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What’s on this week in Bucks & Oxon

No plans? Muddy's weekly what's on guide is back, baby, with a mix of openings, events and online gems all from local venues to keep you entertained.

DRIVE-IN CINEMA: Luna Cinema, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, 13 – 28 Jul

The ever-popular Luna Cinema is back with a drive-in makeover. Expect giant HD LED screens, state-of-the-art digital in-car speakers and stunning backdrops. We love the sound of the Luna Bar – order food and drink from your car by scanning the QR code on the in-car speaker you’re given and hey presto, they’ll roller-skate it over to you. Toilets and medics are on site too (just in case you get overwhelmed by a 30ft Bradley Cooper). At the 18th-century stunner this week you can watch Sister Act (15 Jul), A Star Is Born (16 Jul), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (17 Jul), Reservoir Dogs (19 Jul).

EXHIBITION: Nick Knight: Roses from my Garden, Waddesdon Manor, until 25 Oct

Isn’t this just beautiful? The image was taken by legendary fashion and celebrity photographer Nick Knight (he’s photographed the Queen, you know!). He’s coming up roses with an exhibition at Waddesdon Manor, which features manipulated photographs of roses inspired by the work of 16th- and 17th-century still life painters like Jan Brueghel the Elder and Jan van Huysum. Read our interview with Nick here.

DAY TRIP: Stonor Park, nr Henley

Whoopo! Historic Stonor Park has opened its grounds for day trippers – the site has lovely walks along parts of both the Chiltern and Shakespeare Way, plus the grounds are in full bloom this time of year. The Wonder Woods play area is also open for children and hip London street for vendors are parked up on the lawn Thurs – Sun (you’ll have to book a slot). New for this summer there’s also a ParkFit programme made up of post-lockdown, socially-distanced fitness classes, plus Giffords Circus is setting up its famous Circus Sauce travelling restaurant from 24 Jul. The gardens and car park are open Wed – Sun and pre-booking is essential to adhere to social distancing rules. The toilets will be open with added cleaning measures. Book here.

DRIVE-IN CINEMA: Tom Kerridge’s Drive & Dine Theatre, Henley Showground, 14 – 26 Jul

Why stop with one drive in when you can hit the metal with two? With Pub in the Park cancelled this year, the Michelin-starred Marlow marvel chef has instead organised a drive-in cinema experience, complete with a top-notch foodie offering (we wouldn’t expect anything less). There are loads of films on the movie reel including drive-in classic Grease (16 Jul), brilliant murder mystery Knives Out (17 Jul) and defining Eighties blockbuster Back To The Future (19 Jul). See the full line up here.

ONLINE MUSIC: Invisible Music, The North Wall, Oxford, 15 Jul – 14 Aug

I’m liking the sound of this. It’s a free online streaming performance that combines experimental new music from Pete Flood (Bellowhead’s arranger and composer) with striking projections by digital artist Barret Hodgson (Fatboy Slim; Motionhouse) exploring themes of hearing loss, drawn from personal experiences.

EXHIBITION: International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until 19 Aug

Wanna see some pretty pictures? This outdoor exhibition features unusual earthy shots of gardens, flowers, plants and botanicals printed on large display boards next to the Rose Garden. The palace, park and gardens are now all open for visitors.

ONLINE THEATRE: Chemistry: Joe Lott Dance, Pegasus Theatre, Oxford, 15 Jul

Muddy favourite Pegasus Theatre is hosting this digital premier of Joe Lott Dance’s Chemistry, an exploration of humanity through dance. The online event will be interactive thanks to a live chat with choreographer Joe Lott after the show.

KIDS: Feed the Penguins, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Burford

Did anyone see that brilliant video of penguins ruling the roost and roaming freely around at Chicago Shedd Aquarium during lockdown? Now kids can get close to the little fellas at Cotswold Wildlife Park as its feeding programme is now open (11am & 3pm) with added safety measures.


punts in a row on a river in Oxford with blue skies

Oxford’s favourite pastime was made for social distancing (each punt holds up to five people) and is a great idea for a fun family day out. Magdalen Bridge Boathouse is back open for the summer and you can hire boats to glide gracefully (potentially) down the River Thames. Or, a little further upstream, Cherwell Boathouse is also open for online bookings.

MUSIC: Garsington Opera online

The bucolic Wormsley Estate in Buckinghamshire (home to Garsington Opera) may be closed for now but you can still get your opera fix online with three of the iconic opera company’s full length shows: Les nozze di Figaro, The Turn of the Screw (above) and opera on ice (yep, really!), The Skating Rink. There’s also a brand new documentary series on YouTube which explores opera’s connection to art and literature, presented by Garsington’s Johnny Langridge and art historian Dr Imogen Tedbury.

