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Unmissable late summer food and culture in the Midlands

Jump for joy Here's our latest superflashy newsflash including hot new festivals, foodie news, openings. theatre and an exclsuive interview with Jack Reacher author, Lee Child!


Coventry Cathedral Dining Club

Feeling peckish? Digbeth Dining Club returns to the stunning setting of Coventry Cathedral ruins for five whole weekends from Friday August 21. Tickets are available to book here.

The Open Arms, a collaboration between Warwick Castle, Digbeth Dining Club and some of Warwick’s great independent businesses which has transformed the castle into a beer garden & street food market has proved incredibly popular this summer and is now completely sold out!

Cripps BBQ’s at Shustoke Barn, Coleshill, Warwickshire

Fancy the rare chance to visit an amazing space which is normally only open to private parties? Cripps & Co have transformed their beautiful wedding barn, Shustoke Barn in Warwickshire, into an informal BBQ venue. Every week the team serves a menu of freshly prepared food cooked over open flames – ready to eat alfresco in their grounds or take away. You can see this weekend’s menu here. Yum!


Emma Rice’s Romantics Anonymous virtual tour comes to Coventry

Following the success of their exuberant co-production Wise Children last year, the Belgrade Theatre Coventry is virtually hosting another spectacular show from visionary director Emma Rice when Romantics Anonymous makes its digital debut this autumn.

Performed LIVE on stage at Bristol Old Vic, the critically acclaimed musical will embark on a virtual tour of theatres across the UK with venues selling tickets for different nights in a wonderful display of industry solidarity. Midlands audiences are invited to enjoy the show broadcast live to their homes at 7.30pm on Wed Sept 23 with tickets now available via the here.

Carly Bawden and Marc Antolin in Romantics Anonymous. Photo by Steve Tanner.

Based on the film Les Émotifs Anonymes by Jean-Pierre Améris and Philippe Blasband, Romantics Anonymous is a delicious love story about breaking the mould and finding the courage to be happy. It follows Angélique, a gifted chocolate-maker crippled by social anxiety, and Jean-René, the boss of a failing chocolate factory, so awkward that he relies on self-help tapes and is prone to embarrassing sweating.

Ahead of the livestreamed performances, each member of the company will be tested for coronavirus before forming a bubble in Bristol. Following approved sport and film production guidance, rigorous measures will be put in place to enable the cast to perform the entire show without social distancing.

More stars to take part in RSC’sTalking Shakespeare

Antony Sher, David Suchet, Juliet Stevenson and Paterson Joseph (above) are the latest guests to take part in ‘Talking Shakespeare’ next month; an exclusive online conversation series lead by RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, in which RSC Alumni, Associate Artists and Honorary Associate Artists discuss their experience of performing Shakespeare at the RSC and beyond.

Other contributors to the series include Judi Dench, Ray Fearon, Harriet Walter, Patrick Stewart, Alexandra Gilbreath, David Tennant, Adjoa Andoh and Simon Russell Beale.

Dates: Antony Sher, Sept 7, Poirot actor David Suchet, Sept 14; Juliet Stevenson, Sept 21 & Paterson Joseph, Sept 28.

The live, online events series runs weekly on Mondays from 5-6pm and is open to subscribers, members and patrons of the RSC. Events are free but with a suggested donation of £10 per session. All donations received will go towards the Keep Your RSC campaign.

KIDS: Birmingham Rep’s two digital Summer Schools for 7-18 year- olds available throughout August

Birmingham Repertory Theatre has launched two new online Summer Schools; Theatre Making for 13-18-year-olds and Spy School for ages 7-12.

The online workshops have been created for families with flexibility in mind, allowing young people the chance to take part on a day or time that suits them over the rest of the school holidays.

Theatre Making for those aged 13-18 explores devising, movement, puppetry, monologues and audition techniques. It includes a series of 60-minute bespoke pre-recorded classes with professional tutors plus links to downloadable documents and files to use at home.

Spy School for children aged 7-12 is an immersive theatre adventure comprising a series of videos where young people take on the role of spies to complete training, discover clues and uncover mysteries

Go to to find out more or book your digital package for just £35 per household.


