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This week


KID’S THEATRE: Teletubbies Live Show, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry Wed July 18 & Thurs July 19

Teletubbies Live with Noo-Noo-and-Sam (Naomi-Slater). Photo by Dan Tsantilis

How surreal! Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po (their names are imprinted in my brain after listening to the catchy sing-along theme tune about a zillion times) will be coming from over the hills and far away to play in their first live theatre show.  The perfect first theatre outing for preschoolers aged 6 months up for some totally bonkers fun! But will this cult children’s classic created by Stratford-based Ragdoll Productions attract as many students as toddlers?

Check out the hastags: #My1sttheatreshow #TeletubbiesLive and #BigHugs,, Tel: 024 7655 3055


FILM: Cult Screens, Coventry Cathedral Ruins, Wed July 18 – Sat July 21
You couldn’t get a more historically significant setting to watch Gary Oldman’s Oscar-winning turn as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour than Coventry Cathedral on July 19.
On July 18 he can watch the fighter planes while you ogle a young Tom Cruise in his pretty aviators in Top Gun. Then book in for this year’s hit flick with the kids and you can hear THAT soundtrack again and again at the screening of The Greatest Showman, on two consecutive nights, July 20 & 21.
GIN: The Jazz Era – Gin Masterclass Weekend, Upton House and Gardens, Sat July 21 & Sun July 22

The restored Mirrorpool. Photo courtesy of the National Trust, by John Emmett

Cotswold Distillery are on hand to provide you with a masterclass on making the perfect gin and tonic, try a variety of their Gin’s and take away some ideas to create your own cocktail. Bring friends, treat yourself to a drink from the bar and while away the day on a perfect lawn overlooking the restored mirror pool, 12noon – 4pm.

HERITAGE: Sand-Castle Building Workshops, Kenilworth Castle, Sat July 21 & Sun July 22

Get ready for the beach with a fun and inspiring family master-class in sandcastle building with the sand sculpture experts Sand in Your Eye. All age groups, whatever your skill level are welcome.  Learn the secret recipe of the ultimate sand and water mix and very best way to build a sandcastle. Buckets and spades provided! For ages 5+ 45 min workshops run hourly each day from 11am (last one 4pm). Places are limited; book in on arrival.



ARTS: Threads of the Unsaid: a crowd-scripted immersive retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, ShotterySat July 21 – Sept 1

Play your part in a curious experimental art installation based on Romeo and Juliet. Led by award-winning sound and visual artist Thor McIntyre, this immersive retelling of Shakespeare’s tale of love, loss and reconciliation will feature collective responses from visitors which will grow and unfurl into a tunnel of scarlet red threads woven into the orchards of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the place where the famous playwright wooed his bride-to-be. It will culminate in a crowd-scripted evocation of this famous love story debuting at the Peace Festival on September 1. You can also contribute online, via the hashtag #GiveaScript.



ARTS: Belgrade Theatre Mela 2018, Coventry, Sat July 21

The theatre’s 5th annual vibrant celebration of South Asian culture and cuisine. There’s a jam-packed programme of hands-on family fun with something for all ages from Bollywood and Fusion dance workshops and Dhol drums to kids’ crafts and Afternoon Chai in the cafe including samosas, pakoras, bhajis and chai, 12-5pm. Free

belgrade Tel: 024 7655 3055


The Big Picnic at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, Stratford, Sat July 21

Pack a picnic and bring the family to the annual Big Picnic celebrations at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Enjoy garden games, face painting, musical entertainment and browse the stalls filled with goods from local traders. For an extra special treat, why not tuck into a sizzling barbeque, plus free entry for CV37 residents, 12 – 4pm.



Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again – from Jul 20 nationwide

Can’t wait for this one. The original cast plus Cher as Sophie’s grandmother, let’s hope it’s as good as the first, full of sunshine-y joyful ABBA hits, a great story and plenty of laughs.


OPEN-AIR THEATRE: Heartbreak Productions The Midnight Gang by David Walliams, Coventry Cathedral, Sat July 21

Bring your chairs, blankets, picnics, (perhaps a brolly) for this outdoor adaptation of David Walliams’ bestseller. When the clock strikes midnight most children are fast asleep, but for the Midnight Gang the journey is just beginning. This is the story of five children in a wonderfully inventive and eccentric hospital.

Book here.


Castle Small, Annual Big Picnic, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, Nr Stratford,  Sat July 21

This year’s Muddy Award-winning Children’s Business, Warwickshire-based puppet theatre Castle Small, is going to be making a few appearances at Shakespeare’s Family Homes over the summer and autumn starting off with this Saturday at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage for their big family fun day, following two dates at Mary Arden’s Farm in Wilmcote, on Sept 22 and Halloween Oct 31.