DAY TRIP: National Trust

Fingers on buzzers! Slots sell like hotcakes for National Trust day trips these days, but if you’re lucky enough to get tickets, here are some of my local favourites: Stowe, Bucks, with its timeless landscaped gardens and lakeside walks; Cliveden, Bucks, where the gardens and woodland estate are open; Waddesdon Manor (above), nr Aylesbury, and its Victorian-style gardens and aviary; the rolling parkland and woods at Hughenden, High Wycombe; and the picturesque Greys Court, nr Henley.

ONLINE THEATRE: The Contagion Cabaret, The Theatre Chipping Norton

Three cheers for Chippy’s brilliant local theatre for giving us a few laughs during this stressful time! A collaboration between The Theatre Chipping Norton and the Diseases of Modern Life team at University of Oxford, this pre-recorded show is an irreverent historical look at lockdowns, plagues and pandemics featuring extracts from plays, poems, journalism and music throughout history. You can also watch a Q&A with the creative team here.

KIDS: Cogges Manor Farm, Witney

For a wholesome, lo-fi day out with the kids, charming Cogges farm is now open (10am – 4pm) with all its usual farmyard activities (plus added cleaning measures), including feeding baby animals. There’s also plenty of space – 15 acres of open park and woodland for kids to play at a social distance.

ONLINE THEATRE: Neon Dance, Dancin’ Oxford, until 31 Dec

Missed Dancin’ Oxford’s annual festival earlier this year? You can now watch Neon Dance’s striking performance set in the stunning Oxford Museum of Natural History online. Watch it here.

EAT: Pick your own, various locations

Feeling fruity? Rectory Farm, in Stanton St John, is the biggie in our are for hand-picked punnets. There’s no need to book, and you only pay for what you pick. Millets Farm Centre, near Abingdon, is also open on a booking basis and you’ll get a whole strip of strawberries to yourself whilst you pick. Entry is £1.50.

ONLINE EXHIBITION: Kiki Smith: I am Wanderer, Modern Art Oxford, until 10 Aug

Modern Art Oxford is still closed for now but you can see the quirky Kiki Smith show ‘I Am Wanderer’ over on the gallery’s website with a virtual tour that takes you on a mythological and folkloric journey through her huge tapestries and exquisitely-fashioned gold shells – all from the comfort of your sofa.

TOUR: Oxford Castle & Prison, Oxford

Head to Oxford Castle’s St. George’s Tower, one of the oldest buildings in Oxford (believed to be Anglo Saxon), for 360° panoramic views of the city. It’s one of the stops on the guided tours of the complex that are now up and running. You’ll also go deep underground into the 900-year-old crypt and explore the 18th-century Debtors’ Tower. Round off your trip with afternoon tea in Malmaison.

DAY TRIP: Rousham Gardens, nr Bicester

These beautiful landscaped gardens by William Kent (1685-1748) at privately owned Rousham Gardens are one of the few from this period not to have been altered, so drink in the beauty of its ponds and cascades in Venus’s Vale, the Cold Bath, seven-arched Praeneste, Townsend’s Building, the Temple of the Mill, and a faux ruin known as the ‘Eyecatcher’. There’s also a lovely walled garden with herbacious borders, small parterre, pigeon house and espalier apple trees. No children under 14 are allowed so it’s a great place to walk off some of the lockdown stress in peace (I say that as a mother of three!)

ONLINE EXHIBITION: The Art of Advertising, The Bodleian Library, Oxford, until 31 Aug

How cool is this print? The Bodleian’s The Art of Advertising has gone online; a whistle-stop tour through British advertising from the mid-18th century to the 1930s, you can see prints from the Bodleian’s renowned John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera.


DRIVE-IN CINEMA: Cotswold Drive-In Cinema, Showground at Ascott-under-Wychwood, 18 Jul

Fancy watching Rocketman on the big screen? Cotswold Drive-In Cinema lends you in-car bluetooth speakers and has wood-fired pizza, popcorn, ice cream and drinks on demand – all served through your window. There are ‘luxury loos’ (no idea, but sound good) and prior to the movie you can even stretch your legs and go to the bar to get yourself a drink from the ‘specialist’ gin bar – socially distanced, of course. And the best bit? A pre-movie live set from Ibiza DJ Gary Mack to get you in the mood, and fireworks to top off the night!

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