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This Month



FESTIVAL: Stratford Lit Fest, various venues across town, from Sun Apr 28

Former ballet dancer and ‘Strictly’ judge, Dame Darcey Bussell, Newsnight anchor Emily Maitlis , Bake Off judge Prue Leith, actress Juliet Stephenson and Warwickshire screenwriter Andrew Davies, whose BBC 1 hit Les Misérables recently graced our screens, are among the top names visiting this illustrious 8-day spring festival in Stratford-upon-Avon. Award-winning writers including Ali Smith, John Lanchester, Tessa Hadley, best-selling novelist, Patrick Gale and Booker-prize winner Ben Okri will be discussing their latest work, as well as some of the most exciting debuts of 2019. Children’s Day this year rounds off the Festival on May 5 with Jacqueline Wilson, Francesca Simon and illustrators Lydia Monks and Nick Sharratt, along with stage shows of The Rainbow Fish and Aliens Love Underpants.

For the full line-up go to: stratlitfest Tickets go on sale on Feb 4,


FAMILY: Mary Arden’s Farm, Wilmcote, nr Stratford-upon-Avon, now open 

Fancy some geese-herding?

Check out the revamped children’s play area, rare breed Ryeland sheep, and a new peasants’ hovel at the 23-acre Tudor working farm this spring.  Ryeland sheep are one of the oldest English breeds – and their first lambs are imminent! Throughout the season there will be the usual daily activities, including geese herding, archery and bird of prey displays.  The popular Woolly Week takes place from May 25 – June 2, and on June 23 celebrate the longest day, Midsummer Day where you might even meet the farm’s own magical unicorn! Two new events have been added to the Tudor calendar: on Aug 1 to make your own mini lammas loaf out of salt dough reviving the tradition of Lammas Day, with storytelling and music. And at Harvest Home on Sept 15, try your hand at traditional crafts, like candle-making, willow weaving and wool crafts, while enjoying puppet shows and Tudor music. Open daily until Sun Nov 3, check out Book online.


FAMILY: Host your own Glamping Pod Pizza Party at Wootton Park, Henley-in-Arden

This enterprising family-owned Warwickshire rural business, which recently launched the UK’s first luxe treepods with hot tubs, has now launched ‘pod pizza parties’. Groups of up to eight people can get together in 4 glamping pods (Mistral, Sirocco, Meltemi and Zephyr), make or bring their own dough and have their own pizza party in a kiln pizza oven on site. These pods are set on the ground among the trees in a group and ideal for 4 couples each with a double bed, bedding, towels and bathrobes. A shower and toilet are nearby as a BBQ, fire pit and outside seating area. Perfect for a birthday celebration, family get together, anniversary or hen night /weekend. Quote Campaign Code PIZZA PARTY – and the cost is £460 for the 4 pods sleeping 8 people for one night. That’s £57.50 per person including breakfast. Price includes use of the pizza oven for a booked time slot and wood, (pizza ingredients not included).


ART: Painting Childhood & Childhood Now, Compton Verney, opens Sat March 16 – June 16


Compton Verney new spring exhibition takes a fresh and moving look at childhood over the last 500 years boasting masterpieces such as Van Dyck’s The Five Eldest Children of Charles I (1637) from the Royal Collection, Hogarth’s The Graham Children (1742) from the National Gallery, and Millais’ Bubbles (1886) from National Museums Liverpool together with some fo Queen Victoria’s sketches of her own children. This is the first time these iconic paintings will be paired with the preparatory sketches that informed them. Alongside ‘Painting Childhood’ is the expressive, idiosyncratic sister exhibition ‘Childhood Now’ with three contemporary artists – Chantal Joffe, Mark Fairnington and Matthew Krishanu – who have used their own children or childhood to depict modern youth.  comptonverney

FAMILY: The RSC’s Easter Holiday activities & Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations, Stratford-upon-Avon, Apr 10 – Mon May 6

Children can take part in a fun introduction to As You Like It currently showing at the RSC on Wed Apri 17. Photo-by-Topher-McGrillis-_c_-RSC

A host of super-cool family-friendly activities ranging from vocal warm-ups, exciting open set changeovers (Tues Apr 23 & Thur Apr 25), BSL interpreted events including Kate’s Storytree (Apr 19), Blood Guts & Gore with former RSC Head of Wigs & Make-up Brenda Leedham, costume design workshops, mini set design, Easter trail and a Tulip Festival at Morton Hall (May 4, 5 & 6), raising money for the RSC’s Stitch In Time campaign to restore and redevelop of the company’s new Costume Workshop. See the full itinerary here: rsc, Tel: 01789 331111 to book.


THEATRE: The Taming of the Shrew, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Aug 31

The reviews are now in after last week’s press night for Justin Audibert’s gender-switched adaptation in which sexes are presented in reversed roles. It’s set in the 1590s and England is a matriarchy. National critics said:  a “landmark production” (Evening Standard ****);  “an interesting but underpowered exercise in gender-swapping” (Daily Telegraph ***) and “Getting their hands on the best and biggest parts for once, the female performers savour every syllable”, (The Times, ****), rsc

FILM: Us (15), out in cinemas now

Jordan Peele’s new horror is “a worthy and creepy follow up” to his Oscar-winning debut Get Out starring 12 Years a Slave actor Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elizabeth Moss.


