DANCE & CIRCUS
The biggie this month is Matthew Bourne’s acclaimed stage adaptation of The Red Shoes, at Birmingham Hippodrome, (Tues Feb 11 – Sat Feb 15), set to romantic music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann. The story follows a girl’s dream of becoming the greatest dancer in the world, and it’s Matthew Bourne, so there’s no doubt the moves will be excellent.
Warwick Arts Centre has two nicely timed Valentine’s Day treats. Starring internationally renowned Argentinean superstars German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi, Tango Fire (Feb 12) presents a fiery and explosive journey through the history of authentic Argentine tango. Sizzling and sensual!
If you prefer something a little more romantic, join Birmingham Royal Ballet’s world-class dancers and acclaimed Royal Ballet Sinfonia as they make their Warwick Arts Centre debut with A Valentine’s Celebration of Music and Dance (Feb 15). Expect exquisite extracts from Swan Lake, Giselle and Don Quixote, plus stunning orchestral passages from Puccini, Strauss and Tchaikovsky.
Ballet’s greatest love story Swan Lake returns in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s lavish production (Tues Feb 18 – Feb 29). This romantic fable of ill-fated passion, powerfully illuminated by Tchaikovsky’s legendary score played live by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, has bewitched audiences for generations. There’s also a relaxed version on Tue Feb 25.
Other highlights this month include:
Limina Immersive: Cirque du Soleil in Virtual Reality, Warwick Arts Centre, Sat Feb 8 & Sun Feb 9
Pop on a headset and dive into the surreal world of acclaimed circus troupe, Cirque Du Soleil, through the wonders of virtual reality. Immerse yourself in three thrilling VR films that will transport you to vibrant lands, rich with strange spectacles and illusions, where fire and water dance and mystical beings roam. With oceanic acrobatics, breathtaking battles, snake-like contortions and astonishing aerials, this spectacular journey of the senses is not to be missed. warwickartscentre
Far from the Norm: BLKDOG, Warwick Arts Centre, Tue Feb 11
BLKDOG is Botis Seva’s haunting commentary on surviving adulthood as a childlike artist. A genre-defying blend of hip hop dance and free form antics, BLKDOG explores the inner battlefield of an ageing artist trying to retain his youth. warwickartscentre
DX – Wasteleand, Patrick Studio, Birmngham Hippodrome, Thur Feb 27 & Fri Feb 28
A premiere of Gary Clarke Company’s sequel to Coal. In 1994, hundreds of coal miners hung up their pit boots as Grimethorpe Colliery was destroyed. Wasteland, looks at how two generations coped in this era of radical upheaval. As we see one generation grind to a halt, we follow the next into the 90s illegal rave scene. Bringing together Clarke’s vivid physical dance language, a community cast of singers, brass musicians, archive film and powerful rave soundtrack, Wasteland dives head first into a gritty story of loss, hope, escapism and survival. For ages 14+ birminghamhippodrome
January blues? Feb is upping the comedy stakes so there’s plenty to get you laughing again including headline performances at Warwick Arts Centre from Father Ted and Death In Paradise star Ardal O’Hanlon (Feb 27) fearful of being on the wrong side of history in The Showing Off Must Go On.
Other comedians heading to the Coventry venue this month include rising Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer-nominee Sarah Keyworth (Feb 22), 8 Out Of 10 Cats’ Jimmy Carr (Feb 2, Apr 23, Jun 23), Milton Jones (Feb 8 & Oct 17), and Jayde Adams’ The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face, (Sun Feb 23).
