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What’s on: October

Hello October, old friend. On the roster this month we have lit fests galore, live comedy, Halloween antics and a string of excellent exhibitions. You ready? Let's go!

EVENT:  IF Oxford Science & Ideas Festival, online, 1 Oct – 17 Nov

The city’s annual science and tech fest is taking everything online this year with loads of digital events across the month including virtual tours of Oxford’s museums, activities for kids, talks and at-home pub quizzes.

EXHIBITION: Mariana Castillo Deball: Between making and knowing something, Modern Art Oxford, 2 Oct – 3 Jan 2012

Rejoice! Oxford’s coolest gallery is reopening its doors this month and with a brand new exhibition to explore. Through a collage-like installation featuring pottery, photography and textiles, Mexican-born artist Mariana Castillo Deball works to uncover stories and individuals often hidden in traditional museum displays. In particular, the exhibition delves into objects and archives held in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum and the Smithsonian Museum National Collections in Washington D.C. Booking essential.

COMEDY: Jericho Comedy, various locations, 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 Oct

With Covid restrictions in place for at least six months, it can be hard to see the funny side of life – luckily, Jericho Comedy are on hand with a series of live events to get us all laughing through lockdown #2. Find the full line up here.

THEATRE: The Merry Wives of WhatsApp, Creation Theatre online, 3 – 4 Oct

Firstly, LOVE the tile. Second, the show is being put on by Creation Theatre so it’s a dead cert that it’s going to be brilliant. Written and adapted by Olivia Mace (the brains behind Bleak House) and Lizzie Hopley (CV: Royal Shakespeare Company, writer of Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio plays), this modern re-imagining of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor promises to have you in hysterics.

CULTURE: Henley Literature Festival, online, until 4 Oct

Bookworms, rejoice! Henley Literary Festival is still going ahead online and the line-up is as hot as ever. We’ll be streaming author, podcaster, IG influencer, TV host and campaigner (phew!) Giovanna Fletcher’s talk about her new, candid book Letters on Motherhood (2 Oct). Other must-watch sessions include David Baddiel (3 Oct), Graham Norton (4 Oct) and Russell Brand who’ll be reading childhood favourite The Tiger Who Came To Tea as part of the free children’s and schools program (3 Oct). Who would’ve thought, eh?

FILM: Boutique Cinema, Clayton’s Marlow, 6, 13, 20, 27 Oct

Pass the popcorn – but only to someone in your social bubble! Clayton’s is transforming its bar area into a boutique cinema with a brilliant roster of films including Oscar-winning Parasite, the fantastic Little Women starring Saoirse Ronan and Oxford schools alumni Emma Watson and Florence Pugh, Joker and Ford vs Ferrari – a great call for petrol heads and fans of Christian Bale and Matt Damon (that’ll be all of us then).

EXHIBITION: Contemplation: Snow into Water, The North Wall, North Oxford, until 10 Oct

Inspired by the slower pace of lockdown life, this exhibition from artists Chloe Fremantle (painting), and Cassandra Wall (textiles), explores the calming effect of nature on the mind through beautiful patterns. There will also be two after-hours showings with wine and a bite-size talk from curator Jenny Blyth on 3 & 10 Oct (bookings must be with members of your household).

WORKSHOP: Digital Photography: Exploring the Autumn Garden, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, 10 Oct

The once-vibrant green leaves of summer are turning to beautiful reds, rusts and golds so it’s the ideal time to get outside and snap a few photos. Don’t know where to start? This one-day course, led by a tutor, will teach you how to create interesting compositions and work all those as-yet-undiscovered buttons and dials on your camera.

EXHIBITION: 100 Women of Oxford, The North Wall, North Oxford, 14 – 24 Oct

I love the idea behind this project! Passionate to connect with women in her community, Oxford-based photographer Philippa James visited 100 women in their homes, and listened to experiences of love, loss, motherhood and more to create a stunning collection of portraits. The exhibition is only running for 10 days so book tickets pronto if you want to go. There’s also a private view with the photographer on 16 Oct.

CULTURE: Thame Literary Festival, online, 15 – 18 Oct

Brilliant local lit fest Thame Arts and Literature Festival are going DigiTAL (we see what you did there) for 2020. We’ll definitely be tuning in to style expert and Muddy contributor Kerry Potter’s panel discussion, The Truth about Fashion (15 Oct) – guests include The Times’ fashion editor Harriet Walker, journalist and campaigner Lauren Bravo and former Red editor Sam Baker. We will also be making time for Kerry’s conversation with local author Clover Stroud (17 Oct). Other major events include talks with 13-time-bestselling author Robert Harris, Professor Margaret MacMillan (live from Toronto) and Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, mother of seven unbelievably talented musical kids (their CVs include Meghan and Harry’s wedding, the Bafta Ceremony and BGT).

ART: Thame Art Crawl, Thame, 15 – 18 Oct

Now in its fourth year, Thame Art Crawl celebrates the local art scene with a series of pop-up exhibitions and shows from established artists and emerging talent.

