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This Weekend

FRI 6 - SUN 8 OCT 2017

Henley Literary Festival, Mon 2- Sun 8 Oct

It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – and a bumper crop of literary festivals. Henley has pulled in some big celebrity names, including Dermot O’Leary (pictured), who’ll be talking about his first children’s book, Toto The Ninja Cat & The Great Escape. Other speakers include Russell Brand, Alison Steadman, Michael Morpurgo, Vince Cable, Fearne Cotton and Victoria Derbyshire, the BBC broadcaster who’s written about her struggle with breast cancer.


Dancin’ Oxford Family Dance Week, Sat 7 – Sun 15 Oct

Dust off your dancing shoes for this weeklong boogiethon at various venues across Oxford. There are dance workshops and performances suitable for the whole family, including Tipping Point (above), which sees five groovers use metal poles to create fantasy landscapes. And if you get a lot of comedy mileage in your household from mocking the moves of the family patriarch, then send him down to Disco Dadz, a 2 hour session for rug-cutters and their rug-rats, with a live DJ and – crucially – a dance tutor. Off you go, Mr Muddy.


Dark Arts, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios, Sun 1 Oct – Sun 12 Nov

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios are brilliant at ringing the changes with their events and for this one the Great Hall will be decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, just as seen as 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 Art – wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels as well as filmmaking snot, blood and drool. Er, nice!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour london, Studio Tour Dr, Watford, Leavesden,


Awesome Animation, The Roald Dahl Museum, Sat Oct 7

Roald Dahl book spines museum

Children aged 5+ can join animator Adam Childs and make their own moving masterpiece. What new adventures will you take Matilda on? Maybe she’ll meet up with Willy Wonka?! Work together as a family to make the extraordinary happen! Cost: £3 per participant.

The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, 83 High St, Great Missenden HP16 0AL


Fun Palaces 2017, Science Oxford, Sat 7  – Sun 8 Oct

Heard of Fun Palaces? It’s a free, nationwide weekend festival for young theatre and science enthusiasts, held locally in association with Science Oxford and the Oxford Playhouse. At this year’s Fun Palace the DNA detectives will be using the Burton Taylor Studio as their base, with loads of hands-on activities and experiments, from making puppets to completing a treasure hunt, the day also includes workshops and performances. Suitable for ages 5+, but younger siblings welcome. Free from 11am to 3pm.

Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse, Gloucester Street, Oxford,


Pick Your Own Pumpkins, Farmer Paul’s, Weedon, October

Surprisingly not many pick your own pumpkin farms in the area – clearly we’re all too middle class to get our hands dirty! The end of the first week in October is usually when the pumpkins are perfect for plucking. Check out Weedon Hill Farm outside Aylesbury, and Millet’s Farm in Abingdon, and if anyone else knows of any, let me know.


London Restaurant Festival, 1 – 31 Oct

Rack up the plates, here I come with my elasticated pants. The London Restaurant Festival takes place in 350 restaurants across the Smoke, from neighbourhood favourites to Michelin-starred fancy pants eateries, so it’s your perfect excuse to try somewhere new with chef-hosted lunches and tasting menus on offer all month.


October Steaming Days, Bucks Railway Centre, Quainton, every Sunday through the month

Can’t get your fill of Thomas the Tank Engine? Go give the Fat Controller some cholesterol advice on Sundays throughout October with the Bucks Railway Centre’s  Steam Days.


Michael Morpurgo’s Why The Whales Came, Chipping Norton Theatre, Tues 3 Oct

This sounds gorgeous. Danyah Miller brings to life this classic tale by Michael Morpurgo. If you don’t know it, it follows children Gracie and Daniel, both forbidden to go near the mysterious and seemingly dangerous Birdman. But messages and clues intrigue them and, after being lost at sea in the fog and stranded on his tiny island, they begin to unravel the Birdman’s secrets and learn why the whales came.

60 mins (no interval). Shows at 1:30 and 6pm. The Theatre Chipping Norton, 2 Spring St, Chipping Norton,


Kaleidoscope: Colour & Sequence in 1960s British Art, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, Thur Oct 5-Dec 9

An Arts Council Collection Touring exhibition featuring more than 20 artists and looking across media and movements from British Op Arts, Pop, Constructivism and New Generation Sculpture. It includes work by David Annesley, Anthony Carol, Robyn Denny, Tess Jaray, Philip King, Kim Lim, Mary Martin, Eduardo Polozzi, Bridget Riley, Tim Scott, Richard Smith, William Tucker and William Turnbull.


Peter and the Wolf, The Stables, Milton Keynes, Sat 7 Oct

A cheerful take on Peter and the Wolf, as the young boy adventures through the fields and forest discovering new sounds and noises. It promises new music inspired by Prokofiev’s classic – including some musical vegetables (I can create noises when I eat cabbage is this what they mean?), plus puppetry and physical comedy for kids 4+.

 The Stables, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton



Million Dollar Quartet, Wycombe Swan, Mon 9 – Sat 14 Oct

This West End and Broadway musical focuses on the famous recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. Martin Kemp, formerly partial to the headband and polyester shiny shirtlings of Spandau Ballet, now silver fox, TV regular and Muddy secret heart-throb, plays legendary record producer Sam Phillips who does a svengali and magics up the sweet music. Trust me, your mum will love it.
Book tickets


Cliveden Literary Festival, Cliveden House Taplow, Sat 14 – Sun 15 Oct

Cliveden literary festival with authors Dylan Jones, Tina Brown and Sebastian Faulks

Literary festival venues don’t come more insanely gorgeous than Cliveden House.The 5 star country house hotel has held literary salons since the 17th century, inspiring writers from Pope to Swift to Tennyson, so you’ll certainly be in rarefied company. Its current owner Natalie Livingstone (the author of The Mistresses of Cliveden, who we interviewed here) is impeccably connected with speakers including Ian McEwan, Sebastian Faulks, Robert Harris, Tina Brown and The River Café’s Ruth Rogers.

Cliveden, Cliveden Rd, Taplow, Maidenhead,


Muddy Literary Salon, Thame Town Hall, Thurs 12 Oct

Holy crap, the Muddy Literary Salon is nearly here! We are bringing our inaugural event to the Thame Arts & Literature Festival and we have a mind-blowing line up of brilliant best-selling authors – Sascha Wilkins (LibertyLondonGirl); Tasmina Perry; Elizabeth Heathcote; Clove Stroud; and Alexandra Heminsley. No need to be in a bookclub, wear glasses, be able to spell onomatopoeia (fessing up – I had to google that!), or even read the books, it’s just a great chance to get out with your girlies, drink some champers, meet some inspiring women and chat to the Muddy team at the bar! Book tickets 


October Half-term at Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, Sat 21 – Sun 29 Oct

Steeling yourself for half-term? No need, Waddesdon Manor has more pumpkin carving, trails and spooky afternoon teas than your kids can handle!  There’s also the Fête Worse than Death (full marks to whoever came up with the name of that one), a two day Halloween party filled with games, stalls, live music, face painting and dress up photo booths.


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