Book now for Mock The Week’s Andy Parsons (Mar 6) and The Fast Show’s Arabella Weir (Mar 10) and Lucy Porter’s Be Prepared (Mar 1), warwickartscentre
Sukh Ojla – Life Sukhs, Warwick Arts Centre, Sun Feb 9
Following her debut solo run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2019, Sukh Ojla brings her brilliant solo comedy hour to the city. Join Sukh as she tries to figure out how to move forward in reverse. From dealing with mental illness to moving back in with her parents, Sukh explores mental health, identity, and living a double life in a searingly honest look at what happens when life doesn’t go to plan, warwickartscentre.co.uk
UK tour premiere, Dom Joly – Holiday Snaps: Travel & Comedy in the Danger Zone, Albany Theatre, Coventry, Thurs Feb 13
Probably best known as the creator of Trigger Happy TV, Dom Joly, who famously attended school with Osama Bin Laden and appeared on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, has turned his considerable comedy skills to travel writing and broadcasting and is undertaking his first UK tour since 2011. This event is a rare opportunity to see him live and he’s kicking it all off The Albany! Having visited some of the most unusual places on the planet he’ll be revealing his anecdotes and exploits as a serial globe-trotter and seeker of dangerous travel spots; from North Korea through the Congo and Syria to Chernobyl and beyond…Armed with a trusty Powerpoint, fans can expect his holiday snaps to provide a compelling combination of comedy and danger.
Tickets, £19. albanytheatre, Tel the box office on 02476 99 89 64 or visit in person at the theatre on Albany Road.
Lana Del Rey, Resorts World, Birmingham, Sat Feb 29
Lana Del Rey follows up last year’s incredible Norman F****** Rockwell album with a new one, White Hot Forever, and will be taking to the stage to share it this month.
Kicking of a national tour, Olivier Award-winning OperaUpClose is collaborating with Belgrade Theatre Coventry on a new English version of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly, Thur Feb 6. Retold in 80s Japan, the opera collides traditional Japanese culture with the new digital age, with a cast of eight singers and four live musicians ahead of a UK tour.
The London-based composer and performer Anna Meredith (below), brings her second studio album, FIBS, to Warwick Arts Centre as part of her latest UK tourWarwick Arts Centre, (Sun Feb 9). Arriving three and a half years on from the release of her Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning debut studio album Varmints, FIBS is 45 minutes of technicolour maximalism, almost perpetual rhythmic reinvention, and boasts a visceral richness and unparalleled accessibility. Anna is a former composer-in-residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, warwickartscentre
Other forthcoming highlights at the same venue include the return of David McAlmont & Alex Webb, showcasing new album The Last Bohemians (Thur Feb 13) and Japan’s breath-taking Kodo drummers for Kodo: Legacy, (Feb 14), which finds the powerful percussionists combining exciting new works with signature pieces from across their 40 years of touring.
You can also catch Quercus (Sun Feb 16) – three of the UK’s most creative, multi award winning musicians – legendary folk singer June Tabor, saxophonist and composer Iain Bellamy and pianist Huw Warren – to create exquisite chamber music that weaves together the essence of folk and jazz. At independent music venue, The Tin in Coventry, Iain is back again in Cov with the Iain Ballamy Quartet on Feb 20.
“If more black youngsters are to be inspired to take up classical music, these are the authentic role models they need.” The Times said of Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first professional orchestra comprised of a majority of black and minority ethnic (BME) musicians, who will be performing at the Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, (Mon Feb 17). Tai Murray, a former BBC New Generation Artist is the soloist in Bruch’s ever-popular Violin Concerto and Chineke! celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth with a performance of his 7th Symphony.
Each of its programmes includes works by composers of BME heritage and this programme opens with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Othello Suite taken from incidental music written for a production of the play in 1911, and including the bewitching Children’s Intermezzo.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Butterworth Hall, Wed Feb 26
A Warwick Arts Centre debut for the phenomenal Mariam Batsashvili. A BBC New Generation Artist, in 2014 she became the first woman ever to win the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in Utrecht – and when you hear her play Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto, you’ll realise why. It’s positively devilish. Let the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and its principal associate conductor Alexander Shelley sweep you off your feet: to a world of glittering excess, swashbuckling thrills and sheer, silken seduction, all painted in sumptuous orchestral technicolor. It’s the only possible climax for a concert that begins with the untamed passion of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde – the tale of a love as strong as death.
