NEW EXHIBITION: Mechanical Circus, Banbury Museum, north Oxon, Sat May 25 – Fri May 31
This brand new exhibit explores entertainment before the age of iPads- optical illusions, over 40 automata and loads of interactive elements and games (you can even put your head in a lion’s mouth!). The exhibit also features the museum’s first ever international loans from Museum Boerhaave in The Netherlands. banburymuseum.org
EAT: Food Festival, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Sat May 25 – Sun May 26
Blenheim‘s sixth annual Food Festival is promising a gastronomic weekender packed with talks, demonstrations, family friendly activities and a hearty sprinkling of celebrity chefs, including Raymond Blanc OBE, Jean-Christophe Novelli and Celebrity MasterChef champion, Angellica Bell. There’ll also be up to 160 local and regional foodie and drink stalls with artisan bakers, craft brewers, gourmet burgers, international cuisine and, new for this year, the Vegan & Veggie Garden. Go stuff yourself silly. blenheimpalace.com
ART: 60 Years, Tate Britain, London
Tomma Abts, Zebe 2010. Tate © Tomma Abts
Several permanent (and free) walk through galleries have been dedicated to work made entirely by female artists over the last 60 years including Susan Hiller’s wild 60s installations, Bridget Riley’s abstract paintings, plus sculptures by Rachel Whiteread, Phyllida Barlow and Sarah Lucas. Recent Turner prize winners are also featured – Tomma Abts, Charlotte Prodger, Lubaina Himid alongside Mona Hatoum and Gillian Wearing, tate
FLOWERS: Covent Garden In Bloom, Covent Garden, London, until Sat 15 Jun
Miller Harris window display
Following their London debut in Covent Garden’s iconic Central Avenue last year, floral artists Fleurs de Villes will return to showcase the best floral designs in the Big Smoke and return Covent Garden to its roots as the original (or OG, as the kids say) flower market in London. Covent Garden retailers and restaurants are all mucking in with botanical window displays, exclusive products and spring collections, bespoke cocktails and dishes made with herbs and ingredients from Covent Garden’s veggie garden. coventgarden.london
KIDS: New Children’s Garden, Kew Gardens, London
As if it wasn’t already a prime spot for day tripping, the clever sausages at Kew Gardens have added a brand new Children’s Garden just in time for May half term. Two years in the making, the interactive garden (aimed at ages 2 – 12) has over 100 varieties of mature trees, bamboo tunnels, hammocks and in-ground trampolines all under the cover of a huge 200 year old oak tree. kew.org
HOME & INTERIORS
Image by Varana
In need of some home inspo? Award winning event, Grand Designs Live, lands at London’s ExCeL (Sat May 4 – Sun 12) with loads of exhibitors, product launches and expert advice on how to pimp your pad whether you’re planning a self-build, renovation or are adding the finishing touches. Kevin McCloud will be on hand for a natter, too. Or, there’s Clerkenwell Design Week (I’ve been a few times, it’s well worth the trip)- home to more creative businesses and architects per square mile than anywhere else on the planet, this will be the 10th annual festival, which attracts some of the best of designers in the world, including a huge range of home-grown talent (Tue May 21 – Thurs 23). Finally, feeling crafty? London Craft Week (Wed May 8 – Sun 12) showcases exceptional craftsmanship in London with a programme of workshops by both unknown makers and celebrated masters held in famous studios, galleries and shops. This year London’s hippest new hangout Coal Drops Yard is getting involved for the first time with loads of cool workshops and installations.
EXHIBITION: Mary Quant, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, from Sat 6 Apr
This is going to be awesome! The iconic 1960s designer and the mother of miniskirts, Mary Quant, gets her own exhibit at the V&A with over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive.
EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, until Sun July 14
Tickets are selling like hotcakes for this! The V&A is showing the largest House of Dior exhibition ever staged in the UK, tracing the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him. A highlight is the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, on loan from the Museum of London.
ART: Jeff Koons at The Ashmolean, Oxford, until Sun Jun 9
Jeff Koons is curating his own exhibition in collaboration with Norman Rosenthal. Spanning Koons’ entire career and showcasing seventeen works, most of which have never been shown in the UK before, the show will include his popular series Equilibrium, Statuary, Banality, Antiquity and his recent Gazing Ball sculptures and paintings.