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This week

Mon 3 Dec - Sun 9 Dec 2018:

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEK

THEATRE: Snowflake, The Old Fire Station, Wed 5 – Sat 22 Dec

Written by Olivier Award-winner Mike Bartlett, Snowflake is an original play touching on family and conflict at Christmas time. Directed by fellow Oliver Award-winner, Clare Lizzimore, it has serious creds. 12+.

oldfirestation.org.uk

 

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.

pegasus-theatre.org.uk

 

MUSIC: Philharmonia Orchestra Trio: Piazzolla’s Four Seasons, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Tues 4 Dec

Take a break from the cold of winter and go on a musical adventure to South America with Philharmonia Orchestra violinist Adrián Varela. Performing Piazzolla’s take on the Four Seasons, Varela and his fellow artistes, discover the iconic tango style in the music of Bach, as well as delving into the friendship between Piazzolla and Vinicius de Moraes, lyricist for global hits including Girl from Ipanema.

stables.org

 

 COMEDY: T.O.A.D. Comedy, Oxford Artisan Distillery, Fri 7 Dec

Homegrown artisan gins, vodka, whisky and absinthe? No, not the Muddy shopping list for Xmas but the well-stocked Oxford Artisan Distillery (T.O.A.D) bar which will be lubricating the audience as they are treated to some of the best new talent on Oxfordshire’s stand-up scene. Proceeds will go to Crisis, the homelessness charity.

Get tickets here

 

SHOPPING: Oxford Christmas Market, Fri 7 – Sat 22 Dec

Historic Broad Street will once again be filled with quaint wooden chalets selling all sorts of gifts, seasonal food and drinks as Oxford’s Christmas Market returns. Fairground rides, a brass band and carol singers will help get you in the festive mood and, weather dependent, there will be performances by local groups such as Summertown Stagecoach and the Cherwell Singers.

oxfordmarket.co.uk

 

FOOD & DRINK: Eynsham Cellars, Oxon, Fri 7 – Sat 8 dec

A free wine tasting event will take place at Muddy Award Winner Eynsham Cellars this Fri and Sat 4-9pm. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will open dozens of wines from all around the world from bubbly to full-bodied reds for you to sample, as well as port, sherry and Christmas craft spirits. A great opportunity to get slowly slouched and then stock up on your favs for Xmas.

eynshamcellars.com

 
ART: Pop Art in Print, Banbury Museum, Banbury, now until Sun 3 Mar

Poster for the U.F.O Club, London, 1967 © The Estate of Michael English

Having extended their galleries so they can hold bigger exhibitions, Banbury Museum reopened on Sat  with a humdinger – Pop Art in Print – featuring work by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst and more. Organised by London’s V&A, the exhibition displays works of these famous artists of the 60s and 70s alongside contemporary artists so their influence can be seen. There are over 60 works by more than 30 artists so it gives a pretty comprehensive view of the pop art movement from the 1960s to the early 2000s.

Banburymuseum.org

 

CHRISTMAS: Christmas at Stonor, Stonor Park, Henley, now until Sun 9 Dec

Yeah, my fireplace looks just like this one. If you want to see a manor house beautifully decorated (and get a sense of how the other half live – the Stonor family are still in situ) then head to Stonor Park. The theme for this year is Star of Wonder and each room has been individually designed and transformed with lights and decorations in keeping with the family antiques and portraits, and holly, larch and mistletoe have been used from the park. They’ve also got a new augmented reality app this year so you can see Santa flying over the house and fairies flying round the Christmas tree. And that’s before you’ve got stuck into the mulled wine…

stonor.com

SHOPPING: Cogges Christmas Market, Cogges Farm, Sat 8 – Sun 9 Dec & Christmas in Chippy Sun 9 Dec

Cogges’ Christmas Market returns this year with over 60 stalls from local businesses offering handcrafted gifts, decorations, crafts as well as local booze and produce. Heads up for those like me who don’t make their own mince pies – you can purchase homemade mincemeat at Cogges and bung it in some pastry at home and no one will ever know. Local choirs will be performing and Santa will be reading festive tales and giving out gifts in the manor house. 10am – 4pm. cogges.org.uk

Chipping Norton’s Christmas market has over 70 stalls selling local arts, crafts and foodie gifts and many of the high street shops are opening too. There’s also a kids lantern procession, live music, pop-up cinema (Elf), fairground rides and even a life-size snow globe. Free entry, 12pm-6pm.