BOOK NOW! Alicia Keys, Arena Birmingham (soon to be Utilita Arena Birmingham), 8 June
Following the announcement of Alicia – The World Tour, tickets have just gone on sale this week for the Grammy award-winner’s only West Midlands concert. Her seventh studio album ALICIA is set to be released on March 20. Tickets via theticketfactory or by calling 0844 33 88 222 *Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.
Clear your diary ASAP as this month is absolutely chocca with brilliant theatre. Roll call, please!
The Whip, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat Feb 1 – Sat March 21
This provocative new play by award-winning playwright, journalist and University of Birmingham creative fellow, Juliet Gilkes Romero already has attracted a real buzz. It’s set at the beginning of the 19th Century in London as politicians of all parties come together to abolish the slave trade. The price of freedom turns out to be a multi-billion pound bailout for slave owners rather than those enslaved. Two women navigate their way to the true seat of political influence, challenging members of parliament who dare deny them their say. Directed by the super-talented Kimberley Sykes (Dido, Queen of Carthage, 2017; As You Like It, 2019).
King John, The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon now until Fri 20 Mar
Catch one of Shakespeare’s rarely-performed works as director Eleanor Rhode makes an “engrossing” debut in the Swan Theatre. Stirring an uneasy semblance to the present day, King John tells of a nation in turmoil and a preening king, played by Rosie Sheehy, who will stop at nothing to keep the crown. The Guardian says the production “tingles with a tangible sense of spontaneity”.
Revenge, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Thur Feb 13 – Sat Feb 15
Coventry audiences will be among the first to experience a brand new on-stage thriller when Robin Hawdon’s Revenge comes to town. After opening at London’s Greenwich Theatre, the suspense-filled production is now embarking on a UK tour. Directed by Louise Jameson, the play tells the story of Bill Crayshaw MP. Hailed in the corridors of Parliament, lauded in business and loved at home, Crayshaw seems to live a charmed life – until he returns from a business trip to discover that his party agent has been killed. Best known for her acting work, director Louise Jameson starred in Doctor Who as Leela with Tom Baker, Tenko, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole. Soap fans will also recognise her as EastEnders’ Rosa DiMarco, a part she played in over 200 episodes. Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, www.belgrade.co.uk
Humans at Work, Warwick Arts Centre, Thur Feb 20 & Fri Feb 21
A new National Lottery Heritage Funded Great Places project in collaboration with The University of Warwick’s Department of Film and Television Studies and Photo Archive Miners, that brings to light Coventry’s industrial past and looks at how the workplace has changed. Drawing on interviews with the local community in Coventry, specifically factory workers who worked at the General Electric Company in the 50s, 60s and 70s, the project culminates in a theatre production led by writer Stephanie Ridings and award-winning playwright Greg Homann. In this new show, memories and the words of those that were there will be interwoven with real-life accounts of today’s Coventry-based workspaces, Tickets £3. warwickartscentre
Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, Tues Feb 25-29
From the same team behind award-winning The Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong comes to Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre fresh from it’s Christmas West End run. This humorous take on J.M Barrie’s children’s tale is promising technical hitches, flying mishaps and cast disputes. Looks like a goodie for feel-good family fun. Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade
Stan’s Café: Home of the Wriggler, Warwick Arts Centre, Wed Feb 26
Birmingham’s own Stan’s Cafe, who have been touring to international acclaim since 1991, perform this playful kaleidoscopic soap opera. Set far into the future, in a post-oil world, Home of the Wriggler follows four investigators enthusiastically piecing together the interwoven stories of families that once lived in the shadow of Birmingham’s Longbridge car plant. 12+.
LUNG’s Trojan Horse, Warwick Arts Centre, Thur Feb 27 & Fri Feb 28
Trojan Horse was a local story that hit the national press, accusing ‘hardline’ Muslim teachers and governors of plotting extremism in Birmingham schools. Adapted from the real-life testimonies of those at the heart of the UK Government’s inquiry, critically acclaimed theatre-company LUNG investigate what really happened. LUNG won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and Fringe First Award 2018.
