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EVENT: Royal Ascot Racing Live In Aid of Breast Cancer Care, Bedford Street Bar, Leamington Spa, Fri June 21

One of the most anticipated events in the British summer sporting and social calendar, one day of world-class racing, excitement, fashion and most importantly, drinks. Royal Ascot is always a stylish affair, high fashion and high stakes add to the atmosphere of this, so spend your day at Bedford Street. They’ll be Fizz on arrival, a Gourmet Lunch with Evening Canapes, live music throughout the day, all races shown on big screens, bookie Runners and the Best dressed lady receives a bottle of champagne. Tickets: £35. Limited tickets available so you’ll need to book early via email: concession rate on tables of more than 10


DRINK, Slurp Wines’ first ever Gin Festival, Slurp Wines, Tramway Road, Banbury OX16 5TU (Next to the train station), Fri June 21 

Banbury and Leamington Spa based Slurp Wines’ first ever Gin Festival with over 30 varieties and 10 local producers including Cotswolds Distillery, TOAD and Salcombe Gin,  Shakespeare Distillery, Pickerings Gin, Foxdenton Gin, Twisting Spirits, Spirit of TOAD, Capreolus Distillery and Pinnock Distillery.  On the night food will be freshly prepared by the Muddy Warks double award-winning restaurant, Dough and Brew, purveyors of wood fired soughdough pizza in Warwick. With live music from the swing and jazz trio The Bluebelles. Tickets for £30 will include gin sampling, 4 perfectly served G&Ts, soughdough pizza and live music.


MUSIC: Folk on the Water – Folly Inn at Napton, Napton-on-the-Hill, Sat June 22

One of the headliners at this mini-folk fest is the super talented Rugby singer-songwriter Kieron Taylour, who played at our Muddy Awards Winners’ drinks. Other local performers include Lorna Dea, Brett Huckfield. Elan Marie and Melissa Severn. There’s going to be a beautiful garden stage at this traditional village pub, an outside bar, BBQ, cakes and hot snacks. It will be raising funds and awareness for Zoë’s Place Coventry, 1pm – 10pm,



STRATFORD POETRY FEST: Michael Rosen – Poems and Stories for Kids, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat June 22

One of the UK’s best loved writers and performance poets for children and adults performs some of his favourite poems and stories for children as featured on his popular YouTube channel, and also talk about what makes Shakespeare so special. Aimed at children aged 6 plus and their families, 11am and 2pm. Tickets £7, 



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


MUSIC: Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Thurs June 20 – Sun 23

The biggie this month is Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, a festival for people who are too posh for festivals! This is more a series of chichi al fresco concerts in ridiculously elegant surroundings, with Gladys KnightMs Lauryn HillTears for Fears and Kylie (sadly sold out) on consecutive summer nights.


THEATRE: The Provoked Wife, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Sept 7

Caroline Quentin in The-Provoked-Wife. Photo-by-Pete-Le-May

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), 


ART: Warwickshire Open Studios, in 151 venues across Coventry & Warwickshire, June 15 – 30

More than 300 amateur and professional artists are this month opening up their studios, workshops, garden sheds, spare rooms, caravans and canal barges (!) to the public. The emphasis is on making art accessible to all and although participants make sales and take commissions, they are also just as happy to have a cuppa and chat about their work. A wide variety of disciplines on showinclude illustration, ceramics, jewellery and silversmithing, photography and textiles, warwickshireopenstudios

THEATRE: The York Realist, Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa, Wed June 12 – Sat June 22

Richard Smith Photography

The Loft celebrates the 80th birthday of one of Britain’s pre-eminent living playwrights,  Peter Gill, with a production of his work The York Realist. Gill’s play is set against the background of the York Mystery Plays – a cycle of 14th Century plays still regularly performed in York. It’s here that two young men from very different backgrounds meet and fall in love. George a farm worker, living with his mother in a tied cottage; John a London assistant director. But their love story is beset by difficulties – they’re living in the 1960s when being gay is still illegal, 7.30pm,; email:, Tel: 01926 830680. 


THEATRE: Venice Preserved, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Sept 7

Photo by Helen Maybanks (c) RSC

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.

WARWICKSHIRE: Art in Dunchurch, Fosse House Gallery, The Old Post Office and Inglenook Dunchurch, nr Rugby, June 15 – 30
This historic Warwickshire village, famous for its connection with the Gunpowder Plot, will be the venue for the largest gathering of local artists in this part of the county as part of Warwickshire Open Studios 2019 –  26 in total! Three fab venues include the lovely Fosse House Gallery, which opened nearly three years ago, where artist/owner Shenac Rogerson will be showing her own original prints and ceramics. Across the road, at the Old Post Office, are artists Jo and Adam Sheridan of Mud and Wool. Jo weaves beautiful freestyle Japanese Saori cloth, while Adam creates ambitiously grand terracotta and stoneware pots in his idyllic garden studio. They’ll be working alongside 4 more artists. Then at Inglenook, a fascinating house dating back 400 years, next to Fosse House Gallery, Julia Sanders, will be exhibiting her innovative textile work which redefines recycled raw sheep fleece into both useable and visual pieces, alongside the work of 15 more artists in her wonderful walled garden. Check out their art on Insta: art_in_dunchurchfosshousegallerymudandwooljuliasandersartist 