 

MUSIC: Oxford Bach Soloists: Morning Star, New College Chapel, Sun 9 Dec

Baroque ensemble Oxford Bach Soloists, composed of local students, scholars, amateur performers and soloists, are offering an afternoon of JS Bach’s Cantatas for Advent at New College Chapel. A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. 3pm.

oxfordbachsoloists.com

 

CHRISTMAS: Christmas at Bletchley Park, Bucks, dates throughout Dec

Time travel back to a 1940s-themed Christmas at home of World War II code-breakers, Bletchley Park near MK. There’s live retro music (on 2, 8, 9 & 15 Dec) and a 40s-style Christmas Grotto until 23 Dec. If you’re really into solving puzzles you can book the Codebreaking Christmas Dinner Party on 12 Dec with a three course dinner in the mansion, live music and a code to crack with clues arriving throughout the dinner. A prize awaits the winning team.

bletchleypark.org.uk

 

CAROLS:

Christmas at Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford, Sat 8, Fri 14 & Wed 19 Dec

Don’t you just love a carol concert to get you in the mood for Christmas? The choir boys of this iconic cathedral lead the singing in a family daytime concert with music chosen for young ears on Sat 8. Then on 14 and 19 Dec, the choristers sing a range of beautiful music plus carols you can belt out in between the Christmas readings in this top-notch Christmas highlight.

musicatoxford.com

Orchestra of St John’s, Ashmolean Museum, Sun 9 Dec

Feeling festive yet? Orchestra of St John’s will be performing Christmas carols at the Ashmolean Museum in the uplifting surroundings of gallery 21. The choir, that was formed 50 years ago by John Lubbock, have played in London’s Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Berlin Philharmonic Hall and with John conducting, you’re in for a treat. The Ashmolean’s fascinating exhibition Spellbound  finishes soon (on Jan 6). Totally unChristmas-y but well worth a visit whilst you’re there.

osj.org.uk

CarolFest, St Mary’s Church, Aylesbury, Sun 9 Dec

Aylesbury town centre is having a day of family festive-themed family entertainment, games, crafts and activities on Sun 9, culminating in traditional carols in St Mary’s Church. Local choirs and a bass quintet will get the singing going and mince pies and hot drinks will be served.

aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk

 

PANTOS:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Wycombe Swan, Fri 7 – Sun 30 Dec 

Brendan Cole as the comely Huntsman? Yes indeedy, Strictly’s nemesis to Craig Revel Horwood makes his panto debut alongside Britain’s Got Talent’s comedian Mandy Muden as the evil Queen and panto dame veteran Jason Sutton. It’s a 10 from us for inspired casting, darling!

wycombeswan.co.uk

Peter Pan, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Fri 7- Mon 31 Dec 

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre will see Holby City and Corrie star John Mitchie don a wig and tights as Captain Hook, drag act La Voixas the dame, Nickelodeon’s Holly Atterton as Tinkerbell and the always awesome Andy Collins.

atgtickets.com

Robin Hood, Milton Keynes Theatre, Sat 8 Dec –Sun 13 Jan 

EastEnders’ happy chappy Shane Ritchie will be all tights and double entrendres as he becomes Robin Hood at MK’s Theatre alongside a live orchestra.

atgtickets.com

The Sword in the Stone, Limelight Theatre, Queens Park Arts Centre, Aylesbury, Fri 7 – Sun 30 Dec

This plucky arts and crafts centre hosts workshops, courses, events and theatre. They’ve chosen the Arthurian legend of The Sword in the Stone as their Xmas Panto and it’s bound to get you feeling all warm and fuzzy and festive.

qpc.org

Read our guide to the best pantos in Bucks/Oxon and beyond here.

