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September hit list: what’s on this month

Sexy September! 27 brilliant things to do in Bucks, Oxon and beyond this month including cinema, comedy, theatre, festivals, exhibitions and more.

THEATRE: Monologues, Oxford Castle & Prison, Oxford, 2 – 5 Sept

The Oxford Shakespeare Festival, BMH Productions and Siege Theatre present a night of Shakespeare’s speeches performed outdoors in the impressive castle grounds. The show will feature monologues, small scenes and duologues from the best of the Bard’s plays including Richard III, Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra and Hamlet.

MUSIC: The Vache Baroque Festival, The Vache Estate, Chalfont St Giles, 4 – 6 Sept

It’s amazing to see how the arts industry has adapted to these strange, socially distanced times, including a brand new open-air classical music venue opening in Chalfont St Giles at the end of summer. The Vache Baroque Festival, based at the stunning 15th-century The Vache estate, will specialise in Baroque repertoire, opening with Purcell’s opera Dido & Aeneas. The grounds will be open from 4pm for picnicking and drinks (FYI there’s a bar), with performances beginning just after 7pm. With the last few months we’ve all endured, a leisurely evening listening to classic tunes is just what the doctor ordered.

CINEMA: The Ultimate Picture Palace reopens, Cowley, Oxford, 4 Sept

One of Oxford’s oldest independent cinemas, The Ultimate Picture Palace isn’t going anywhere (phew!) and will be reopening with a programme of films that didn’t make it to the big screen during lockdown, brand new releases and classic movies. Seating will be staggered to ensure social distancing, plus there’ll hand sanitiser stations at the entrance and the bar.

SHOP: Handmade and Vintage, centre:mk, Milton Keynes, 5 – 6 Sept 

Milton Keynes is known for its high street shopping and mega brands so it’s brilliant to hear there’s something a little different on offer this month for shoppers who veer towards the quirky. This mammoth craft and vintage bazaar will host stalls selling fashion, homewares, furniture, gifts, art, vinyl and more. You’ll find it all in that cavernous 1800 sq m space outside of John Lewis.

COMEDY: Drive-in Comedy, Millets Farm, nr Abingdon, 5 & 12 Sept

If you’re looking for belly laughs, pull up to Millets Farm for an award-winning Jericho Comedy night from the comfort of your motor (if the weather’s nice, you can bring a picnic blanket and watch the show outside your car instead). The show will be broadcast on bluetooth speakers, plus you can pre-order pizza and burgers from the Millets Farm Kitchen.

KIDS: Big Batsford Bug Hunt, Batsford Arboretum, 6 Sept

For some reason, children seem to love creepy crawlies (let it be known that I definitely do not) and this bug hunt around Batsford’s pretty arboretum is a dead cert for spotting them. Head to the Garden Terrace Café afterwards for a bite of homemade food.

KIDS: Bushcraft Activities, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until 7 Sept

This one’s all about getting a little bit muddy so, naturally we’re on board! The Bushcraft Company are running two sessions for children: Bushcraft Activities, which involves building shelters, learning how to camouflage (Bear Grylls type stuff), and Tomhawk and Archery sessions. There are only 16 spaces per session so booking is a must.

FILM: Kendal Mountain Film Festival, North Wall Theatre, Oxford, 10 Sept

Held annually in Cumbria, on the edge of the Lake District, the Kendal Mountain Festival celebrates adventure and the outdoors with brilliant short films from around the globe. The festival goes on tour every year to showcase the films and will be stopping off at the North Wall along with award-winning modern explorer, social entrepreneur and environmental photojournalist Martin Holland as guest speaker.

EXHIBITION: MK Calling, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, 11 Sept – 1 Nov

MK Gallery reopens 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.

MUSIC: Voices of the West End, Stonor Park, Henley, 11 – 13 Sept

West End stalwarts Earl Carpenter and John Owen-Jones (they played the lead in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s The Phantom Of the Opera for over nine years between them) will be staging an outdoor production of musical hits against the back drop of the stunning, historic Stonor Park. They will also be joined by Kerry Ellis (Wicked) and Katie Hall (The Phantom Of the Opera).

