MON 31 JULY - SUN 6 AUG
Pop Up Picturehouse Cinema, Ashmolean Museum, Fri 4 – Sun 6 Aug
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, 3-6 August
Bit posh? Then you’ll love Wilderness, which is a lot more genteel than its name suggests. This year’s bash at the idyllic 400 acre country estate includes an outpost of Petersham Nurseries, a long-table banquet cooked by Ottolenghi and talks hosted by Tate Britain and School Of Life. Rock’n’roll! Music -wise, be sure to catch disco diva ne plus ultra Grace Jones – always an utter mentalist when playing live.
Pond Dipping, Earth Trust, Sun 6 Aug
It doesn’t get much more lo-fi than this! Using nets and trays, your little ones can take a closer look at the aquatic creatures that live in the Earth Trust pond, then make some wild art from the discoveries. Sweeeet.
Earth Trust Centre, Little Wittenham, Oxon, earthtrust.org.uk
Love Willen Day, Willen Lake, Milton Keynes, Fri 4 Aug
Well, I totally know where I’ll be headed on Friday! A whole day of activities to try suitable for toddlers through to adults, plus games for kids on the Railway Lawn throughout the day. For watersports fans, there’s a host of free sessions including a 25 min Splash n Play session, kayaking taster sessions (for 8+), turbo paddlers, pedalos, sailing and wakeboarding sessions (a £5 charge).
Watersport Centre at Willen Lake, V10 Brickhill Street, Milton Keynes, willenlake.org.uk
Oxford Piano Festival & Summer Academy, continues to Mon 7 Aug
Ivory-tinklers like me will find much to love at Oxford’s Piano Festival, which celebrates the world’s best players, both old and new. Highlights this week include Sir Andras Schiff giving Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier Book in some welly at The Sheldonian (Sat 5 Aug) and a lecture plus demonstration by Alfred Brendel, the first person ever to record Beethoven’s complete piano works, will give a lecture with demonstrations on Beethoven’s late sonatas.
Peter Rabbit: Mischief and Mayhem, River & Rowing Museum Henley, until 24 Sept
Bounce over to Henley for the River and Rowing Museum’s latest kid-friendly attraction – Peter Rabbit: Mischief and Mayhem. This exhibition includes original artworks, first editions and early Peter Rabbit merchandise. You can can even help Mrs Tiggywinkle hang up the laundry or visit Mrs Rabbit’s burrow! Dress up (probably best to save your bunny girl outfit for another day), help in Mr MacGregor’s Garden and listen to stories.
The Big Batsford Bug Hunt, Batsford Arboretum, Tues 1 – Thurs 31 Aug
Love creepy crawlies? Well never mind, your children will love peering amongst the foliage, finding the bugs and marking their locations to win a prize. No need to book, just turn up and ‘enjoy’.
£2.50 per child, plus Arboretum admission fee. Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucs, batsarb.co.uk
BBC Countryfile Live, Blenheim Palace, Thurs 3 – Sun 6 Aug
Can’t get enough of Adam Henson and the Countryfile gang? Roll up, roll up, catch the show while you can at Blenheim Palace as the team showcase the best of the British countryside. Expect live arena shows where Matt Baker does a semi-naked trapeze act while John Craven tames the Fresian cows in top hat and fishnets. Apparently (and this bit is true) there’s also a dog arena, waterside activities, off-road experiences, animal displays and 700 exhibitors.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, blenheimpalace.com
The Big Tree Climb, Hughenden, Weds 2, Weds 16 & Mon 21 Aug
I’m never organised enough to get my kids to one of these tree climbs (yup, the irony is not lost) but they seem really good fun. Two instructors are on hand to help your kids into the canopies, while you wave at them with a cappuccino down below.
Hugenden Manor, High Wycombe, Bucks, nationaltrust.org.uk
Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden, activities throughout August
This month, you can make a Buzzwangling Bird Feeder or a Biffsquilling Bug Jar. You can take a Swishwiffling Storytelling Walk or a Gloriumptious Guided Trail. You can listen to stories and explore the museum and even take a peek at some of the behind-the-scenes archives of Dahl’s letters and manuscripts. And that isn’t even half of it – there’s lots happening all month.
