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Joyous Jan! What to do in Bucks and Oxon this month

Banish the New Year blues with this culture-buster list of things to do across Bucks and Oxon this month. From beautiful ballets to tiny piglets and light trails, here's Muddy's hitlist.

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH

BALLET: Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, 10 & 11 Jan

Two of the world’s most famous ballets (and one of the most prestigious touring ballet companies) are coming to Buckinghamshire this month. You can expect hauntingly familiar scores, stunning choreography (and bums — sorry, we know that’s not the point), and the knockout, whole Russian shebang with full orchestra. See Moscow City Ballet’s Swan Lake on 10 Jan, and The Nutcracker on 11 Jan, both at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.

EXHIBITIONS

Makeover alert! The Discover Bucks Museum in Aylesbury has been a busy bee of late, transforming its central spaces into five brand new galleries that explore 200 million years of Bucks history. They unveil this month, so head on over.

Over in Henley, catch the last two weeks of Skyscape: The limitless art of the sky at the River & Rowing Museum, on until 16 Jan, which focuses on aerial landscapes and the sky throughout 500 years of art.

Also ending 16 Jan is the Oxford Natural History Museum’s ‘Meat The Future’ exhibit, which presents cutting edge research on the environmental and health impacts of eating meat.

Meanwhile, until 23 Jan, it’s dance music central at the MK Gallery thanks to its free exhibition Sanctuary: The Unlikely Home of British Rave. Asking how an unsuspecting Milton Keynes warehouse become one of the UK’s largest and most beloved rave venues, this examines the pioneering nightlife history of the city.

OUT AND ABOUT

Christmas isn’t the only reason to enjoy a sparkly light! The Winter Light trail at Waddesdon Manor continues until 23 Jan, and is the perfect thing for brightening up the post-December blues.

Then we say hip hip hurray for snowdrops! See the best of these harbingers of spring at Eythrope’s private parkland, near Waddesdon Manor, when you sign up for the Manor’s Spectacular Snowdrops experience. This rather refined day out also includes afternoon tea and entry to the Winter Light trail. Choose between dates on 13, 14, 20 & 21 Jan.

On Sunday 23 Jan, if you go for a wander around Oxford, you won’t want to miss the one-day-only vegan market that’s popping up in Oxford’s Town Hall between 10.30am – 4pm. Expect street food, artisan bakers, craft brewers, sustainable gifts and — judging from previous vegan markets I’ve been to — plenty of free samples. We love to see it!

ON THE STAGE

Oh boy, is January a stonking month for the theatre-lover! Get your boogie on from 5-8 Jan with Saturday Night Fever at the New Theatre Oxford, which plays homage to the John Travolta 1977 classic but adds more drama, more music, and some sizzling new choreography.

Then, if you’re after a laugh, you can catch Jericho Comedy’s Oxfordshire Mind Comedy Gala at The Oxford Playhouse, featuring Rosie Jones, Angela Barnes, and Esther Manito among others, on 15 Jan. Sure to tickle your funny bone, and all for a good cause!

From 18-22 Jan, it’s time to tumble outta’ bed and head to 9 to 5 the Musical at the New Theatre Oxford, which tells the story of three women driven to extremes by their sexist boss, to the tune of that iconic Dolly Parton score.

High culture vultures will want to make a beeline for the Opera Gala at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford for an evening of sensational opera on 20 Jan. The performance will feature renowned operatic artists Hilary Summers and Neal Davies, as well as Osian Wyn Bowen, who was a finalist at the 2020 Welsh Singers Showcase.

Meanwhile at The Oxford Playhouse, the iconic Julian Clary and the Olivier-award-winning Matthew Kelly star in The Dresser from 25-29 Jan. Written by Ronald Harwood (who won an Academy Award for The Pianist, no biggie), this perennial favourite follows an aging actor and his loyal dresser in 1942.

Not enough glitter for you? This should do the trick: Dreamgirls is playing at the Milton Keynes Theatre from 25 Jan – 5 Feb, a belter of a show direct from the West End that follows three talented young singers in 1960s America.

Things are looking extra fabulous in Chipping Norton when Britain’s Got Talent star (and crowning jewel of Aylesbury pantos for the past eight years) La Voix storms the Chippy Theatre on 28 Jan. Expect tongue-in-cheek comedy, huge vocals, and big diva energy.

Then, Strictly lovers won’t want to miss Kevin Clifton at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, a “revolutionary ballroom production” (what a tagline) that promises fire, jaw-dropping choreography, and high energy fun on 31 Jan.

KIDS AND FAMILY

Quick! The Creation Theatre’s high-energy retelling of Pinocchio is still showing in Oxford at The North Wall until 3 Jan. Expect heart, humour, and spacious cabaret style seating in the stalls.

Or, until 12 Jan, you can book in for a session with Santa’s Little Helpers at Kew Little Pigs in Amersham — we’re talking miniature pigs in a festive grotto, ready for cuddles and photos. Um, cuteness overload!

Then, teach the kids a charming lesson on 5-8 Jan with the new musical Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Adapted from a book by Kate Pankhurst (descendent of Emmeline!), and from the producer of the wildly successful Six, this is a family pop-musical that highlights — yep, you guessed it — famous women, from Rosa Parks to Marie Curie.

Or, also at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, older kids (12+) might get a kick out of the new comedy play Groan Ups from 24-29 Jan. From the makers of The Play That Goes Wrong, this follows an unruly classroom of six year-olds through secondary school and into adulthood.

Need to get the kids outdoors? Book kids aged 2-5 in for the Fox & Cubs Forest School at The Wycombe Museum, for much-needed wild play, safe campfire cooking, and chasing bugs. All the essentials! The booking is for a block of three sessions: 14 Jan, 28 Jan, and 11 Feb.

Enough culture! Fancy a bit of R&R? Check these best spa breaks to book now.

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