CHILDREN & TEENS THEATRE
Want to culture the littlies (and keep ’em shtum for an hour) and something to entertain teens? Here’s the best children’s and YA theatre doing the rounds this month.
This exuberant, beautifully directed and moving new musical, based on the best-selling children’s novel by David Walliams, is only on for another month *sob. It features 16 original songs by Robbie Williams and his long-term writing partner Guy Chambers. It’s directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and adapted by former RSC writer-in-residence Mark Ravenhill. You’ll be toe-tapping and singing the songs for weeks after! Tickets are half price for children – up to four can go with one adult and if you like to live on the edge how about a last minute Friday Rush tickets. Tickets are put on sale every Friday from midday to 4pm only, for shows the following week. There’s a limited number of tickets from £10 or £20, for selected performances!
Box Office: 01789 331111, RSC
All Wrapped Up, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Thur 6 – Sat 8 Feb
I used to love taking my kids to Oily Cart’s interactive productions when they were small. Unwrap a world of imagination in their latest mischievous, wintery show for under-5’s. Magical characters, hilarious creatures and hidden lands are brought to life through light, shadow and music. Join in as they uncover the sensory stories hidden in scrunched up paper, and create your own after the show. The perfect wintery theatrical treat. Box Office: 024 7652 4524, warwickartscentre
UK premiere of Crongton Knights, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Sat Feb 8 – 22
What do you get if you bring together an award-winning YA novel, an inventive beatbox soundscape by Edinburgh Fringe rising star Conrad Murray, six courageous kids and the producing powerhouse behind 2019’s sell-out production of Noughts and Crosses? The answer is a new staging of Alex Wheatle’s explosive coming of age adventure. Adapted for the stage by acclaimed playwright Emteaz Hussain, Crongton Knights is co-directed by Pilot Theatre’s Esther Richardson (Noughts and Crosses) and the Belgrade’s own 2021 Co-Artistic Director Corey Campbell (Club 2B, Freeman). Box office on 024 7655 3055, www.belgrade.co.uk
Holes, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Feb 18-22
A vibrant new touring production of Louis Sachar’s Holes opens at the Belgrade this month. Two of my kids could not put this book down when they were in Year 6 – and to see what the fuss was all about I read it too. Adapted by the award-winning author from his own much-loved children’s book, Holes brings the gripping story of Camp Green Lake and its inmates vividly to life on stage, using puppetry, music and theatrical magic to recreate their incredible adventures. Box office on 024 7655 3055, www.belgrade.co.uk
The Little Prince, Warwick Arts Centre, Thur Feb 27 – Sat Feb 29
Don’t miss poet and playwright Inua Ellams’ magical retelling of The Little Prince. In his adaptation of the much-loved story by Antoine de Saint-Euxpéry, the Little Prince descends from an African race in a parallel galaxy. He travels across universes, seeking help to bring peace to his warring planet. His journey as a galactic emigrant takes us through solar systems of odd planets with strange beings, and addresses climate change, morality and how a little person can make a big difference. Children and adults will be transported to the world of The Little Prince with puppetry, music of North African heritage and rich Afro-futurist aesthetic.
