August Bank Holiday Weekend
FRI AUG 23 - MON AUG 26
ANIMALS: Shakes-paw’s Day, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat 24 Aug
If you have a four-legged friend don’t forget , 10am-4pm – Bring your dog, a picnic and join in the fun with plenty of activities and competitions on National Dog Day. See all the family events at Shakespeare family homes.
FESTIVAL: The Big Feastival, Kingham, Oxfordshire, Fri Aug 23 – Sun Aug 25
For foodie families The Big Feastival, based on the farm of cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James in Kingham, Oxon, is a goodie. Top-notch chefs for the grown-ups (including Raymond Blanc, Jodie Kidd and Pru Leith), heaps for kids (circus top, playground, fair and activities) and a stellar pop line-up of Jess Glynne, Lewis Capaldi, Jade Bird and Rudimental.
FESTIVAL: Party in the Park, St. Nicholas Park, Warwick, Mon 26 Aug
All the ingredients for an idyllic bank holiday bash; bouncy castles, entertainment, traditional stalls, food and drink. If you’re feeling adventurous, hire a boat to sail up the river for the best view of Warwick Castle, or stroll into the town to cool off in a cafe.
Bank Holiday Family Fun, Hillers Farm Shop, Alcester, Aug 24 & 25
The 4-acre Maize Maze is due to open daily from early August, £3 per child, and the miniature railway will be in action this weekend. Over the summer holidays also be on the lookout for birds of prey displays and ponies, on the farm’s social media platforms. Always open is the sandpit and secluded bird hide where over 40 species of birds have been spotted to date such as woodpeckers and nuthatches, hillers
This week you can see Leamington’s excellent travelling theatre company Heartbreak Productions back in our ‘hood:
- Wed Aug 21 Wuthering Heights, Foundry Wood, Leamington Spa, 6pm
Warley Woods The Pavilion, 101 Lightwoods Hill, Smethwick,
- Wed Aug 21 Private Lives, Warley Woods The Pavilion, 101 Lightwoods Hill, Smethwick, 3pm
Kingsbury Water Park, Sutton Coldfield
- Sat Aug 31 Gangsta Granny, Kingsbury Water Park, Sutton Coldfield, 5pm
Plus, catch Romeo & Juliet at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, from Tues Aug 20 – Thur Sept 5, as Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre pitches up for summer following a successful inaugural season in York last year. The 13-sided scaffolding theatre, with three tiers of covered seating and open courtyard for ‘groundlings’, will be accompanied by a Shakespearean Village selling local ales, ice cream and side shows.
CRAFT: Bookbinding Course, Bonds Lifestyle, Dodwell, nr Stratford-upon-Avon, Sun 25 Aug
We couldn’t ask for a more inspiring, aesthetically irresistible place to indulge in some creative pursuits than Bonds. Marie-Jeanne from Syllabubble teaches us how to craft a 32-page hard-backed notebook, arming us with the skills to reproduce more at home. Who can feel a homemade Christmas coming on? Spending a Sunday surrounded by unique, quirky, design-led interior goodies sounds an idyllic respite to life…and the promise of their revamped café, with its seasonal, locally-sourced menu and beautiful glass frontage, has sealed the deal.
ART: Wonder by Davy and Kristin McGuire, Herbet Art Gallery & Museum, until Sun 15 Sep
Following their contribution to Hull’s successful year as UK City of Culture, artistic duo Davy and Kristin are exhibiting their work in Coventry ahead of its turn wearing the cultural crown in 2021. Their work is inspired by the shady underworld of Film Noir and concepts of femme fatale and the fallen heroine. A series of intricate, animated, wall-mounted dollhouses and bell jars with silent digital projections tell stories that juxtapose adulthood and childhood. Don’t miss this intense exhibition, along with the rest of the enchanting Wonder project which has received rave reviews since opening in June and has seen over 13,000 visitors immersing themselves in art through the medium of modern technology.
Wonder closes at 4pm on Sun 15 Sep.
