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56 fabulous things to do locally this June

It's officially summer, and we've got a jam-packed month to celebrate! From Jubilee parties to art trails to jaw-dropping dance, it's all happening in Bucks and Oxon.

PICK OF THE MONTH

THEATRE: The Teapot Prince, Waddesdon Manor, 16-17 June

Hey, this is cool. Waddesdon Manor are staging a lost 18th-century French ballet this month, last performed some 300 years ago. The Teapot Prince, performing 16-17 June, is a contemporary reimagining of the Ballet des Porcelaines, written in 1739 by — get this for a name — Anne Claude de Tubières-Grimoard de Pestels de Lévis, comte de Caylus, marquis d’Esternay, baron de Bransac. One title’s just not enough, eh? The ballet was based on an Orientalist fairy tale, and so was rather, er, of-its-era in its attitude to other cultures, but this reimagining flips the story to follow Chinese protagonists facing a mad European porcelain collector.

PLATINUM JUBILEE

Did you hear some lady called Liz is having a party? To celebrate, Milton Keynes Parks Trust is putting on an event in Campbell Park on 2 June with a ceremonial lighting of the Milton Keynes Beacon. This is part of a huge trail of 1,500 other beacons being lit across the UK — very cool! There will also be live entertainment and food stalls, for that party atmosphere.

More celebratory options? There’s a street-party-style party (2-5 June) on at Bletchley Park featuring bright bunting and live 1940s music. Over at the Chiltern Open Air Museum, there are suitably Vintage Jubilee Celebrations with popular 1940s music playing from a US Army Air Force Jeep and Lindy Hop dance classes for all ages. Let’s do this Jubilee properly, shall we?

Celebrate in a different way with Blenheim Palace‘s fabulous Food Festival, headlined by Raymond Blanc, 2-5 June. This boasts lots of demos and workshops, including a kid-oriented ‘Mindblowing Food & Science Show’, and of course the all-important free samples. You can also follow a Jubilee Trail, telling the story of Blenheim’s connection to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Since eating is (obvs) the best way to celebrate anything, why not enjoy a Jubilee Jazz Afternoon Tea on 2 June at the swanky hotel Horwood House, outside Milton Keynes. Live music, grand lawn views, dainty sandwiches, bottomless (!) Prosecco… this is heaven, right? No, wait, this is heaven: you can expand it into a Jubilee Weekend Break with a stay overnight in a Deluxe Room, dinner, and use of the spa for £149.50 per person. Hey, we don’t get many Platinum Jubilees, so…

Or, don your Medieval livery (you have some, right?) and head along to Jubilee Jousting at Stonor Park on 3-5 June. Whisking you back to the days of chivalry and entertainingly dangerous sport, there’s also a dress-up competition for littlies. See our full breakdown of the weekend here.

Also taking place over the bank holiday weekend is a line-up of brilliant comedy at the Potters Arms in Amersham from 2-4 June, a series of nightly 8pm shows in aid of Ukraine. Names include Zoe Lyons, Simon Brodkin, and London Comedy Store’s Edge. 

FUNKY FESTIVALS

Now we’re getting into music festival season — can we get a hell yeah?! Over the border into Glos, Wychwood Festival pitches up at Cheltenham Racecourse from 3-5 June, with a line up that includes Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Boney M. A decidedly family-friendly affair, there’s also comedy, a kids’ lit festival, and workshops for all ages (including model-making with Aardman, AKA the creators of Wallace and Gromit).

From 2-12 June, The Gap Festival brings a hive of cultural activity to the villages of Goring and Streatley, with over 80 events taking place across the ten days. The schedule includes theatre, comedy, live music, free children’s activities, open gardens, and more. See the full line-up here.

Then, brand-spanking-new this year is Kite Festival in Kirtlington Park, Oxford. A festival of ideas and music, it’s taking place 10-12 June and boasts Grace Jones, David Miliband, Elizabeth Day, TLC… what a mix!

In celebration of World Gin Day, Griffiths Brothers Distillery and Old Amersham Gin are holding a mini-festival Garden Party on 11 June, taking place in Church Mead Park, Amersham. Expect live music, local food stalls, and — of course — loads of gin.

If you hop over the border into Northants on 17-18 June, you can catch the Music Barn Festival, based near Kettering, for a jam-packed weekend of up-and-coming music across different genres, all in support of a local palliative care hospice. Check out the 2022 line-up here.

Then, from 24 June until 25 July, it’s the return of the Oxford Festival of the Arts, back in person with a bang after two years of being online. For the uninitiated, this offers a diverse programme of music, theatre, visual art, film, dance, comedy and literature, and takes place at venues across Oxford. This year is inspired by the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the globe, and features big names such as the actor Brian Blessed, comedians Phil Wang and Rosie Jones, and even former Prime Minister Theresa May. Check the full schedule here.

ARTY FARTY

Lots to attract art lovers this month! From 11-26 June it’s the brilliant Bucks Art Weeks. With over 500 artists and makers involved across 200 venues, this annual celebration of art puts together trails, displays, and workshops across the county. There’s a staggering amount of stuff on show (and on sale), all handily broken down into manageable trails. As part of the event, Queens Park Arts Centre in Aylesbury is showing a gorgeous textiles exhibition, including some vibrantly colourful work from local artist Hannah Heys, who told us about her favourite places here.