THEATRE: As You Like It, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Feb 14 – Aug 31


 What can you look forward to this season? Well, three Shakespeare gems, two Restoration classics and a stunning new two-hander! The new 2019 season opened with Kimberley Sykes’ beguiling As You Like It with fabulous critically-acclaimed performances by Worcester actor Lucy Phelps as Rosalind and David Ajao as Orlando, also look out for LAMDA-trained Leamington Spa actor Amelia Donkor as Silvia! Read our review here,, Tel: 01789 403493.

ART: Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Fri Feb 1 – May 6

Leonardo da Vinci, The head of an old bearded man, c.1517-18 RCIN 912499

12 of the Renaissance master’s drawings from the Royal Collection will be displayed at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, as part of 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. Revered in his day as a painter, Leonardo completed only around 20 paintings; he was respected as a sculptor and architect, but no sculpture or buildings by him survive. Drawings on display will include the Head of an Old Bearded Man (c.1517-18), and A Map of the Valdichiana (c.1503-4). Free, birminghammuseums

ART: Compton Verney’s second ‘eyecatcher’ art installation

Green Dwelling has been imagined by Dutch artist Krijn de Koning, and consists of a collection of differently-sized green blocks ranged across the Old Town Meadow. The blocks highlight the history of the land: once the site of the medieval village of Compton Murdak, the meadow was planted with elm trees in the 18th century, lost due to Dutch elm disease in the 1970s. Like a modern Stonehenge, the blocks playfully reference these lost histories. Paths and picnic benches are integral to the design, transforming the meadow into a destination to explore and enjoy. An exciting opportunity to re-frame familiar views of the Grade-I listed mansion house. Great for kids to explore over Easter! comptonverney


EXHIBITION: Wildlife Photographer of the Year, The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, now until June 2


See more than 100 breathtaking images from the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year as part of an international tour, theherbert



TALK: Margaret Atwood, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Mon Oct 28

To celebrate the launch of her new book The Testaments, a sequel to the totally brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale (which I am very excited to get my mitts on), author Margaret Atwood is going on a live tour- an evening of conversation, exclusive readings and special guests. She’s only touring for eight dates in the UK and our ‘hood is super lucky to secure a spot, so get booking if you fancy it as no doubt it will be a sell-out. The tour follows the book launch on Tues 10 Sept where Margaret will be speaking at the National Theatre – the talk will be screened to 1,000 cinemas worldwide with loads of West Midlands and Warwickshire cinemas taking part. Find your nearest screening here.


THEATRE: Heart of Darkness, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed May 8 – Sat May 11

Joseph Conrad’s seminal novel about lies, greed and the lust for power gets a modern makeover at Dicot’s arts hub by digital theatre maker Imitating the Dog. Video, projections and graphic images are fused with live performance in this bold new production. Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade

EASTER PANTO: Peter Pan, The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Wed May 1 & Thur May 2
 This family Spring pantomime boasts an all-star cast including comedy legend, Bobby Davro and Danni Harmer star of CBBC’s popular Tracey Beaker and Strictly Come Dancing contestant as well as Disney Art Attack’s, Lloyd Warbey, albanytheatre, Tel: Box Office: 02476 99 89 64 (open 10.30am – 1.30pm Mon-Sat).

COMEDY: Russell Kane – The Fast and the Curious, Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Thu May 2

He’s back. The keenly-awaited brand new show is here. Packing more energy than a Duracell factory, Russell’s RS Turbo laugh engine will motor through love, family and life – once again proving that the fast and the curious amongst us see more stuff, and get more done,  8pm. Age 14+,


DANCE: MOTIONHOUSE – Charge, Warwick Arts Centre, Wed May 8 & Thu 9 

This internationally-acclaimed Leamington-based dance company’s latest 1hr 15min show, Charge is inspired by the role of electricity in the human body. From the electrical charge that sparks human life, to the beating of our hearts and the memories we make, performers use dance and acrobatics to delve deep into the human body, 7.30pm. For ages 7+,


THEATRE: Urban Wolf’s Custody, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, May 1-4

Photo by Lidia-Crisafulli

 After a successful debut at London’s Ovalhouse in 2017, Urbain Hayo’s Custody heads out on a UK tour this Spring, kicking off at the Belgrade Theatre. Weaving tales of injustice from real-life families together with creator Urbain Hayo’s own experiences of the controversial Stop and Search policy. Inspired by Migrant Media’s banned cult documentary films Injustice and Who Polices the Police, Custody interrogates the impact of widespread prejudice and police brutality on BAME communities.  Casting for the show includes Muna Otaru as Mother, Rochelle James as Lover, Ewa Dina as Sister and Urban Wolf as Brother. #WhoIsBrian #CustodyPlay  

Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade 


COMEDY: Julian Clary – Born to Mince, Warwick Arts Centre, Sun May 12 

“Are you ready for some filth? I know I am. It’s been a while since I sallied forth to pleasure the provinces with my particular brand of saucy innuendo. Let me at them!”  7.30pm. Age 16+,


FOOD: Coventry Cathedral Dining Club, Sun May 12

Digbeth Dining Club and Coventry Cathedral are very excited to collaborate for the first time in 2019 bringing award-winning street food to Coventry’s most iconic venue including The English IndianGoody Gujarati; Platinum Pancakes; Greidys wings and stripsUrban Cheesecake
The Paneer Wrap Street Food CompanyStreet chefLeave it to EsmieThe Flying Cows. Entry £1 here.