Dates: Saturday June 15, 22, 29Sunday June 16 & 23Wednesday June 19 & 26, 10am-4pm. Email:  Jo Sheridan:, warwickshireopenstudios


STRATFORD POETRY FEST: Nancy Kerr at an evening of poetry, drama and songs, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sun June 23

Award-winning folk musician Nancy Kerr will perform songs specially commissioned to mark the 250th anniversary of the great actor David Garrick’s Shakespeare Jubilee of 1769 in Stratford-upon-Avon. The evening will also feature writing drawn from centuries of affection for Shakespeare, 7pm-9pm. Tickets £20, £15 concessions.



CHARITY EVENT: The First Midlands Saying Goodbye Ball, Umberslade Farm at Tanworth in Arden, Sat June 22

Former Bucks Fizz singer Cheryl Baker is hosting the very first Midlands Saying Goodbye Summer Ball. Warwickshire mum Claudia Matthews founded the Midlands branch of the Saying Goodbye support group charity after the loss of her premature baby twins Archie and Hugo (you can read her moving story here). She is helping to transform the events field at Umberslade Farm at Tanworth in Arden, into a magical Midsummer Night’s Dream extravaganza for the ball. More than 200 guests are anticipated for a glittering black-tie celebration, with a 3-course dinner and live entertainment. Ex-England footballer Rio Ferdinand has made a personalised video to be shown and provided an auction prize (the opportunity to win a personal football coaching session and Q&A with the former Man United legend himself), racing TV presenter Matt Chapman is a live auctioneer and Michael Parkinson Jr is the compere. Saying Goodbye is part of The Mariposa Trust, one of the UK’s leading national support charities, which works with people who have suffered the loss of a child at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy.

Tickets are £120 each including a champagne drinks reception,3-course meal, live entertainment, goody bag and the chance to win prizes, such as a backstage VIP pass to The Ashes – England v Australia at Edgbaston for 4 people on opening day, Aug 1, hosted by Michael Vaughan. For the final few tickets email for a booking form.



ALSO FESTIVAL’S AWESOME  BOOK CLUB.LIVE 2019, Park Farm, Compton Verney near Warwick, Thurs July 4 

Natalie Haynes

Looking for a quirky outdoorsy venue for your July book club? How does a beautiful boutique festival site in Warwickshire with pizza, a cocktail, glass of wine and talk by writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes sound? From 5pm  on Thurs July 4 the gates to the fabulous 50 acre landscaped lakeside parkland will be thrown wide open for Also Festival’s BookClub.LIVE And there’s still time for you and your gang to register for FREE tickets! How amazing is that! BookClub.LIVE will take place in a lovely lakeside location in a canvas marquee with a fully-stocked bar serving wines, craft beers, cocktails, pizza and non-alcoholic drinks, the evening before the festival opens. This year writer and Radio 4 broadcaster Natalie Haynes will be talking about her acclaimed new work of fiction, A Thousand Ships, the retelling of a Greek epic from a woman’s point of view (Guardian review here). Natalie is the author of three more novelsAmber Fury, The Children of Jocasta and critically acclaimed The Ancient Guide to Modern Life. She has also written and presented four series of the BBC Radio 4 Show Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics and was awarded the 2015 Classical Prize – we’ll let her tell you how she took on Tory party PM candidate Boris Johnson and won.

If you’re not in a group don’t worry you can still attend individually. Tickets are completely free, and see what’s on at Also 2019 here.


GIN: Stratford upon Avon Topiary Gin Festival, Billesley Manor Hotel, Stratford upon Avon, Sun July 7

Set in Billesely Manor Hotel’s 100-year-old Topiary garden is a celebration of local regional artisan gins run in partnership with Stratford-based Shakespeare Distillery. You’ll be able to meet and taste gins produced at 6 local gin distilleries including Puddingstone Distillery, home of Campfire Gin (Tring, Herts), Wood Brothers (Oxon), Sovereign Spirits (Mansfield, Notts), British Polo Gin (Bishop’s Norton, Glos) and Locksley Distilling Co (Sheffield) –  all supported by Fever Tree. These will be served alongside chef’s selection of locally sourced food. A fantastic live music line up throughout the afternoon includes the return of last year’s talented Andrew James – winner of the Cotswold Musician Award – plus, female singer and acoustic duo, Three’s a Crowd, and popular local acoustic trio Wired. Located in the heart of the UK’s best gin distilleries, this perfect chilled Sunday afternoon will not disappoint! £20 tickets include a souvenir branded gin glass, Gin Menu detailing all flavours & cocktails available, plus a welcome Gin & Tonic supplied by Shakespeare Distillery. Ages 18+.

Tickets here: eventbrite


THEATRE: The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh, The Bear Pit Theatre, Rother Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6LU, June 24 – 29 

Photo by Sam Allard

A pitch-black comedy about a writer in a totalitarian’ state who is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a number of child-murders that are happening in his town. Directed by Steve Farr this is a play by the writer of two Oscar-nominated films, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,  In Bruges plus Seven Psychopaths, Tickets: £12.

