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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Sisters, B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Sat Dec 30


Cinderella meets Spaghetti Western in writer/director Nick Walker’s all-female spoof adult panto. Giddy up to this rootin’ tootin’ one-hour comedy packed full of groan-worthy puns and starring the super-talentedAssociate RSC Artist Katy Stephens heading back to the ranch to appear in her third B2 Christmas Show. Here the glass slippers have spurs and the bells chime for high noon. Yee-ha!

belgrade, Tel: 024 7655 3055

Enchanted Kenilworth, Kenilworth Castle, Fri Dec  15 – Sat Dec 23 

In the grounds of the Castle after dark strings of lanterns and fairy lights will lead visitors along a garden trail into a magical wonderland with a traditional fairground, carousel and swing boats. Visitors can enjoy mince pies, mulled wine and shopping at heritage-inspired stalls.


Imperium Part I: Conspirator, The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, runs until Feb 10 2018

Imperium Part I: Conspirator production photos, 2017. L-R – Jade Croot as Tullia and Siobhan Redmond playing Terentia, Photo: Ikin Yum, (c) RSC

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran directs Richard McCabe in the epic title role of Robert Harris’ best-selling Cicero trilogy along with Siobhan Redmond. It follows playwright Mike Poulton’s highly successful RSC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies and has already garnered 5-star reviews by national critics.


Santa’s Mixed-up Martian, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thurs Dec 7 – Sun Dec 24

Written by the creator of The Tweenies, Iain Lauchlan, and produced by Imagine Theatre, this is the perfect first theatre outing for young children. This year, Santa, Ellie and Rudolph receive a very unexpected visitor as an alien from outer space makes an emergency landing right here in Coventry. An  interactive 35-minute show, sing-a-long, a special gift and opportunity for littlies to give their own letter to Santa.

belgrade, Tel: 024 7655 3055.

Motionhouse’s Midwinter Magic Dance-Circus Spectacular, Shakespeare’s New Place, Stratford, Wed Dec 13 – Sun Dec 17  

The contemporary gardens at Shakespeare’s New Place will be transformed into a magical winter dance-circus extravaganza this week for two 1hr immersive after dark theatrical performances by award-winning Leamington Spa-based Motionhouse at 5.30pm & 7.30pm.  Christmas activities at Shakespeare’s five Family Homes, will run until Jan 2. Meet Dickens as he walks around Shakespeare’s Birthplace garden and tells the tale of acquiring the Birthplace. Discover Shakespeare’s family Christmas at Shakespeare’s New Place; step back in time to the 1600s at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and fast forward to the 1930’s at Hall’s Croft and discover how people celebrated Christmas in between two wars.

See what’s on here

Christmas Activities, British Motor Museum, Gaydon, Warwickshire, until Sat Dec 23

Activities include a Christmas trail and festive tour where young visitors can help Martin the Mechanic get Santa back on the road to deliver his presents – at the end there’s a a chocolate treat or Christmas gift. Meet the costumed guides – Lady Edwards or William the Chauffeur and hear about the Christmas goodies that they will be delivering to the servants for Boxing Day. The Museum’s Christmas Elves will also be stopping by each day at 1.30pm to take families on a special festive family tour.

britishmotormuseum, Tel 01926 641188.

Enchanted Christmas KingdomHatton Adventure World,  every weekend until Sun Dec 24; Fri Dec 8 (eve) and weekdays Dec 18 – 22 

The whole family can experience a magical Christmas plus see Father Christmas in his twinkling Grotto. Well behaved children will receive a Golden Key to unlock his workshop and then choose a present from the vast range of high quality gifts in the secret toyshop.  The all-day Festive Entertainment Package includes entry to Zoobee’s Christmas Cracker Show’, Cool Colin’s Show’, Fun Fair Rides and Christmas arts & crafts. Timed slots to visit Father Christmas ideally need to be pre-booked via the website:

hattonworld, Tel 01926 843411

*LAST WEEK* The Lost Words, Compton Verney, ends Sun Dec 17

Otter, artist Jackie Morris, 2017 The Lost Words

One of two brilliantly family-friendly exhibitions celebrating the best of British illustration with The Lost Words based on the new modern spell book by writer Robert Macfarlane, and Birmingham-born artist Jackie Morris (The White Fox, Tell Me a Dragon); alongside Quentin Blake’s Inside Stories.  In The Lost Words Macfarlane has created a series of 20 spell-poems – one for each lost word – while Morris, inspired by her lifelong passion for Britain’s landscapes and wildlife, has painted more than 50 beautiful watercolours. You can also go on two Spell Walks in the grounds via two specifically commissioned digital trails by downloading them straight to your smart phone.