EXHIBITION: Mary Quant, Victoria & Albert Museum, London,  from Sat 6 Apr

This is going to be awesome! The iconic 1960s designer and the mother of  miniskirts, Mary Quant, gets her own exhibit at the V&A with over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive.

Tickets here


EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, until  Sun July 14

Tickets are selling like hotcakes for this! The V&A is showing the largest House of Dior exhibition ever staged in the UK, tracing the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him. A highlight is the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, on loan from the Museum of London.


ART: Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean, Oxford, until Sun Jun 9

Jeff Koons is curating his own exhibition in collaboration with Norman Rosenthal. Spanning Koons’ entire career and showcasing seventeen works, most of which have never been shown in the UK before, the show will include his popular series Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings.


EXHIBITION: An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & the Thames, River & Rowing Museum, until Sun July 14

This exhibition focuses on how the Thames influenced Morris’ work. He had a rural retreat in Oxfordshire, where he loved to boat and fish, ergo the influence of the river in his textiles and designs. Pieces have been collated from the V&A, The William Morris Gallery and the British Library to make this exhibition possible and it also delves into Morris personal life and his politics.


 EXHIBITION: Matilda at Thirty, Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden, until Sun 2 Jun 

To celebrate Matilda’s 30th birthday, the Lower Babbling Room has a mini exhibition of eight new drawings by Roald Dahl’s illustrator Quentin Blake, each showing a different version of a grown-up Matilda.


Warner Bros. Studios, Herts, from Sat 6 Apr 

Just when you think the Harry Potter hype is finally over, Warner Bros figure out another way to get us through the door. On Sat 6 Apr, the studios unveil their biggest expansion to date, Gringotts Wizarding Bank full of with crystal chandeliers, original film props and, er, a gallery of goblins. The new set will be a permanent addition to the tour.


KIDS: Legoland, Windsor 

Kids rejoice! Legoland reopened last month and has launched its new ride this Easter, called The Haunted House Monster Party. Man of the house Lord Vampyre, Mummy and Monster Rocker will also be there for photos. They’re also running themed holiday workshops at its brand spanking new pop-up iLab in Paddington where kids can become mini engineers for the three-day sessions.


CLASSICAL: European Union Chamber Orchestra, Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Fri 26 Apr 

The European Union Chamber Orchestra is an orchestra with the spirit of a string quartet – a crack team of superb young players, united by the sheer joy of making music together – one wonders what will happen post-Brexit, 7.30pm. Tickets just £8 for under 10’s and £13 for under 18s. Pre-Concert Talk: Woods-Scawen Room 6.15pm £2.50,

FAMILY: Le Gateau Chocolat – Duckie, Warwick Arts Centre, Sat Apr 27

Family-friendly glamour and glitz takes centre stage as critically-acclaimed cabaret star Le Gateau Chocolat breaks out of his shell in his first work for children aged 3+, a classic tale of identity and belonging in 40-minutes, 11am & 2pm,

FILM: First Man, National Space Centre, Leicester, Sat Apr 27

Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong in First Man, courtesy of Univeral Studios

This is super-cool! Rick Armstrong, the son of Neil Armstrong – the very first man to walk on the moon – is taking part in a special Q&A prior to the screening of First Man!  La La Land director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for the riveting story behind the first manned mission to the Moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight, one of the most dangerous missions in history, 6pm – 10pm, tickets here.

FAMILY: Twycross Zoo welcomes a critically endangered black rhino this Easter, Atherstone, from Sat Apr 13

Visitors will be able to say hello to a new arrival at the zoo this Easter Holidays – a rare female Eastern black rhino called Nandi, soon to be followed by a male companion. See how many zoo babies you can spot including Molusc the penguin chick, two wallaby joeys and a Kirk’s Dik-Dik fawn. You can also enjoy walking around Chimpanzee Eden built last year, feeding the lorikeets, petting the goats, exploring Butterfly Forest, splashing around in the Wet ‘n’ Wild park and brand new for 2019 electric Safari Cars for 3 – 10-year-olds. Best ticket prices for the Easter Holidays are when you book online by midnight the night before  your visit,

FAMILY: Spring Spectacular, Hatton Adventure World, nr Warwick, Sat April 13 – 28

Younger children will love seeing all the super cute spring new-born animals including chicks, ducklings, piglets, bunnies, lambs and kid goats, and even get the chance to feed and handle the animals within Farmyard Favourites. More new arrivals are expected over the coming weeks, some lucky visitors may be fortunate enough to see a live birth! Easter activities include a daily Easter Egg Hunt at 12:30pm and 2pm; the famous springtime Tractor Safari; Sheep Racing held daily at 1:45pm plus Falconry Displays at 11am, 2pm and 3pm. Other attractions will be a daily Magic Show at 11:30am and 3pm, a Puppet Show at 1pm,  Outdoor Laser Combat ( 8yrs+), and the huge indoor soft play area ‘Snorty’s Superslide Mania’, or Tel: 01926 843411.

FILM: Dumbo (PG) in cinemas from Mar 29

Colin Farrell, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins in Dumbo (Courtesy of Disney).