The Slightly Annoying Elephant, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Tues Feb 25 – Thur Feb 27
This half term Coventry will be getting an unexpected visit from someone big and blue and bossy when The Slightly Annoying Elephant stomps into town as part of a UK tour. Internationally acclaimed puppetry company Little Angel Theatre present a hilarious adaptation of the best-selling book, written by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross. Perfect for kids aged 3-8, the show tells the story of a boy called Sam, who gets a BIG surprise when a tired, hungry elephant shows up on his doorstep. It turns out that Sam got much more than he bargained for when he adopted an elephant at the zoo, not realising that it would actually come to live with him – silly boy! Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade
BOOK NOW! Sally Cookson’s A Monster Calls, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Mar 3-7
The Olivier Award-winning adaptation of Patrick Ness’ YA novel for ages 10+ heads out on its first UK tour passing through Cov. Based on the Carnegie and Greenaway Medal-winning novel (the only book ever to receive both awards), written by Patrick Ness and inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, this powerful production sees the tale of love and loss brought vividly to life by visionary director Sally Cookson (La Strada, Hetty Feather, Jane Eyre). The show is an Old Vic production in association with Bristol Old Vic. Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade
ART GALLERIES & MUSEUMS
Fresh Air February Weekends, Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, Sat 15 -Sun 16 & Sat 22–Sun 23 February
Wrap up warm, pack a picnic and head to Compton Verney for two special open weekends. There will be family-friendly, outdoor activities at the Forest School and playground and plenty to explore throughout the park, with an opportunity to try a new history trail. Look out for snowdrops and maybe some daffodils, 10.30am – 3pm. **New for 2020** dogs will be permitted to join their owners on a visit. Access will be restricted to certain areas to protect the art gallery and the local ecology, and there will be a code of conduct for owners to follow. February Half Term is the perfect opportunity for dog owners to be among the first to test out pooch-friendly paths and walking routes. Admission: £5, Under 5s free. Forest School: £3 per child.
Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, Warwickshire, CV35 9HZ, comptonverney / 01926 645500.
Quinn: A Journey, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, Feb 14 – Sun May 31
An installation by Cornwall-based photographer, artist and writer Lottie Davies exploring ‘grief, loneliness and the human search for meaning’. Although a fictional story of a young man, William Henry Quinn, who walks from the south west of England to the far north of Scotland in post-Second World War Britain the work responds to the real-world experiences of young men and women post-trauma in the early 20th century and now. Her work has been described by former National Portrait Gallery Director Sandy Nairne as “brilliantly imaginative”. She uses large format photography, with Horseman or Wista 5×4 cameras.*There will be a talk with Lottie on Feb 19, 6-8pm at The Herbert; Quinn: Performance & In Conversation takes place at Coventry Cathedral, from 2pm on Sun May 17.
Curator-led Trail, Warwick University campus, Wed Feb 26 & Sat Feb 29 (12noon)
Join one of the Mead Gallery curators for an hour-long walking introduction to a selection of artworks in the University of Warwick Art Collection, as well as The Good and The Bad – two giant dinosaur sculptures by the acclaimed artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. Later in the year there will be a Family Dino Day (Sun May 17) and an Art & Wellbeing Walk (Wed June 2).
The Boy in the Dress themed half-term activities at the RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will have a whole host of fabulous activities for young people based around its heart-warming new musical The Boy in the Dress (see above for details) this February Half Term which is on until early March. Highlights include: a day learning the dance moves to Robbie Williams and Guy Chamber’s songs from The Boy in the Dress with Associate Choreographer Carl Harrison; decorating a dress-shaped biscuit and eating it too in a workshop led by the RSC’s own pastry chefs (yum!) and smashing stereotypes with artist Megan Clark-Bagnell in a day of creative-making that breaks all the rules and celebrates the differences in all of us! rsc.org.uk/februaryhalfterm, Tel: 01789 331111.
Get Hands on With History at Kenilworth Castle – Knights and Princesses, Sat 15 Feb – 23
Get set for a truly historic half term and discover what it was like to live, work and fight in a real-life castle. Whether it’s learning to sword fight or transforming into a little lord or lady, there’s plenty of hands-on fun to keep the kids entertained. And once the little adventurers have put their skills to the test, let imaginations run wild as you explore Kenilworth’s mighty castle walls, 11am – 4pm. English Heritage/KenilworthCastle
The UK’s only Medieval Festival of Archery, Warwick Castle, Feb 15-23
Encounter the centuries-old art of archery like never before at the UK’s only Medieval Festival of Archery and marvel at the incredible skill and agility of birds of prey in a Winter Birds of Prey display. Discover over 1100 years of history exploring all the attractions and castle grounds.
Wonderful Weaving, The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, Feb 15 – 29
Two weeks of colourful woven craft daily activities to celebrate the city’s weaving history from cardboard circle weaving – a fun way for children to learn weaving, using cardboard circles to using recyclable materials to make a stunning woven bowl. Designed for age 3+, but all are welcome, £2.50.