Twelfth Night, RST, Stratford, until Feb 24 2018

Dinita Gohil as Viola. Pic credic: Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

The RSC’s winter production Twelfth Night sees Ade Edmondson, of The Young Ones and Bottom fame, playing  Kara Tointon’s dour steward Malvolio in Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, who recreated Warwickshire’s Charlecote Park on stage for the RSC’s fabulously funny Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing, it’s set in Victorian Britain. Also starring Birmingham’s Dinita Gohil as Viola.


*LAST WEEK* Quentin Blake: Inside Stories, Compton Verney, ends Sun Dec 17

A rare insight into some of Quentin Blake’s best known and popular creations including Roald Dahl’s The Twits, The BFG and Matilda to The Boy in the Dress and Michael Rosen’s Sad Book. This is one of two family-friendly exhibitions this autumn at Compton Verney and includes more than 140 original works, many never seen before outside Blake’s studio, as well as some of his artist tools. Blake’s most intimate and revealing exhibition to date.


Cinderella, The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Weds Nov 22 – Sat Jan 13 2018

Two tartan panto dames for the price of one: seasoned panto actor Greg Powrie, left, joins actor, writer and director Iain Lauchlan, right

‘Loch’ up your men – Cinderella’s raucous Scottish step-sisters Dyspepsia and Listeria, played by the brilliant panto legends Iain Lauchlan (who has the best laugh!) and Greg Powrie are looking for no strings attached festive fling in Tweenies creator Iain’s reworking of the rags-to-riches tale. Craig Hollingsworth returns for his 6th Belgrade panto, and Alice Rose Fletcher will be putting on her glass slippers as Cinderella!

A Christmas Carol, RST, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Feb 4 2018 


With Rhys Ifans playing Scooge at London’s Old Vic how does Phil Davis measure up at the RSC? David Edgar’ new eagerly-awaited stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ seasonal classic is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, who brought The Wind in the Willows to the London Palladium starring Rufus Hound as Toad.
Book here.

Winter, The Stratford Gallery, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Jan 31 2018

Kate Iles, Moth Bulb, 2017

This lovely little gallery celebrates its first birthday with a Christmas exhibition welcoming back new work from artists who have helped make their first year “so wonderful” and introducing several new artists.

The Stratford Gallery, 32 Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, WarwickshireCV37 6EE,  thestratfordgallery

Snowmouse, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Fri Dec 1 – Sun Dec 31

This enchanting winter’s tale for the very young about two new friends’ adventures in a magical forest wonderland is the perfect first theatre experience, full of play, puppetry and music. Recommended for ages 3 months – four years.


Santa Dash, Draycote Water, Kites Hardwick, near Rugby, Sun Dec 17

Wrap up warm and join in the winter festivities for a 8Km fun run around the reservoir in a mixed ability race. All runners welcome. Race entry includes a Santa costume, medal and goody bag and starts at 9.45am. Need to enter here by Fri Dec 15.

Warwickshire Christmas markets 

StratForward Christmas Market 2014

Christmas markets are held in Stratford-upon-Avon on the last five Thursdays running up to Christmas – Dec 7, 14, 21.  Visit Yuletide Fayres in Leamington every Sunday.

The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Birmingham Rep, Thurs Nov 30 – Sat Jan 18

Gloria Onitiri-as Cruella De Vil. Photo credit: Graeme-Braidwood

West End Star Gloria Onitiri is foxy as villainous Cruella de Vil in furs. The Birmingham uni graduate, who played Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard (The Adelphi), and Nala in The Lion King (The Lyceum) returns to the city making her REP debut. This Dodie Smith stage adaptation by writer and director of the Nativity films, Debbie Isitt is sure to get tails wagging with its clever puppy puppetry! Running time: 90 mins. For ages 5+, Tel: 0121 236 4455

 Christmas activities at Shakespeare’s Family Homes, every day Sat Dec 2 – Jan 2

Shakespeare’s New Place will be transformed into a magical winter dance-circus extravaganza from Dec 13 – 17 for Motionhouse’s Midwinter Magic Dance-Circus Spectacular.

Meet Dickens as he walks around Shakespeare’s Birthplace garden and tells the tale of acquiring the Birthplace to continue spreading the word of Shakespeare. Discover Shakespeare’s family Christmas at Shakespeare’s New Place. What would they have eaten, worn & how would they have celebrated?  Step back in time to the 1600s at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and fast forward to the 1930’s at Hall’s Croft and find out how the people celebrated Christmas in the time between two wars.