My youngest asks if we can go and see this every time the ad for Tim Burton’s live/CGI version of the 1941 Disney animation masterpiece pops up on TV. Some critics may say it lacks the charm of the original masterpiece, while others say there’s “plenty of humour and pathos” (Independent)  – but will the kids think it’s as good? It stars Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito and Eva Green.

FOOD: Gin & Tapas Evening, Pastelaria Portuguesa, Coten End, Warwick,  Fri Apr 26

This friendly cafe and bakery brings a taste of Portugal to Warwick, with regular authentic Gin and Tapas evenings and evening dinners. Their best-selling cake is the Pasteis de Nata pastelariaportuguesa

MUSIC: Bill Laurance + James Heather, Warwick Arts Centre, Sat 27 Apr 

World-renowned multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, and founding member of the Grammy-winning collective Snarky Puppy, Bill Laurance performs music from his eagerly-awaited new album Cables,

EASTER HOLS: Overnight family attraction break, The Belfry Hotel and Resort, Wishaw, nr Sutton Coldfield

Combine an overnight stay with a visit to Cadbury World, Drayton Manor or Twycross Zoo, from£159 per room – kids stay and eat for free. Things to do include an Easter Sunday Easter Egg Hunt at 11.30am (meet at main reception); fun, educational and creative arts and crafts classes on Apr 18 – 21; 26 & 27 between 2 – 4pm (£8 per child / £12 for two), swimming pool, Sport Holiday Camp for 6-13-year-olds and Ryder Legends Mini Golfsee here for more information.

EXHIBITION: Peter Rabbit: Mischief and Mayhem, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, until April 27

This exhibition tells the story of the creation of Beatrix Potter’s most famous story character. It includes original, rarely exhibited artworks and manuscripts. Younger children will enjoy the activity play room where they can help Mrs Tiggy-Winkle hang up the laundry, plant carrots in Mr. McGregor’s garden, visit Mrs. Rabbit in her burrow or curl up with one of the books in the story corner. A Peter Rabbit themed spring activity family programme runs through to Easter with events including The Wonderful World of Hedgehogs with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s Senior Hedgehog Officer on April 5. See here for the full spring programme.

FAMILY: Mini-Madness, British Motor Museum, Gaydon, Sat April 6 – 28

The Museum kick starts its Mini 60th celebrations with a host of themed family activities. Families can enjoy tours with a Mini mad mechanic character at 1.30pm, follow a Mini Trail and make a Mini using air dry clay in drop-in workshops from 10am to 3pm. Over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend (Apr 19 – 22)  there’s a traditional Easter Egg hunt with a Mini twist – collect eggs around the Museum to claim your Mini Egg reward. The ‘Back to the drawing board’ Mini trail is also available daily, taking inspiration from Alec Issigonis, the designer of the Mini. 01926 927823.

FAMILY: Easter at Shakespeare’s Family HomesApr 13 – 28

Easter egg decorating at Mary Arden’s Farm, 12 – 4pm, April 13-28 daily.

There’s lots of egg-citing and fun-filled family events taking place across the famous Shakespeare Family Homes this Easter: make an origami swan, decorate an Easter egg, go on a journey with Prospero from The Tempest, and sit on a jury as The Reverend Francis Gastrell goes back on trial 260 years after knocking down Shakespeare’s New Place.

KIDS THEATRE: Easter shows at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, April 16 – 27

Join Syd and Grandad as they set off on an adventure that will change their lives forever in Grandad’s Island. Full of song, laughter and jungles, this moving show deals magically and sensitively with themes of love and loss.

The programme kicks off with Tim Hopgood’s much-loved picture book, Wow! It’s Night-Time, suitable for  2-5-year-olds, each performance is followed by a post-show meet and greet with the puppets. On Saturday April 20, is Pongo’s Party a brand new adventure for children aged 2-7 set on Marty MacDonald’s Farm, featuring the voice of Justin Fletcher.  The following week, from 24-27 April, there’s a new musical adaptation of Jill Murphy’s classic The Worst Witch and the heart-warming story of Grandad’s Island adapted from the award-winning children’s book by Benji Davies, Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade

FAMILY: Easter Adventure Quest, Kenilworth Castle, April 13-28 

Join the hunt for dragon eggs on a legendary quest this Easter holiday. Crack the clues as you and your family follow the trail through the castle. Intrepid adventurers who track down the dragon egg will get a certificate and a sticker to prove it, and there’ll be a chocolate treat too!  You can get questing at Kenilworth Castle every day of the school holidays. It costs just £1 per child, and there’s no need to book, 11am-5pm, english-heritage

FAMILY: Daily ‘Meet the Mini-Beast’ sessions and see tropical butterflies hatch, Stratford Butterfly Farm,  Sat April 13 – 28 

It’s all about the Egg at Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm this Easter. Discover the freshly laid eggs from tropical Butterflies and Moths and see the Caterpillars hatched out of them. You may even see a butterfly hatch from its pupa!   Meet the Mini-Beast’ handling sessions take place daily at 11.30am and 2.30pm in the holidays with the Education Team – and hold creatures such as a giant African millipede, African land snail and a variety of stick insects.  The latest new residents include the ferocious looking Dragon Headed Katydid from the forests of Borneo in South East Asia and a pink and white insect from Malaysia and Indonesia that looks remarkably like a beautiful orchid flower – the Orchid Mantis, butterflyfarm, Tel:  01789 299288.