THEATRE: Funny Faces, The Albany Studio, Coventry,  Fri July 20

Ooh, matron! These two one-person plays by Midlands-based theatre company, Next Page Productions celebrate the 60th anniversary of the bawdy British Carry On films.  SIMply Joan performed by Caroline Nash tells the relatively unknown story of Joan Sims; while the second play, Wot Sid Did, is set in Sid James’ dressing room before his last ever performance as he takes stock of his life, particularly his lost love, Barbara Windsor.

Tickets: albanytheatre or nextpageproductions


BOOK: Escape Arts’ Summer events, Stratford-upon-Avon, every Tues & Wed from July 24 – Aug 22

Creative CSI Spy Camps and Big Builds will be running in the summer holidays for 6 – 13-year-olds every Tue and Wed. Escape’s Big Build Land of the Giants involves creating super-sized bugs, beasts and mythical creatures (including Unicorns and Dragons) with a range of large-scale recycled materials. They’ll be heading to Escape at Art in the Park at Jephson Gardens in Leamington Spa on Aug 5 & 6.

For more details click here or email


The Marvellous Mechanical Museum & Rodney Peppé’s World of Invention, Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park, Sat June 30 – Sun Sept 30

Roll up, Roll up for two stunning new exhibitions at Compton Verney’s Marvellous Mechanical Museum! A rare opportunity to see an exhibition devoted to kinetic art and the history of automata. Almost 60 works, dating from 1625 to the present day, will – quite literally – come to life before your very eyes. The show includes loans from across the UK, including the smallest – a 4cm tall Fabergé elephant and the largest – the 15-metre long A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley (above) by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang designer Rowland Emett. You can also enter the magical world of mechanical toy model maker and children’s author/ illustrator Rodney Peppe.


THEATRE: Miss Littlewood, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon,until Aug 4 

Clare Burt as the mature Joan. Photo by Topher McGrillis.

Clare Burt makes her RSC debut as one of seven actors playing anarchic 1950s and 60s British theatre director Joan Littlewood at different stages of her life. She is joined by Aretha Ayeh, Sandy Foster, Amanda Hadingue, Dawn Hope, Emily Johnstone and Sophia Nomvete. With book, music and lyrics by Sam Kenyon and directed by the RSC’s Deputy Artistic Director, Erica WhymanHer theatre workshop was responsible for a raft of successes including Oh, What A Lovely War!, A Taste of Honey and The Hostage. Funny, insightful and hugely entertaining.



THEATRE: Matilda, Birmingham Hippodrome, Tues July 3 – Sat Sept 8

Be quickity quick and grab some tickets for this wonderfully witty RSC musical while it tours around the UK. A touching and joyous story of loneliness and rebellion, it deserves all 85 and counting of its international awards. Writer Dennis Kelly and composer / lyricist Tim Minchin go to top of the class with their interpretation of Roald Dahl’s classic tale. Don’t miss it!



The Duchess of Malfi, The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Aug 3

Pic credit: Helen Maybanks

After her inventive and critically-acclaimed production of Doctor Faustus in 2016, Maria Aberg returns to the RSC to direct a critically-acclaimed modern dress, blood-soaked version of The Duchess of Malfi in her own distinct style. Topically it’s all about gender politics and toxic masculinity.  Joan Iyiola stars as The Duchess, her twin brother Ferdinand is played by Alexander Cobb – Indian Summers (Channel 4) and Ripper Street (BBC) – and The Cardinal is Chris New, who was Glen in 2011 film, Weekend. Read Muddy’s Q & A with Joan here.

Tel: 01789 403493, rsc


OPEN-AIR CINEMA: BrindleyPlace Film Festival 2018, Birmingham, July 16 – 22

This popular free outdoor festival is now in its seventh year. This year’s line-up of nine films opens with La La Land on Mon July 16. It is followed by classic black-and-white wartime romance, Casablanca (Tue July 17); Back to the Future (Wed July 18), Rocky Horror Picture Show, (Thur July 19), Black Panther (Fri July 20), Mary Poppins (Sat July 21), The Greatest Showman (Sat July 21), Coco (Sat July 22) and Grease (Sun July 22).

Macbeth, RST, Stratford, March 13 – September 18

Photo by Richard-Davenport-

This compelling contemporary version of Shakespeare’s darkest psychological thriller with the fantastic Christopher Eccleston, brilliant in BBC 1’s The A Word, and revered Irish actor Niamh Cusack as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Directed by Polly Findlay has the eerie feel of a modern horror film. Brilliant for students studying Macbeth on their GCSE or A level syllabus!

Book here.

Real Bodies, The Exhibition, Hall 4, The NEC, Birmingham, until Sun Aug 19

A powerful and thought-provoking exhibition of human anatomy taking visitors on a journey, exploring the human body through physiology, culture and emotion by displaying real, perfectly preserved human bodies and over 200 anatomical specimens.



