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41 brilliant things to do this November

Naughty November! From sweeping opera and largescale art to gift shopping and gangster grannies, here's your curated guide to the best of Bucks & Oxon this month.

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH

THEATRE: Madame Butterfly and The Barber of Seville, New Theatre Oxford, 9-13 Nov

Get ready for a bit of sweeping, operatic culture as The Welsh National Opera comes to New Theatre Oxford. Up first is Madam Butterfly (pictured), the heartfelt Puccini classic of marriage and abandonment, reworked through a 21st century lens, from 9-11 Nov. This is followed by Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, 12-13 Nov, classically performed around a Spanish piazza. Even the staunchest of opera-sceptics can’t resist a bit of Figaro’s Aria…

EXHIBITIONS

Time to peruse a gallery or two. Up first: Darl-e and the Bear, Oxford are showing their joint-artist exhibition Presence, celebrating the works of Mary Chamberlain and Tim Steward, 13 – 28 Nov. Both artists take the idea of a caught moment, and move in different directions with it.

Meanwhile at the Ashmolean you can catch Dante: The Invention of Celebrity until 9 Jan. It’s the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante so this exhibit explores his influence on art and culture throughout the centuries since.

Throughout the middle of the month in honour of Remembrance Day, Waddesdon Manor is introducing Standing with Giants, a largescale art installation of 300 soldier silhouettes and 225 painted poppy wreaths. You can see it 10-21 Nov.

Also worth noting are some of the excellent ongoing exhibitions. Try Skyscape: The limitless art of the sky at River & Rowing Museum, Henley, until 16 Jan, for a focus on aerial landscapes and the sky. Or MK Gallery‘s big exhibition Laura Knight, A Panoramic View, charting 20th century artist Laura Knight’s career, on until 20 Feb. You can also still see this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year display at the Banbury Museum until 23 Jan, and Anish Kapoor’s ‘Painting’, at the Modern Art Oxford until 13 Feb.

STAGE & SCREEN

Catch A Celebration of Amy Winehouse at the Oxford Town Hall, both 6pm and 8pm, on 4 Nov. Organised by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, this reimagines hits and revisits early works Amy Winehouse sang herself with the orchestra as a promising 16-year-old, back in 2000.

Then, on 5 Nov, the Villiers Quartet return to the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, Oxford. Expect sublime classical music throughout a set that includes pieces from Mozart, Frederick Delius, and Ethel Smyth.

From the sublime to the extreme, things are looking unusually adventurous over in Abingdon thanks to the arrival of the Banff Mountain Film Festival on 5 Nov. There’ll be screenings of two collections of incredible films – featuring a near-impossible descent from K2, a wild running expedition in Tajikistan and an adventurous expedition to Baffin Island – chosen from hundreds of entries into the annual Canadian festival.

Staying with the screen, Clayton’s Marlow continues to bring us boutique cinema every Tuesday night. Book ahead for dinner, cocktails and films such as Tenet and The Holiday.

Or, here’s something a bit different: Fairytales for Grownups: Trickster at The Story Museum, Oxford on 11 Nov. A comedic, unpredictable storytelling experience that explores the trickster figure throughout fairy tale and folktale, illuminating society’s moral compass through its own transgression.

Need a laugh? Why not kill two birds with one stone and learn something too, by enjoying some Creepy Crawly Comedy on 12 Nov, courtesy of Jericho Comedy at the Oxford Natural History Museum. Expect jokes, gags, and riffs all about insects, paired with educational input from the scientists.

Orver at the New Theatre Oxford, you can catch comedian Rob Beckett (19 Nov), comedian and composer Tim Minchin (25 Nov), and a brief hit from the internationally acclaimed musical hit Jersey Boys, 30 Nov – 4 Dec.

More theatre, you cry! On 26-27 Nov you can catch a performance of Another Winter’s Tale and enjoy a three course meal at Missenden Abbey. Directed by Jenet Le Lacheur (Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, RSC), this atmospheric performance travels through coldest winter from Russia and across Europe, utilising puppets of every kind — even with some traditional Japanese street theatre.

