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FRI 2 - SUN 4 NOV 2018


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

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

With Remembrance Sunday approaching, now’s a good time to visit the River & Rowing Museum to see their exhibition of 1940s prints and drawings by leading 20th Century British artists. With materials strictly rationed and a stagnant art market, artists including Edward Bawden, John Piper and Vanessa Bell turned to paper to record their experiences of life in wartime Britain.


HALLOWEEN: various locations

If wandering round your neighbourhood trick or treating just isn’t going to cut it this Halloween, try something more extreme….The 17th annual Fright Nights season returns to Thorpe Park with seven new intense live-action scare mazes and horror zones, including The Walking Dead: Do or Die and Vulcan Peak. Also new this year is the Screamplexx 4D, showing short indie horror films.

Family-friendly farm and play centre Mead Open Farm transforms itself by night into The Howl for 12 + (if with an adult) Halloween horror with 5 mazes, street food, live music and a bar.

The Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios Great Hall is currently decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, as seen in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Arts from now until Nov 10.

Creation Theatre is putting on its one woman play at the Bodleian Library in Oxford in a new adaption of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum. It’s performed in a near pitch black room and explores sensory deprivation and isolation with AV projection and wireless headphones. A truly terrifying prospect. They are out to terrify you so go if you dare.

Check out our half term guide here which includes plenty of Halloween fun for little ones.


THEATRE: Shakespeare In Love, Oxford Playhouse, now until Sat 3 Nov

I loved this Oscar-winning (it nabbed seven, no less!) film with Gwyneth Paltrow (before she went all annoyingly Goopy) and Joseph Fiennes, and the West End hit by Lee Hall is now touring our ‘hood. It’s a great Elizabethan romp and a witty homage to Shakespeare that will give you a warm glow – perfect for a cold autumn night.


OPERA: Opera Anywhere, The Players Theatre, Thame, Fri 2 – Sun 4 Nov

We’re loving this company of singers and performers whose aim is to make opera fun and accessible to all and to perform in unique and unusual places. This weekend they are in a more traditional space – The Players Theatre – with classic Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, Patience, and HMS Pinafore.


FILM: Vintage Cinema, Hell Fire Caves, Wycombe, Bucks, Fri 2 Nov

The perfect Halloween location, Hell Fire Caves with its spooky tunnels and live bats, is putting on screenings of horror classics, It and The Thingon Friday. They’ll be comfy beanbags with blankets and complimentary pop-corn but I think I’ll be heading to the bar for a stiff drink.


MUSIC: Joanna Gutowska, Holywell Music Room, Oxford, Sat 3 Nov

Celebrated Polish cellist Joanna Gutowska begins a tour of repertoire for solo cello with JS Bach, moving through to Gaspar Cassadó (a Spanish cellist of the early 20th century), then Michael Berkeley and David Matthews. The programme finishes with work by Manos Charalabopoulos, a recent composition prize winner from the Royal Philharmonic Society.


FAMILY: Halloween Fireworks, Blenheim Palace, Oxon, Sat 3 Nov

A pyrotechnic display with Halloween horrors – a witch will be taking to the sky on a broomstick, they’ll be a levitating gargoyle human statue lurking in the crowd and stilt walkers dressed up as zombies, skeletons and the Grim Reaper. Food and drinks will be available and with the backdrop of the beautiful Great Court, this looks set to be spectacular.

For other local firework displays, have a look at our guide here.


KIDS: Harry Heape at The Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, Bucks, Sat 3 Nov

Author of the Shiny Pippin books, Harry Heape, will be reading from his book Shiny Pippin and the Broken Forest and there’ll be a Shiny animal workshop at the newly-reopened Roald Dahl Museum, as well as a host of other Dahl-inspsired things to do and see.