See what’s on here

Paddington 2, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, all week until Sun Dec 3; Fri Dec 22- Sun Dec 24; Wed Dec 27 – Thurs Dec 28

Follow the adventures of the nation’s favourite bear in a new film as enchanting as the first with a scene-stealing Hugh Grant on top form as a cravat-wearing villain. A special run at WAC on assorted dates throughout Nov and Dec. On general release in cinemas across the UK.

warwickartscentre & cinemas across Warwickshire and the West Mids

Sleeping Beauty, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa, Sat Dec 2 – Sun Dec 31

Well hello! JP McCue returns for his 6th panto season as the Panto Dame reunited with Sean Dodds in this fairy-tale story of a princess who falls into an enchanted sleep.


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Goose Nest, Warwick Arts Centre, Wed Nov 29 – Sun Jan 7 2018

An intrepid family and their musical dog will take you on an incredible quest through the swishy swashy grass, the splishy splashy river and the thick oozy, squelchy mud filled with catchy songs and interactive scenes. The stage adaptation of Michael Rosen’s award-winning book is brought vividly and noisily to the stage by Sally Cookson and accompanied by Benji Bower’s versatile lively score. For ages 3+


The Nutcracker 2017, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome, until Wed Dec 13

Sir Peter Wright’s lavish festive production of The Nutcracker has been part of the City’s Christmas tradition for more 26 years – and is a stunning watch. Gigantic sets, gorg costumes, 60 dancers and a full orchestra combine to make it a perfect family Christmas treat. I took my 7-year-old last winter and she didn’t budge in her seat!

Book here.

Birmingham’s Frankfurt German Market, until Sun Dec 24

The largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria – and now one of the world’s biggest Christmas fairs – offering a range of traditional gifts, Pretzels, schnitzels and strudels washed down with Gluhwein, Weissbeer or a hot chocolate. Huge concrete security barriers have been put in place across the city to protect visitors from terror attacks.


Christmas at Warwickshire’s National Trust properties: Packwood, Charlecote Park, Coughton, Upton House & Baddesley Clinton

Charlecote at Christmas

Christmas evening tours including a two-course Christmas dinner will take place at Packwood House on Thurs Dec 7, 14 & 21 at either 6pm – 9pm or 7pm – 10pm. Tickets £30 on Tel: 01564 782024. Over at Upton House there’s crafting including an Art Deco 1920s Table Decorations Workshop on Fri Dec 15 (£15); Christmas evening tours followed by Mulled Wine and spiced hot chocolate in the old kitchen on Dec 8, 9, 15 & 16 and Festive Family Trail ending up in an 1920s department store room where kids can meet Father Christmas. There’ll be mincemeat making demos at the Tudor style Baddesley Clinton and Victorian Charlecote is open and decorated for Christmas at weekends until Dec 24 & Dec 18 – 22, but Father Christmas is now fully booked.

To see what’s on in Warks and Canons Ashby in Northants check out here 

Christmas Markets, Hatton Country World, nr Warwick, every weekend until Dec 17; every day Dec 18 – 22

Warwickshire’s Hatton Shopping Village is to host its popular Christmas markets every weekend and every day from Dec 18 – 22. Expect a diverse range of stalls from local suppliers selling a multitude of fabulous festive gifts, festive singing, mulled punch, mince pies and a great festive atmosphere.  Late night shopping on Dec 8 until 8.30pm when shoppers can enjoy discounts in selected shops from 5pm, an appearance from Father Christmas, entertainment and carol singing.


The Frostmakers Guild takes over Stratford’s magical attraction, Magic Alley, until  Dec 24

Described as one of the “the most authentic Father Christmas’ in the country” one of my friends backs this up, she goes every year with her three and says the attention to detail makes it a really magical Christmas experience. I’m hoping to book tickets for my youngest. Your kids can write a letter to Santa and post it in his special Reindeer Post Box to receive a personalised reply by post!

Tickets for Magic Alley and a visit to Father Christmas must be pre-booked to avoid disappointment, seekthemagic , Tel 01789 290969

 Magical Lantern Festival Birmingham, Kings Heath Park, Birmingham Fri Nov 24 – Jan 1 2018

See Christmas illuminated

One of the UK’s best winter light festivals returns after a hugely successful launch last year illuminating the park – turning it into a spectacular fusion of dual culture, vibrant colours and artistic sculptures. This year there’s life-sized and large-than-life lanterns in all shapes and forms, from a Gingerbread House to a magnificent giant lantern recreation of the iconic Birmingham Central Library.  This family event – also held in London (Chiswick House), Leeds (Roundhay Park) and Manchester (Philips Park) – has a Santa’s grotto, fairground rides and refreshments.


