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!
Set to be a summer highlight. Watch artists making and creating, buy an original piece of art from more than 150 designers and makers, dabble in a creative workshop from Escape Arts, Furzie Animals or The Art of Okse, take part in Leamington Studio Artists 20th artistic celebrations, check out the pop up suitcase stalls and follow the community crafted knitted bird tail. You’ll be able to see a very special free open-air performance of Pride & Prejudice by Heartbreak Productions, listen to music from The Pease and Ellipsis, eat mouthwatering artisan food and locally brewed drinks. What more could you possibly want? More? Ok, there’s also dance performances by Motionhouse, fun theatre from Highly Sprung, Fabularium and Wet Picnic and by live mural art creations by BRINK Events.
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.
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.
Miss Littlewood, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Fri June 22 – Aug 4
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 Whyman. Her 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.
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.
KID’S THEATRE: Teletubbies Live Show, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry Wed July 18 & Thurs July 19
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, belgrade.co.uk, Tel: 024 7655 3055
ARTS: Threads of the Unsaid: a crowd-scripted immersive retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, July 21 – Sept 1
This summer explore and 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 a Meet the artist event on Sept 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, 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.
KID’S ARTS: Escape Arts’ Summer events starting with FabFest, Old Tramway, Stratford-upon-Avon, July 22 & 22
The community arts organisation will be hosting FabFest taking their Art and Media bus to the Old Tramway from 12noon – 5pm. Then they’ll be heading to Escape at Art in the Park at Jephson Gardens in Leamington Spa on Aug 5 & 6. Entry is free. They’ll also be running CSI Spy Camps and Big Builds in the summer holidays for 6 – 13-year-olds every Tue and Wed.
For more details click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org
PERFORMANCE: The Dreamboys, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed July 25
Prepare yourself for the ultimate girls’ night out as the UK’s best-selling male strip show returns to Coventry for one-night only! Two hours of music, muscle and mayhem, with slick choreography, high-energy routines and some of the most ripped hunks in the biz. You may have seen them on The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Celebrity Big Brother, Loose Women, This Morning, Geordie Shore and The Only Way Is Essex.
belgrade.co.uk, Tel: 024 7655 3055
FOOD: Spice up your life with Piro Gallico! Hall’s Croft, Stratford-upon-Avon, July 26
Explore Hall’s Croft’s Jacobean kitchen and discover the many foods and dishes consumed daily in Elizabethan times, as well as those created to impress at feasts and great occasions. Learn about the importance of spices and sugar, along with other ingredients and less familiar recipes.
FESTIVAL: Lunar, Umberslade Farm Park, Tanworth-in-Arden, Warks, July 27 – 29
After skipping a year last year, the 5th anniversary line-up in 2018 is arguably their biggest line-up of artists yet. Headline acts includes Malian music legends Amadou & Mariam, electronic party pioneers Basement Jaxx, acclaimed cinematic pop duo Goldfrapp and legendary punk band The Stranglers. The jam-packed festival programme includes partnerships with the RSC, the National Space Centre and the Glee Club. Luxury camping includes bell tents, landpods & vintage tents.
In the secluded parkland of this moated 15th Century National Trust Manor House you can see Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the family-friendly live action version of Beauty and the Beast (PG) on July 26 and Kevin Bacon’s toe-tapping teen in 1984 Footloose on July 28. Top Gun on July 27 has already sold out.
FESTIVAL: Warwick Folk Festival, Warwick School & town centre, Thurs July 26 – Sun July 29
Award-winning folk music and traditional English dance go hand-in-hand at this friendly town centre festival, now in its 39th year. Headliners include Jon Boden & Remnant Kings –the lead singer from multi-award winning Bellowhead. Also on Thursday Will Pound brings his Through the Seasons show, as heard recently on Radio 2, 3 and 4, to the festival. On Friday, experience fiery sounds from Canada’s east coast Vishtèn and the best of Irish with Daoirí Farrell. Saturday sees the return of roots band Show of Hands with long term collaborator Miranda Sykes on double bass. Also on Saturday Basque superstars Korrontzi return to the festival by popular demand. Ace fiddle player Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys joins the festival on Sunday. See more than 100 other artists including rising folkstars Granny’s Attic, award winning songwriting duo Megson, comedian poet Les Barker, guests from Cork Folk Festival, and a full programme of lectures.
