The cool, quirky and unmissable in Oxfordshire, Bucks and beyond this weekend in Bucks, Oxon and beyond.
Colourscape, Waddesdon Manor, 27 May – 4 June
Back for the fourth year but with a brand new structure created to exactly fit the Aviary Lawn, Colourscape brings its labyrinth of 56 interlinked chambers to Waddesdon, where you can where you can explore intense light, colour and space.Each day there will be different music and dance performances – expect Hurdy-Gurdy (I’m not joking!), panpipes, dance, music from Norway and on the final day a theatre-piece with dance and acoustic costumes.
10.30am-4.30pm, music plays from 11am-3.30pm. waddesdon.org.uk
Common People, Oxford, 27-28 May
Hurray for a city centre festival that it’s easy to get home from – one of my friends watched Primal Scream and Duran Duran headline last year before jumping on the last bus home. Based in the pretty South Park, this is Bestival founder Rob da Bank’s latest venture which is now in its second year. It’s brilliantly organized, the bands are good (this year’s headliners are tbc), ditto the kids’ area. And tent refuseniks will be pleased to hear there’s no camping on site.
South Park, Oxford oxford.commonpeople.net
Great Antique Vintage Car Boot Fair, Stonor Park, Sun 28 May
Looking for a vintage find? This upmarket car boot fair was a massive hit last year and it’s back in the gorgeous surrounds of Stonor Park this month. You can celeb spot – last year Russell Brand, Pete Doherty and Mary Berry were all on the rummage for a bargain – and you can make a day of it with food from Matthews Kitchen (ex Rick Stein chef) and the Wonder Woods play area. A day’s fun right there.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, New Theatre, Oxford, Mon 22 – Sat 27 May
Your last chance this weekend to catch National Theatre’s internationally acclaimed production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Oxford’s New Theatre. Winner of seven 2013 Olivier Awards and five 2015 Tony Awards, including ‘Best Play’ it’s at the top of my must-see theatre lists (I should know, I’ve seen it 3 times already!). Christopher, 15 years old, with Asperger’s, has an extraordinary brain – exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under the suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, it takes him on a journey that upturns his world. Brilliant.
Evita, MK Theatre, Tues 23 – Sat 27 May
The tour of Evita tangos back into Muddy territory followings its recent stop in Oxford. Now in Milton Keynes, it stars Emma Hatton, recently seen in Wicked in the West End, as Eva Peron, the rags-to-riches wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron and Gian Marco Schiaretti a Che – very easy on the eye apparently according to Muddy’s Sascha! Sarah O’Connor as the ousted mistress of President Juan Peron is a showstopper, and the chorus, sets and ‘incidental’ music create a great Latino/Argentinian feel. A thumbs up.
Fabulous Beasts and Beautiful Creatures (drawn by Old Masters), Christchurch Picture Gallery, Oxford, until 29 May
Last weekend alert! Over 30 drawings of lions, horses, dogs, and imaginer beasts by Old Masters are on display at ChristChurch Picture Gallery, including those of pioneering British animal artist Francis Barlow (c. 1624-1704). The gallery, if you don’t know it, is at the back of Christchurch College so you’re perfectly placed for punt or a walk down to the river afterwards.
Christchurch Picture Gallery, Christ Church, St Aldgates, Oxford, chch.ox.ac.uk
Giffords Circus, Kingham, from 25 May – 5 June
This weekend the artistic jugonaut of Gifford’s Circus it heads into Oxfordshire with a 11 day stint in Kingham (25 May to 5 June), then it’s onto Blenheim Palace (8-12 June), and Oxford’s University Parks (15-26 June), before the show really cranks up the ker-ching and heads into London.
David Hockney, Tate Britain, until 29 May
This is your last weekend to catch this extraordinary exhibition by the UK’s greatest living painter. The exhibition gathers together an extensive selection of Hockney’s most famous works celebrating painting, drawing, print, photography and video across six decades, some of which have never been seen before in public. The exhibition has caught the imagination of both the critics and the public and is pretty much required viewing. Beg, borrow and pimp to get tickets, they’re hard to get hold of at this stage.
Billy Elliot, MK Theatre, Tues 30 May – Sat 17 June
The first UK and Ireland tour of Billy Eliot the Musical after 11 years in the West End. Set in a northern mining town against the background of the 1984-5 miners’ strike, the young working-class Billy forgoes the boxing ring for ballet with the help of an Elton John score and some fruity language. It recommends a minimum age of 8+ but bear in mind it’s supersweary – I remember being a bit shocked taking my 10 year old son to it, with nervous glances between me and Mr Muddy until we realised that Finn already knew the entire expletive lexicon from school anyway.
Teddy’s Train Ride, Bucks Railway Centre, Sun 28 May
OMG this is soooooo sweet! On Sunday children with a teddy gain free entry to the Bucks Railway Centre near Quainton, and their teddies get their own train ticket to ride on their own. It’s unlimited steam train rides all day for everyone, plus there’s a special ‘Teddy Train’ where kids place their teddy on the seat, then wave off as them go up and down the track. Plus there’s a miniature steam railways, museum, cafe and shop. Teddy heaven right here.
Blenheim Palace Food Festival, Sat 27 – Mon 29 May
Blenheim Palace Food Festival returns with an expanded 120 stallholders, promising more demonstrations, local producers and tastings than ever before. If your kids get sick of tasting olives and dipping their ciabatta in local rapeseed oil (I mean, where are the salted anchovies when your 7 year old is getting bored?) there are traditional hale bale picnic areas and activities for kids. Dogs on leads are welcome, except for the Pleasure Gardens area.
Frogfest, Wycombe Arts Festival, High Wycombe, Sun 28 May
The Wycombe Arts Festival is a real mix of professional and amateur around High Wycombe, Marlow and the Chiltern hills with classical and jazz concerts, open air theatre and the ‘Frogfest’ festival on Sun 28 May with music, roaming performers and kids activities. Next week it’s the grand finale at Wycombe Swan with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Oxfordshire Artweeks in central Oxford, 22-29 May
It’s the last weekend to catch amazing art in open studios and private spaces across Oxfordshire. This week it’s all about Oxford as a venue, with 200 art spaces across the city. This work is by Alison Pullen, exhibiting at the impressive Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Summertown.
Lechlade Festival, Fri 26 to Sun 28 May
Shall we skid over the border? Dr Feelgood, The Hoosiers and Mod-revival band The Lambrettas are among the acts at this award-winning, family-friendly festival held in the beautiful, Cotswold market town of Ledbury. Also on the bill this year is a new dance zone with a stellar line-up of DJs playing a mix of electronic dance music across the genres and the return of the saucy and charismatic Missy Malone & Friends Burlesque Revue. Food offerings include Chuck Wagon Kitchens with its pioneering fare, Lowe Powe noodles and The Bhangra Bus, which serves up vegetarian and vegan curries, and chai from a converted American school bus. And if you want to make a weekend of it, you can glamp in a luxury bell tent for two to six complete with white bedlinen, warm winter duvets and pillows.
Family Fun Day, Sudeley Castle, Sun 28 May
Get the offspring properly tired (and ensure yourself a chilled-out Bank Holiday Monday) at Sudeley Castle’s Family Fun Day, which this year is featuring the world’s tallest bubbleologist, Tall Will (who at 6ft 10in is very tall indeed) and his amazing repertoire of bubble tricks, from giant ones to tiny ones, bubble sculptures, smoke bubbles, fire bubbles and bubbles within bubbles. There will also be donkey rides, Punch ‘n’ Judy shows, a bouncy castle, a circus skills workshop and a 23ft climbing wall.