CINEMA: Luna Cinema, Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, 11 – 14 Sept

The ever-popular Luna Cinema returns to Waddesdon Manor with four great films on a big screen situated on the North Lawns. This time around you can watch the brilliant Elton John biopic Rocketman, Eighties classic Dirty Dancing, singalong favourite The Greatest Showman and the dark, multi-award winner The Joker.

MUSIC: Musicals n the Park, The Arches Theatre, nr Olney, 12 Sept

Fancy seeing some musical theatre here? Well, you’re in luck. The Arches takes its name from the four railway arches used to stage productions, set in the picturesque parkland next to the River Great Ouse and this month, London-based choreographers Scott Coldwell and Lucy Dean are delivering a family musical show, created especially for the setting. There’ll be two performances, one at 2.30pm and one at 7pm.

MUSIC: Fidelio in Concert, Garsington Opera,  Wormsley Estate, Bucks, 12, 14, 16, 18 & 20 Sept

The bucolic Wormsley Estate is back in action once again with a series of performances of Beethoven’s Fidelio, last performed by Garsington Opera to great critical acclaim at the Philharmonie in Paris in 2016. With themes of oppression, isolation and hope, it’s perfect for the times.

WALK: Sunrise Walk, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, 20 Sept

Always wanted to see the sun rise over Blenheim’s impressive Baroque facade? Of course you have and here’s your chance. For its 20th anniversary, children’s charity SeeSaw is leading an exclusive early morning walk around the grounds. You can take you pick from a shorter 1.5 mile circular around the Queen Pool, or a longer 4.6 mile ramble along the park perimeter. You’ll need to be present and correct by 6.15am though so set that alarm clock!

KIDS: Swish, Cornerstone Arts online, 20 Sept

This should keep the little people entertained for an hour. Featuring puppetry, Makaton (a form of sign language) and gentle audience interaction, Swish is a playful multi-sensory exploration of life underwater and the positive ways we can reduce plastic in the ocean.

CARS: Stonor Breakfast Club, Stonor Park, 20 Sept

Vroooom! Head to Stonor Park on the morning of 20 September for bacon rolls and an eclectic collection of motors, from supercars and sportscars to GTs.

EXHIBITION: Tools for Life, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, until 15 March 

Johanna Unzueta, Nocturnal (detail), 2020. Johanna Unzueta: Tools for Life, installation view at Modern Art Oxford, 2020. Photo by Ben Westoby

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.

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

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

BOOKS: Henley Literature Festival, online, 26 Sept – 4 Oct

We love a literature festival at Muddy, so are pleased to hear that instead of postponing, Henley Lit Fest is heading online for the first time. Speakers this year include Bake Off‘s breakout star Nadiya Hussain, Michael Morpurgo (tickets for his talks sell like hotcakes so be quick off the mark), social media stars Candice Brathwaite, Florence Given & Bryony Gordon, Fern Britton, plus Russell & Laura Brand who’ll be reading from Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea for the little people.

BOATS: Rowing boat hire, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until 30 Sept

Fancy a laze about on the water? There are 14 boats available to hire at Blenheim to sail across river with idyllic views over the palace and grounds. Boats can hold a family of five or four adults.

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.

KIDS: PYO Pumpkins, Millerts Farm, nr Abingdon, 26 & 27 Sept

Halloween isn’t until next month but Millets is opening its PYO pumpkin fields a little early this year giving us all valuable practise time. Because those ornate pumpkin designs aren’t going to appear all by themselves now, are they?


FESTIVAL: London Design Festival, various locations, 12 – 20 Sept

Now in its 18th year, this cool festival features commissions and installations across the city, including The Hothouse, located in the newly coined International Quarter (Stratford). The glasshouse installation provides a controlled habitat for cultivating plants that would not ordinarily grow within the UK’s climate. 

EXHIBITION: Aubrey Beardsley, Tate Britain, until 20 Sept

Aubrey Beardsley

Here’s the last call to see this awesome retrospective exhibition of Aubrey Beardsley’s work, from his early medievalist and mythological subjects to his bold illustrations covering themes of sex, death and humour.

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, until 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.   

EXHIBITION: Steve McQueen, Tate Modern, London, until 6 Sept 

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).

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