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This week

Mon 11 - Sun 17 Nov


THEATRE: The Lovely Bones, Oxford Playhouse, 11 – 16 Nov

In central Oxford there’s a stage reimagining of Alice Sebold’s best-selling coming-of-age novel The Lovely Bonesat Oxford Playhouse. If you’ve read the book or seen the film (starring Saoirse Ronan) you’ll know it’s a massive tear jerker, so don’t forget to pack tissues.


MUSIC: Elder Island, O2 Academy, Oxford, 11 Nov 

Pastel-clad trio Elder Island, above, bring their cool electronica sound from Bristol’s creative scene to the O2 Academy on their European tour.


OPERA: Glyndebourne Opera, Milton Keynes, 12 – 16 Nov

We have a taste of Glyndebourne opera at Milton Keynes Theatre this week with performances of L’elisir d’amoreRigoletto and Rinaldo.


EXHIBITION: Cool Britannia, Dantzig Gallery, Woodstock, until 29 Nov 

How cool is this pop art piece currently on display at the brilliant Dantzig gallery in Woodstock? It’s part of the gallery’s Cool Britannia exhibition which celebrates post-war British art with works from big shot artists. It’s not often that we see major players from the art world in Oxfordshire but this collection featuring hand-signed works from big shot artists like Barber Hepworth, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin as well as groovy up-and-coming young guns like East-London based painter Tommy Fiendish. Go see!

COMEDY: Alexander Armstrong, Aylesbury Waterside, 12 Nov

A big name popping up in Bucks & Oxon this week is one half of Armstrong & Miller and Pointless host Alexander Armstrong, on his first ever stand-up tour All Mouth and Some Trousers.


PANTO: Puss in Boots, The Theatre, Chipping Norton, 13 Nov – 12 Jan 

Chippy Theatre always pulls it out the bag with its Christmas panto (oh yes it does!) and this year is putting on Puss in Boots reimagined in 1950s London. Looks like a goodie.


COMEDY: George Egg, Cornerstone, Didcot, 14 Nov 

George Egg‘s Moveable Feast which sees the chef/comedian cook live on stage with unusual methods like car engines (because, you know, why wouldn’t you?) comes to Didcot.


FESTIVAL: Being Human – A Festival of Humanities, various locations, 14 – 23 Nov 

This nationwide festival brings together universities, museums, galleries, communities and more with hundreds of events across the country geared towards increasing understanding of the relevant and importance of humanities. Highlights from Oxford include Uncomfortable Oxford Tours around the city that highlight unsettling events in Oxford’s history, Oxford Research Unwrapped, an evening of mini-talks, stalls and games for all ages which also includes a huge colour and sound installation (in collaboration with Oxford Light Festival, below) on the 3-storey Radcliffe humanities building.


FESTIVAL: Oxford Light Festival, various locations, 15 – 17 Nov

This year’s annual light extravaganza will have the theme of Discovery to celebrate 50 years since the moon landing. Lots of free events across the city including light and sound installations, a festive market, music, dance, activities and lantern parade.


CULTURE: Late Night Diversity, Pitt Rivers Museum & Museum of Natural History, Oxford, 15 Nov 

The two central Oxford museums are teaming up to celebrate diversity in the natural world with a series of talks,  tours, research, poetry, stalls, activities, dance and music  (FYI there’s also a bar). The evening will also be the national launch of  LGBT History Month 2020 with a Diversity themes light and sound show projected onto the front of the museums.


MUSIC: Professor Green, O2 Academy, Oxford, 16 Nov

Professor Green is getting the UK up to date with his Matters of the Heart tour and is playing in Oxford this week. Honestly, not really my scene, but you’ll definitely gain some cool creds from teens by knowing who he is.


NEW EXHIBITION: ICON, Old Fire Station, Oxford, 16 Nov – 23 Dec

ICON at Old Fire Station will be exhibiting iconic photographs that have been recreated by Rory Carnegie and artists who have experienced homelessness. I’m absolutely loving this idea! There’ll also be a free Q&A on 15 Nov, plus on 30 Nov you can book in to have your own group portrait taken by artists who’ve worked on the project.


ART: Off The Wall Art Fair, Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury, 16 Nov – 7 Dec

If you’re looking to buy some art, head over to Off The Wall Art Fair at Bucks County Museum, Aylesbury. Now in it’s 10th year, the fair exhibits contemporary art, sculpture, jewellery, photography and more by 30 artists, at a range of prices.


CHRISTMAS: Christmas at Waddesdon, Waddesdon Manor, from 16 Nov

Love a festive display? Waddesdon is starting it’s Christmas season pretty early this year with the Manor decked out with festive accessories and a light trail around the Aviary combining light, sound colour and movement. There’ll also be two light shows performed on the facade of the Manor.


