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MON 19 - SUN 25 NOV 2018


SHOPPING: The Country Home & Interiors Show, Thurs 22 – Sun 25 Nov & Christmas at Stonor, Wed 28 Nov – Sun 9 Dec, Stonor Park, Henley

Stonor is once again hosting the Country Home and Interiors Show in stylish marquees in the grounds. More than 100 sellers of crafts, lifestyle products, gifts and homewares will be tempting you with their wares, plus there will be demos from new country businesses. A great opportunity to get your Christmas list ticked off in style. Heads up that the house will be decorated with the theme Star of Wonder for the festive season from Wed 28 Nov. Each room will be individually designed and transformed with lights and decorations in keeping with the family antiques and portraits, and holly, larch and mistletoe will be used from the park. New for this year, you can book a candlelit tour of the house (for the night of Wed 28 Nov only) where you can see many of the rooms by twinkling lights and candlelight and enjoy mulled wine, Prosecco and mince pies.


FOOD & DRINK: Catalan Fizz Tasting, Native Feasts at The Woodworks Trading, Thame, Thurs 22 Nov

Thame’s newest café, Woodworks Trading, is the venue for a collaboration between Muddy favourites Native Feasts with vino importer L’Altre Vi, for a night of Catalan sparkling wine and veggie snacks inspired by the region. The Spanish fizz has been made with very little intervention (does this mean a lesser hangover, I wonder?) and they’re bringing six different styles along for you to neck, er, I mean sip, take notes on and buy at the end. Olé!

CHRISTMAS: Blenheim Palace, Oxon, Fri 23 Nov – Sat 6 Jan

Blenheim’s Christmas light shows are pretty spectacular and this year’s trail has even more lasers, projections and thousands of pea-lights. There’s a new Field of Light, the scented Fire Garden, a Canopy of Light and Singing Trees. Santa and his elves will also be popping up along the way too. The house opens up this Sat decorated with the theme of Cinderella and the Christmas Market begins in the Great Court with rustic wooden chalets selling all sorts of festive gifts.


PANTO: Dick Whittington, Oxford Playhouse, Fri 23 Nov – 6 Jan 

Can’t stand Z-list pantos? The Oxford Playhouse continues its policy of not bothering with the soap star brigade, with its in-house panto. Clearly they’re expecting a good turn out as it’s one of the longest running pantos in town! Check out our guide to the best local pantos here.


MUSIC: Academy of Ancient Music, Oxford Town Hall, Fri 23 Nov

Michael Collins, soloist and director, brings a feast of Mozart and music from his contemporaries on original instruments. The concert will feature Mozart’s masterpiece, Concerto in A for clarinet, and works by 18th century composer Crusell, Salieri and von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach.


MUSIC: Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Sat 24 Nov

Conductor Marios Papadopoulos, soprano Heidi Stober and violinist Natalia Lomeiko play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in G major plus there’s pre-concert recital when you can hear talented young musicians play.


CHRISTMAS: Christmas Festival, Great Missenden, Bucks, Sat 24 Nov

The historic village of Great Missenden puts on a great annual Christmas Festival for the whole town to enjoy. Artisan food and drink stalls, a craft market, kids activities, the School singing carols and the shops, restaurants and pubs all open to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. Santa might even drop by on his sleigh.


FOOD & DRINK: Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival, Oxford, Sat 24 Nov

Wine, cheese and chocolate – 3 things I can’t do without at Christmas – and Oxford is hosting a mini-festival so you can sample and stock up. They’ll be live entertainment, pairing talks and tons of samples to scoff.


CHRISTMAS: Christmas Fair and Carnival, Waddesdon Manor, now until Wed 2 Jan

Using the amazing artworks in the Waddesdon collection for inspiration, the house and grounds are a feast for the senses this Christmas. The house is decorated beautifully, inspired by the Venetian carnival and 18th century fancy dress, and the manor is hosting its biggest Christmas fair ever with food and gifts on offer from charming wooden chalets (Sat 10 Nov – Sun 16 Dec). There’s also a light show by the Guildhall School, this year projected onto the stables, and featuring Waddesdon’s objects, gardens and architecture until Wed 2 Jan. Muddy went to the opening night – read our review here.

