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Things To Do This Weekend


Warwickshire Christmas markets

StratForward Christmas Market 2014

Christmas markets are held in Stratford-upon-Avon on the last five Thursdays  running up to Christmas – Nov 23, 30 & Dec  7, 14, 21 the Shipston on-Stour Rotary Victorian evening will take place on Fri Dec 1  where visitors can enjoy dozens of festive stalls, the Tree of Life, music, singing, food and the arrival of Father Christmas to his grotto in the town centre. A new traditional Victorian Christmas Market opens in Stratford-upon-Avon from Dec 8 – 10 with 150 stalls selling gifts, local produce, homemade crafts, handmade cakes, decorations plus traditional roast chestnuts, mulled wine, ciders, gin and Bailey’s chocolate.

Birmingham’s Frankfurt German Market, Thurs Nov 16 – Dec 24

The largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria – 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 to protect visitors from terror attacks. Last week Birmingham city council installed the large concrete bollards throughout the city centre overnight in an effort to keep visitors safe.


Christmas Markets, Hatton Country World, nr Warwick, every weekend Nov 25 – Dec 17; every day Dec 18 – 22

Warwickshire’s Hatton Shopping Village is to host its popular Christmas markets every weekend starting this Saturday 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 unbtil 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, Thurs Nov 23 – Dec 24

Father Christmas at Magic Alley

Father Christmas & his Reindeer will be outside Magic Alley between 4.30pm and 6.30pm on Thursday Nov 23. Write a letter and post it in his special Reindeer Post Box to receive a personalised reply by post! Discover the tale of the legendary Frost Phoenix and get their own Frostmakers Passport before meeting Father Christmas and solving the mystery of the missing Frost Phoenix. As part of Stratford’s Victorian Christmas weekend, the Magic Alley Players will be performing traditional street theatre as they recreate a Victorian Nativity with the help of the audience who are then rewarded by a visit from a very special guest!

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

 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) – also has a Santa’s grotto, fairground rides and refreshments.


Alison Moyet, Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Fri Nov 24

The words of the former 80s Yazoo frontswoman may strike a chord with some…“For me, making a record at this age, lyrically, is a different proposition. Observation in most cases replaces emotion. The invisibility of middle/aged woman rather thrills me and instead I watch.” Her new electronic pop album, Other was made with producer and song writing collaborator Guy Sigsworth, who (as well as having worked with Björk, Goldie and Madonna), co-created her last album the minutes, which debuted at # 5 in the national charts and won critical acclaim. Recently, Alison won the Icon Award at Nordoff Robbins Silver Clef Awards and  composed and performed a new arrangement of Sigh No More Ladies (from Much Ado About Nothing) for RSC’s celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary in their BBC 2 live special. She’ll be supported by Northern Irish artist, singer and electronic composer Hannah Peel.

Book here

Twelfth Night, RST, Stratford, Thurs Nov 2- 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, as Olivia – 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 fabulous Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing, it’s set in Victorian Britain. Also starring Birmingham’s Dinita Gohil as Viola and Michael Cochrane as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.


Final Lantern Making Weekend Workshop, Royal Pump Rooms, Parade, Leamington Spa, Sun Nov 26

Photo credit: BID Leamington

Get your lantern ready for the 6th Leamington Lantern Parade on Sun December 3. This family-friendly workshop runs 10am – 4pm and last entry is 2pm. You need to allow 1-2 hours to make a Lantern. Workshop spaces are limited and offered to families on a first come basis. If the workshop becomes full families can wait for a space or buy a £5 Lantern Pack to make one at home.

Email:, leamingtonlanternparade Tel: 01926 470 634

The Lost Words, Compton Verney, until Dec 17

Otters: credit artist Jackie Morris, 2017 The Lost Words

One of two brilliantly family-friendly exhibitions celebrating the best of British illustration and literature 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 – a very personal and insightful ‘behind the page’ look at Britain’s best-loved illustrator 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 – using gold leaf. Families can venture out on Spell Walks in the grounds of this stunning country mansion via two specifically commissioned digital trails that can be downloaded straight to your smart phone.

Silent, The Goose Nest, Warwick Arts Centre, Thurs Nov 23 &  & Fri Nov 24

This 2016 Olivier Award-winning one-man drama about a homeless guy living on the Dublin streets, was inspired by silent screen idol Rudolph Valentino, who before he was famous had to sleep on a park bench. Written and performed by Pat Kinevane, and directed by Jim Culleton for Fishamble.

Book here.

Book now: Ragley Hall Christmas Candle-lit Tours, Alcester, Dec 1, 3, 9 & 10

See the stunning Warwickshire stately home in a new light with candle lit tours on Dec 1, 3, 9 & 10.  Pre booking is essential. Tickets cost from £14. Alternatively enjoy 3-course Christmas Dinners which are available on selected dates in December.

Quentin Blake: Inside Stories, Compton Verney, until Dec 17

A rare insight into some of Quentin Blake’s best known and popular creations. Blake himself introduces illustrations for his own books and collaborations with other writers, bringing together rough drawings and finished artwork to demonstrate how his ideas evolved into unforgettable illustrations and bestselling books. Featuring a huge range of his witty illustrated characters, including Roald Dahl’s The TwitsThe 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 candid personal commentary and extensive selection of works make this his most intimate and revealing exhibition to date.


