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11 festive things to do this week

Pantos, the ballet, festive-drive-ins and illuminated Christmas trails, it's all happening outdoors and virtually this year in Warwickshire and the West Midlands.

WATCH ONLINE: BRB’s The Nutcracker Live at the REP, book on demand before midnight on Dec 21 to view anytime up to Christmas Eve

If Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas without seeing Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, the company’s new director Carlos Acosta and the REP’s Sean Foley have created a beautiful new live streamed 80-minute version with a 10-minute interval. It’s as close to watching it live in the theatre as possible with live score the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, and a smaller cast and set. There’s also a cool interval film going backstage and featuring retiring former dancer andassistant director Marian Tait (to whom the ballet is dedicated). Tickets are £15 per device. Book here. You can also support both companies through the Save a Seat campaign.

WATCH ONLINE: The RSC’s Tales of Winter including Festive Tales

Royal Shakespeare Theatre lit up as part of the 2020 Advent Trail. Photo by Sam Allard

Take your seats ladies and gentlemen..! Erica Whyman’s Festive Tales may have clashed with the Strictly final but the cast of the RSC’s postponed The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors gave their first live-streamed stage performance since the March lockdown in a stripped down festive treat with extracts from the Christmas past productions including The Christmas Truce – based on the true story of 1914’s First World War Christmas ceasefire on the Western Front – to A Christmas Carol, readings from Maya Angelou and Jane Austen. If you booked a ticket you can watch it for 7 days.

The RSC’s Tales of Winter programme provides a real injection of hope, humour and brilliant acting as theatres across the UK are in crisis and facing unprecedented challenges to survive. The programme will continue every weekend in January. Highlights include a jazz-infused version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with London’s Young Vic on Jan 9 and Michael Morpurgo’s retelling of Shakespeare for six-16-year-olds. See what’s on to book ahead now here.

PANTO: Jack and the Beanstalk online, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Thurs Dec 31

Want some festive cheer? Curl up on the sofa with the kids and a Baileys then head to Prickly Bottom, the setting of the Belgrade Theatre’s anarchic first studio-shot online panto made with a much smaller cast and tons of Covid gags – it’s as colourful, glittery and kitsch as ever! Book here.

SUPPORT LOCALLY: Marcus Rashford’s end childfoodpoverty campaign

Manchester’s Marcus Rashford MBE, England International Footballer, launches a new website to support children and vulnerable families over the Christmas holiday.  The website – endchildfoodoverty – includes a map that allows people to find help locally, as well as information on how you can donate and volunteer this winter. The launch coincides with new BBC documentary on Monday Dec 21 at 7pm on BBC One Marcus Rashford: Feeding Britain’s Children.

THEATRE FOR LITTLES: Santa’s Christmas Rescue online, Imagine Theatre, Coventry, until Sun Jan 3

Perfect for two- seven-year-olds, the latest in Imagine Theatre’s hugely popular Santa series is filled with songs, laughs and features Belgrade panto legend Iain Lauchlan as Santa himself. Santa, Rudolph and Ellie the Elf will be able to visit your home this Christmas via the magic of the internet. Book a £5 watch at home ticket directly here.


We probably all need some light at the end of the tunnel this Christmas! Warwick Castle’s family-friendly trail not only brings the history of the castle to life after-dark but is the perfect opportunity to experience a bit of Christmas and New Year cheer. It coincides with the festive winter market and ice rink.


Get your skates on over at Warwick Castle’s ice-rink back for a second year – set against the beautiful backdrop of the Castle’s East Front. Sessions are 45-minutes.

Coventry Glides, a new City of Culture Trust-backed winter outdoor ice-skating rink in Coventry Cathedral ruins takes place throughout December until Sun Jan 10 2021 for locals in Coventry, Warwickshire, and Solihull only due to Tier 3 rules.


Image: Charlecote Park, National Trust

Littlies can have a good run around on the Peter Rabbit Winter Adventure trail at Charlecote Park, Upton House and Baddesley Clinton (apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day), 9am to 3pm. Takeaway drinks, homemade sandwiches and cakes available. Alternatively head for winter walks at Packwood House where the parkland, garden (excluding the yew and kitchen garden) and café are open Pre-booking is recommended.


Compton Verney

For the first time ever, the 120-acres of the Grade II-listed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown parkland will be open daily for exercise throughout Christmas and New Year. Take the kids on a new Christmas present trail or winter woodland trail or enjoy your daily walk exploring the grounds of this Warwickshire art gallery. See what’s on here.


Stratford Advent Trail 2020 Image: Sam Allard

Explore the RSC’s living advent calendar window trail in Stratford-upon-Avon while admiring the gorgeous Christmas lights. Walk an immersive route around town in the countdown to December 25 on the RSC’s Advent Window Trail with 24 independent shops, and community groups. A new window display will be revealed each day of Advent until Dec 24. You can also support Molly Olly’s fundraising charity treasure trail in Warwick.


It’s a Wonderful Life

Birmingham NEC is one of three UK venues hosting Luna Drive-in Winter Cinema with speedy staff delivering Christmas themed food orders to your car on scooters (ends today)! NAEC Stoneleigh is also screening festive blockbusters at its Nightflix Drive-In Cinema, until Jan 2 2021.

Find more ideas here

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