Other National Trust Christmas events open now:

Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, Bucks

A Very Royal Christmas: a visit from the Faery is the theme for Christmas at Hughenden. From Fri 23 Nov, the manor will be decorated in traditional Victorian splendour to celebrate the visit of Queen Victoria and her daughter Princess Beatrice who came to lunch with Benjamin Disraeli in 1877. There’s a treasure hunt round the house for little ones – they have to find 10 gold crowns – plus miniature scenes to discover in the gardens.

Chastleton House, Moreton-in-Marsh, Oxon

Built by a prosperous wool merchant in the 17th Century, Chastleton House remained in the same family for 400 years until the National Trust renovated it in the 1990s. The beautiful house will be decorated for a Victorian Christmas and open to enjoy on the weekends of 24- 25 Nov, 1-2 Dec and 8-9 Dec.

Stowe, Nr Buckingham, Bucks

You can head to the Parlour Rooms for Christmas stalls (Mon 12 Nov – Sun 16 Dec) and find stocking fillers and traditional Xmas products, listen to carols in the New Inn courtyard (weekends until Sun 16 Dec) and have Christmas lunch with all the trimmings in the cafe (weekdays 3 – 21 Dec). Their landscape advent calendar in the stunning Stowe gardens – find all 24 doors hidden in the grounds starts Sat 1 Dec until Fri 4 Jan.


CULTURE: The Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury 

Bucks County Museum is well worth a visit. Its current exhibitions include the Hart Silversmiths (celebrating the Hart silversmiths from Chipping Camden), 100 Hearts: the Legacy of War (beautifully designed embroidered hearts made by the Embroiderers Guild), and The Beautiful Stitch (with stitched pieces from The Embroiderers’ Guild). If you go this Sat 24, they’re hosting their Christmas Craft Fair with stalls selling stocking fillers, cards, toys, home decor and lots of other gift ideas. 


ART: Penny Woolcock, Fantastic Cities, Modern Art Oxford, now until Sun 3 March

I’m very excited about this super-cool new exhibition celebrating the work of contemporary artist and director, Penny Woolcock, whose work unpicks social inequality. Argentine-born but Oxford-based for many years, she’s won many awards for her diverse range of work from film, opera, documentaries and art projects. This exhibition includes three brand new moving-image commissions exploring how dramatically different peoples’ lives can be within the same city. A real thought-provoker but don’t take the kids as there’s a bit of what my mother primly calls “language”.


SCIENCE: Super Science Saturday, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Sat 24 Nov

Oxford Uni scientists are sharing their research and pulling out all the stops to get us looking through their microscopes. You’ll get to see bacteria (like the giant – 92 feet long – inflatable E.coli bacterium hanging from the ceiling), parasites, DNA and more. They’re laying on bacterial board games, music, a dance mat, crafting and even a coconut shy. And if you can’t get enough bacteria, you can visit the Bacterial World exhibit. Who said bacteria couldn’t be fun?


ART: Approaching Thunder, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, now until 13 Jan

John Minton, ‘St. Florent, Corsica’, 1947, (Wakefield Permanent Art Collection). Photograph: Diane Feather

The River & Rowing Museum are highlighting wartime art in their current exhibition of 1940s prints and drawings by leading 20th century British artists. With materials strictly rationed and a stagnant art market, the likes of Edward Bawden, John Piper and Vanessa Bell turned to paper to record their experiences of life in wartime Britain.



CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Kew Gardens, London, Thurs 22 Nov – 5 Jan

Photo: RBG Kew

A spectacular winter trail with over a million twinkling lights and thousands of laser beams, Kew’s light show is awe-inspiring. You can be mesmerised by the Fire Garden, walk through the moonlit woods and check out the laser garden. Mulled wine, hot choc and spiced cider will help keep you warm and the kids can whizz round on vintage fairground rides whilst looking out for Santa and his elves.


EVENT: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, Thu 22 Nov – Sun 6 Jan

hyde park winter wonderland illuminated heater skelter and fairground ride London

Go big or go home when it comes to festive fun, London’s Winter Wonderland is huuuuge. Free to enter but once inside, prepare to sell a kidney. The costs can get out of control – particularly if you hit the glühwein a little too hard. What to expect? Winter markets, fairground rides and ice skating. Major attractions this year include the Magical Ice Kingdom Secret Forest, an immersive showcase of woodland animals and mythical creatures created from ice and snow; a Bavarian village offering an authentic Oktoberfest experience; karaoke cabins, ice sculpting workshops, the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club, immersive screenings of The Snowman and plus Peter Pan on Ice.


