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FRI 26 - SUN 28 OCT 2018

KIDS: Harry Hill Kidz Show, Milton Keynes Theatre, Sun 28 Oct

Share the laughs with the whole family as award-winning comedian Harry Hill imparts his tips and tricks on how to be a world class joker in his new show.


EXHIBITION: Bacterial World, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, now until May 28 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 we really should be taking an interest and viewing them as our friends.



Come on, hang in there! The last weekend of half-term, and plenty of inspo for entertaining the kids in our special guide – tonnes of Halloween high jinx and some less orange options too.


WALK: Deer Rut Stroll, Ashridge Estate, Herts, Fri 26 – Sun 28 Oct 

Binos and deer stalkers at the ready for an English safari. You can join the knowledgeable rangers from the Ashridge Estate from 7-9am to look for rutting deer in the beautiful surroundings of this ancient woodland. Luckily, the Brownlow Cafe will be open for brekkie afterwards.


EXHIBITION: Duke and Duchess of Sussex Exhibition, Windsor Castle, from Fri 26 Oct

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.


ART: Future Knowledge Exhibition, Modern Art Oxford, now until Sun 28 Oct

This is the last week of this exhibition exploring climate change through creative presentations. It’s a truly international affair with an epic timeline stretching back 750 million years by American artist Rachel Susan, Eline McGeorge’s weaving works from Norway, and Brit Tania Kovats’ vast steel and salt sculptures, to name but a few. I’m liking the sound of Lucy Kimbell’s wallpaper that changes colour over time in response to air pollutants – might save a trip to Homebase.


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.


CULTURE: Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, Weston Library, Oxford, until Sat 28 Oct

This is your last chance to see the extensive archive of artefacts from the Lord of the Rings author on display in the biggest Tolkien exhibition in a generation. Top attractions are parts of the manuscripts for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but there are also pieces of fan mail, private letters, maps, drawings and an interactive display on the Elvish language. A third of the 200 items have never been seen before so it’s a real thrill for all you superfans out there.



ART: Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain, London, on now 

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 has brought 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, pioneering the Arts and Crafts Movement with his friend William Morris.


THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Troilus and CressidaRST, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Sat Nov 17

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. It’s on for one month only!



KIDS: First Encounters with Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors, Swan Theatre, Stratford, until Nov 2

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, until Dec 16

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.


BOOKS: London Literary Festival, Southbank Centre, London, now until Sun 28 Oct

Into the final week for this high calibre festival with many literary luminaries and celebs plugging their latest book. Highlights this week include Salman Rushdie reflecting on his full range of writing and his latest novel The Golden House, inspired by American politics; Liz Pichon, creator of the popular kids’ series Tom Gates, will be offering some monster fun for the kids; and Sue Perkins chats about her new travel memoir East of Croydon with a Q&A and book signing (your ticket includes a copy of the book).




ART: Hannah Perry: Gush, now until 4 Nov & Good Grief Charlie Brown, Thurs 25 Oct – Sun 3 Mar 2019, Somerset House

Two new exhibitions open this month in the stunning setting of Somerset House. British Artist and Somerest House Studios resident Hannah Perry presents Gush. Using large-scale sculpture, sound and film, the exhibition explores the mental and emotional health of our hyper-connected world. Good Grief Charlie Brown brings together the original cartoons of Charles M Schluz with work from those designers and artists influenced by the iconic cartoon.


THEATRE: The Wider Earth, The Natural History Museum, 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.


FOOD: London Restaurant Festival, London, all month

The Montagu Kitchen

London’s fantastic restaurant scene is in full celebration mode this month, with great value festival menus at loads of top-notch restaurants, plus foodie events like gastronomic weekends, tasting menus, restaurant-hopping tours, tasting menus with famous chefs, talks, films and art.



THEATRE: Shakespeare In Love, Oxford Playhouse, Tues 30 Oct – Sat 3 Nov

I loved this Oscar-winning (7 no less!) film with Gwyneth Paltrow (before she went all 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.