Christmas Craft Fair, Stoneleigh Abbey, Sun Nov 26

The Riding School Cafe will be serving drinks and snacks and ‘Birds of all Feathers’ will entertain visitors with a static Bird Display. There is free onsite parking, 11am – 4pm.


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).


The Clearing Workshop: Astronomy for Survivors, Compton Verney, Sat Nov 25

Inspired by the dystopian installation The Clearing, Astronomy for Survivors is an attempt to introduce the rest of the universe to the fascinating lakeside project. Visitors will learn how to navigate from the night sky, identify the constellations, and how telescopes work, 2pm-7pm.

See comptonverney to reserve space,

Christmas at Blenheim Palace, Fri Nov 24-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.

Imperium Part I: Conspirator, The Swan, Stratford, Thurs Nov 16 – Feb 10 2018

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.


New ceramics by James Hake, Peter Wills, Stephan Parry & Rhian Malin @Stratford Gallery, Sheep Street, Stratford

Rectangular vase with Three Tenmoku Lines, 2017, James Hake

Looking for some original art as a Christmas present? I really like James Hake’s collection of rectangular stoneware vases who takes his inspiration from Oriental ceramics – they’ll set you back £360 a piece! But I’m torn as Peter Wills porcelain bowls are really gorgeous too, as are Stephan Parry and Rhian Malin’s quirky jars and vases.


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.


Still, Penny German ARBSA, The Stratford Gallery, Stratford,, Sat Nov 4 – Nov 30

Penny German: Magnolia and Blossom, 2017 Oil on canvas

31 gorgeous new oil paintings by Northamptonshire artist Penny who previously specialised in botanical illustration in watercolour, working on projects for the RHS and Oxford University Press. Her new solo exhibition, Still, reveals her love of oil painting over the last 10 years.

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

John Culshaw Does the Great British Take Off, Main Stage, Royal Spa Centre, Leamington, Fri Nov 24

Comedian and impressionist Jon Culshaw and comedy producer Bill Dare come to Leamington for the first time following their sell-out tour earlier in the year for an evening of unscripted, unrehearsed, spontaneous comedy and conversation. Politicians, sports personalities and celebrities old and new are all up for a roasting. You, the audience, help choose which characters appear and what direction the show takes. Jon reveals the secrets of mimicry, and shares stories of characters that coloured his childhood in Lancashire and his early career. Together with Bill he also reveals behind the scenes mishaps and mayhem of life in TV and on the celebrity circuit. For ages 16+

Book here.

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

Picasso: Linocuts from the British Museum, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry until Dec 3

Image: Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), Jacqueline Reading – 2nd plate, July 1964. © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2017.

Showcasing works created in the late 1950s and early 1960s, this exhibition explores the artist’s expressive and experimental works with linocut techniques and ceramics. Produced when Picasso was over eighty years old, Still Life under the Lamp, Jacqueline Reading and Nude Woman at the Spring highlight his skilful yet risky approach.


Portrait of the Artist: Kathe Kollwitz, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until Nov 26

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) – Woman with Dead Child, The British Museum

The Ikon’s new exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of Berlin artist and doctor’s wife Kathe Kollwitz’s birth, is already garnering 5* reviews. The emotional impact of her drawings of unemployment and suffering in particular, Woman With Dead Child (1903) is incredibly hard-hitting and poignant. The exhibition looks at her work through the exploration of three themes: social and political protest, self portraits and the role of an empathetic and suffering mother, resulting from the death of her youngest son Peter in 1914, shot in the First World War.

Sofia Hulten, Here’s the Answer, What’s the Question? Ikon Gallery, Birmingham until Nov 26

Sofia Hulten. Speculative Fiction 2016. Courtesy the…VG Bildkunst.

The most comprehensive exhibition to date by 45-year-old Berlin-based artist Sofia Hulten: scultpures, installations and films preoccupied with the material world and the way we navigate time. She uses discarded objects found on the streets encouraging the idea of looking twice at what is all-too-often taken for granted – as in Speculative Fiction (2016) where she recycles bicycle parts – locks, wheel-like hoops and frame.


North – Fashioning Identity, Somerset House, London, Wed Nov 8 – 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 15 Nov,  you can also take a twirl on Somerset House’s gorgeous outdoor ice rink.

Eat and Drink Festival, London Olympia, Nov 22 – 26 

Champagne Bar

Fizz-themed dishes are apparently the big foodie trend this Christmas with food retailers such as Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s stocking their shelves with Prosecco-filled turkey, raspberry and Prosecco panna cotta terrine and Prosecco panettone. You can sample all these goodies, shop for fresh produce, stock up on festive treats and chat to wine expert Olly Smith and other Christmas tipple experts at the Eat and Drink Festival.

eatanddrinkfestival, Tel: 0844 209 7330, children under 16 enter free

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 deceiphered 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.


Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Sat Nov 18 – 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,

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 went to Afghanistan in 2007, spending time with British forces and documenting the medical treatment of casualties and their journey away from the frontline to medical treatment back in the UK. His  work Gateway II is on display at London’s Imperial War Museum as part of Age of Terror: Art since 9/11 until May 28 2018.

Hypercaust  (2017) is screened at 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, Fri Nov 10 – 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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