FILM: 2001: A  Space Odyssey, Science Museum, London, now until Sat 24 Nov

To celebrate 50 years of the 1968 epic, you can head to the Science Museum’s IMAX cinema to watch Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece exploring our prehistoric past and the rise of man versus machine. Oscar winning director Christopher Nolan has created a new print from the original which will look stunning on the giant IMAX screen and this week is your last chance to see it. Then follow the museum’s Kubrick trail to discover the rich collection of objects from the history of space travel.


THEATRE: True West, Vaudeville Theatre, London, Fri 23 Nov 2018 – Sat 23 Feb 2019

Head to town for the West End Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard’s ferociously funny, modern classic, True West, which opens today. Directed by Matthew Dunsteran Olivier-nominated director, playwright, actor and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe, and starring Kit Harington (of Game of Thrones fame) and Johnny Flynn (Genius) as warring brothers, this sure sounds like a goodie.


CULTURE: Month of Sundays Festival, Royal Opera House, London, now until Sun 25 Nov

The Royal Opera House has opened itself up for a month of interactive fun and this is the last week. They’ll be live demos from technicians and craftspeople who work on the ROH productions, you can take guided tours and learn new moves in a dance class, sing tunes from opera classics and make something crafty to take home. The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera artists will be performing in the public areas and there’s a sound installation that explores the history of the Opera House.



THEATRE: Cilla The Musical, Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, Tues 27 Nov – Sat 1 Dec

Cilla musical woman singing on stage

The writer of the acclaimed 2014  Cilla Black TV biopic, starring Sheridan Smith, has penned this new musical production, which is garnering a lorra, lorra good reviews. It arrives in Wycombe this week with Kara Lily Hayworth, who beat thousands of others at open auditions to win the part, playing the Scouse songbird. The action all takes part in the ’60s so, fear not, there will be no dodgy recreation of the Blind Date TV set. The perfect choice for a night out with your mum or girlfriends.


THEATRE: Alice & Bob’s Whopping Christmas Cracker Show/Party, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, Tues 4 dec – Thurs 27 Dec

A show that’s really a party with a heartwarming story at its centre, music and Christmas craziness, including the world’s biggest game of charades, present-opening, and a massive flash mob wrapping-paper war. You’ll feel like you’re at a family Christmas, arguments and all, but much more fun.


FOOD & DRINK: The Thythe Barn, Launton, Fri 14 Dec

The 14th century Thythe Barn in Launton, an award-winning wedding venue, is hosting its first ever supper club. The chefs from Absolute Taste have conjured up a tasting menu that won’t be revealed until the night. Having cooked for events such as the Ryder Cup, BBC Proms in the Park, the British Masters and also the Prince of Monaco, the food is bound to be exceptional. The barn will be decorated in full Christmas-y style and lends itself perfectly to a festive party. Book your table by calling 01869 226672 or email


KIDS: The Cat In The Hat, Aylesbury Waterside, Thurs 31 Jan – Sun 3 Feb 2019

Calling all Dr Suess fans! This Curve (of The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine fame) production of The Cat In The Hat will have kids wetting themselves in excitement. The classic picture book will be retold with original songs, circus skills and lots of mischief so don’t forget to pack spare undies.


THEATRE: The Girl on the Train, Milton Keynes Theatre, Wed 23- Sat 26 Jan 2019

I loved this book by Paula Hawkins and enjoyed the film (although shame it was set in the US instead of London) and now there’s a stage play. Starring Samantha Womack (Eastenders, Game On and Kingsman) critics are raving about it. Even if you already know the story of Rachel Watson and her obsession with her past life, apparently there are plenty of surprises in this gripping new play.


ART: Jeff Koons, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Thurs 7 Feb – Sun 9 Jun

Behemoth of the contemporary art world, Jeff Koons will curate his own exhibition in collaboration with Norman Rosenthal. It will span Koons’ entire career and showcase seventeen works, most of which have never been shown in the UK before. It will include his popular series Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings.



THEATRE: National Theatre Live Screening, The Madness of King George, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Tues 20 Nov

The multi-award winning National Theatre production written by Alan Bennett will be screened live from Nottingham Playhouse and you can see it in the comfort of Aylesbury Waterside’s Second Space. Mark Gatiss (of Sherlock, Wolf Hall, NT Live Coriolanus fame) plays the most powerful man in the world (at the time) who, as his mind starts to unravel, is at the mercy of scheming politicians and a Prince of Wales waiting to snatch power. The Brexit shenanigans have nothing on this!





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