THEATRE: New Season at The Albany Theatre, Coventry, open for booking from Mon 19 Aug
A sparkling autumn/winter programme of dance, music, drama and comedy at the beautiful art deco Albany Theatre includes the UK premier of Come Dance with Me, a poignant and darkly funny family saga with all the glory of ballroom and the golden age of Hollywood era dance. Based on a true story, this new play tells the compelling tale of two young girls’ hopes and dreams and their extraordinary survival through the challenges of the tumultuous years between WWII to 1951. The spectacular, heart-warming show stars Sam Archer, fresh from his lead in Emma Rice’s highly acclaimed Wise Children and is choreographed by award-winning Richard Marcel, who trained Madonna, Britney and the Strictly couples. Further drama comes from Beyond Therapy, a funny and touching rom-com looking at love in the modern world, starring Tracy Shaw (Coronation Street) and Matt Lapinskas (EastEnders). If music and spoken word poetry is more your thing there’s a series of stripped-back acoustic sessions including the Birmingham poet, activist and Peaky Blinders star Benjamin Zephaniah’s The Life And Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah, based on his autobiography. Plenty for the youngsters too, including such treats as The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, Dear Zoo Live and a stage adaptation of award-winning author Michael Morpurgo’s I Believe in Unicorns . The year is brought to a magical close with the funny, fantastical Snow Queen – but not before you’ve enjoyed the huge range of other delights in the full autumn/winter programme!
EVENT: Dragon Slayer, Warwick Castle, Wed 7 Aug – Mon 26 Aug
You can read our review of the castle’s inaugural digital projection installation, Dragon Slayer here. It was pretty spectacular and jaw-dropping in parts! It’s returning with even more projection breathing fire into late summer evenings this August in a family-friendly show of jousting, pyrotechnics, stunt riding and stunning fireworks. The show stars live actors and an epic light projection onto the grandiose walls of the magnificent Warwick Castle. There’ll be a choice of catering vans Tickets start at £20 for the show only, or various packages are available to include food and drink. Gates open 7pm; show time 8.30pm-10pm.
POP-UP: The Modist, Bicester Village, Bicester, 12 Aug – 24 Sept
Dubai-based luxury online brand The Modest pops up in Bicester Village this summer with its first European boutique (I need that pink dress, like, immediately). The brand will have pieces from contemporary labels as well as from its own brand LAYEUR. bicestervillage.com
THEATRE: Measure for Measure, RSC, Stratford-Upon-Avon, now until 29 Aug
No, it’s not The Sound of Music but Gregory Doran’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s dark comedy about a young novice nun compromised by a corrupt official! The Guardian has already declared it “the best RSC show of the summer..”a perfectly judged portrait of public hypocrisy and seething sexuality”. An unmissable rarely performed 400-year-old tale set in early 1900 Vienna, it stars the excellent Worcester-born Lucy Phelps as Isabella, and Sandy Grierson as Angelo, (above) and remains astutely relevant today. rsc
The Dell, Avonbank Gardens, Stratford upon Avon
On weekends during the summer the Royal Shakespeare Company’s outdoor theatre, The Dell, plays host to a range of lively student, community and semi-professional productions. All of the productions in this quaint riverside setting in Avonbank Gardens, near Holy Trinity Church, are free. New for this year is an ingenious app allowing audiences to receive captions on their phones – perfect if you’re hard-of-hearing or at the back!
Check-out the 2019 programme.
THEATRE: Venice Preserved, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Sept 7
Actor/Director/Writer Prasanna Puwanarajah, who recently appeared in Doctor Foster and Patrick Melrose, directs a dark, dystopian production of this rarely-performed Restoration cross-class love story by Thomas Otway, playing in the intimate setting of the Swan Theatre. Tickets here.