At the Cloister Gallery on Iffley Road, Oxford, the Oxford Printmakers Co-operative has its Midsummer Show from 10-23 June, showcase a selection of pleasing prints, many inspired by nature.

Up in Burford, from 12 June – 10 July, Asthall Manor will be showing its biennial ‘on form’ sculpture exhibition, celebrating inspirational art within the beautiful Manor gardens. It makes for a lovely and serene day out to admire cutting-edge, sleek sculpture amongst all that green.

Then, from 15 June – 2 July, there’s an exhibition entitled Interior Light at the North Wall in Oxford. Displaying the work of artist Bethany Marett, this uses woodcut, etching, and printing to create quiet, everyday moments of beauty, with an emphasis on dappled light effects. It’s really cool stuff.

Over at the MK Gallery, this month marks the beginning of a landmark exhibition exploring the fascinating work of Vivian Maier, running 11 June – 25 Sept. A professional nanny in New York and Chicago for over 40 years, Maier took hundreds of thousands of stunning photographs. She never published her work, but it was discovered when her belongings were auctioned off in 2007. The photos offer a fascinating exploration of the highs and lows of everyday American life, and a glimpse into the perspective of this reclusive, talented woman. Alongside the exhibition, the MK Gallery is also showing screenings of the 2013 documentary Finding Vivian Maier on 11, 24, and 28 June. See 15 more upcoming photography exhibitions to catch here.

This month also marks the final week and a bit of the Ashmolean‘s exhibition on Pissarro: Father of Impressionism, ending 12 June, so hot-foot it over to catch it while you can. Need a bit of backstory? Pisarro was an early impressionist and one of the most celebrated artists of nineteenth-century France, credited as influencing both Monet and Cézanne.

Another ongoing exhibition worth catching is Ruth Asawa: Citizen of the Universe at the Modern Art Oxford, all about the visionary American artist, educator and activist Ruth Asawa, who specialised in signature hanging sculptures in looped and tied wire, on until August.

TURN BACK TIME

Kate Winslet as Mary Anning in Ammonite (2020)

Something historical? The Oxford Museum of Natural History has a fab exhibition all about the revolutionary 19th century fossil-hunter Mary Anning, on until 30 June. It’s timely: they’ve just put up a statue of her in Dorset. (You might have read Tracy Chevalier’s novel Remarkable Creatures about her, or seen the film with Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan). It’s a really interesting bit of history, and a great piece of historical girl power — go have a read about it if you haven’t already.

Over at the Banbury Museum, from 25 June – 6 Nov there’s an exhibition on Heroes of the Viking World. This is a neat, engaging idea for a display: all about the real-life ‘celebrities’ of the Viking world, including the charmingly-named Eric Bloodaxe. There is also apparently the chance to immerse yourself in the “smells of the Viking Age” thanks to a replica Viking tent. Hope they’re not trying to sell that as a perfume…

TAKE TO THE STAGE

Heading to the theatre this month? You will be after reading this lineup. At The Oxford Playhouse August Strindberg’s landmark drama The Dance of Death is running 7-11 June, starring Olivier and Tony Award-winner Lindsay Duncan (left). Written in 1900, the play charts a marriage pushed to its limits and stands as an almost electrifying interplay of psychological drama — not a light watch, sure, but an engaging one.

Then from 8-11 June, we quite fancy catching Lions V Panthers at the North Wall, in Oxford. It’s a student production about a Black family in 70s Brixton, billed as heart-warming coming-of-age, and a great opportunity to support upcoming theatrical talent.

Bat Out Of Hell, the latest in a long-line of unapologetically kitsch jukebox musicals, comes to the Milton Keynes Theatre from 14-25 June. This one takes on the anthems of Jim Steinman & Meat Loaf and is (surprisingly?) critically acclaimed.

Head to Oxford Castle and Prison for a family retelling of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, on 16-17 June, and a good dose of classic swashbuckling. This is followed by a production of Hamlet from 20 June – 2 July: action, romance, comedy, tragedy — it’s a classic for a reason. (Both of these are outdoor performances, so worth keeping an eye on the weather.)

On 18 June, Ballet Central is coming to The Theatre Chipping Norton with a contemporary repertoire created by four internationally acclaimed choreographers. Expect stunning athletic moves and knockout costumes.

Then, at Waddesdon Manor, a production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It by touring theatre company The Lord Chamberlain’s Men is playing 23 June. What’s fun about this is it’s being performed exactly as it would have been originally: by an all-male cast, in the open air, and with Elizabethan costumes, music and dance.

More open-air Shakespeare, darling? Over at Cogges Manor Farm, near Witney, a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performing on 23, 24, 30 June and 1 July.

Then, from 28 June – 2 July, there’ll be all kinds of tapping and shaking at New Theatre Oxford with a production of Footloose – you will, of course, be intimately familiar with the 1980s film sensation it’s based on, though the musical comes boasting some sizzling modern choreography.