OPEN-AIR THEATRE: Oddsocks Productions’ Romeo and Juliet, Mary Arden’s Farm, Wilmcote, nr Stratford, Fri July 27
Oddsocks have given Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet a quirky musical Mods and Rockers’twist. Doors open 6.30pm, performances start 7.30pm.
OPEN-AIR THEATRE: Oddsocks open-air performance of The Tempest, Mary Arden’s Farm, Wilmcote, July 28
Shakespeare’s tale of illusion and revenge is brought vividly to life in Oddsocks’s musical, sci-fi adaptation of The Tempest. Doors open 6.30pm, performances start 7.30pm.
EVENT: Game Fair, Ragley Hall, Alcester, July 27 – 29
Get your fix of country pursuits from Shooting on Europe’s longest clay line to Gun Dogs, Ferreting, Horses & Hounds, Fly Fishing and Falconry at the 60th anniversary of this British countryside festival at Ragley. On the Friday and Saturday night Ronnie Scott’s will be hosting an intimate soiree of live music, with a light supper menu created by celebrity chef James Martin. There’s plenty to do for kids too including 45-min Forest School workshops, a 9-metre climbing wall, 40-metre-high inflatable obstacle course, low ropes course and woodland creche.
PERFORMANCE: Cirque Berserk, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, July 26 – 28
Adrenaline-fuelled stunt action meets breath-taking cirque style artistry. Have you ever seen a bow-and-arrow shot like this before? I know I haven’t. Combining traditional acts with fresh, contemporary feats, Cirque Berserk pays tribute to the rich 250-year history of circus, while bringing it bang up-to-date. Expect anarchic thrills as you witness the world’s most hair-raising circus act – the legendary motorcycle Globe of Death – as well as displays of astonishing skill from a talented international group of performers, including more than 30 acrobats, aerialists, dancers, drummers, jugglers and daredevil stuntmen.
belgrade.co.uk, Tel: 024 7655 3055
EXHIBITION: An Exploration of Toys and Games, The Herbert Art gallery and Museum, Coventry, June 23 – Sept 23
An interactive exhibition for all the family exploring how different generations have played for the last 2000 years Find some treasured memories from your childhood and beyond from marbles to Meccano and dolls to dressing up with talks. There’s also a celebration of Rare, the award-winning and internationally renowned video games company based in Warwickshire – makers of iconic games such as Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye, Viva Piñata and most recently, Sea of Thieves.
KIDS SUMMER HOLIDAY WRITING CAMP: Sparks Summer School, University of Wolverhampton, July 30 – Aug 3
Are you – or do you know – a young person (school years 7 – 12, aged 12 – 17) who loves writing or wants to be a writer? At this five-day summer writing school, run by Birmingham-born poet Liz Berry and poet and writer Paul McDonald, they can dabble in lots of different types of writing, from poetry to radio plays to flash fiction to wordplay, and finishing with a special performance for friends and family. A great way to practice writing, performing, playing with words, meeting other young (and not-so-young) writers and learn to be the writer they want to be, 9.30am – 3.30pm.
NEW FILM RELEASES:
Adrift – on nationwide
Based on the true story of an engaged couple’s harrowing experience of sailing in one of the worst hurricanes in recorded history, this survival drama is a real pulse-racer. It’s also refreshing in that the couple’s survival ends up in the hands of the leading lady (maybe because it’s a truestory). Gripping and powerful, you’ll leave the cinema in need of a large drink.
Incredibles 2 – from Jul 13 nationwide
They’re back and in a nod to modern life, Mrs Incredible (aka Elastigirl) is tasked with bringing back superheroes whilst dad stays at home and looks after the kids. Humorous, delightful and great fun for kids and adults, this is perfect for the hols.
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.
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
FESTIVAL: Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, July 26 – 29
Bestival’s less wild little sister, the award-winning Camp Bestival is the Rolls-Royce of family festivals. There’s tonnes for kids to do and the music bookings are always high calibre – this year Simple Minds, Rick Astley and Clean Bandit have already been announced and there’s going to be an inflatable church and the world’s biggest bouncy castle and disco ball!