EVENT: Ghost Fest, Oxford Castle and Prison, every Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun, 16 Oct – 1 Nov 

Oxford Castle’s spook-tacular Halloween event returns with some socially distanced scaring, including tours (in pods of four) around the castle and crypts.

CARS: Stonor Breakfast Club, Stonor Park, nr Henley, 18 Oct

Vroooom! Head to Stonor Park on the morning of 18 October for bacon rolls and an eclectic collection of motors, from supercars and sportscars to GTs.

EVENT: Foraging & Wildcrafting, Jericho Kitchen Cookery School, 18 Oct

With an impinging apocalypse on the horizon (OK, I’m exaggerating but it sure feels like it sometimes, right?), it might be handy to learn how to forage. Book a slot on Jericho Kitchen’s socially distanced class with resident forager and trained herbalist Justine. After scouring the hedgerows for the goods, you’ll also learn how to make healing oils and tinctures. The event is over-18s only, but there’s also a kids session on 11 Oct, with up-cycled bug hotels and natural bath bombs, if the little people want to get involved too.

THEATRE: Macbeth, Creation Theatre online, 21 – 31 Oct

Not your average Zoom call! An imaginative reboot of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, this new show promises to take the audience on a virtual and immersive blood-soaked tale of murder, lust and power. Just in time for Halloween spookieness.

EXHIBITION: MK Calling, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, until 1 Nov

MK Gallery reopened its doors on 11 September and will be extending its pre-lockdown exhibition MK Calling. The show features work from over 130 contemporary artists, both established and up-and-coming, with one third of the pieces produced by local talent.

THEATRE: Kuumba Nia Arts: Black Theatre Symposium, The North Wall, Oxford, 22 Oct

Kuumba Nia Arts believes that Black Theatre should be recognised not just in terms of the colour of those that produce, direct, write and perform it, but that Black theatre has its own identity reflected in history of British theatre and its early pioneers such as Derek Walcott and Mustapha Mathura. The first of its kind in Oxford, this symposium aims to raise awareness of of the unique history of Black Theatre and address its lack of coverage in academia. Expect a day of insights, discussion, sharing, creativity, performance and a brilliant line up of speakers including acclaimed actor Patrice Naiambana.

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.

KIDS: PYO Pumpkins, various locations and dates

It’s time to let the kids loose on a poor old pumpkin with a very sharp knife (supervised, of course). Head to Peterley Manor Farm, Bucks, for a bumper crop and lunch in the sweet Wild Strawberry Café (17, 18, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Oct); look out for the giant spider sculpture towering over the orange globes at Millets Farm, near Abingdon (weekends and daily from 17 – 31 Oct); for littlies, drive over to the mini pumpkin patch garden at Odds Park Farm, in High Wycombe (24 Oct – 1 Nov).

EXHIBITION: Young Rembrandt, Ashmolean museum, Oxford, until 1 Nov 

I’ve missed our brilliant museums, haven’t you? The Ashmolean has opened its 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.

KIDS: Halloween at Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, 24 Oct – 1 Nov

The National Trust site is piling on the activities for autumn half term including a ghostly trail around the grounds, pumpkin carving in The Stables and – our personal favourite – a spooky-themed Halloween afternoon tea (how cute is that little ghost meringue?!). Booking essential.

EXHIBITION: Never Alone, Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, until 2 Feb 2021

Did you know there are now more devices connected to the internet than there are people on the planet? This exhibition in Hut 12 investigates the stories behind the rapidly expanding ‘Internet of Things’ and invites visitors to think about the choices they make while connected to the internet.

FURTHER AFIELD

KIDS: Brick or Treat, Legoland, Windsor, 15 Oct – 8 Nov

I’ve run out of jokes about Brick or Treat – that’s how long this Legoland event has been running! Lots of spooky(ish) additions to the park, plus new for 2020, there’s a brand new dance extravaganza The Haunted Lighthouse Halloween Show and a new scary character, Scarecrow.

ART: START Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, 21-25 Oct

Hey Queenie, nice nose ring! This cool, contemporary art fair, which takes pieces from London’s top galleries, will go ahead this year with social distancing measures and an exceptional line up of artists including  Lincoln Townley,  Erika Navas and Nat Bowen. In addition to START Art Fair, Korean Eye’s 2020 exhibition Creativity and Daydream will be on show having travelled from The State Hermitage in St Petersburg after a six-month stay, featuring a wealth of emerging and established talent from South Korea. 

EXHIBITION: Among The Trees, The Hayward Gallery, Southbank, until 31 Oct

From Colombian rainforests and remote Japanese islands to olive orchards in Israel and a 9,550-year-old spruce in Sweden, this mixed media exhibition explores trees relationship to humans, featuring work from 37 international artists. You’re right on the Southbank so plenty of foodie options to head to after your culture fix.

Find more ideas here

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