IAMDDB, Roundhouse London, Apri 4 & Albert Hall Manchester, Sun Apr 7

This laid-back up-and-coming urban jazz artist supported Lauren Hill at Wembley Arena in 2018 then went on to release her critically lauded accomplished album Swervvvvv.5. She was inspired to pursue her musical and artistic ambition after a trip to Angola, where her father is in one of the country’s most popular bands. The Manchester singer and rapper dropped her first track in September 2016 – the same day she quit university, just an hour after enrolling, https://ikeepitg

KIDS: Southbank Centre, London, Sat 6 – Mon 22 Apr 

Free fun by the bucketful if you’re heading to London this Easter with music from Camp Bestival regulars Dizney Rascal, cool folk singer London Rhymes and comedy theatre group Mrs H and the Sing-Along Band. Paid events include giant musical sandpits, an immersive colourful performance called Kaleidoscope and the brilliant Tabby McTat (Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler) Freckle Productions, the team behind Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales and Zog.

INTERIORS: Ideal Home Show, Olympia London, until Sun Apr 7

The whopper Ideal Home Show rocks up at Olympia London with hundreds of free talks, 600 companies and the latest tech for the home. This year the theme is Best of British so expect loads of UK companies. Does anyone else feel a splurge coming on?

THEATRE: Wise Children, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Tues April 2 – Sat April 6

Melissa James as showgirl Dora Chance in her hey day

Wise Children Artistic Director Emma Rice will take on a starring role in her critically-acclaimed production of the same name when it arrives in the future city of culture. Together with Richmond Theatre, the Belgrade Theatre is one of just TWO tour venues to see her step into the shoes of showgirl Nora Chance, taking over the role from Etta Murfitt. Based on Angela Carter’s final novel, Wise Children is the first production by Emma Rice’s new company, formed following her departure from Shakespeare’s Globe. Read our interview with actor Melissa James who plays showgirl, Dora Chance.  Not to be missed! Tickets on 024 7655 3055, belgrade

DRINKS: A World of Botanicals Gin Tasting, The Leamington Wine Company, Leamington Spa, Fri Apr 5

 A brand new format for 2019 featuring a whole new set of gins from floral light gins through to powerful ‘navy’ strength gins demonstrating the various different styles and flavours each Gin has to offer. Try up to 30 carefully selected gins from around the world during the two-hour session. For tickets Tel: 01926 888994.

FESTIVAL: Stratford Lit Fest – Schools Week, Mon Apr 1 – 5

Award-winning novelist and scriptwriter, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, entertained Years 5 and 6 at Wellesbourne Primary School with stories of space and robots.

This week has seen a record number of 18 schools from  Stratford-upon-Avon, Leamington Spa, Coventry and the surrounding villages, will enjoy a range of talks and workshops from 13 top line-up of authorspoets and illustrators.  They include Jeanne Willis, Michelle Robinson, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Chae Strathie, James Carter, Smriti Prasadam-Halls, Sophia Bennett & Manjit Thrapp, Steven Camden, Tom Percival, Laura James, Nicola Davies, Jo Cotterill and David Solomons And at Alveston, Bridgetown and Stratford Primary Schools children and parents dressed in PJs for Bedtime Story Parties, to share the stories they’ve written together with a visiting author. 

For details of all events for children during the Festival from April 28 –  May 5, see 

Spring Gin Tasting, Slurp,  121 Regent Street, Leamington Spa, Sat Apr 6

Discover some of the new additions to the company’s gin range, including local gin from Warwickshire Gin Co. and Pinnock Distillery (Kineton, Warwickshire). Taste 6 gins and learn about the distillation process, styles and flavours that make them unique. This will be a sit down, tutored style tasting, 7:30-9:30pm. Tickets £20, book here.

SHOOT Festival, venues across Coventry, April 4 – 7

Callum Pickard

A biennial event launched in 2014 by local theatre-makers Jennifer Davis and Paul O’Donnel features the best emerging artists in Coventry and Warwickshire including musicians, dancers, poets, theatre-makers and visual artists, plus talks and family-friendly workshops. Highlights include a brand new In Bloom strand, with triple-bills of theatre and music on the Belgrade Theatre’ B2 Stage and at The Tin Music and Arts. Check out the itinerary here.

THEATRE: The Pantaloons – The Odyssey, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, Fri Apr 5

A new verse adaptation of the most epic Greek journey of all time by this vibrant, young theatre company that aims to be experimental, eye-catching, moving and good fun. Stranded war hero Odysseus must struggle against the odds to get home to his wife; but can he battle his way through grumpy gods, naughty nymphs, monocular monsters and over a hundred sleazy suitors? All while wearing an Ancient Greek robe that looks suspiciously like a bedsheet. Or will he – and The Pantaloons – remain all at sea…?