EVENT: Henley Royal Regatta, Henley, Weds 4 Jul – Sun 8 Jul
The steamiest regatta in existence. Straw boaters on, eyes on the lunch box (sarnies or Lycra bulges… they’re not mutually exclusive); and watch the rowing brawn from the riverbank – Henley Royal Regatta is on. There’s over 200 races to watch the smoking–hot rowers and enjoy your Champagne picnic. Even better, Chinawhite is descending on proceedings for the sixth consecutive year on Friday and Saturday, so expect Moet in droves and internationally acclaimed DJs keeping the party thumping.
MUSIC: Pete Tong with the Heritage Orchestra and Nile Rodgers, Belvoir Castle, July 19 & 21
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. If this isn’t your thing, then catch musician Nile Rodgers and his band CHIC on July 19 who will be bringing you a night of dance, hip hop and rock. Tickets www.ticketmaster.co.uk or www.cuffeandtaylor.com
Belvoir Castle, Belvoir Castle, Grantham, Leicestershire, NG32 1PE
KIDS: The Maize Maze, Cotswold Farm Park, opens 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.
Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, (sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland), V&A, London, June 16 – Nov 14
This summer, the V&A will explore how Frida Kahlo (b. 1907), one of the most recognised and significant artists and women of the 20th century, 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.
BEEN & GONE
KID’S THEATRE: Little Baby Bum LIVE, Main Stage, Royal Spa Centre & Town Hall, Leamington Spa, Sun July 1 & Mon July 2
Combining puppetry, live action and animation, audiences are invited to step into the magical and colourful world of You Tube educational channel Little Bum Live. Join Mia, Jacus, Twinkle and their Nursery Rhyme friends on their latest adventure. The show will be performed as 12noon & 2pm on Sun July 1; 10.30am & 1.30pm on Mon July 2 with an evening performance at 7.30pm.
FOONYAP, The Tin At The Coal Vaults, Canal Basin, Coventry, Thurs July 5
“A lush, weird and intoxicating blend of electro-opera meets experimental pop” is how Canadian musician FOONYAP’s music has been described. Her live performances are equally captivating – do check her out! She started the violin when she was only 4-years-old! Embedded in classical music, Catholicism and Chinese culture, FOONYAP struggled with conformity, alongside a need for acceptance. Her latest album Apropos reflects her tumultuous journey to self-discovery, apparently.
FOOD & DRINK: Burgers and Beers, Fargo Village, Coventry, Sat July 7
On American Independence Day, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be celebrating the special relationship shared between Great Britain and the United States of America with a lunchtime BBQ garden party with traditional Tudor games in the tranquil gardens of Hall’s Croft. Enjoy a burger, hot dog or vegetarian falafel burger and a glass of Pimms for a bargain £5, including free entry to the lovely summer gardens! 1pm – 4pm.
FESTIVAL: Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, Moseley Park, Birmingham, Fri July 6 – Sun July 8
Get Lost in Music at this summer festival with the fabulous Sister Sledge. Other great legendary soul singers on the line-up include Jimmy Cliff, Candi Staton, Roy Ayers and David Rodigan. This festival for jazz aficionados and hip-hop fans alike, continues to attract an increasingly impressive array of funk and soul artists including Chaka Khan, Soul II Soul, Nile Rodgers, George Clinton and Family Stone. There’s no camping, but a wide range of accommodation in Birmingham city centre from boutique hotels to serviced apartments and affordable B&Bs.
Moseley Park, Birmingham, mostlyjazz.co.uk
Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Afterparty – David Rodigan & Craig Charles, Hare & Hounds, King’s Heath, Birmingham, Fri July 6 & Sat July 6
Reggae artist champion and DJ David Rodigan headlines the Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Afterparty with support from Leftfoot DJs on Friday, followed by Craig Charles on Sat Jul 7, joined by Tropical Soundclash – a night by Birmingham’s Maestro of Funk, Soul and Afrobeat, Sam Redmore.