ALSO Festival: A Place in the Country, Park Farm, Compton Verney, near Leamington Spa & Warwick, Fri Aug 28-Sun Aug 30

Dig out your face-glitter, swimming cossie and yoga mat, for the UK’s first socially-distanced, digitally festival of ideas in 50-acres of glorious Capability Brown landscape at Park Farm, Compton Verney.  It’s brilliant news for fans of Warwickshire’s boutique ALSO festival – where you can enjoy a three-day nature fix, ideas to be inspired by, wild swimming, outdoor picnics, candlelight yoga, a ‘socially distant sunset happening’, comedy – and some cool sounds. Read our full preview here. Day and weekend tickets available here.

3 West Midlands Weekenders – Aug 29, Sat Sept 5 & Sat Sept 26

Ahoy there for the second series of events organised by the West Midlands Cultural Response Unit, set up by over 100 arts organisations in the West Midlands in the Covid-19 crisis.

Sat Aug 29

The first Weekender kick starts on August Bank Holiday – traditionally a weekend of culture, celebration and connection. Artists from across the region will respond to the theme of ‘Ritual’ with pre-recorded, live stream and in person gatherings – there’ll be a dance, independent artists, singers, poets, installations, experimentation, all hosted live by Birmingham Opera Company and Friction Arts.

Sat Sept 5

Produced by Outdoor Places Unusual Spaces (OPUS), the second weekend takes on the theme of ‘firsts’. Audiences will navigate their way through an afternoon and evening of firsts from artists around the West Midlands, culminating in a special centenary celebration from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).

Sat Sept 26

The closing Weekender will round the trilogy off with a day festival celebrating and platforming some of the regions young creatives exploring all things arts, culture and heritage under the theme of Democratising Creativity & Culture. Not only will themes of democracy be explored (in its broadest sense) throughout the programme, but audiences and participants will get an opportunity to be a part of steering the festival content with three regional young producers, Aksana Khan, Diandra McCalla and Paige Jackson. Get ready to turn the tables!

Full details here:

Pink Moon Camping Retreat, Tanworth in Arden, Umbersalde Estate, nr Solihull, weekends until Aug 31

Looking for a last minute Bank Holiday outdoors mini-getaway? This is not a festival but a socially distanced camping weekend with some seriously cool additions featured acoustic music, yoga, meditation, craft beer + more while offering a safe and spacious place to relax with family and friends. It’s run by organisers of Warwickshire’s Lunar festival. Tickets here.


Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon

You can now visit one of the UK’s greatest literary locations which has opened its doors again to visitors.

Professor Michael Wood, the renowned historian, narrates a series of new video guides that visitors can download to their mobile phones as they explore the home where William Shakespeare spent his childhood and the early years of his marriage to Anne.

See rare artefacts including a 400-year-old Folio of his complete works and memorabilia from David Garrick’s famous Shakespeare Jubilee, the world’s first celebration of Shakespeare the man that took place in Stratford-upon-Avon 250 years ago in 1769.

Wander through the gardens and enjoy the sights and smells of plants and flowers that Shakespeare would have known or wrote about his plays and poems. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s New Place, Hall’s Croft and Mary Arden’s Farm, will remain closed until at least spring 2021.

A range of Covid-19 measures are in place to ensure visitors can safely enjoy discovering the humble beginnings of the poet and playwright. Face masks need to be worn inside.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace will be open from 10am-4pm daily with a timed ticket entry. Tickets cost £13 adults and £9 concessions, and must be booked in advance via

Classic Car Drive In Weekend, Bicester Heritage, Oxon, Sept 18-20

Ten of the best loved driving movies of all times will top the bill at a newly announced Classic Car Drive In Weekend. Created to provide petrol-heads with a Covid-compliant outdoor event in these challenging times, the very first drive in dedicated to cars headlines at Bicester Heritage in Oxfordshire on 18-20 September.

Two giant drive in cinemas will be at the heart of the festival and, with three screenings every day at 11am, 4pm and 8pm, and 18 different screenings.

Tickets are now on sale for car-loving movie goers to choose from up to 18 different screenings from the comfort and security of their own vehicle including ranging from classics like The Italian Job to Fast & Furious and epic motor sport homages including SennaRush and Oscar winning Le Mans ’66.

Full Experience show tickets – £25 for adults and £15 children (aged 5-15) – will automatically give visitors access to one drive in film of their choice as well as all the full show site.  For those looking just to drive in, park up and enjoy a movie, a Film only ticket is also on offer priced at £10 for adults and £7.50 for children.


