FRI 28 - SUN 30 JULY
Shall we go out this weekend? I thought you’d never ask.
Twelfth Night, Bodleian Quad, Oxford, Tues 25 Jul – Thurs 3 Aug
Loving the sound of this performance in the Bod Quad, which promises to be one of the highlights of Oxford’s summer. Watermill Theatre are celebrating their 50th anniversary with an outdoor production of one of Shakespeare’s funniest comedies, Twelfth Night. Directed by Paul Hart, there’s a post-war, 1920s setting for the play and a fabulous soundtrack of jazz inspired by Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
Beer and Music Festival, Cornerstone Arts, Didcot, Fri 28 – Sun 30 July
Beer fests are all the rage, and this one at the community-minded Cornerstone Arts is well-established, now into its 8th year. I love this funky small arts space in central Didcot, add music and hops and it’s just about perfect!
Wonder Woods, Stonor Park, Henley, until 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 opened just last week and 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.
Oxford Piano Festival & Summer Academy, 30 July – 7 Aug
Ivory-tinklers like me will find much to love at Oxford’s Piano Festival, which celebrates the world’s best players, both old and new. Two hotshots names to drop: Zhang Zuo (above), an imaginative soloist, chamber musician and former BBC New Generation Artist who’ll perform works by Beethoven, Granados and Liszt, and Israeli pianist Saleem Ashkarn, with his all-Beethoven recital.
War of the Roses Live! Warwick Castle, twice daily until Sun Sept 3
This summer Warwick Castle is staging a thrilling live action War of the Roses horseback battle twice-a-day. Think Game of Thrones for kids. The real-life War of the Roses story has something of a GoT quality to it – a series of battles fought in medieval England from 1455 to 1485 between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. It’s somewhat diluted for dramatic effect but perfectly pitched for bringing history to life to kids of all ages…Medieval Glamping in the Knight’s Village is also now available over the summer. Review here.
Fun-Packed July, Roald Dahl Museum, Great Missenden, throughout July
There’s a brilliant line up of activities and special events all month at our favourite kids’ author’s home town museum in Bucks. We’re especially loving the sound the Gloriumptious Guided Trails on Sun 25 July. The 2pm Countryside Trail includes a romp into the beautiful local Chilterns woods that inspired many of Roald Dahl’s stories.
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 bizarrely featuring senior citizens Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones as lead characters Beatrice and Benedick. Oxford Shakespeare Company have taken their latest production of this hilarious Shakespeare comedy to a 1943, war-struck Messina where the Italian Resistance meet Mafiosi and it sounds pure brilliance. Catch it now until mid August in the gorgeous outdoor setting of Wadham College Gardens.
Wadham College, Parks Rd, Oxford, ticketsoxford.com
Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Tate Modern, London 12 July – 22 Oct
Tate Modern’s exhibitions are always worth a look (and a run around the cavernous Turbine Hall afterwards, if you’ve got the nippers in tow). Soul of a Nation explore black artists’ work, opening in 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Among the 150 artworks are vibrant paintings, powerful murals, collage, photography, revolutionary clothing designs and sculptures made with Black hair, melted records, and tights. Icon of the era Muhammad Ali is present in Warhol’s famous portrait.
Alice, Oxford University Parks, 15 July – 19 Aug
More from quirky Oxford theatre company Creation. This time they invite you to fall down a rabbit hole in the green gorgeousness of University Parks for a family-friendly production of Lewis Carroll’s Alice. This particular wonderland is in a Big Top so inclement weather be damned!
Garsington Opera, Wormsley Estate, 28 – 30 July
The last outing on the banks of the Cherwell for the fabulous Garsington Opera – a family-friendly new commission, Silver Birch by composer Roxanna Panufnik and librettist Jessica Duchen, uniting professional artists with 170 members of the local community in music, dance and poetry.
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.
Pitt Fest Remixed, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, Sat 29 July
No, not a celebration of Brad Pitt (hey, every day is that kind of Pitt Fest in the Muddy office), rather the annual one-day festival at Oxford’s excellent museum. Visitors explore the collections via performances, workshops, tours and talks around the cases, plus there’s live music.
Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford, prm.ox.ac.uk
Field to Feast, Big Chief’s Table, Lassco at The Three Pigeons, Milton Common, Sat 29 July
Loving the sound of this – 18-year-old foodie Jesse Kempner is a total food nut, and is holding her own Big Chief’s Table pop-up supperclub at LASSCO The Three Pigeons. Sample course: cured mackerel starter, with cucumber ceviche and lemon sherbert dressing. I haven’t tried out her wares, but if The Three Pigeons are giving her air-time, chances are good! It’s a one night only job from 7pm, with tickets £30 per head.
Three Pigeons, London Rd, Milton Common, Oxon, tabl.com
World Picnic, Campbell Park, Milton Keynes, Fri 30 July
It’s all going on in Milton Keynes this month. The World Picnic in Campbell Park is a celebration of dance, music and global cultures. There’s arts and craft workshop tents and stalls selling food from across the world. Don’t forget your picnic blanket. And the Scotch eggs of course.
Campbell Park, Milton Keynes, theparkstrust.com
Film Under The Stars, various venues, various dates
Aww, this is a nice idea – free pop-up cinema screenings that are suitable for children. Film Oxford are screening Moana (PG) at Sunnymead Park this Saturday (9.15pm) and LEGO Batman at – not technically under the stars but hey – Rosehill Community Centre on Sunday 20 Aug (8.45pm). Each feature will be supported by shorts created by Film Oxford’s youth and summer programme attendees. Don’t forget your popcorn and blanket.
Medieval re-enactment, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Sat 29 July
Do your kids like fighting? (Is the Pope Catholic?) Channel it in an educational way by taking them to this medieval re-enactment, where they can watch knights in violently wound each other with swords. There’s also a Knights School for little ‘uns aged 5-11. It’s part of the Chiltern Open Air Museum’s Festival of Archaeology.
Chiltern Open Air Museum, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks; coam.org.uk