EXHIBITION: A Tea Journey – From the Mountains to the Table, Compton Verney, Sat 6 Jul – 22 Sep
Ever wondered how the nation’s favourite brew goes from plant to pot? Or how this Chinese tradition became to be to treasured by British society? Learn all about the humble cup of tea, from history to ecology. Be absorbed by The Tea Sensorium – a multi-sensory experience incorporating olfactory and visual exploration, plus workshops, discussions and a modern Japanese bamboo Umbrella Tea House being shipped especially from Japan for the exhibition! Rare teaware from China, Japan and India is on display, with responses by contemporary artists including Robin Best, Adam Buick, Phoebe Cummings, Charlotte Hodes, Takahiro Kondo, Ian McIntyre, Bruce Nuske, Selina Nwulu, Bouke ve Vries, Hetain Patel, Paul Scott, Julian Stair and Edmund de Waal. To find out more see here.
EXHIBITION: The Move and Play exhibition, Coventry Transport Museum, until Nov 10
A good one to visit with the kids during the summer holidays, this exhibition, created by Heureka Overseas Productions – a division of the Finnish Science Centre – has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors during stints in Bangkok and Hong Kong, as well as Germany and the Netherlands. It consists of 19 different physical challenges designed to put your senses to the test. From disco donuts to nostalgic tennis, thermal cameras to tightrope walking – activities encourage visitors to be active through collaborative, non-sporting activities – the majority of which are accessible to visitors of all abilities. Team up in activities such as Team Stomp, a game where the more enthusiastically you stomp your feet, the faster your virtual character will advance in the competition. There are also individual activities, such as ‘How Accurately Can You Kick?’ where you must kick a ball at electronic targets to score maximum points and see if you have what it takes to be the next football star!
If you are a Coventry resident make sure you sign up to a GoCV card for free entry, www.go-cv.co.uk
THEATRE: The Provoked Wife, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Sept 7
Comedians Rufus Hound and Les Dennis, are joining Alexandra Gilbreath (Lady Brute), Caroline Quentin (Lady Fancyfull) and Jonathan Slinger (Sir John Brute) in a riotous new production of the outspoken restoration romp that shocked 17th century society, directed by Phillip Breen (The Hypocrite, The Shoemaker’s Holiday, The Merry Wives of Windsor), rsc.org.uk
THEATRE: The Taming of the Shrew, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Aug 31
Justin Audibert’s gender-switched adaptation in which sexes are presented in reversed roles has been largely very well received. 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
THEATRE: As You Like It, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Aug 31
Kimberley Sykes’ beguiling As You Like It has 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, rsc.org.uk, Tel: 01789 403493.
EXHIBITION: The Aerodrome: An Exhibition Dedicated to the Memory of Michael Stanley, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, now until Sun 8 Sep
Michael Stanley was Curator of Ikon before becoming Director of Milton Keynes Gallery and then Modern Art Oxford. He died tragically in 2012 and this exhibition is a tribute to a much-adored man. Co-curated with David Austen and George Shaw, the exhibition is loosely based on a novel that had a strong impact on Michael – Rex Warner’s The Aerodrome, published in 1941.The novel painted the struggles faced by a young war hero and had great impact on writers including Orwell, Burgess and Ballard. Given that it explores modern dystopias, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments, it seems pertinent to revisit this novel in the current turbulent times we live in. Events guide & workshops here
EXHIBITION: Living with History, Hall’s Croft cafe, Stratford upon Avon, now until Sept 29
Fourteen photographs by William Mulryne offer a fresh perspective of Stratford-upon-Avon – after the tourists have gone home! They include this lovely portrait of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s honorary president, Professor Stanley Wells in his office. Professor Wells is a Shakespearean scholar, writer, editor and professor emeritus at the University of Birmingham. Stratford-born William, who has Asperger Syndrome studied photography at Stratford-upon-Avon College and documents everyday life in the town. He said: “Stratford-upon-Avon is an amazing place with a special feeling. Asperger Syndrome made growing up a series of experiences, everything was 100% interesting. I experienced cars, music, elevators: the sounds and the way they moved, working out how they worked and being mesmerised by the visual movement.” Living with History at Hall’s Croft café is free, shakespeare.org.uk/visit/halls-croft/living-history
FESTIVAL: Reading Festival 2019, Richfield Avenue Reading, Fri 23 – Sun 25 Aug
Are you ready to rock? Music fans will be swarming into the Richfield Avenue site to see headliners Foo Fighters, Post Malone and The 1975 at Reading Festival. It’s not all male artists, top female performers include Los Angeles singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, Charli XCX and the excellent Amsterdam-born singer Pip Blom. The line-up of top comedians includes Josh Widdicombe, Russell Kane and Shappi Khorsandi. There will be mosh pits, warm beer, overpriced dirty burgers and a plethora of celebrating/commiserating GCSE and A level students, post results. Music and mayhem guaranteed.