And make sure to book now: School of Rock is coming to the New Theatre Oxford from 13 Dec – 1 Jan. Sure to be a rockin’ good time.

EVENTS

Who let the dogs out! Pets aren’t usually allowed to roam around the landscaped grounds of Waterperry Gardens (no surprise, they’re immaculate), but for one day only — Groundhog Day, 14 Nov — the venue will be allowing Fido to tag along on a lead.

Then on 19 Nov the Oxford Castle & Prison is celebrating a major birthday – 950 years, to be exact! The big milestone is being marked with a free event featuring history projected onto the walls.

Talking of time, it’s all about a rewind on 26 Nov when Clayton’s, Marlow head Back to the 90s via a throwback night of dancefloor hits.

CHRISTMAS

Already?? Well, if you insist. Start off with a Christmas Shopping Evening on 11 Nov at the MK Gallery, celebrating the museum shop’s launch of a new Christmas range. You can expect locally-crafted ceramics and jewellery pieces as well as a selection of popular art books, exhibition catalogues, and prints. Local makers will be there throughout the evening talking about their work.

You can also get your Christmas shopping done early at the Christmas Craft and Gift Fair at Millets Farm, near Abingdon. Stalls a-plenty to browse through from 11-13 Nov, followed by the arrival of Father Christmas at Santa’s Grotto, 13 Nov – 24 Dec. Ho ho ho, and all that.

At Waddesdon Manor, Christmas starts 13 Nov and lasts until 23 Jan. Expect amazing magical light displays, a festive fair, and more. You can also enjoy Christmas dining at The Five Arrows: roast turkey, herb-crusted hake, plant-based bourguignon — sumptuous stuff indeed.

Then, Christmas at Blenheim Palace starts a few days later, lasting 19 Nov – 2 Jan. This involves an after-dark illuminated trail, winter street food, and the story of The Nutcracker re-imagined within the Palace’s rooms. The Christmas market likewise runs 19 Nov – 19 Dec.

This year, the Christmas Market at Peterley Manor Farm will be bigger than ever before, running 18-21 Nov. The picturesque greenhouses will be filled with 60 different stalls, harking goodies galore, and there will also be a local talent stage as well as plenty of hot food available.

Then there’s the Christmas Craft & Food Market at Waterperry Gardens, 20-21 Nov. You can also meet real reindeer here, so give Rudolph a hello from us. The market marks the start of Santa’s Reindeer Trail, running until 23 Dec.

Over at Whipsnade Zoo, Santa Paws is Coming to Town on weekends from 20 Nov – 24 Dec. Learn about reindeer, give “a gift” (some food) to the animals, and take your little ones to meet Father Christmas.

Or how about — you guessed it — another Christmas market. This one’s a big’un: the Henley Christmas Fair, 25-28 Nov, at Stonor Park. See four reasons why to visit here.

And if you wander further afield to the big smoke this month, the ice rink at the Natural History Museum is already open for Christmassy business, while the Somerset House one (ft. swanky Moet & Chandon partnership) opens 17 Nov.

KIDS AND FAMILY

Family trip to the theatre, anyone? David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny is coming to Milton Keynes Theatre from 3-6 Nov. Or, combine history with comedy when Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain comes to the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, also 3-6 Nov.

For those of you with a budding scientist, it might be worth checking out Oxford Natural History Museum‘s Super Science Saturday: People & Planet on 27 Nov. A family science fair, kids can learn more about what scientists are discovering about the environment.

Then Robin Hood Panto starts at The Oxford Playhouse from 27 Nov – 9 Jan. Oh no it doesn’t, oh yes it does, et cetera et cetera. Watch Robin and his band of merry men outwit the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham and generally have a rip-roaring time.

Finally, you can meet Father Christmas at Oxford Castle and Prison every weekend from 27 Nov – 23 Dec, thanks to Santa’s Grotto. Kids will also get to listen to Father Christmas read a story, sing a carol, decorate an ornament and take a gift bag home.

Need more activity inspo? Check out what’s on in London this autumn, book yourself into a local Christmas wreath workshop, or take a showstopper autumn walk.

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