New 1960s-themed hotel in Coventry’s iconic Telegraph building – opening late autumn

Step back in time and enjoy some authentic 1960s glamour at the iconic Telegraph building at 157 Corporation Street in Coventry – formerly home to the city’s newspaper for more than 50 years. This retro-styled 88-room hotel is set to open late autumn and has uniquely-designed bedrooms, including the Lord Iliffe Suite, which reimagines the original owner’s private apartment with hot tub terrace. There’s the new Forme & Chase –a restaurant, bar and lounge and Generators, a seasonal rooftop bar with an industrial printworks theme. 


Lee Child Talk – Reacher, Prospero and Me

Stratford Literary Festival is hosting an exclusive one-off interview with best-selling Coventry-born author Lee Child who will be talking about the influence Shakespeare has had on his life and work.

Reacher, Prospero and Me, will be broadcast on Sept 28 via the Eventbrite platform for audiences from all over the UK and beyond

Timed to coincide with publication of Lee’s authorised biography, the interview with his biographer, Dr Heather Martin, the talk will include revelations about a life-changing visit to Stratford from his home in Birmingham aged 9 to watch Henry IV, Part 2, an experience that sparked a life-long love of Shakespeare and his work, and how it influenced the creation of his main protagonist, Jack Reacher.

Lee Child; real name James Dover Grant, now lives in New York. His Jack Reacher novels have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and been made into two films starring Tom Cruise. Awarded a CBE last year, he was the 2019 Author of the Year at the British Book Awards and is on the 2020 Booker Prize judging panel.

This event, which is in association with Kenilworth Books, will be accessible via Eventbrite with a link at, with a suggested Pay-What-You-Can ticket price from £5 upwards. You can order a copy of the biography, The Reacher Guy, with a double-signed bookplate designed exclusively for Kenilworth Books. Ticket sales will go towards securing the future of the Literary Festival which cancelled its spring programme due to Covid-19. 

Warwick Words goes digital

Warwick Words History Festival 2020 is going digital as a result of the Covid pandemic, bringing seven days of exciting literary events free online daily from Oct 5-11. The full programme of digital events will be released in September. 


Voices of the West End, British Motor Museum, Gaydon Sept 25, 26 & 27

A new 90-minute outdoor concert will be performed live over three nights next month in the beautiful grounds of the British Motor Museum.

Some of theatre’s most illustrious singers will perform award-winning hits from the West End’s greatest musicals including Earl Carpenter (pictured above) who played Javert and John Owen-Jones, who played Jan Valjean in Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Misérables. They will be joined by two of the best female Voices of the West End: Kerry Ellis and Katie Hall.

On the event day there’ll also be a small food and drink area serving gourmet burgers with vegetarian/vegan options, coffee/teas, ice creams etc and a bar selling alcoholic and soft drinks along with local gin on tap from a nearby Warwickshire distillery – Pinnock’s Artisan Gin Bar.

Cost: Roped pitches are £114 – £169 for a 3 square metre pitch that can accommodate 4 people from no more than two households or support bubbles.  Car spaces are £189 where performances can be watched from inside the car or set up next to it. 

The box office for the concert is managed by Birmingham Hippodrome and tickets can only be booked via their website:

The Belgrade’s first Outdoor Makers’ Market, Sat Aug 29

Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre will be hosting its first Outdoor Makers’ Market from 11am-4pm this Saturfay. Organised by Craft On, the Belgrade’s resident needlecraft for wellbeing group, the event will see 16 local artists and makers assemble to sell their wares outside the theatre in Belgrade Square.

The event is child-friendly and free to attend. Throughout the day, the Belgrade café bar will be open.


Luminate Coombe

It’s a little early to be mentioning the C-word but a spectacular new seasonal light show is set to illuminate Coombe Abbey Park this winter.

The festive family-friendly Luminate Coombe light trail is heading to this Warwickshire country park and woodlands from Nov 25 to Dec 23. A mile-long walk within the historic grounds and countryside will feature three different themes including wild woodland set to ambient music.

At this joint venture between Coombe Abbey Hotel, Luminate and Coventry City Council, there’ll be Christmas chalets selling festive food and drink, plus fire pits for toasting marshmallows.

The hotel is currently planning a programme of events for Christmas including the popular Afternoon Tea with Carols and you could make a day of it by visiting Go Ape – also on the site – ending with festive illuminations. You can follow Luminate Coombe on Facebook and Instagram.

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