MUSIC: Mario Bakuna and Edmundo, Carneiro, The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry, Sat Apr 6

London-based Brazilian composer Mario Bakuna is joined by Brazilian percussionist Edmundo Carneiro, who lives in Paris, for an evening of live afro-Brazilian music, Samba, Jazz and Bossa Nova. Tickets here.
MUMS: Midlands Mummies Pregnancy and New Mummy Showcase, Best Western Plus Manor Hotel, Meriden, Sun Apr 7

An event for new mums and mums-to-be sharing advice and information from qualified experts.  It’s supported by a wide range of local businesses in Warwickshire with live demos and workshops including On the day Baby Scanning, Meet the Midwife and Health Visitor, Pregnancy Fitness, Mum & Baby Classes, Car Seat & Pram advice and much more, 11am – 4pm. See Midlands Mummies Facebook page for more deets.

ENGLISH TOURISM WEEK: Free Walking Tour of Rugby, Sat Apr 6

Statue of war poet Rupert Brooke

Rupert Brooke, the famous First World War poet whose sonnets captured the idealism of the early years of the Great War was born in Rugby.

This free town tours start at Rugby Visitor Centre and visits the Webb Ellis Football Museum, the Webb Ellis Statue and The Queen’s Gates at Rugby School’s The Close. Other stops include Regent Street, High Street, the Rupert Brooke Statue and St Andrew’s Church. Learn more about the town that gave birth to the game and its fascinating literary and engineering heritage. No need to book, just turn up for 11am. More information here.


ART: Free entry to Open Projections Digital Art Exhibition, Coventry Cathedral, Fri Apr 5

An immersive digital art exhibition in which works from a group of artists from across the UK are projected around the inner walls of the New Cathedral. Curated by artist Daniel Hopkins in partnership with arts organisation Ludic Rooms & Mi:Labs youth art project, the evening will also feature atmospheric music from local DJs, Free entry during English Tourism Week, 8.30 – 11.30pm.

ENGLISH TOURISM WEEK: Save 10% on a stay at Staying Cool at the Rotunda, March 30 – Sun April 7

Staying Cool’s 35 design-led serviced apartments are in one of Birmingham’s most iconic buildings – the Grade-II Listed Rotunda – right at the heart of the city. The apartments range from 5* penthouses with wraparound balconies to funky 4* studios. The sleek design of the apartments makes the most of stand-out views across Birmingham. Standard rates start at just £99 per apartment per night. Use code ETW19 for the discount, stayingcool

LIT FEST: Oxford Literary Festival, various locations, until Sun 7 Apr.

We love a good lit fest here at Muddy and the Oxford Literary Festival is a biggie – over 100 events with talks from leading authors and public figures all in fantastic settings including Sheldonian Theatre and Blackwell’s. Highlights this year include interviews with Strictly’s Darcy Bussell, Ranulph Fiennes and Michael Morpurgo. Other speakers announced include Jo Brand, journalist Kate Adie and Nobel Prize winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

RACE: Oxford vs Cambridge boat race, London, Sun 7 Apr

Ahhh, I do love a bit of healthy competition –  Cambridge you’re going down! The iconic boat race kicks off at the rather random time of 2.13pm for the women, followed by the men’s race at 3.10pm. Grab a G&T and a spot on the Thames riverbank between Putney and Mortlake to see the action live.

COMEDY: Emily Atack – Talk Thirty to Me, The Albany Theatre, Coventry, Fri Apr 12

Actor and I’m A Celebrity contestant Emily Atack, who played Charlotte Hinchcliffe in The Inbetweeners, takes to the stage in her debut comedy show – a live memoir of anecdotes, impressions and tales of an actor in her 20’s. A tongue in cheek look at turning 30 and “having it all” in the millennial age, Emily will be unraveling today’s anxiety-inducing world of social media slimming apps and the never-ending search for “the one”. For ages 14+, albanytheatre

COMEDY: Stuart Goldsmith – End Of, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington SpaApr 12

The Comedian’s Comedian host and comic is back with a witty odyssey on how it works out in the end, and whether anyone cares. Intelligent stand-up comedy for everybody, but of particular interest to people over thirty who’ve lost touch with all their old friends and can’t eat just the one pain au chocolat. Featuring ultimates, absolutes and surprisingly few conclusions. He’s has appeared on the CBBC sci-fi gameshow Mission: 2110, and CBBC’s children’s panel show The Dog Ate My Homework. For ages 16+,

MUSIC: The Lexicon of Love, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Tue Apr 9

ABC will be touring across the UK in 2019 performing their iconic 1982 debut album The Lexicon Of Love in its entirety plus all the greatest hits with the Southbank Sinfonia and longtime collaborator Anne Dudley, who will conduct the evening,

THEATRE: Glory, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed April 10 – Sat Apr 13

Joshua-Lyster-as-Ben, a British soldier, who turns to wrestling as a physical outlet for pent-up anger and emotion after experiencing a devastating loss.