FESTIVAL: Oxford Pumpkin Festival, now until Sat 10 Nov

Did you know that a whopping 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin ends up in our bins? Good Food Oxford is on the case with their Carve it, Cook it, Eat it – don’t bin it! message. The Oxford Pumpkin Festival is all about celebrating the pumpkin, encouraging less food waste and learning new skills. On Halloween, you can pop along to the Donnington Doorstep Pumpkin Party where you can carve pumpkins and enjoy lunch round the campfire in the garden. On Sat 3 Nov, you can go to the East Oxford Farmer’s Market to buy your pumpkins and get tips on eating them or head to Bonn Square for Disco Soup where rescued surplus veg and fruit will be cooked up in to a free pumpkin feast with a disco soundtrack. On Sun 4, there’s the Oxford Vegan Market, South Oxford Farmers and Community Market, and the Wolvercote Farmers Market, all selling pumpkins with cooking tips. If you can’t join in this weekend, the festival ends on Sat Nov 10 with a Pumpkin Harvest Supper at the Cuttlesloe Community Centre.


EXHIBITION: Bacterial World, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, now until 28 May 2019

It might not seem the most interesting subject but the excellent Museum of Natural History has pulled out all the stops to excite visitors about their new Bacterial World exhibition by installing a giant (92 feet long) inflatable E.coli bacterium, hanging from the ceiling. The sculpture by Luke Jerram is just one of the exhibits aiming to educate people about the oldest form of life on earth. Bacteria are remarkable organisms and scientists are convinced they will help us tackle environmental problems so let’s learn to love’ em.


MUSIC: Caesar’s Coin Concert, New College Chapel, Oxford, Sun 4 Nov

Composer Arvo Pärt’s Tribute to Caesar with cappella choir, Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 Cellos in G minor and JS Bach are performed by Oxford Bach Soloists in this Oxford chapel. Immerse yourself in the music in a beautiful setting.


FAMILY: Natural Play, Duck Decoy, Boarstall, Bucks, now until Sun 4 Nov

One of the National Trust’s more unusual venues, the Boarstall Duck Decoy was once used to trap the famous Aylesbury ducks for the tables of smart restaurants. Now it’s a lovely place for a walk and there’s a new kids’ trail in the woodland with stepping logs, fallen trees to climb and a den building area. You can take your dog on a lead and, once the refurb has finished, take a walk around Boarstall Tower (pictured) too.


MUSIC: Hugh Cornwell Electric, O2 Academy Oxford, Sun 4 Nov

Singer-songwriter and guitarist for The Stranglers, Hugh Cornwell opens his set with tracks from his new solo album Monster but most of us will be waiting to hear some of his best known hits like Golden Brown, Strange Little Girl and Always the Sun that will follow.



CULTURE: Royal Opera House, Month of Sundays Festival, London, Sun 4 – Sun 25 Nov

The Royal Opera House is opening itself up for a month of interactive fun. 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.


EXHIBITION: Duke and Duchess of Sussex Exhibition, Windsor Castle, now until 26 Jan

Prince Harry and Meghan – Duke and Duchess of Sussex Royal Wedding 2018 Windsor Castle steps

Better late than never, but we’ve all been invited to Windsor Castle to get up close and personal with newlyweds Harry and Meghan. OK, so they won’t actually be there but a new exhibition will display Meghan’s Givenchy bridal gown designed by Artistic Director Clare Waight Keller is, her 5m veil embroidered with flora symbolising the 53 Commonwealth countries and the 1932 Queen Mary diamond and platinum tiara loaned to the Duchess by the Queen. It’s not all about the bride (even though we known it is really), Harry’s Blues and Royals frock designed by Dege & Skinner on Savile Row will also be standing to attention.


THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Troilus and CressidaRST, Stratford-upon-Avon, Fri 12 Oct  –  Sat 17 Nov

Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, this is the company’s first gender-equal production of Shakespeare’s “most testosterone-fuelled” play. Set in a futuristic dystopian Troy, it will involve close collaboration with the virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie.