Ticket hotline: 01789 403416, Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, thebearpit


FESTIVAL: Pub in the Park, St Nicholas Park, Warwick, Fri July 5 – Sun  7

Get yer glitter and denim hotpants out as festival season is upon us! Tom Kerridge’s popular gourmet scran meets live music fandango, Pub in the Park, comes to Warwick for the very first time with Tom Odell, Razorlight, Stereo MCs, Toploader and Will Young in tow, as well as cookery demos and talks from winner of The Great British Bake Off 2016 Candice Brown, Jodie Kidd, Fred Sireix the French Maître d’hôtel best known for Channel 4’s First Dates and Adam Bennet from Michelin-starred The Cross in Kenilworth  and Nick Deverell-Smith, owner and head chef of The Churchill Arms, in the Cotswolds.


CHILDREN’S THEATRE: The GruffaloBirmingham Hippodrome, Tues June 25 & Wed June 26

There’s plenty of fun for all of the family as the classic children’s book The Gruffalo stomps on to the main stage packed full of fantastical creatures. Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Songs, laughs and monstrous fun for children aged 3+ and their grown-ups. Ticketsfrom £15.



NEW EXHIBITION: Manolo Blahnik, The Wallace Collection, London, Mon Jun 10 – Sun Sept 1

This new exhibit contrasts paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement with Spanish fashion designer Manolo Blahnik’s designs. The intimate collection has been curated by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives and these gorgeous candy pink shoes designed for Sofia Coppola’s award-winning film, Marie Antoinette. There are also a few accompanying talks, Fashion or Art?, Fashion and Power, The Collector, The Interior World, but if you want to go get a ticket quick as they’re selling out fast. This exhibit is free.


NEW EXHIBITION:  Keith Haring, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, Fri Jun 14 – Sun Nov 10

Spot the little guys! A cool exhibit to check out that’s not over in the Big Smoke is this retrospective of Keith Haring, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene.  The exhibit will feature 85 artworks including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.


EVENT: Royal Ascot, Ascot Racecourse, Tues June 18 – Sat 22 

jockeys on horses racing

Grab your hat, keep the hemlines long, the fake tan light and enjoy a day of sunshine (fingers crossed), celeb spotting and apparently there are few horses running too. It’s the perfect place to people watch, just don’t overdo the bubbles for fear of making it into the Daily Mail.


BALLET: (Un)leashed, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, London,  Tue June 25 – Wed June 25

Sense of Time: dancers Celine Gittens and Brandon Lawrence Photo by Ty Singleton. Courtesy of BRB

Birmingham Royal Ballet is doing its bit for gender balance with a triple bill by three female choreographers including former company dancer Ruth Brill and her brand new urban take on Sergei Prokofiev’s classic, Peter and the Wolf (amazing!) . Jessica Lang’s returns with the beautiful Lyric Pieces, originally created for the Company as part of International Dance Festival Birmingham 2012 and there’s the world premiere of Sense of Time, the third Ballet Now commission by Didy Veldman, with a score by Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of Sergei Prokofiev. Try to catch if you can.


THEATRE: Offbeat Festival, various locations, Mon 17 – Sat 29 Jun

The brainchild of Oxford arts venues Oxford Playhouse and Old Fire Station, Offbeat Festival, kicks off this month with a cultural extravaganza of never seen before productions. Started three years ago, the festival is like a mini Edinburgh Fringe and only showcases brand new material with a jam-packed programme of theatre, comedy, dance, family shows and music. Full line up


EXHIBITION: Claudette Johnson: I Came to DanceModern Art Oxford, Sat 1 Jun – Sun 8 Sept

This powerful and moving new exhibition is an overview of artist Claudette Johnson’s life and features her early work from the ’80s when she joined the newly formed BLK Art Group at Wolverhampton University of black British art students, and the moving, political large-scale drawings of men and women she is best know for.


OUTDOOR THEATRE: Oxford Castle Quarter’s annual Shakespeare festival 

Go on, pack your picnic and breathe in the culture! Oxford Castle Quarter’s annual Shakespeare festival which kicks off this week with back-to-back abridged (me likey) Romeo & Juliet and Richard III from BMH Productions (17 – 29 Jun). Or there are two free shows on Gloucester Green, Oxford, We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat featuring cage diving, shark hunting in the small town community of Selsey (22 Jun) and feminist dance/theatre/puppet piece Jane (22 Jun), about pre-Raphaelite artists’ muse Jane Morris, part of Offbeat Festival.


EVENT: Flower Show, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Fri June 21 – Sun 23 

What could make Blenheim Palace‘s grounds even more lovely you ask? Hundreds of gorgeous flowers and Mr George Clark off the telly (The Home Show, The Restoration Man and George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces). I’m a sucker for baby blues, sorry Mr M. Blenheim hosts its seventh Flower Show with a Grand Floral Marquee featuring flower art created by international artists, show gardens, shopping village and talks from professional gardeners. Chelsea who?

Find more ideas here

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