SHOPPING: Sophie Robinson and The Layered Lounge, The Bull Hotel, Gerards 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 quirky, 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.


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.


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

Tickets for Rob Lowe’s live show are bound to sell out fast (as they have 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.



MUSIC: The Ben Holder Hot Club De Paris Quartet, Jazz at St Giles, Oxford, Sat 27 Oct

Playing tribute to Le Jazz Hot Club de Paris of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, Ben Holder performs his musical acrobatics on jazz violin in this series of concerts in aid of charity.


KIDS: About a Bot, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Oxon, Sat 27 Oct

Robots have performed for audiences before but apparently this is the first time one has taken a dramatic role where the story, not the technology, is the focus. Actor Arun Blair-Magnat bravely performs alongside the robot (will he be upstaged?) in a show that features video, sound and lighting effects. The story centres on the launch of a ground-breaking video game which threatens to go horribly wrong when a robot decides to order pizzas for everyone.

MUSIC: Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir, Oxford Town Hall. Sat 27 Oct

With over an hundred voices performing together, this 90th birthday celebration sees the Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir joined by the Côr Meibion de Cymru and prize winning young soloists Samantha Oxborough and Rhydian Jenkins.


CULTURE: Wantage Literary Festival, Wantage, now until Sat 27 Oct

There’s loads going on in Wantage this week. Originally celebrating John Betjeman, the Wantage Lit Fest now covers poetry, comedy, history, science, the arts, and, erm, literature. Highlights include Roald Dahl activity days at The Vale & Downland Museum on Tues and Wed with crafts, dressing up, a meet-and-greet with the Twits and treats in the cafe inspired by Dahl. On Thurs, BBC Breakfast presenter, Louise Minchin, is chatting about her journey from BBC sofa to becoming part of Team GB’s triathlon squad. On Sat Tracy Borman, (historian, broadcaster and joint Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces) reveals some secrets of Henry VIII’s royal entourage. Actor Lance Pierson will be performing Betjeman’s poems on Friday and if all that culture has made you thirsty, how about a spot of gin tasting?


THEATRE: Evita, Wycombe Swan, Bucks, Tues 23 – Sat 27 Oct

After a smash hit run in London, Bill Kenwright’s production of Rice and Webber’s classic Evita promises to captivate the provinces with its story of Eva’s rise to power at a time of political unrest, leading her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’ by the Argentine people. With top West End stars including Lucy O’Bryne and Mike Sterling, it’s been doing the rounds to critical acclaim.

MUSIC: Oxjam Oxford Takeover, Cowley Road, Oxford, Sat 27 Oct

The UK largest grass roots music festival comes to town. You can hear some of Oxford’s up and coming talent in aid of Oxfam in this one day event at various venues along the Cowley Road. The line up includes Flights of Helios, The White Lakes and Easter Island Statues.


FILM: Vintage Cinema, Bucks, Thurs 25 – Sat 27 Oct

Fancy watching some classic Halloween movies? If you’re High Wycombe way, Scream is on at the Mad Squirrel on Thurs night proceeded by a quiz, you can revisit Ghostbusters (5.30pm), followed by The Exorcist at 8pm at the Large Barn Hall in Amersham and Tring NHM is showing Coraline and Arachnophobia on Sat. Comfy beanbags and complimentary pop-corn included. Beware of the ectoplasm.

KIDS: The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Oxford Playhouse, Wed 24 – Sat 27 Oct 

girl actress standing on yellow table holding arms open to tiger sitting on a. chair holding a plate lady in green dress with a shocked face

I have to be honest – I never really fell in love with Judith Kerr’s book! But clearly millions have and it’s spawned its own theatrical second life in the West End and now into Oxford. Expect magic, sing-a-long songs and good old-fashioned slapstick. If you want to help raise funds for The Story Museum, there’s a morning performance on Sat 27, followed by a private lunch with the cast and a special guest at nearby St John’s College. There’s a goody bag for every child too – just as well as this fund-raising event is an eye-watering £55 per ticket! All being well, we’ll benefit in 2020 from 10 gallery and activity spaces, a theatre, a learning studio, early years play area, improved visitor facilities and a landscaped courtyard at The Story Museum.