Santa Sleepovers, Warwick Castle, Dates throughout December

Loving the sound of these sleepovers –  family stay in the Knight’s village or straight-from-a-fairytale Tower Suite and cute Christmassy stuff like stories with Santa and a wake up call from an Elf.  Still some dates left but be quick.

The Wind in the Willows, The Albany Theatre, Coventry, until Sat Jan 6

This classic family tale has been adapted for the stage from Kenneth Grahame’s children’s novel by Olivier award-winning playwright, Mike Kenny, and is The Albany’s first in-house production. A cast of professional actors will be performing with teams of local children artists in this Art Deco gem- including Dean Leon Finlan as Toad. A Relaxed Access matinee performance takes place on Mon Dec 11 and BSL signed performances on Thurs Dec 28.

albanytheatre, Tel: 02476 998 964 

The British Collective, Bicester Village, runs until January 2018

A multi-brand Christmas gifting boutique designed by British interior designer and illustrator Luke Edward Hall. Discover a collection of the finest pieces, including cashmere hats and gloves by Johnstons of Elgin, leather accessories by Trevor Pickett and Czech & Speake homewares, providing a one-stop shop for gifts for friends and family for the festive season. The luxury shopping destination; currently home to more than 130 boutiques has just increased its fashion offering with many new and exciting brands, new dining experience, more parking and a host of additional entertaining and shopping services to boot.

‘Self-guided tour’ & Pop-up Art Space, The CET Building, 157 Corporation Street, Coventry

Coventry Biennial

See inside this original 1950s former Coventry Evening Telegraph Offices & Print-works until the end of 2018 it’s due to transformed into a boutique’ 50s styled hotel and cinema – The Telegraph. Open every day 12-4, with free parking for CET Building visitors on site in the rear service yard on Chapel Street. An entrance charge applies for the tour (suggested donation, £3).


Crafts of the Punjab, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, until Jan 21 2018

A rare opportunity to view these stunning works from the V&A’s South Asian Collection outside London. Discover the skilful art of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain sculpture, Amritsar’s delicately carved ivories, Hoshiarpur’s elaborate musical instruments and Sialkot’s gold-inlaid steel artefacts. One of the most extraordinary pieces on show will be the Golden Throne made by a Muslim craftsman in Lahore for Ranjit Singh, the first Sikh Maharaja of the Punjab.


Kaleidoscope: Colour & Sequence in 1960s British Art, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, ends Sat Dec 9

I popped along to the private view last and this touring Arts Council Collection is definitely worth a visit. It features lots of fun brightly-coloured abstract New Generation sculpture, Op Art including paintings by Bridget Riley and Peter Sedgley and Pop art. Among the 20 artists there’s also work by David Annesley, Anthony Carol, Robyn Denny, Tess Jaray, Philip King, Kim Lim, Mary Martin, Eduardo Polozzi, Tim Scott, Richard Smith, William Tucker and William Turnbull. Free.


Christmas at Blenheim Palace, until Jan 1

The Great Lake aglow with brightly-lit bobbing boats

Back by popular demand after an unforgettable launch last year, the grounds of Blenheim palace will be lit up after dark with a festival trail through Capability Brown’s landscaped gardens, with twinkling festival lights, larger-than-life snowflakes and baubles, set against the backdrop of glittering ancient woodland, glowing Christmas trees and a swaying lawn of fibre-optics.

Modigliani, Tate Modern, now – 2 April 2018

The Tate Modern’s comprehensive retrospective of Modigliani’s work is quite a treat. During his brief, turbulent life Modigliani developed a unique and instantly recognisable style. His nudes that are a highlight of the exhibition – with 12 nudes on display, this is the largest group ever reunited in the UK. First shown in 1917, police closed down his only ever solo exhibition on the grounds of indecency. Also expect sculptures, and portraits of his friends, lovers and supporters, including Pablo Picasso and his partner Jeanne Hébuterne.

North – Fashioning Identity, Somerset House, London, until Feb 4 2018

Alice-Hawkins, LOVE magazine, ‘The Liver Birds’, 2012

Forget the north/south divide, London doffs its hat to Manchester, Newcastle et al in this new exhibition. Social documentary film and photography detailing life in the north of England in the mid-20th century sits alongside works by photographers, designers and artists inspired by the parts of our green and pleasant land beyond the Watford Gap. Contributors include Nottingham’s finest Paul Smith and Manchester’s Factory Records designer Peter Saville. If you visit after Nov 15, you can also take a twirl on Somerset House’s gorgeous outdoor ice rink.

