FRI DEC 13 - SUN DEC 15
THEATRE: The Boy in the Dress, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Mar 2020
The RSC in Stratford was a-buzz with stars attending the glitzy opening night of The Boy in the Dress including its creator David Walliams, Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers who composed the score. A 12-year-old star striker, disco glitterballs, and some impressive balletic football choreography score highly in Mark Ravenhill’s new adaptation of David Walliams’s 2008 children’s book. Watch out too for Forbes Masson’s star turn as headmaster and some excellent eyebrow action by Irvine Iqbal as Raj the shopkeeper.
PANTO: Puss in Boots, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Sat 11 Jan
Puss in Boots is a shining example of slapstick absurdity with slosh scenes, comic improv and audience interaction. Written and directed by Iain Lauchlan, who stars as Dame Matilda Pudding, this year’s show marks Lauchlan’s 25th year in panto at the Coventry theatre. Best known as the writer of the BAFTA-winning series The Tweenies, Lauchlan is joined by long-term comedy partner-in-crime Craig Hollingsworth as Matilda’s son, Simon aka Baggie B, who wants to be an ‘Instafamous’ rapper. It also stars Miriam Grace Edwards as Princess Sophia – who’s previously performed in a number of alternative B2 pantos – and David Gilbrook as her father, King Colin, supported by a Junior Chorus of local kids aged 9-16.
IMMERSIVE THEATRE: Festival of Lost & Found in Shakespeare’s New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, Wed 11 Dec-Sun 15 Dec
Catch the chance to see the greatest show that never happened! 250 years after heavy rain and floods washed out David Garrick’s legendary Shakespeare pageant in Stratford, Coventry’s Talking Birds lay on an immersive, festive theatrical experience for all the family, held in the garden of Shakespeare’s last home – whatever the weather.
MUSIC: Happy Mondays, O2 Institute. Birmingham, Sat Dec 14
The legendary ‘Madchester’ 80s band will be performing all their big hitters on this huge Greatest Hits headline tour.
IMMERSIVE THEATRE: Club 2B, B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed 11 Dec -31 Dec
Get your glad rags on and head over to the Belgrade dressed in your finest threads from your favourite era for this new immersive theatrical party taking you on a trip through time with charismatic host and club owner, “Z”! Seated at cabaret-style tables in an underground nightclub, audiences have the freedom to get up and explore the room as the immersive performance by Corey Campbell and Strictly Arts unfolds, complete with food, drink, live music, gaming tables, a photo booth and magic. Be prepared to meet real and fictional characters from Lady Godiva to the Great Gatsby and Marilyn Monroe.
Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, club2b
Christmas at the Castle, Warwick Castle, until January 5
A brand new ice-rink running 45-minute skating sessions, plus special events such as Stories with Santa and Santa’s Stately Breakfast inside the castle.
Meet Father Christmas, Hall’s Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat Dec 14 & Sun 15 Dec
Father Christmas and Mrs Christmas will be stopping by Hall’s Croft to meet with kids to hear about their Christmas wishes. Each child will receive a charming gift with their name on it. The festive experience continues in the cafe where children can decorate their very own Christmas biscuits to take home, or enjoy there and then. A BSL interpreter will accompany Father Christmas on Saturday, 11am – 4pm (BSL-interpreted sessions on 14 December, 11am – 2pm).
Tickets £10 per child (timed entry, advance booking advisable) available here.
**ENDS THIS WEEKEND** Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Birmingham Hippodrome, until Sat 14 Dec
Just over two weeks to catch classic and captivating The Nutcracker, performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet’s elite dancers. Book online
THEATRE: Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas, Warwick Arts Centre, until Sun Dec 29
A blooming brilliant festive treat for children aged 3 to six-years-old and their families. This critically acclaimed production by London’s Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and Pins and Needles follows Briggs’ grumpy but lovable Father Christmas as he gets ready for his busiest day of the year, Christmas Eve. First published in 1973, Father Christmas won Briggs the annual Kate Greenaway Medal for best children’s book illustration (his second win). The author went on to write and draw many other acclaimed books for children, including The Snowman, Fungus The Bogeyman, Ug: Boy Genius Of The Stone Age, and The Bear.
Book online at warwickartscentre or call 024 7652 4524
MUSIC: The Libertines, O2 Academy, Birmingham, Sat 14 Dec
As they put the finishing touches to their fourth studio album, Pete Doherty and his crew head out on a Christmas jaunt for their first headline tour in two years.
