee-making facilities, etc.), and you’ll get access to your own private hot showers and toilets, a bottle of wine on arrival and a Hoxton breakfast bag delivered every morning. Best of all, there’s an outdoor pour-your-own Graham’s white port and tonic bar. Prices start at £185 per night, and you’ll also get a free night at any of Hoxton’s London hotels thrown into the mix.
EXHIBITION: International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until 19 Aug
Wanna see some pretty pictures? This outdoor exhibition features unusual earthy shots of gardens, flowers, plants and botanicals printed on large display boards next to the Rose Garden. The palace, park and gardens are now all open for visitors.
COMEDY: Drive-In Comedy, Millet’s Farm Centre, nr Abingdon, 22 & 29 Aug
You’ve heard of drive-in cinemas, but have you ever seen a drive-in comedy club? Jericho Comedy have adapted their Saturday night show to be car-friendly with an American-style drive-in. Pull up to the bumper, baby!
MUSIC: Alistair Brammer, The Arches Theatre, nr Olney, Bucks, 27 Aug
If you’re a fan of musicals you’re going to love this! West End and Broadway star Alistair Brammer will be performing a live solo concert at The Arches Theatre (a performance space under four railway arches). Alistair has starred in serval huge productions including Joseph, War Horse and Wicked and appeared alongside Hugh Jackman in the Les Misérables movie.
OUTDOORS: National Garden Scheme opens days, various locations throughout Aug
Fancy checking out someone else’s dahlias? The National Garden Scheme sees over 3,500 private gardens in England and Wales open for charity – adults pay but children go free. This is brilliant for two reasons: firstly, you can indulge in a bit of real-life garden porn (begone Right Move), and you can pick up clever border design ideas while sending a few quid (normally around £4) to highly worthy charities such as Macmillan. In Oxon, we’re keen to pop to Aston Pottery (above) in Bampton (22 & 23 Aug), Radcot House in West Oxfordshire (23 Aug) and Bolters Farm in Chipping Norton (30 Aug). While in Bucks, there’s Ascott in Leighton Buzzard (30 Aug). Booking essential.
EXHIBITION: Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden, Waddesdon Manor, until 25 Oct
Isn’t this just beautiful? The image was taken by legendary fashion (Jil Sander) and celebrity (The Queen, Lady Gaga) photographer Nick Knight. He’s coming up roses with an exhibition at Waddesdon Manor, which features manipulated photographs of roses inspired by the work of 16th- and 17th-century still life painters like Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jan van Huysum. Read our interview with Nick here.
PANTO: Aladdin, The Arches Theatre, nr Olney, Bucks, 29 – 30 Aug
Fancy a summertime pantomime? Oh yes you do! Catch Aladdin (at a social distance) at this quirky theatre space.
OUTDOOR CINEMA: Vintage Open-air cinema, Furtho Manor Farm, Milton Keynes, 30 Aug
VOACinema is popping up with a screening of Elton John biopic Rocketman (I’ve watched it about 12 times, it’s totally brilliant) at the end of the month. Arrive from 7.30pm and catch vintage clips and jazz music on the big screen before the movie starts, plus there’ll be prizes awarded for best dressed. Oh, and there’s a fully stocked bar.
COMEDY: Richard Digance, The Arches Theatre, nr Olney, Bucks, 31 Aug
We’re all in need of a few laughs after several months of lockdown and English folk singer and comedian Richard Digance is on hand to dish them out during this one-off gig.
EXHIBITION: Electronic: From Kraftwerk to the Chemical Brothers, The Design Museum, London, until 14 Feb
From underground raves to the pioneering sounds used in Dr Who, this exhibition explores the history and culture of electronic music throughout the ages.
EXHIBITION: Ai Weiwei: History of Bombs, Imperial War Museum, London, 1 Aug – 24 May 2021
Part of Refugees, a free season of exhibitions, artistic commissions and immersive events taking place across IWM London and IWM North, this exhibition draws on renowned artist Ai Weiwei’s ongoing investigation into politics and power.
DRIVE-IN CINEMA: The Drive In, North London (Troubadour Meridian Water), until 10 Aug
A 1950s nostalgia fest with great films, classic cinema refreshments and stand-up comedy. The event is fully contact-free with snacks ordered through an app and delivered to your car.
EXHIBITION: Steve McQueen, Tate Modern, London, until 6 Sept
I love this shot! This solo exhibition of London-born artist and director of Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s portfolio features 14 major works spanning his extensive career in film, photography and sculpture and is the first major UK exhibition since he received the Turner Prize in 1999. So, yeah, it’s a pretty big deal! The display will cover the last 25 years of McQueen’s career, including personal and intimate works such as his early film on a Super 8 camera and this awesome aerial depiction of the Statue of Liberty (above).
EXHIBITION: Kimono to Catwalk, V&A Museum, London, 27 Aug
The V&A is reopening on 6 August (with free entry!), but its major exhibition will be opening towards the latter end of the month. ‘Kimono to Catwalk’ charts the journey of the traditional Japanese garment as an evolving fashion icon, from its origins in the 1660s to its modern-day iteration.