Christmas at Bletchley Park, Bucks, dates through Dec

Time travel back to a 1940s-themed Christmas at home of World War II code-breakers, Bletchley Park near MK. There’s live retro music (on Dec 9 & 16) and a 40s-style Christmas Grotto on selected dates between  until Dec 23 for kids aged 2 to 17 (somehow, I can’t image my 16 year old son being seen anywhere near a grotto or grown ups dressed as elves  – but, hey, each to her own!)

Bletchley Park, The Mansion, Bletchley Park, Sherwood Dr, Bletchley, Milton Keynes,

Codebreaker and Groundbreakers, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until Feb 4

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, the Oscar-winning film about the life of Alan Turing

A pioneering exhibition to feed your mind celebrating the genius of Second World War codebreakers like Alan Turing at Bletchley Park with Michael Ventris who in the same year deciphered Linear B, the ancient Greek language.  It includes an Enigma machine, a rare loan from GCHQ, and unique archival documents held at the University of Cambridge, as well as encouraging visitors to explore ‘codebreaking’ in all its forms.


The RSC’s Rome MMXVII, The Barbican, London, until Jan 20

Josette Simon as Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra Photo credit: Helen Maybanks-_c_-RSC_

This winter the RSC transports London audiences to Shakespeare’s Rome with Angus Jackson’s thrilling London season of 4 of the playwrights most gripping plays – Coriolanus has ended its run but Julius Caesar, Antony & Cleopatra and Titus Andronicus are now showing.

More info and booking info herersc

Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, until Feb 4

Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas!  The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden,

Christmas at Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, now until Tues Jan 2 2018

lights on waddesdon manor

No Bruce Munro light installations this year at Waddesdon Manor  (he’s up the road on the approach to Bicester Village) but instead there are several light shows to enjoy as dusk falls. Waddesdon Imaginarium is a light and sound show projected onto the Manor’s façade including roaming porcelain animals, dancing musical clocks, cascades of flowers, and 18th-century portraits, accompanied by an original score composed by students at the Guildhall School of Music.

© Lauren Booth. Photo: Kat Manning.

Also worth checking out is is Electric Menagerie, light-based artworks throughout the grounds by American artist Lauren Booth (above), inspired by the real and fantastical animals associated with Waddesdon (Baron Ferdinand collected a ‘zoo’ of animals and birds to amuse his weekend party guests, including antelopes, kiwis and even kangaroos). Check out Dylan, Rolo and Murphy (2017), three Neon Goats placed on the rockwork, and her neon Parrot, Bleeding Heart Dove and Rothschild Mynahs created in response to the 1889 Aviary. Perfect too for getting your littlies into the Christmassy mood, there’s Letter Writing to Father Christmas until Dec 23 and a special free Children’s House Trail until Jan 2.

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP18 0JH, Tel: 01296 820414,

Two new public artworks by David Cotterrell and Bedwyr Williams, Chester Waterways & Storyhouse, Chester, on now

Chester’s impressive new state-of-the-art arts centre and cinema, Storyhouse

If you’re heading up north there’s two new digital artworks in Chester – Bedwyr Williams’ Hypercaust which brings back to life Chester’s Roman Fortress Bathhouse recreated through historically accurate 3D renderings; and Maelstrom by installation artist David Cotterell, acknowledging Chester’s relationship with water as a whirlpool appears and disappears in the Shropshire Canal. War artist David Cotterell who went to the frontline in Afghanistan in 2007,  also has Gateway II, on display at London’s Imperial War Museum as part of Age of Terror: Art since 9/11 (until May 28 2018).

Hypercaust  (2017) screened @Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester,; while Maelstrom can be seen at King Charles Tower, Chester City Walls, 

Finnish Rooftop Sauna, Queen Elizabeth Roof Terrace, South Bank, until Sat Dec 30

woman sauna finnish

And now for something completely different. Why not warm up and unwind in a one-of-a-kind Finnish sauna experience in the heart of London? There’s a specially designed Nordic sauna that on the Queen Elizabeth Roof Terrace, combining beautiful Nordic design with a bespoke artistic commission. If 90 degrees celsius is a bit sweaty for you, cool down in the open air (or with cold water buckets – go on, dare you!), while enjoying some stonking views of the Thames below.

 Ghost Tours, Hampton Court, selected dates until Jan 2018

Want to petrify your kids? Course you do! There are Family Tours on 5 Nov at 6.30 (and also 7 Jan 2018, but seriously I’m not even thinking next year yet!).  It’s a 75-90 minute  walking tour hearing stories of ghostly apparitions and paranormal activity Minimum age is 8 years and a maximum of 3 children per accompanying adult.

Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, East Molesey, hrp

Find more ideas here

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