Make and Play Engineers – Pixel Art, Coventry Transport Museum, Feb 19 – 26
Pixel art is used to make characters for computer games. Without using computer screens, explore patterns, contrasts and colours as they would be used in pixel art. Kids are tasked with building extraordinary imaginative creatures that could have escaped from computer games using the museum’s resources (from carpet tubes to pipes). Designed for age 2 – 8, but all are welcome.
On Sat Feb 15 young rugby fans can get ready for the Six Nations by using screen printing techniques to design and print their own t-shirt to support their fave team! (1-3pm).A Roald Dahl George’s Marvellous Medicine storytelling session on Wed Feb 19 is now booked up but kids can still come to the drop in craft making extending grannies (as you do!) and paint blowing pictures, 11.30am – 3pm. Then on Thurs Feb 20 children can print their own bold and colourful potion pictures using a concoction of paint, bubbles and foam.
A day out at Twycross Zoo, Atherstone
See over 500 animals from over 125 different species at this 80-acre zoo. A selection of state-of-the-art indoor habitats, are good for escaping any February drizzle: from the award-winning £3.5million Chimpanzee Eden to Butterfly Forest, Giraffe Savannah and Gibbon Forest. Families can also get up close and personal to some of Twycross Zoo’s newest residents, including Sumatran tigers, Jahly and Sialang and Eastern black rhino, Nandi, all of whom arrived at the zoo in 2019 as part of a major European breeding programme.
Meet the Mini-Beast handling sessions, Stratford Butterfly Farm, Feb 15 – 23
There’s plenty on offer for younger visitors during the half term from 15 – 23 February. Children and adults can take part in the popular twice daily Meet the Mini-Beast handling sessions and hold creatures such as a giant African millipede, African land snail and a variety of stick insects.
February Frolics, Hatton Adventure World, Feb 15 – 23
Giant snakes will slither into Hatton Adventure World when the popular family attraction hosts its February Frolics activities during the half term week – daring kids can get up close and personal with a mixture of Boa Constrictors, Reticulated Pythons, Burmese Pythons and a Tegu ranging in size from 5 to 16 feet in length! The handling sessions will take place three times a day at 10.30am, 1pm and 3pm – plus visitors can enjoy an interactive talk from snake experts. There’s also wildlife workshops where visitors can learn how to make bird feeders, toys for the animals in Scales & Tails and learn how Hatton looks after all their weird and wonderful creatures.
Half-term: Explore the Future of Transport, British Motor Museum, Feb 15 – Mar 1
Themed around the exhibition ‘The Car. The Future. Me.’ holiday activities will allow children to investigate what the cars of their future might look like through science shows, STEM activity, family trails and tours. FUTURE science shows run at 11am and 2.30pm from Mon Feb 17 to Sun 23 February when Professor Pickle and Doctor Pumpkin will explore different sources of power and bring them to life with a bang! Every day children can make their own car of the future using recycled materials, then light it up with LEDs. Every day at 1.30pm visitors can join the Family ‘FUTURE’ Tour with either Professor Pickle or Dr. Pumpkin. Then excitingly on Thur Feb 20 – for one day only – the STEM ambassadors from MOD Kineton will be offering visitors the chance to code the futuristic Rover Robots (Sphero RVR’s) to successfully negotiate their specially designed assault course. Very James Bond! britishmotormuseum.co.uk/events/families, Tel: 01926 641188.
Half-term at Bletchley Park, Feb 17 – 21
Did you know that any number can be represented using a code of only ones and zeros? Take part in games, challenges and crafts which explore how the codebreakers used this to their advantage! Have a go at binary bingo, binary dominos, binary patterns, art and jewellery, alongside exploring some of Bill Tutte’s wider problem-solving challenges in the very place where some of the most secret codes and cyphers of WW2 were broken. Talks and tours are also available to discover more about the people behind the machines that helped break the Enigma cipher at Bletchley Park, including an interactive family tour on Feb 17, 21 and 22 where visitors will learn some surprising new facts, explore everyday life at Bletchley Park in 1941 and might even take part in some secret war work.