 

COMEDY: Andy Kershaw, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Sun 9 Dec

Andy Kershaw is not just an award-winning broadcaster who has worked with John Peel, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen (to name but a few); he is also a war correspondent for Radio 4 and the broadsheets. He’s visited 97 countries, including some of the most dangerous in the world such as North Korea, Iraq and Angola. His one man show – The Adventures of Andy Kershaw – has been a huge success at literary festivals and he’s visiting the Stables for one night with his two hour audio-visual show recollecting his extraordinary career.

stables.org

 

RUN: Santas on the Run, Oxford, Sun 9 Dec

If you want to keep the Christmas bulge at bay and raise money for terminally ill children, you can join 2000 other Santas of all ages for a 3.5 k run (or walk) through Oxford’s iconic streets. The route starts and finishes at Broad Street and takes in the University Parks. And no excuses, your Santa suit is included in the ticket price.

helenanddouglas.org.uk

 

CHRISTMAS AT THE NATIONAL TRUSTS

Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Bucks

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 (until 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. Read our review here.

Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe, Bucks

A Very Royal Christmas: a visit from the Faery is the theme for Christmas at Hughenden. 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.

Stowe, Nr Buckingham, Bucks

There’s a landscape advent calendar in the stunning Stowe gardens this season – find all 24 doors hidden in the grounds (Sat 1 Dec – Fri 4 Jan). Then you can head to the Parlour Rooms for Christmas stalls (until 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).

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 1-2 Dec and 8-9 Dec

Grey’s Court, Henley, Oxon

A candlelit tour round the mansion with stories of the owners’ (the Brunner family) Christmas traditions, followed by mulled wine and homemade warm mince pies in the Old Kitchen awaits on 6, 11, 13, 18, 20 Dec. Booking essential. The house will be decorated for a Swiss Christmas, exploring the links the Brunner family had to Switzerland and you can scoff a Christmas dinner in the CowShed restaurant from Mon 3 – Fri 21 Dec on weekdays.

Ashridge Estate, nr Berkhamsted, Herts

There’s a festive trail for kids round the estate with specially decorated dens as they explore the homes of forest animals with a Christmas gift for every child. It runs every Saturday and Sunday in December, as well as Wed 26, Thurs 27 and Fri 28 Dec, from 10am to 3pm. There’s also a 1.5 mile long self-led seasonal walk – just follow the Christmas puds. And on Sun 9 Dec, you can bring your dog (Christmas decos and costumes encouraged) and follow Santa on a festive ramble. They round off the season with their annual post-Christmas stroll on 27 Dec where you’ll follow a scenic route and try to burn off the bulge.

Cliveden, Taplow, Berks

A charming Christmas trail round the grounds where kids need to help Mother Christmas with all sorts of tasks and challenges to make sure Father Christmas sets off on time on Christmas Eve. Open Sat and Sun 1, 2, 8, 9, and 16 Dec plus 20-24 Dec.

 

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

Photo: Dreaming Spires by Penny Woolcock

This super-cool new exhibition celebrating the work of contemporary artist and director, Penny Woolcock, whose work unpicks social inequality, is a defo on the to-do-list. 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”.

modernartoxford.org.uk

 

CHRISTMAS: Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail, Blenheim Palace, now until Tues 1 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.

blenheimpalace.com

 

FURTHER AFIELD

LIVE SCREENINGS: Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House, London, Mon 3 Dec – 7 Jan

See a live screening of The Nutcracker, followed by 20 screenings of great operas and ballets with memorable casts as the Linbury Theatre (within the ROH) becomes a cinema for 5 weeks. ROH staff and well-known artists will introduce the screenings and on selected weekend matinees, children 5 -15 go free. Opera highlights include La bohème, La Traviata and Otello. Undoubtably, one of the ballet highlights will be Darcey Bussell introducing the screening of Sylvia, starring herself, and offering her unique insights into the role.