SKATE: Ice skating, Millets Farm, Abingdon, from 16 Nov

Millets Farm’s sweet covered ice rink returns for another year – all ages are covered with skates that strap onto shoes with twin blades for smaller children, plus push along seals (I think I might need one of those too).


AUCTION: Chiltern Open Air Museum auction, Chiltern Open Air Museum, Bucks, 16 Nov 

Held at Chalfont St Peter Community Centre, there’ll be a variety of items available to bid on, with proceeds going toward maintaining the museum’s historic site.


CULTURE: One World Festival, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 16 – 17 Nov

All together now! This free festival celebrates all communities and faiths in Oxfordshire with a activities, performances, talks and crafts. Highlights include Bollywood dancing entertainment (Sat) and performances from Oxford Gospel Choir (Sun) and Senegalese musician Jali Fily Cissokho (Sun).


FESTIVAL: ​Oxford Think Festival, Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street, 16 – 17 Nov 

A partnership between Oxford University Press and Blackwell’s Oxford, this totally free event celebrates knowledge with a series of talks about the big issues and ideas of our time. The main festival runs across 16 – 17 Nov, with a closing World Philosophy Day event on 21 Nov. Events are free, but booking advised.


KIDS: Cushion Concert, Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, Oxford, 17 Nov 

Created especially for younger children (there’s a session for under 5s at 10am & for 5+ at 11am) these musical events are hosted by real musicals and introduce little ones to different musical instruments. This week, the session will be all about brass, including the French horn, trumpet and flugel.


COMEDY: Josh Widdicombe, Aylesbury Waterside, 17 Nov 

At Aylesbury Waterside there’s Josh Widdicome who’ll be supplying the laughs with his show Bit Much, which is tackling topics such as advent calendars and, um, pesto.


KIDS: The Nutcracker, Cornerstone, Didcot, 17 Nov 

At Cornerstone, there’s a special little people version of The Nutcracker – a great way to get children involved with classical ballet.



Ongoing must-see exhibitions include The Young Turner: Ambitions in Architecture and the Art of Perspectiveon display at Banbury Museum which is a collection of JMW Turner’s work from the 1780s to the 1810s, on loan from The Ashmolean, The Tate and private collections (until 12 Jan);  George Stubbs: ‘all done from Nature’ , at MK Gallery, the first  first overview of the British artist’s work in the UK for over 30 years (until 26 Jan).

In central Oxford you can see a Kiki Smith show ‘I Am Wanderer’ (until 19 Jan), at Modern Art Oxford, which promises to take visitors on a mythological and folkloric journey in her huge tapestries to her exquisitely-fashioned gold shells;  the Ashmolean’s current display, Last Supper in Pompeii, with 400+ exhibits from the ancient Roman site buried by the enormous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD (until 12 Jan); First Animalsan interesting exploration of the first life on earth at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (until 24 Feb).



EVENT: Funk and Soul Christmas Party, Ashmolean Museum Rooftop Restaurant, Oxford, 4 Dec 

Party at the museum, anyone? This festive evening, held at the Ashmolean’s gorgeous rooftop restaurant, kicks off with spiced rum punch cocktails, gourmet soul food stalls, homemade cocktails followed by brilliant funk and soul tunes blasted until late.



INTERIORS: Country Living Christmas Fair, Business Design Centre, London, 13 – 17 Nov

It’s Christmaaaaas! Well, not just yet, but head London’s Business Design Centre this month and you’ll find heaps of festive stalls from hundreds of British designers, makers, food artisans and crafters. As well as shopping there’ll also be live workshops and talks, plus Prue Leith will be chatting to Country Living’s Editor about all things food at Christmas time on Wed 13.



Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a new V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton (below), Björk and, er, Sir David Attenborough are among his subjects and he’s also created 10 new works for the show.

Meanwhile this autumn’s big-hitter is William Blake at Tate Britain, below, (until 2 Feb 2020). The visionary painter and poet’s work will be imaginatively displayed – some of it blown up to enormous scale using digital technology, other works in an immersive room that recreates the space in which Blake first showed his art in 1809.

Elsewhere Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican (4 Oct – 19 Jan) is probably the nearest I’ll get to clubbing this autumn. It’s such a cool concept – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s, including the Berlin cabaret scene in Weimar Germany and Harlem’s jazz clubs and lifesize recreations of some of the hotspots.

Then there’s a major retrospective of 88-year-old Bridget Riley‘s life’s work at the Hayward Gallery (23 Oct – 26 Jan), taking in her famous monochrome, makes-your-eyes-go-funny Op Art paintings from the 1960s among its 70 year career span.

And finally, playing “spot the Angel Of The North” as we drive up the A1 to Newcastle is a family ritual in our house (Geordie in-laws, you see), so I’ve got a soft spot for Antony Gormley’s striking sculpture. His new show at the Royal Academy (until 3 Dec) is billed as his most ambitious in a decade and involves six tonnes of steel mesh, eight km of coiled tubing and a gallery flooded with clay and sea water.

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