FURTHER AFIELD – EVENT: Oxford Maths Festival, Sat Feb 15 & Sun Feb 16
Organised by the University of Oxford’s maths department this annual fest started in 2018 to encourage younger children to get into the subject with a variety of free talks, workshops and craft sessions across the numeric weekender.
MASTERCLASSES: Cotesbach Educational Trust, Main Street, Cotesbach, near Lutterworth
A fantastic array of varied classes and events for 2020 is already underway this month with The Art of Filled Pasta taking place on Sunday Feb 2, (1-6pm, £60). Coming up in Feb there’s Indian Block Printing on Thur Feb 20 (6.30-8.30pm, £25) and Irresistible Risotto on Sun Feb 23 (10am – 1pm, £35). For the full list of classes and event see here.
VALENTINE’S DAY DINNER: Sky By The Water, Resorts World’s rooftop bar and restaurant, Sun Feb 16
A trio of local Midlands chefs are teaming up to treat loved-up couples to a six-course tasting menu. Rob Palmer, Matt Cheal, head chef of top fine dining restaurant Cheal’s of Henley, along with Aaron Darnley and Darryl Collins, the head chef and pastry chef at Resorts World’s Sky By The Water, come together to host a Valentine’s weekend dinner. Cheal and Darnley will team up on a duo of starters and main courses, including a cured salmon and crab starter and a Loomswood Farm duck, parmesan gnocchi and passion fruit dish for main. Desserts and petit fours will follow from Collins, former Channel 4 Bake Off: The Professionals finalist, featuring an unusual roast parsnip ice cream milk chocolate macaron with a mango compote and mango sorbet. Places for this special dinner are £75 per person including a welcome drink in the Secret Winter Garden from 6pm, with an exclusive matching drinks pairing available at an additional £30 per person.
Seats at the table are limited and can be booked via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0121 273 1000. For full details, see resortsworldbirmingham.
Compton Verney Wedding Fair, Sat Feb 22
This picturesque venue in the heart of Warwickshire is the perfect place for a wedding. View the venue, discuss your ideas with the dedicated events team and on-site caterers, and meet local suppliers, from photographers and videographers, to musicians and bridal wear, 11am – 4pm. Admission: Free, pre-register online
Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, Warwickshire, CV35 9HZ, comptonverney / 01926 645500
Attic Tours, Nash’s House, Stratford-upon-Avon, Tues Feb 18
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the attic at Nash’s House, the Grade I-listed Tudor house next door to Shakespeare’s New Place that was owned by Shakespeare’s granddaughter Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Nash. Discover witches’ marks on the beams and information about the restoration work that took place there as part of the re-interpretation of New Place in 2016. Tours are free, but limited to 15 people on a first-come, first-served basis 12pm & 2pm. Please note that there are steep stairs and the tour may not be suitable for those with access needs.