KIDS: First Encounters with Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors, Swan Theatre, Stratford, Fri 19 Oct – 2 Nov

Wondering what’s the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for 7 – 13-year-olds? The RSC’s fab First Encounters with Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors, a 90-minute abridged version just for kids, is touring several partner schools and theatres across the UK including Leamington, Warwick, Nuneaton, Birmingham, Northampton, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, Kent, York, Bradford and Stoke-on-Trent. It will have a number of public performances in The Swan. A lovely experience for families.



ART: Whistler and Nature, Compton Verney, Warks, Sat 20 Oct – 16 Dec 

James McNeill Whistler, Battersea Reach from Lindsey Houses © The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

Warwickshire’s Compton Verney is casting a new light on the work of the great late-Victorian master, James McNeill Whistler, in Whistler and Nature (Sat Oct 20 – Dec 16), curated in partnership with The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow. The exhibition, which includes 90 oil paintings, explores the artist’s revolutionary attitude towards the natural world.



THEATRE: The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, London, now until Sun 30 Dec

Exciting news – there’s a theatre in the Jerwood Gallery at the Natural History Museum for the European premiere of award-winning drama The Wider Earth, a play about the young Charles Darwin. Puppets, an original score and cinematic animations make this theatrical event a great draw for kids plus they’ll learn a helluva lot in the process.


ART: Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain, London, now until 24 Feb

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones ‘Love Among the Ruins’ 1870-1973 Private Collection

Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones was one of the most influential British talents of the 19th century and this exhibition will bring together 150 works including paintings, stained glass and tapestry in a major new retrospective. Rejecting the starched world of the Victorians, he looked to myths, legends and the Bible to create his otherworldly work. He wanted to bring beautiful design to everyone and along with his friend William Morris, pioneered the Arts and Crafts Movement.



THEATRE: Horrible Histories, Wycombe Swan, Bucks, Tues 6 – Sat 10 Nov

Family favourite Horrible Histories is back on tour with shows Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians, bringing us mummy-making, tomb excavations and an Armada sailing into the audience. We grabbed a quick cuppa with co-director Neal Foster about what grisly goings-on we can expect. Read all about it here.


PEOPLE: Nigella Lawson, Oxford New Theatre, Mon 13 Nov

Chatting about her life in food, saucy Nigella Lawson is on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of her first cook book, How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food. Nigella manages to make everyday cooking seem sexy and easy and here she talks about her love of food and what it means to be an author, cook and TV personality. Don’t miss the book signing after the performance too.


SHOPPING: Sophie Robinson and The Layered Lounge, The Bull Hotel, Gerrards Cross, Wed 28 Nov

Design guru of DIY SOS, The Great Interior Design Challenge, This Morning and 60 Minute Makeover fame will be sharing her top tips for styling your home, in collaboration with interiors online store Layered LoungeTheir stylish and affordable products lie somewhere between trend-led high street picks and expensive designer pieces with an eclectic selection of cushions, lamps, tableware and glassware from Buckinghamshire’s best small brands. The event starts at 6.30 with a free glass of fizz, followed by a talk by Sophie from 7pm. Sophie will be staying for the shopping after her talk so feel free to ask questions as you shop.


PEOPLE: Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends, The Royal Albert Hall, Sat Dec 1

There are still tickets available for Rob Lowe’s live show (a sell out in the States). Inspired by his memoirs of the same name and his previous book Love Life, Mr Lowe will spill the beans on a career from the Brat Pack to The West Wing to Parks and Rec and beyond. Apparently, he’s quite the raconteur with loads of witty anecdotes that touch on his career, fame, Hollywood, fatherhood and marriage.


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

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.


THEATRE: The Lehman Trilogy, Piccadilly Theatre, London, from 11 May

Heads up – tickets go on sale on Nov 2 for this National Theatre play directed by Sam Mendes and staring Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley. Tracing 150 years of the banking family, it doesn’t sound like riveting entertainment but it has been a sell out at the National and is transferring to the West End next spring. Grab a ticket whilst you can.

Find more ideas here

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