FILM: Winter Screenings, Fargo Village, Coventry, Dec 13-Sun 15 Dec
Fargo Village in Coventry shows some Christmas crackers on a pop-up big screen this month; with timeless faves during the week until Sun 15 Dec including Elf (12.30pm) and It’s a Wonderful Life (4.30pm) on Fri Dec 13, plus The Holiday, Die Hard, The Polar Express, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Home Alone and Love Actually.
ART: John Walker: New Paintings, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until Feb 23
Ikon presents a major exhibition of new paintings by Birmingham-born artist John Walker (b. 1939), described as “one of the standout abstract painters of the last 50 years” (Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe, 2014). Having studied in Birmingham at the Moseley School of Art, and later the Birmingham College of Art, Walker was the first artist to show at Ikon Gallery when it moved in 1972 to new premises in the Birmingham Shopping Centre above New Street Station. This exhibition reveals an artist at the height of his powers, featuring “anti-scenic” paintings inspired by the coastal landscapes of Maine where Walker now lives.
Christmas Makers Market, Fargo Village, Coventry, Sat Dec 14
Looking for local independent, handcrafted gifts this Winter? Fargo claims to have the best festive makers and designers around over the next two weekends, plus festive entertainment, performances, food and mulled wine from 11am-5pm.
THEATRE: A Museum in Baghdad, the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Sat 25 Jan
An original compelling tale of two women, living decades apart; Gertrude Bell is founding a museum in Iraq’s capital in 1926 and Ghalia Hussein is attempting to reopen the establishment following looting during the war. They share a goal: to create a fresh sense of unity and nationhood. But in such unstable times, questions remain. Who is the museum for? Whose culture are we preserving? And why does it matter when people are dying?
COOKERY: Panforte Workshop, Oken’s Kitchen, Warwick, Fri 13 Dec
This Bread for Life workshop in the Thomas Oken Tea Rooms next to Warwick Castle will be teaching how to create the Italian delicacy while humming to festive tunes and sipping mulled wine.
ART & CRAFTS: Cornelia Parker: One Day This Glass Will Break, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, Fri Dec 13 – Mar 1
A new exhibition opens on Fri Dec 13 featuring the 1997 Turner Prize shortlisted artist’s photogravure etchings; on Saturday Dec 14 the gallery hosts Santa’s Grotto with kids art activities at 1pm and a Craft Club on Sun Dec 15, 1.30-3.30pm.
SCOFF & QUAFF: Sunday Lunch with Festive Live Music, The Arden Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sun 15 Dec
Enjoy a delicious Sunday roast while listening to some great festive live music in No 44 Brasserie on The Waterside, from £16.50. Throughout this month get £10 off a bottle of Prosecco and two for one on selected cocktails and mixers (Sun-Thurs, 8-10pm)
Tel: 01789 298682, www.theardenhotelstratford.com
FAMILY: Enchanted Christmas Kingdom, Hatton Adventure World, every weekend until Sun 22 Dec
The popular Enchanted Christmas Kingdom is in full swing. This year, the twinkling grotto is bigger and better than ever, where children receive a Golden Key to unlock St. Nick’s magical workshop and choose a present of their choice. There are also several new activities including interactive singalong show Reindeer Flying School and the Christmas Magician Show, plus The Owl and the Orient King falconry show, festive Fun Fair Rides, Zoobee’s Festive Friends Puppet show, Reindeer Quest, gingerbread decorating with the elves, reindeer food making and Christmas letter writing.
Tickets must be booked online in advance.
THEATRE: King John, RSC, 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”.
**ENDS THIS WEEKEND**: Magnum Manifesto, Compton Verney, now until Sun 15 Dec
Only a week left to catch this magnetic exhibition, with Compton Verney being its only UK venue. The phenomenal exhibition charts the world through the lens of some of the most iconic and influential photographers of the past 50 years. The Magnum Photo Agency captures the influence of events and emotions on human rights and the experience of life. Rarely seen emotive images dating from 1947 through to the 21st century document the rise of the Taliban and the impact politics, war and terrorism has had on people and relationships with work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Olivia Arthur and Robert Capa.