Packwood Breakfast Tours, Packwood House, Warks, starting Feb 4 – Feb 27
SNOWDROP WEEKENDS: Hill Close Gardens, Warwick, Sat Feb 1 – Sun Feb 2, & Sat Feb 15
This year’s programme at these stunning renovated Victorian gardens kicks off properly in February, with Snowdrop Weekend on Sat 1-Sun 2 Feb. Find out about more than 130 different varieties of snowdrops grown in the gardens and there’s also a snowdrop trail, plus tearoom refreshments, shop sales, plants and bulb sale. This month you can still seek solace in the 16 different garden plots during winter opening hours (Mon-Fri 11am-4m). If you have pre-school children, pop along to the monthly Family Drop-In from 9.30-11.30am on the second Thursday of each month, for a wh olesome morning of digging, planting and puddle-jumping! Tix: Adult £4.50, Child £1(5-17) HCGT & RHS members free / donation. Hill Close Gardens
WELLBEING: LOW & NO, The George Townhouse, Shipston-on-Stour & The Townhouse, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Thur Feb 13
Pop the biscuits away and hide the cheeseboards now the festive season is done and dusted! If you’re struggling to keep on that healthy lifestyle bandwagon, look no further than Brakspear’s new Low & No menu. At just 600 cals or even lower, their tempting dishes are perfect for a guilt-free treat out, Monday to Saturday, Low & No Menu. https://thegeorgeshipston stratfordtownhouse
NEW EXHIBITION: Steve McQueen, Tate Modern, London, 13 Feb – 11 May
I love this shot! This solo exhibition of London-born artist and director of Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s portfolio features 14 major works spanning his extensive career in film, photography and sculpture and is the first major UK exhibition since he received the Turner Prize in 1999. So, yeah, it’s a pretty big deal! The display will cover the last 25 years of McQueen’s career including personal and intimate works such as his early film on a Super 8 camera and this awesome aerial depiction of the Statue of Liberty above. The show also coincides with McQueen’s latest artwork Year 3, on show at Tate Britain until 3 May. tate.org.uk
THEATRE: Pretty Woman The Musical, Piccadilly Theatre, London, Feb 14 – 2 Jan 2021
This month I’m excited for the start of Pretty Woman’s West End stint after it’s successful Broadway premier in 2018. The production has some major creds with choreography from two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Hairspray), and an original score from Grammy winner Bryan Adams (yes, really!).
CONCERT: Madonna, London Palladium, until 16 Feb
Looking sultry Madge! This month you have 15 chances to see the Queen of Pop herself at the London Palladium. Dig out your 80s garb and snaffle tickets quick as it’s bound to be a sell out.
BEEN & GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN:
75th anniversary of the Dresden bombing with Dan Snow and Sinclair McKay, Coventry Cathedral, Tue Feb 4
Historian Dan Snow will be in conversation with best-selling author, Sinclair McKay, at a special event at Coventry Cathedral marking the 75th anniversary of the Dresden bombing. This one-off event on Tuesday February 4 by the Stratford Literary Festival marks the publication of Dresden: The Fire and The Darkness by Sinclair McKay, literary critic of The Telegraph and The Spectator, and author of the best-selling The Secret Life of Bletchley Park.
Tickets are £12 for a single ticket and £25 for a single ticket with a discounted book. stratlitfest.co.uk
Dash Café : George Eliot’s Radicals, Warwick Arts Centre, Wed Feb 5
February’s Café focuses on Coventry resident and acclaimed author George Eliot, novelist of Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. The enlightened outsider plays a vital role in Eliot’s work, bringing European ideas, art, and characters into the world of Middle England. Together with Martina Hall, producer of 2019 BBC Arena documentary Everything Is Connected – George Eliot’s Life, Prof. Ruth Livesey (Royal Holloway), artist Redell Olsen, and writer Anna Lawrence we’ll delve into Eliot’s world and explore what happened when Europe and Middle England’s philosophies and ideas met, resulting in Coventry forming a radical culture of its own. With live music from Amy Kakoura.
An evening with Harry Potter illustrator Levi Pinfold, Albany Theatre, Coventry, Wed Feb 5
In one of just three events in the UK, meet the award-winning illustrator behind the new Harry Potter House editions ahead of Harry Potter Book Night and hear how he has set his eye on bringing the characters, creatures and places for each Hogwarts House to life. Levi is one of the latest illustrators of the Harry Potter House editions and an award-winning Australian artist/illustrator. Levi will be chatting about the inspiration, process and thoughts behind his art and revealing secrets hiding within the illustrations and the fascinating stories behind them – a magical opportunity for Harry Potter fans. He’ l be doing a live chat with on stage drawing, Q&A session and a post-show meet and greet with the opportunity to purchase and get books signed
Tickets for this event are £10 adult, £8 concession, £5 child. www.albanytheatre.co.uk, Tel 02476 99 89 64 or visit in person at the theatre on Albany Road.