A sweaty, gutsy, painfully funny new play by Nick Ahad exploring the resurgence of grassroots wrestling, men’s mental health and what it means to be an outsider in 21st-century Britain. Hot-on-the-heels of the Belgrade’s own production Under the Umbrella, by Amy Ng, Glory is the second play to be hosted by the Coventry venue as part of Tamasha’s IGNITE programme, supporting emerging producers to develop work in regional theatres. This fusion of sport and theatre fusion coincides with Coventry’s Year of Health and Wellbeing and its year as European City of Sport in 2019. Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade


THEATRE: The Mousetrap, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Apr 8-13

Gwyneth Strong. Photo © Johan Persson

 Agatha Christie’s long-running whodunit is headed to Coventry this Spring in a gripping production by Adam Spiegel and Stephen Waley-Cohen.  Following its record-breaking 60th anniversary tour in 2012, the unstoppable West End hits the road again. Casting includes Gwyneth Strong as Mrs Boyle. Best known for her roles as Cassandra in Only Fools and Horses and as Geraldine Clough in EastEnders. It’s directed by Gareth Armstrong, former Artistic Director of Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre, Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade

MUSIC: Diane Click & Wes Swing, The Tin Music and Arts, Coventry, Fri Apr 12

American “intuitive” folk singer-songwriter Diane  Charlottesville, Virginia, contributed to New York’s burgeoning Antifolk scene in the early 2000s. Since then, Laura Marling, Florence Welch (of Florence And The Machine), and Sharon Van Etten have cited Diane’s work as influential. She is currently on a Spring 2019 UK tour and also hosting 5 Singing & Collaborative Songmaking workshops including London and Oxford.

Tickets here.

FAMILIES: Anatomical – The Buildy-Uppy Dance ShowWarwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Tue Apr 16 -Sat Apr 20

Children can let their imaginations run riot as hundreds of boxes are stacked, squashed and rebuilt in this one-hour show for ages 4+. Help create enticing caves, wonky castles and fabulous creatures, in a show that’s all about building friendships. Times: Tue 16 Apr – 2pm; Wed 17 – Sat 20 Apr 11am & 2pm, warwickartscentre

EVENT: Pizza & Prosecco Night, Hilltop Farm, Hunningham, nr Leamington Spa, Fri Apr 19

The Box are bringing their awesome wood-fired pizza oven horse box trailer and serving up freshly made to order pizzas made freshly and Hilltop Farm is providing the bubbles – it’s all set to be a great evening!  6pm-9pm.

THEATRE: The Half God of Rainfall, The REP Studio, Birmingham, Apr 13 – 20

Inua Ellams. Photo by Henry Nicholls

Multi-talented Nigerian-born poet, graphic artist and playwright Inua Ellams’s (The Barber Shop Chronicles) much-anticipated contemporary saga weaves poetry with storytelling in a majestic, chaotic journey across mythologies that transports us from a tiny village in Southern Nigeria to the home of the Gods and beyond. Box Office: 0121 236 4455 /

EXHIBITION: The Stories We Can Tell, The Stratford Gallery, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat Mar 30 – April 20

This new exhibition features a mix of paintings and ceramics by seven award-winning artists: Gareth Edwards, Jack Doherty, Melanie Goemans, Mitch Iburg, Alison Coaten, Victoria Eden and Joseph Ludkin, www.thestratfordgallery

NIGHT OUT: Kitchen Club Indie Disco, The Tin At The Coal Vaults, Canal Basin, Coventry, Apr 20

The original rock n roll indie kid

A proper indie shindig! Free until 10pm and £3 after. Ends 2am, https://thetinmusicandarts

THEATRE: Sidekick, Bridge House Theatre, Warwick School, Warwick, April 20

This new superhero musical sounds good fun, co-written by Alex Wilcox and Aron Sood, a composer, musical director and music teacher from Coventry who wrote the lyrics as part of his uni dissertation. You can see it before it heads up to the Edinburgh Fringe this summer. The premise? It’s the final year of university for Tom but he’s afraid he’ll never be good enough to become a superhero. When Lily mysteriously arrives with powers stronger than anyone else in the year Tom thinks she’ll be his best chance to improve. Little does Tom know that Lily isn’t there to study, only to hunt a shadow from her past…There’ll be performances at 6pm & 8pm,bridgehousetheatre

Love from Stourbridge, O2 Institute, Birmingham, Sun Apr 21

This takes me straight back to uni!  Two of Stourbridge’s finest exports, Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin will come together for the first time since 1989, with The Wonder Stuff’s Miles Hunt spinning the decks throughout the night,

CULTURE: Shakespeare’s Birthday celebrations, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat April 27 & Sun April 28

Join in the Bard’s 455th birthday celebrations across Stratford  kicking off with the traditional parade, community festivities and street entertainment including the second National Living Statue Competition. There’s free demos, drop-in activities, pop-up performances and workshops at the RSC’s Studio theatre, 12noon – 4.30pm, free entry to The Play’s The Thing exhibition in The Swan and the RSC’s latest exhibition, Digital Diorama,which imagines what a young William Shakespeare may have seen while growing up in Stratford-upon-Avon using augmented reality technology similar to popular apps like Pokemon Go and BBC Civilisations. And over at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Henley Street add your own origami swan to help fill the building with as many paper birds as possible in honour of the ‘Sweet Swan of Avon’ as he was nicknamed by his contemporary Ben Jonson.

THEATRE: Kunene and the King, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, ends Tue Apr 23


This touching  “beautifully written two-hander” (The Times), about a renowned but ailing actor taking on the role of King Lear, marks 25 years since the first democratic elections in South Africa. Written and performed by renowned South African actor, John Kani, opposite one of the finest actors of his generation Antony Sher. A co-production with Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre, it’s directed by the ‘doyenne’ of South African theatre Janice Honeyman.

Tickets here.