MUSIC TO MY EARS

The 2022 season at Garsington Operanear Watlington, begins this month. You can enjoy stunning performances of Orfeo (the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, from 1 June); Mozart’s Così fan tutte (a comedy about two soldiers drawn into a wager, from 2 June); and Rusalka (a Czech folk story about a water spirit, from 18 June).

Feeling jazzy? On 9 June, acclaimed violinist and vocalist Lizzie Ball will be performing at The Oxford Artisan Distillery in Headington, Oxford. These Spin Jazz gigs are always great, so well-worth going.

For something more contemporary, American pop rock band Imagine Dragons are playing at MK Stadium on 18 June — their only UK date on a World Tour! Take that, London.

Switching back to classical (what can we say, we love being high brow), be sure not to miss the Oxford Harmonic Choir’s concert devoted to Mozart at the Oxford Town Hall on 25 June, which promises serenely beautiful arrangements.

25 June also sees SJE Arts in Oxford charting The Seasons with a collection of transporting classical music, including Vivaldi’s timeless Four Seasons and the world premiere of Toby Young’s Four Motets on the Seasons. Isn’t that a lovely concept for a concert?

Still on the classical kick, on 26 June, it’s all stunning arias and entertaining ensembles at the Chiltern Open Air Museum‘s Evening of Opera, featuring a selection of well-known music performed by world class singers and a mini orchestra.

The Chipping Norton Theatre proves that brass music isn’t just for Christmas on 28 June with a concert of Oddfellows Brass, who have been delighting audiences since 1981 and frequently play the Royal Albert Hall. Expect a mix of traditional songs and tongue-in-cheek movie scores and modern works. This is followed by a Jazz Concert for Ukraine on 30 June, organised by the Oxfordshire Jazz Federation. Swinging-good songs for a good cause.

SHOP ‘TILL YOU DROP

Ooh, this is exciting! Bicester Village has a new pop-up boutique that’s a collab between The Creative Spot and British Fashion Council, promoting innovative and sustainable British design. Showcasing 18 of the UK’s most exciting designers, some of the shop’s gorgeous stock is exclusively available at Bicester Village. So: see you there — no promises for how I’ll behave when trying to grab my size.

BUCKS & OXON IN BLOOM

The flowers are out, the roses are blooming, the bees are buzzing. Where better to admire nature’s finest than at Stonor Park, which is taking part in the National Garden Scheme on 14 June. This means the gardens will open especially to raise money for the scheme’s charities, and indeed, Stonor was one of the first gardens to sign up to the scheme when it was established in the 1930’s. Stonor’s grounds include serene Renaissance ponds in a 17th century Italianate pleasure garden, ancient yews, clipped box hedges, a 140m herbaceous border (weed it and weep!) and The Old Kitchen Garden, which was replanted by Lady Camoys in 1980 and is now tended by the current green-fingered incumbent, Lady Ailsa Stonor.

Then later on in the month, on 24-26 June, you can catch the Blenheim Palace Flower Show for a riot of colour, fragrance, and many weird and wonderful plants to take home to your own garden.

FAMILY FUN

First things first: don’t miss our definitive guide to what’s on over the Jubilee half term.

And you DEFINITELY won’t want to miss Muddy favourite Giffords Circus, pitching up at Blenheim Palace from 2-6 June with its Mexican-inspired ¡Carpa! show. Bright colours, jaunty music, the sights and sounds of rural Mexico — and Giffords’ trademark charming style. We can’t wait.

It’s also worth noting that Young Photographer 2022 open call for Milton Keynes kids to submit a photo continues until 17 June. In order to keep that creativity tingling, the MK Gallery has a workshop for ages 4-19 on Pinhole Photography taking place on 11 June.

Towards the end of the month, the stage adaptation of David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy is coming to the Milton Keynes Theatre from 30 June – 3 July, and promises a big-hearted show with plenty of belly laughs.

FATHER’S DAY

Giving the Dad in your life a treat? Try the Father’s Day Afternoon Tea at Millets Farm, near Abingdon, on 19 June for a bloke-pleasing selection of sandwiches, sweets, and savouries. You can also take special Father’s Day afternoon tea or slice of cake at the Cholsey & Wallingford Railway, 19 June, a steam-powered journey through the South Oxfordshire countryside to please any engine-heads.

Or, try Bletchley Park‘s Father’s Day Barbeque (pictured above, also 19 June) for all the good, smoky things you’d expect from a BBQ as well as the chance to explore the museum and grounds.

BOOK NOW

Don’t forget your black tie and Champagne for this genteel shebang: Henley Festival is back for five days of fabulous fun from 6-10 July, so grab yourself a ticket now. The line-up promises knockout performances from Tom Jones, Craig David, and The Script. See you there!

Plus, from 18-23 July it’s all tangos in cell blocks at the New Theatre Oxford with Chicago (dubbed ‘the sexiest musical ever’, if you need to sell it to a spouse). Don your slinky fishnets for a sultry, sassy time.

Need more ideas? Why not try one of these gorgeous local flower farms or outdoor cinemas.

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