Brighton MOD Weekender, Madeira Drive and other venues, Thurs 22 – Sun 25
I was in Brighton this time last summer when this was on. It was like stepping back in time. There’s rows and rows of retro Vespas and groovy Sixties fashions as hundreds descend on Brighton seafront for this annual MOD Weekender. It’s centred around Volks Tavern near the Palace Pier – the setting for Quadrophenia. There’s live bands on Saturday afternoon and scooter judging on Sunday afternoon followed by a motorcade to Peacehaven departing around 3pm. Ticketed events will take place in the evenings from Thurs at the Komedia in town, plus look out for DJ sessions, record stores, vintage clothes, art and memorabilia.
CULTURE: Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, ends Aug 26
Edinburgh’s cultural fandango kicks off this month and is well worth the trip way (way, way) up north with the whole city buzzing with creativity, comedy, theatre, arts, crafts and street performances. Far too many shows to list in detail (over 1,200 groups perform across the city each day!) but highlights include Ian Stirling (of Love Island voiceover fame), Russell Howard, Frank Skinner, plus loads more familiar faces. Full programme here. Check out the Muddy best of guide here.
WILDLIFE: Rhino Month, Cotswold Wildlife Park, nr Burford, throughout Aug
Cotswold Wildlife Park, nr Burford, is a guaranteed hit with kids who love all things furry, creepy and crawly. It has the little fellas – penguins, lemurs and reptiles – as well as the big guns, including lions, rhinos (FYI Aug is Rhino month with daily talks) and giraffes (try out the Giraffe Walkway where you can stroll up to eye-level with the animals). There’s also a cute railway, adventure playground and children’s farmyard.
EXHIBITION: A new collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s designs at The Wallace Collection, London, until Sun 1 Sept
Must-see exhibitions in London this month include a new collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s designs at The Wallace Collection above, which contrasts the designer’s work with paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement. The intimate collection has been curated by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives. Also at the V&A is the the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, it’s sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance, or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A (until 1 Sept). The major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain is also worth a gander, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery (until 11 Aug). And finally, if you’re heading up north, there’s the new Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene, the exhibit features 85 works including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.
ART: Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, until Sept 22
Over at Milton Keynes’ mega new MK Gallery you can see the largest retrospective of the political artist’s work in England for 20 years with pieces focusing on gender discrimination, violence, slavery, abortion and political tyranny.
Professor Brian Cox – Universal: Adventures in Space and Time, Arena Birmingham, Sep 21
Champion of the lay explanation, Professor Cox, brings his brand new stellar show back to Birmingham Arena. He was here in February and achieved (yet another) Guinness World Records title for ‘Most tickets sold for a science show’ – so now, due to popular demand, he’s coming back to Brum in September! Book up for a brainy, awe-inspiring out of this world experience here.
THEATRE: Season of Love and Belonging, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, new autumn/winter season
Forgive me for thinking of autumn already, but I’m eagerly awaiting a whole host of new shows to get my teeth into! The Belgrade Theatre has unveiled its full programme for the Season of Love and Belonging, which has a heart-warming theme of ‘family, friendship and finding love’ and bookings are now being taken. Perfect for those chilly nights! Hard-hitting drama Holding the Centre written by Brum writer Joan Carty kicks us off, followed by New Bollywood breath-taker Stardust from Phizzical. Next, we come over all gothic with Rona Munro’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein. One of the highlights of the stonking season is Club 2B, a unique experience of live music, food, drink, and immersive drama, which is the explosive collaborative effort of Strictly Arts and the Belgrade. Check out the full programme with your diary at the ready!
Tix include food and drink. Gates open 7pm; show time 8.30pm-10pm.