roh.org.uk

 

THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic, London, Wed 5 Dec – 19 Jan

The smash hit of Dickens’ classic adapted by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and directed by Matthew Warchus returns to the Old Vic and this time Stephen Tompkinson stars as Ebenezer Scrooge. This big-hearted and warm production’s unique staging immerses the audience in the story and there’s music, mince pies and much merriment for a fab festive night out.

theoldvic.com

 

CULTURE: Histfest, London, Fri 7 – Sun 9 Dec

A brand new festival taking place in London with talks, workshops, panel discussions and live performances to entertain and educate. Award winning historian and broadcaster, Betthany Hughes, is the keynote speaker, talking about Istanbul, plus other celeb historians include Kate Williams on Mary, Queen of Scots, and Janina Ramirez on Beowulf.

histfest.com

 

KIDS: Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, now until Sun 27 Jan

Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas!  The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.

wbstudiotour.co.uk

CHRISTMAS: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, now until 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. 

hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

 

CHRISTMAS: Kew Gardens, London, now until 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.

kew.org

 

CHRISTMAS: The Princess and The Pantomime, Windsor Castle, now – Sun 9 Dec

Something a little spesh at Windsor Castle. No, Meghan and Kate will not be scrapping on the steps of St George’s Chapel. Instead you’ll be whisked back to a time when the Queen and Princess Margaret famously staged their own pantos (possibly in the poshest costumes ever). Enjoy a theatrical retelling of Christmases past, including a pop-up panto in the Waterloo Chamber, exactly where The Queen and her sister performed wartime shows..

rct.uk

 

WALKS: Mother Christmas Festive Trail, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – Sun 23 Dec 

A charming Christmas trail round the grounds where kids need to help Mother Christmas with all sorts of tasks and challenges to make sure Father Christmas sets off on time on Christmas Eve. Open Sat and Sun 1, 2, 8, 9, and 16 Dec plus 20-24 Dec.

nationaltrust.org.uk

 

DAYS OUT: Christmas at Legoland, Windsor, throughout Dec

Lego Father Christmas welcomes a family to Legoland Windsor

Legoland is all twinkly lights and snow-dusted Christmas magic. Entry price for the Christmas season includes a visit to LEGO Santa in his magic grotto for kids who’ll receive a LEGO gift to take home. Make a Lego decoration and scavenger hunt with the elves. Think of your children’s faces lighting up and the enormous gin you’ll need the  you get home.

legoland.co.uk

 

CHRISTMAS: Winterville, Clapham Common London, now – Sun 23 Dec 

If you’re in Sarf London over Christmas, Winterville on Clapham Common’s  is well worth a look. There’s everything from an outdoor Ice Rink to a fairground, roller disco, plonk golf and free kids’ entertainment, but there’s lots more unusual stuff than at your standard Christmas Fair. We’re particularly loving the sound of  the Spiegeltent, where you’ll find cabaret, bingo, kids raves and, er, Mexican wrestling.

winterville.co.uk

 

CHRISTMAS: Santa Sleepovers, Warwick Castle, throughout December

Loving the sound of these sleepovers –  family stay in the Knight’s village or straight-from-a-fairytale Tower Suite and cute Christmassy stuff like stories with Santa and a wake up call from an Elf.  Still some dates left but be quick. warwickcastlebreaks.com

 

 

BOOK NOW

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.

atgtickets.com

 

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.

ashmolean.org

 

COMEDY: The Guilty Feminist Live, Oxford New Theatre, Sun 19 May

Who knows what state the country will be in by next May but chances are you’ll need a laugh and Deborah Frances-White, AKA The Guilty Feminist, is bound to deliver. Host of the fabulous comedy feminist podcast and author of a book of the same name, she tackles the state of 21st century feminism in the face of the patriarchy in an hilarious and intelligent fashion. Tickets are bound to sell out so get snaffling now.

ticketmaster.co.uk

 

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