Romeo & Juliet, RST, Stratford, April 21 – Sept 21/ Live in Cinemas: Jul 18

Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC

Check out the RSC’s youthful, gender-fluid revival with Coventry’s Bally Gill and Glaswegian actress Karen Fishwick as the doomed teen lovers. Erica Whyman examines Generation Z, grime culture and the destructiveness of knife crime in this present-day production.





FESTIVAL: Milton Keynes International Festival, Fri July 20 – Sun Jul 29

This 10-day festival of international theatre, film, music, art installations and events is a whooper, there’s simply loads to see and do. Whilst we revel in balmy evenings, I rather fancy checking out For The Birds at Linford Manor Park. Wander through the woodlands in the evening transformed by light and sound installations that celebrate birdsong, movement and flight. Or pop along to The Stables Speigeltent for comedy, caberet and music at its best and most intimate. Or whilst shopping in the MK Centre, marvel at The NoFit Circus and Motionhouseperformers who combine circus and acrobatics on giant Jenga-like blocks. Hats off to Milton Keynes for hosting this cutting-edge event.


THEATRE: Birdsong, Oxford Playhouse, Mon July 16 – Sat Jul 21

This stunning novel by Sebastian Faulks set in World War I is on at the Oxford Playhouse in this 100 year anniversary of the end of the War. For all you superfans out there, Mr Faulks himself will be making a special cameo appearance on Wed and Thurs’ eve in the show. Five quid to the first one to spot him.


MUSIC: Pete Tong with the Heritage Orchestra and Nile Rodgers, Belvoir Castle, Thurs July 19 & Sat July 21 

Pic Credit:

Legendary dance DJ Pete Tong, along with the Heritage Orchestra conducted by Jules Buckley, will be bringing his Ibiza Classics tour to the magnificent and gorgeous castle grounds on Sat July 21. If this isn’t your thing, then catch musician Nile Rodgers and his band CHIC on Thurs July 19 who will be bringing you a night of dance, hip hop and rock. Tickets or

Belvoir Castle, Belvoir Castle, Grantham, Leicestershire, NG32 1PE 


ART: Nick Sharrat: Pirates, Pants & Wellyphants, River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, until Sun 16 Sept

Nick Sharrat

If you’ve got kids, you’ll have a book somewhere in your house with Nick Sharrat’s fabulous illustrations. An interactive exhibition of his work is now on at this lovely venue if you’re heading over this way. This delightful, gentle museum is a great place to take kids but there’s plenty of adult amusement with all you ever wanted to know (or not know) about rowing, visiting painting and sculpture exhibitions, a cafe with posh nosh, and a short stroll to the river and shops of Henley.


EVENT: Giffords Circus, Stonor Park, Henley, Oxon, Thurs July 19 – Mon Jul 23

gifford Circus workers in red jackets outside big tent

Giffords Circus is celebrating 250 years since the birth of the big top with its new summer show My Beautiful Circus. This year there’s a new handmade tent with plush red velvet seats – no more achey bum cheeks from the wooden benches! As well as the regulars such as the Cuban acrobats, Nell on horseback and Tweedy the clown, I’m liking the sound of the Russian dachshunds and a talking turkey (could be a useful skill come Christmas).


KIDS: The Maize Maze,  Cotswold Farm Park, opens Sat July 21

Venture down the rabbit hole into this Wonderland themed maze over the summer holidays and find the White Rabbit. If you find your way to the middle there will be a Tea Party and you may spot The Mad Hatter. There’ll be various games and puzzles.



EXHIBITION: Michael Jackson: On The Wall, The National Portrait Gallery, Thurs June 28 – Oct 21 

The exhibition marks what would’ve been MJ’s 60th birthday and features artwork inspired by Andy Warhol and Grayson Perry among others.



THEATRE: Queens of the Coal Age, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, to July 21

Maxine Peake: Happy Days

The formidable Maxine Peake, an associate artist at the theatre, has written a play full of Northern wit, telling the remarkable story of four ordinary women who occupied a Lancashire mine in 1993 to protest against pit closures, stuffing their bras with nicotine patches and wet wipes to survive 80 metres underground. Directed by Bryony Shanahan.  The month-long run began just five days after she starred in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days.



Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, (sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland), V&A, London, June 16 – Nov 14

Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

This summer, the V&A will explore how one of my favourite artists, Frida Kahlo (b. 1907), fashioned her identity. More than 200 previously unseen personal objects will be on show including her eyebrow pencil ‘Ebony,’ still within its original packaging, which she used to emphasise her signature mono brow, her favourite lipstick, Revlon’s ‘Everything’s Rosy’ and red nail varnish, outfits, medical corsets and even a painted prosthetic leg! They were discovered in 2004, 50 years after being sealed in the Blue House, Mexico, by her husband Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist, following her death in 1954.

Find more ideas here

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