MUSIC: Oxford Lieder Festival: The Grand Tour, various locations, now until Sat 27 Oct

This festival of song is one of the leading events of its kind in the world. Singers and pianists from all over descend on Oxford for concerts, workshops, masterclasses, talks, and performances in beautiful historic surroundings. A highlight in this last week of the festival, is Veronique Gens, one of the word’s most sought-after singers, performing songs by Gounod, Massenet and Duparc in Oxford for the first time with pianist Susan Manoff. The Festival draws to a close with a performance of Schumann’s Myrthen performed by Oxford Lieder’s Artistic Director, Sholto Kynoch, on piano, mezzo soprano Tara Erraught, and BBC New Generation Artist Ashley Riches.


COMEDY: Luisa Omielan, O2 Academy, Sat 27 Oct

Comedian Luisa Omielan brings her Politics for Bitches stand up show to Oxford. She tackles hard hitting subjects like her mother’s death from cancer, the NHS and politics in an accessible way, finding humour in the most dark places. And you can check out her new BBC 3 series of the same name from Wednesday.


FILM: The Breadwinner, Borlase Theatre, Marlow, Fri 26 Oct

This sounds like a really interesting night out with a screening, guest speaker and curry in the offing. Based on the best-selling novel by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner is an animated film (exec produced by Angelina Jolie) about an eleven year old girl in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. When her father is arrested the girl cuts her hair, dresses like a boy and embarks on an adventure that combines new freedom with great danger. Shukria Rezaei who left Afghanistan with her mother when she was fourteen and came to live in Oxford with hardly no knowledge of English, will be the guest speaker, talking about her experiences. Shukria is now twenty and a scholarship student at the the University of London. A bar will be available and you can pre-order homemade curry from Marlow’s Spicy Girls.


FILM AND Q&A: If, Curzon Oxford, Fri 26 Oct

If you like things old skool, then head to the Curzon to see Lindsay Anderson’s if, screened in 35mm print. The film takes place in a fictional boy’s boarding school and tells the story of student insurrection. Produced 50 years ago and the winner of the Palme d’Or Cannes Film Festival in 1969, it was made a year after student protest and civil action prevented the festival from going ahead. Actor David Wood will be giving a Q&A after the screening and will be hanging around in the bar to sign copies of his book called Filming if.


CULTURE: Live Friday, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Fri 26 Oct

Once again, you can roam the Ashmolean after hours (until 10.30pm) with one of their Live Friday events. With Halloween almost upon us and the exhibition Spellbound (read our review here) giving visitors an insight into the history of magic, witchcraft and superstition, this Live Friday is promising to be fantastically chilling. Wah, ha, haaaaaa! Beware of the ‘witch finders’ roaming the museum, marvel at tricks from The Magic Circle Stage Magician of the Year Edward Hilsum, witness a recreation of a public mummy unrolling (think Egypt, not something undignified that might happen to mum) and throw some shapes at the Halloween silent disco. Fortunately, the Crypt (how appropriate) Cafe and Rooftop Dining Room will be open in case you’re in need of a few stiff Ashmolean G &Ts.


THEATRE: 6 Women, The Old Fire Station, Oxford, Thurs 25 and Fri 26 Oct

What was your favourite age and why? What advice would you give your younger self or your daughter? Are you turning into your mother? This thought-provoking play by Gaye Poole, is the result of interviews with women aged between 2o and 90. The female actors share the real stories of six women, each in a different decade of their lives and explore how age changes your perspective.

Find more ideas here

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