FRI 21 - SUN 23 JULY
Shall we go out this weekend? I thought you’d never ask.
Truck Festival, Hill Farm, Oxford, Fri 21 – Sun 23 July
It may be consistently shortlisted as one of the UK’s best small festivals but Truck Festival is big on names. This year’s line up in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside includes The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, The Vaccines and Maximo Park. Lucky us!
Pennfest, Bucks, Sat 22 – Sun 23 July
For a little village, Penn Street is a veritable festival force. Now in its 7th year, this summer’s event is ’90s indietastic, with Primal Scream, The Charlatans, James and EMF (unbelievable – geddit?) all on the bill. Plus you can buy a weekend ‘posh loo pass’ for £27 extra – a tempting thought.
National Trust Big Camp Weekend, Waddesdon & Ashridge Estate, Fri 21 – Sat 22 July
Crack out the marshmallows! Fill your hip flask! The National Trust Big Camp Weekends take place in various venues across the region, offering you and the nippers chance to sleep al fresco and stargaze amid beautiful surroundings. Pitch up at Waddesdon or the Ashridge Estate on 21 July.
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.
Free Outdoor Screening: Swallows & Amazons, Hinksey Park, Oxford, Sat 22 July
Film Oxford’s free film festival, ‘Under the Stars’ starts this weekend with a big screen in Hinksey Park. It’s a PG but it’s a late start at 9:20pm so kids may be optional on this one. There are two more free screenings over the summer and fear not, yours truly will let you know as, when and how.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Creation Theatre, Oxford, now to 5 Aug
A return for last year’s sell-out, interactive Shakespeare show, this is part treasure hunt, part play and wholly anarchic. Audience members take to the streets, meeting in small groups at a secret Oxford city centre location to follow clues. Apparently you have to watch out for fairies…
Bricks Britannia, Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury, Sat 22 July – 2 Sept
Here’s a way to make history more palatable for children – recreate it in LEGO. This fantastic exhibition spans the history of Britain from the Stone Age to modern day, brick by brick. Highlights include an 8m long model of the Flying Scotsman (above). Brucey bonus – Roald Dahl’s Children’s Gallery is also on site.
Buckinghamshire County Museum, Church St, Aylesbury, buckscountymuseum.org
Jane Eyre Outdoor Theatre, West Wycombe Park, Thurs 20 July
What is it about Jane Eyre at the moment? Last week, we had the brilliant National Theatre production hopping into MK Theatre as part of a national tour, this week Chapterhouse Theatre bring their brilliant-sounding outdoor adaptation to the grounds of West Wycombe Park.
Dogs Don’t Do Ballet, Stowe House, Buckingham, Sat 22 July
I always loved reading these books to my kids, mostly because I found the illustrations so appealing. Now they’re been made into a feel-good 60 minute show full of music, songs and puppets – perfect for little ones ages 3+.
Drawing From Nature Family Day, Earth Trust, Little Wittenham, Sun 23 July
Loving the gentle sound of this event – bring your children (age 8 +), your sketchbook and some pencils or watercolours and artist Gareth Lloyd will share some top tips and inspiration for drawing in the great outdoors.
Comedy of Errors: Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Waddesdon Manor, Sat 22 July
Two sets of identical twins, both with servants named Dromio, all in the same city on the same day. What could possibly go wrong? Waddesdon Manor’s manicured lawns are the location for this outdoor production of Shakespearian farce The Comedy of Errors. Bring a chair, a cagoul and a picnic but absolutely no gazebos, you naughty view-blockers.
Romeo & Juliet, Oxford Castle, now until Sat 21 July
Tomahawk Theatre are mixing it up, throwing in a bit of song and dance but sticking to Shakespeare’s original language for their latest production of Romeo and Juliet. Get there early – it’s first come for seating; all with the stunning backdrop of Oxford Castle.
Gifford’s Circus, The Fox Inn, Barrington, Thurs 20 – Mon 31 July
Described by The Telegraph as “the nation’s most glamorous troupe”, Giffords arrives at the Fox Inn, Barrington this week for this year’s Baroque-inspired show. No need to stuff your handbag with snacks for the interval – they also bring a 60-seat pop-up restaurant, complete with candle-lit communal oak tables.
Garsington Opera, Wormsley Estate, Bucks, Mon 17 – Sat 22 July
Another packed week on the banks of the Cherwell at the elegantly attired Garsington Opera. Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) is on three times this week on Mon 17, Weds 19 and Fri 21 and Verdi’s Falstaff is performed on Thurs 20 and Sat 22.
Cogges Beer & Cider Festival, Cogges Manor Farm, Witney, Oxon, Fri 21- Sun 23 July
History, hops and Morris dancing – it doesn’t get more English than that! Ultra-local booze from within a 30 mile radius is be served up this weekend at Cogges Beer & Cider Festival. The action takes place in the stunning 17th century barns, complete with jingly men with sticks, and a bouncy castle to keep the kids happy while you experiment with the booze.
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 featuring senior citizens Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones as lead characters Beatrice and Benedick. The Oxford Shakespeare Company has taken their latest production of this hilarious Shakespeare comedy to a 1943, war-struck Messina where the Italian Resistance meet Mafiosi and it sounds really innovative. Catch it now until mid August in the gorgeous outdoor setting of Wadham College Gardens.
Wadham College, Parks Rd, Oxford, ticketsoxford.com
Dinosaur World, Banbury Museum, Sat 22 July – 9 Sept
This is a summer hols saviour if you have little ones who love dinosaurs. At Banbury Museum they can create their own dinosaur lands, creature, masks and fossil collages and even a hatching dino baby. It’s on Saturdays and every day during the Oxon school holidays, with two daily sessions: 10:30am – 12:30pm or 2pm – 4pm.
The Art of Nature, Turrill Sculpture Gardens, Oxford, now until 30 Sept
The Turrill Sculpture Gardens have regularly changing displays of contemporary art by local and national sculptors for sale in this lovely public garden in Summertown. The current expo features some stunning work from Diccon Dadey. If you’re up that way, you can drop in afterwards at Mamma Mia for lunch with the kids (it’s just round the corner and has been awarded Best Independent Pizza Restaurant in the UK!) or if you’re doing the grown up thing, Portabello a few doors down.
Behind the Public Library, South Parade, Summertown, Oxford, turrillsculpturegarden.co.uk
Wonder Woods, Stonor Park, Henley, Weds 19 July – Sun 3 Sept
File this one under ‘Help, they’re driving me mad and there’s still 5 weeks of the school holidays left’. Wonder Woods at the glorious Stonor Park is a brilliant big play park for kids up to age 15, with all the wobbling, swinging, jumping and sliding they could ever want. Throw in a few scary tunnels, a 50 metre zip wire and a nearby cafe for parents and, yep, that’s everybody happy.
Eccentric Stories with Elys Dolan, Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, Sat 22 July
Elys is reading her brilliantly imaginative stories of megalomaniacal weasels this Saturday with sessions through the day. Lots of fun and giggles for the kids 4+.
Ashmolean After Hours, Oxford, Fri 21 July
Too busy working to find time to visit museums? Yep, me too. But hey, we’re in luck: every so often, the clever Ashmolean throws open its doors from 7- 10.30 pm. giving you the opportunity to see the collections after hours. This month, you can enjoy the current exhibition, Raphael: The Drawings (there’s an evening talk on Raphael too) and, of course, there’s music and bars serving food and drink.