COMEDY:Bilal Zafar – Lovebots, Studio, Warwick Arts Centre, Wed Apr 24 

Edinburgh Comedy Awards Best Newcomer nominee 2016 and Hackney Empire New Act of the Year winner is back with his new show. Social media has been taken over by bots spreading hate, fear and influencing how we vote. In Lovebots, witty stand up comedian, writer and actor Bilal has made his own bots to fight back, except these bots only want to spread love and compassion, 7.45pm. Age 14+,

KIDS: The Worst Witch, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed Apr 24 – 27

Photo by Manuel Harlan

Long before Harry Potter or Hermione Grainger there was Mildred Hubble – an ordinary girl who found herself enrolled in a school for witches. Based on Jill Murphy’s classic series of children’s novels, this action-packed production sees Mildred return for her final year at Miss Cackle’s Academy, where some big surprises are in store. It’s been adapted for the stage by award-winning children’s writer Emma Reeves, lead writer on the much-loved The Worst Witch series on CBBC. Tickets available here or Tel: the box office on 024 7655 3055.

MUSIC: THE NEST COLLECTIVE – Sam Lee’s Singing with Nightingales Live, Warwick Arts Centre, Wed Apr 24 

Naturalist and Mercury Prize nominated folk artist Sam Lee and guests, Alice Zawadzki and Kadialy Kouyate, bring the celebrated Singing With Nightingales starlit walks indoors. Sounds cool! 8pm,

TALK: An Audience with Joanna Trollope, Warwick Arts Centre, Thu Apr 25 

Photo by Barker Evans

A fan of Cotswolds author Joanna Trollope? She’s been writing for more than 30 years and will discuss her long career, as well as her most recent book An Unsuitable Match, 7.30pm,

GIN CLUB: Puerto De Indias, Fizzy Moon Brewhouse, Leamington Spa, Thur Apr 25

If you love gin, tapas and live music you’re in for a treat! This 2018 Muddy Award-winning bar is teaming up with Seville-based Puerto De Indias distillery at this month’s Gin Club with live music by George Wilson and a luxury hamper up-for-grabs, starts 7pm, Tel: 01926 888717, fizzymoonbrewhouse

THEATRE: Le Gateau Chocolat’s Icons, Theatre, Warwick Arts Centre, Fri Apr 26 

Walking the tightrope between his public and private personas, Le Gateau Chocolat work extends beyond the world of drag performance – he has a busy career in the field of contemporary opera and performance. In this show, he explores relationships with our icons – the people, the moments, the books, the relationships that have come to shape us, or the ideal we aspire to. Expect an eclectic mix of music; pop to opera, Kate Bush, and Whitney, Elvis to Wagner and Shirley to Gershwin as Le Gateau investigates his own personal icons, 7.30pm. Age 14+, warwickartscentre

FAMILY: Knights and Nymphs Garden Party, Hall’s Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat April 27

Celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday in style, dress up as a Knight or a Nymph, enjoy garden games, a slice of birthday cake, a barbecue with burgers and Tudor recipe sausages, shortbread biscuits, sparkling wine and strawberries, at this beautiful property, as well as a face painting and storytelling, plenty of family fun, free entry for all Stratford-upon-Avon (CV37) residents (proof of address required), 12pm-4pm, shakespeare;

COMEDY: Kiri Pritchard-McLean – Victim, Complex, Studio, Warwick Arts Centre,  Fri Apr 26 

You might have seen Kiri on the television. You might have no idea who she is, that’s fine too. What you should know is, she’s very quietly been going mad for a few years.So, it’s time to talk about victims, love and lies. You might not believe her, but she’s used to that, 7.45pm. Age 16+,

KIDS: Meet the Lambs, Hilltop Farm, Hunningham, nr Leamington Spa until Sat Apr 27

During the Easter holidays, the lovely lambs at Hilltop will be making a guest appearance for guests to hold and feed – on April 19, 25, 26 and 27. This is a ticket only event (£4.36 each).

Book here: hilltopfarmshop

KIDS: Family fun Hillers Farm Shop, Alcester, Wed Apr 24 & Thurs Apr 25

Easter fun at Hillers includes free archery (10am – 5pm), birds of prey and pony rides (Thurs, 10.30am – 3pm). There’s also an Easter garden trail, seed planting and welly wanging.

LITTLIES: The Twirlywoos Live, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, Tue Apr 23 & Wed Apr 24

Come and see Great BigHoo, Toodloo, Chickedy and Chick on tour as they set sail around the UK to welcome young fans for a 50-minute theatrical adventure with beautifully inventive puppetry and a cast full of favourite characters from the hit CBeebies TV show, royalspacentreandtownhall

 NIGHT OUT: 150 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong, The Tin At The Coal Vaults, Coventry, Sat Apr 27

Apparently, after the amazing turnout last year, a second night has been planned celebrating the life and legacy of Mark E. Smith, following his untimely death aged 60 last January. DJs will be spinning The Fall, Reggae, Northern Soul, Garage Psych and other weird stuff. Quirky! £4, 8pm – 2am, tickets here.

FOOD: Rugby Vegan Fest 2019, The Benn Hall, Rugby, Sun Apr 28 

There’ll be lots of vegan food stalls, family entertainment and Vegan Prosecco while you shop!

Tickets £3 and under 12s go free, bennhall

Find more ideas here

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Warwickshire