THEATRE: Santa’s Dizzy Day, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thur Dec 12 – Tues Dec 24
This interactive, song-filled festive family show returns for littlies aged two to six-years-old. It’s an ideal introduction to the magic of live theatre, with a chance for children to meet Father Christmas and receive an early Christmas present. Coventry-based popular Santa shows are fast becoming something of a seasonal tradition for Coventry families. Previous shows have included Santa’s Sparkly Surprise, Santa’s Mixed-Up Martian, Santa’s Polka dot Pirate and Santa’s Rusty Robot all written by Belgrade panto legend Iain Lauchlan, creator of the BAFTA-winning children’s TV series The Tweenies.
Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade
HERITAGE: Flowers of Winter, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat 14 Dec-Sun 5 Jan
As part of the splendid festive programme at Shakespeare’s family homes, the Bard’s birthplace will be brought to beautiful life with Flowers of Winter from Sat 14 Dec. This glorious installation of traditional blooms, by local florists from March Hare Floral Design and Tukshop Flowers, demonstrates the tradition of laying flowers to symbolise the downing of tools and the beginning of celebrations.
All the details here.
THEATRE: Peter Pan, Birmingham Rep Theatre, until Sun 19 Jan
Liam Steel returns to direct a new visually spectacular 21st century version of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan at Birmingham Rep. With the delightful twist of a Brummie setting, the show features lots of aerial flying, puppetry, a giant man-eating crocodile and sprinkle of fairy dust. The show follows Olivier Award-winning Steel’s modern retelling of The Wizard of Oz at Birmingham Rep Theatre last year, which proved to be a big hit with audiences.
THEATRE: Merrily We Roll Along, Loft Theatre, until Sat 14 Dec
The Loft Theatre presents Merrily We Roll Along from Wed 4 Dec-Sat 14 Dec – a Sondheim production that’s received both an Olivier Award and a cult following. Director James Suckling and Musical Director Liam Walker take us on a journey both heartbreaking and funny, telling the story of a film producer who pays the high price of Hollywood success. Richard Moore’s innovative set and Michael Wheeldon’s exciting lighting design make it a musical treat not to be missed. Performances each evening at 7.30pm (but no performance Mon 9 Dec) and 5pm on Sun 8 Dec.
THEATRE: Snow Queen, Albany Theatre, Mon 9 Dec-Sat 28 Dec
There’s an icy chill in the air at The Albany Theatre from Mon 9 Dec-Sat 28 Dec, when the Snow Queen rolls into town. Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale of sparkling princesses, wicked wizards and Jack Frost is adapted by Ceridwen Theatre Company, whose adaptation of Peter Pan was a blast last year.
Book online here.
THEATRE: Santa and the Christmas Dragon, Macready Theatre, Rugby Sun 8 Dec-Fri 13 Dec
An interactive family show two children who receive a pet dragon for Christmas.
AM DRAM: The Sound of Music, Rugby Theatre, Fri 6 Dec-Sun 15 Dec
To celebrate their 70th anniversary, the Rugby Theatre get us in the festive spirit with firm family fave The Sound of Music. Get spirited away to the mountains of Salzburg, dreaming of doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles, as Director Emma Bright presents singing nuns, yodling goatherds, stunning sets and fabulous costumes.
Catch one of the 9 performances, including Sunday matinees, by booking tickets here.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon
Just over the Warks border in Oxfordshire, Blenheim always goes the whole hog with its Illuminated Light Trail and this year there’ll be over 100,000 for the Tunnel of Light, a Laser Garden, scented Fire Garden and light finale on the Water Terrace and front of the Palace set to music. For kids there’ll be a Victorian-style fairground and Santa, plus the Palace will be decorated in the theme of Alice in Wonderland.
Mama Mia! A brand new (and, quite frankly, must-see) exhibition is coming to The O2, London this month – ABBA: Super Troupers is a journey through the Swedish band’s career and will feature personal items and artefacts never seen before in the UK (6 Dec – 21 Aug 2020).
Another newbie is Tutankhamun – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at the Saatchi Gallery. One of the biggest cultural events in the winter calendar, the exhibit features 150+ original artefacts found in the Pharaoh’s tomb that was unearthed in 1922.
Other exhibitions worth a snoop are Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane collection of work at the V&A (until 8 March); William Blake at Tate Britain, with the visionary painter and poets work blown up to enormous scale using digital technology (until 2 Feb 2020); Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s (4 Oct – 19 Jan).