Macbeth, Oxford Castle, Mon 31 July – Sat 12 Aug
Out damned spot! Sorry, this weather is playing up with my skin something terrible. Anyway, this production of Macbeth, part of the Oxford Shakespeare Festival by Siege Theatre, takes place in the exquisite surroundings of the Oxford Castle courtyard. Performances start at 7.30pm.
Draw! Ashmolean Museum, starting Thurs 26 July Weds & Thurs throughout the summer holidays
Sometimes you just need an emergency something for the kids and this could be it. Drawing games, doodling, artists in the galleries giving tips and all inspired by the stunning Ashmolean collections from on Weds & Thurs 2-4pm until 31 Aug. While we’re on the free and fabulous tip, also worth knowing that the Pitt Rivers Museum has family object handling on a Saturday and the Museum of the History of Science on Broad St (a museum I love, and seems to be much under-utilised) has family drop ins too.
Much Ado About Nothing, Wadham College, Oxford, all week (now to 19 Aug)
I’ve seen a fair few interpretations of Much Ado over the years – from a 1960s hippy setting to one bizarrely featuring senior citizens Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones as lead characters Beatrice and Benedick. Oxford Shakespeare Company have taken their latest production of this hilarious Shakespeare comedy to a 1943, war-struck Messina where the Italian Resistance meet Mafiosi and it sounds pure brilliance. Catch it now until mid August in the gorgeous outdoor setting of Wadham College Gardens.
Wadham College, Parks Rd, Oxford, ticketsoxford.com
BOOK NOW FOR:
The Muddy Literary Salon at Thame Arts & Literature Festival, Thurs 12 Oct
Booking opens on Tues 1 August and there are only 120 tickets available to see 5 frankly awesome authors at our inaugural literary event. Blogger/food author Sasha Wilkins (aka LibertyLondonGirl), Clover Stroud, Elizabeth Heathcote, Tamsina Perry and Alexandra Heminsley make up the line up, plus there’ll be more Prosecco than you can shake a stick at. Read all about it, or go straight for the jugular and book here now at a bargainous £10.
WIN TICKETS TO:
Henley Handmade Fair, Stonor Park, Fri 25 – Mon 28 Aug
Arts and crafts, handmade jewellery, hand-finished furniture and glassware and everything in between at the Henley Handmade Fair that rocks up at the lovely Stonor Park in a few weeks. The ticket includes entry to Wonder Woods, a falcon show from The Hawking Centre, terrier racing and chocolate workshops. As it happens, your local superblog has 10 lots of two tickets to give away, so if you fancy a fabulous freebie to see you through the last days of summer, head over to our Facebook page, give me a friendly follow, tell me why you’d like the tickets and there’s a good chance they’ll be winging their way to you on knitted, handstitched and carved wings.
Stonor Park, Henley on Thames, thecraftshows.co.uk
INTO LONDON FOR:
Giacometti, Tate Modern, 10 May – 10 Sept
Last few weeks to catch the UK’s first major retrospective of Alberto Giacometti for 20 years, at the Tate Modern. Celebrated as a sculptor, painter and draughtsman, Giacometti’s distinctive elongated figures are some of the most instantly recognisable works of modern art in Tate Modern’s ambitious and wide-ranging exhibition of over 250 works. It includes rarely seen plasters and drawings and showcases the full evolution of Giacometti’s career across five decades, from early works such as Head of a Woman [Flora Mayo] 1926 to iconic bronze sculptures such as Walking Man I 1960.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London
It involves trekking up to the smoke, but it’s absolutely worth it for an evening at this picturesque fairy-light strewn theatre, which is the big daddy of al fresco productions – and the London Theatre Of The Year in 2016’s The Stage awards, no less. This summer’s extensive programme includes A Tale of Two Cities (7 July – 5 August), a brand new adaptation of the Dickens tome that’s alarmingly topical once again. Then there’s a family-friendly Oliver Twist (17 July – 5 Aug) suitable for children age 6+. Finally, bring out the big guns: namely, the Olivier and Evening Standard award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar (11 August 2017 – 23 September 2017), by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.