Fri 14 - Sun 16 Dec 2018
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEKEND
MUSIC: BBC Introducing, O2 Oxford, Fri 14 Dec
New music fans take note – the BBC’s Introducing night at the O2 showcasing new talent is on this week and includes gothy burlesque folk band, Death of The Maiden, Alphabet Backwards, Worry, Life Inc, and MARGO. Get to see the big bands of the future locally and for only £9 a ticket!
FILM: Vintage Cinema, Mad Squirrel, High Wycombe, Thurs 13 Dec & College Lake, Tring, Sat 15 Dec
If you fancy some vintage festive film fun, settle down on a beanbag and watch Kermit and co in The Muppets Christmas Carol at College Lake Nature Reserve. Ticket includes a free bag of gourmet popcorn but their is also a sweetie stand and cash bar on hand.
FOOD & DRINK: Supper Club, The Tythe 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
FILM: Pop-up Cinema, The Assembly Rooms, Marlow, Fri 14 – Sun 23 Dec
Firefly Events are hosting a series of classic movies with dinner at The Assembly Rooms, Market Square, Marlow, throughout December. There’s comfy seats, a well stocked bar and bowl food provided by Seriously Good Food. This week you can see The Man Who Invented Christmas, Christopher Robin, Mission Impossible – Fallout, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or Love Actually. Menus change from week to week but include Chilli Con Carne, Lamb Tagine and Chicken Curry with veggie options available. Check out their full schedule here.
MUSIC: Orchestra of St John, Dorchester Cathedral, Sat 15 Dec
John Lubbock conducts the OSJ performing Handel’s Messiah HWV 86 in an exciting orchestration for wind, with the OSJ Voices – Charlotte Tetley and Hannah Davey mezzo, John Findon tenor, and William Thomas bass in the beautiful setting of Dorchester Cathedral.
FILM: RSC Troillus & Cressida Encore Screening, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Sat 15 Dec
Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, this is the company’s first gender-equal production of Shakespeare’s “most testosterone-fuelled” play and you can see an Encore Screening at the AWT. Set in a futuristic dystopian Troy, it involves close collaboration with the virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie.
SCIENCE: Stars & Planets, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, Sat 15 Dec
This fascinating museum is a great option for entertaining the kids whilst sneaking in some education too. This Saturday you can take them along to learn all about the stars and planets and they can make a star dial or paper plate planetarium to take home. There’s a great collection of scientific instruments from antiquity through to the early 1900s and a unique collection of early communication devices like telegraphy which will blow their smartphone-obsessed minds.
FOOD & DRINK: Native Feasts, St John’s Church, Stadhampton, Sat 15, Fri 21 & Sat 22 Dec
The Native Feasters find usual venues in which to feast and this time it’s a decommissioned church with underfloor heating, sound system and open kitchen. Kick off with a mince pie martini, then feast in the nave on partridge ravioli, Tamworth pork with duck fat roasties and whiskey caramel ice cream, or start with Cornish crab, confit duck leg with more roasties, and apple and almond crumble, depending on which eve you go. Expect communal tables, mulled grog and great music with the occasional Christmas classic thrown in for good measure (hope the vicar would approve).
MUSIC: Spin Jazz, Abingdon Arms, Oxon, Sun 16 Dec
The Spin Trio from the Spin Jazz Club make their monthly outing to the Abingdon Arms for an evening of free jazz in this lovely gastropub. Mark Doffman on drums, Raf Mizraki on bass and special guest Roger Beaujolais on vibraphone will be entertaining you from 7.30pm.
THEATRE: Alice & Bob’s Whopping Christmas Cracker Show/Party, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, until 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. Read our review here.
ART: Penny Woolcock, Fantastic Cities, Modern Art Oxford, until Sun 3 March
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”.
SHOPPING: Oxford Christmas Market, until 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.
THEATRE: Snowflake, The Old Fire Station, until Sat 22 Dec
Written by Olivier Award-winner Mike Bartlett (of Dr Foster and Press fame), 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+.
ART: Pop Art in Print, Banbury Museum, until Sun 3 Mar
Having extended their galleries so they can hold bigger exhibitions, Banbury Museum has reopened 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.
FAMILY: Vintage Christmas, Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, 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.
ART: Spellbound, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, until Mon 24 Dec
Showcasing the history of magic, mysticism and superstition over eight centuries, the Ashmo’s quirky major autumn exhibition draws to a close in the next couple of weeks. It has everything from a unicorn’s horn to a human heart encased in lead (sounds like my ex) so if you haven’t yet gone, it’s well worth a visit. Read our review here.
CHRISTMAS AT THE NATIONAL TRUSTS
Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon
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.
On Dec 22, Waddesdon is hosting an exclusive black tie Gourmet Christmas Dinner for just 40 guests. Start with a glass of Rothschild Champagne and canapés in the wine cellars, you’ll then get a tour of the house in all its Christmas glory, followed by a four course meal with wine flight in the Manor Restaurant. Book your tickets here.
Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe
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, near Buckingham
There’s a landscape advent calendar in the stunning Stowe gardens this season – find all 24 doorshidden 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
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
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, near Berkhamsted
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 Stoneas their Xmas Panto and it’s bound to get you feeling all warm and fuzzy and festive.
Read our guide to the best pantos in Bucks/Oxon and beyond here.
FAMILY: Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail, Blenheim Palace, 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.
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.
FILM: 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.
FAMILY: Christmas at Legoland, Windsor, throughout Dec
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.
FAMILY: Winterville, Clapham Common London, until 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.
FAMILY: Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Watford, 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.
FAMILY: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, until Sun 6 Jan
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.
FAMILY: Christmas at Kew Gardens, London, until 5 Jan
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.
FAMILY: Santa Sleepovers, Warwick Castle, throughout December
COMEDY: Oxford Comedy Gala, Oxford Playhouse, Sat 12 Jan
Nish Kumar, Ed Gamble and Felicity Ward rock up for a night of top class comedy in aid of the charity Mind. Nish and Ed are regulars on our screens and Felicity Ward is best known for her part in The Guilty Feminist podcast as well as appearing on Mock the Week and Live from the BBC. Tickets are bound to sell out first so here’s the Muddy heads up to get booking now.
THEATRE: 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.
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.
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.