Billesley Manor Gin Festival, Billesley Manor, nr Alcester, Sun July 8
A must for all Gin lovers! Set in the 100-year-old Topiary garden of this Warwickshire hotel, Shakespeare Distillery – the 2018 Muddy Awards winner for Best Local Food/Drink in Warwickshire – will be jointly hosting Stratford’s first gin festival. Enjoy the perfect lazy Sunday afternoon with local gin distilleries, live music from Andrew James and the chef’s locally sourced food. Tickets include a souvenir branded goblet, Gin Menu detailing all flavours & options, plus a welcome G&T supplied by Shakespeare Distillery, £15, 12noon – 5pm.
THEATRE: The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s New Place, Thurs July 5 & Fri July 6
The students of Birmingham’s Saltley Academy return to Shakespeare’s New Place with a performance of The Merchant of Venice. Come relax in the Great Garden and enjoy the performance as the pupils take you on a journey to the Italian city. Free entry for CV37 (with proof of address). The performance will last under one hour, 10.30-11.30am.
FESTIVAL: Barn on the Farm, near Gloucester, Thurs July 5 – Sun July 8
One of the best new small independent festivals to hit the scene. Renowned for its relaxed and friendly atmosphere, it’s an intimate gathering, ideal for discovering new and emerging artists. The festival is located on an actual working farm with stages indoors and outdoors. Headliners include Tom Grennan, Mystery Jets, rising artist Dermot Kennedy and Pale Waves, who made the top 5 of the BBC’s Sound of 2018. Also playing Tom Walker, Lewis Capaldi and Jade Bird were all artists nominated in the BBC’s Sound of 2018.
FESTIVAL: Timber Festival, The International Forest Festival, Derbyshire, Fri July 6 – Sun July 8
Timber Festival, Rawdon Road, Moira, Swadlincote, DE12 6DQ.
ARTS: Rugby Festival of Culture, Sun June 24 – Sun July 15
This cultural feast features 100 arts, comedy, music, film nights with Flatpack, open-air chess and a Rugby School science festival over three weeks. Highlights include two family-friendly open-air productions in Caldecott Park by Leamington’s national touring theatre company, Heartbreak Productions: Pride & Prejudice on Sun July 8 (5.30-8pm) and The Railway Children on Tues July 10 (6.30pm – 8.30pm). Also on offer is a Cider & Rum Festival at The Merchant’s Inn (Mon July 9 – 15), multi-award-winning folk duo Ninebarrow at St Andrew’s Church (Thurs July 5), Edinburgh Fringe warm-ups at Distillery Bar & Kitchen (Sun July 8) and An Evening with Paint and Colour Expert Annie Sloan at Rugby Theatre (Sat July 7), £18.
For the full line-up of events visit here.
I love this iconic American indie group formed back in 1989 by trailblazing Kim Deal of Pixies and Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses – two of my fave student bands. They’ve been going for 25 years now with a critically-acclaimed new “intimate and raw” Breeders album All Nerve, tour and a return to the lineup of their classic 1993 Last Splash.
COMEDY: Laugh it up, The Benn Hall, Rugby, Thurs July 12
As part of 2018’s Rugby Festival of Culture you can catch witty comedienne Laura Lexx – a rising star of the UK comedy circuit (Best MC in the 2017 Comic’s Comic Awards), comic musician Duncan Oakley and trained medical doctor/comedian Paul Sinha (Sinnerman on ITV’s The Chase) in one of the town’s biggest stand-up comedy events. There’s also a surprise special guest comedy headliner. Tickets £16.
MUSIC: Summer House Sounds – Sir Tom Jones, Madness & Il Divo, Ragley Hall, Alcester, Thurs July 12 – Sat July 14
The Welsh sex bomb is the first of three big artists performing at this Warwickshire stately homes on July 12, followed by Madness and The Lightning Seeds on Friday July 13 and multi-national classical group Il Divo with Michael Ball on their Castles and Country tour.
Ronnie Scott’s ‘Sinatra at the Sands’: performed by Curtis Stigers and the Ronnie Scott’s Big Band, Birmingham Town Hall, Fri July 13
Internationally acclaimed US vocalist Curtis Stigers channels the hip, swinging chemistry of Frank Sinatra and the Count Basie Orchestra in celebration of the classic album Sinatra at the Sands, joining forces with the U.K.’s favourite, the world famous, and absolutely masterful Ronnie Scott’s Big Band.
DANCE/THEATRE: Read All About It! Coventry Evening Telegraph Building, Corporation Street, Tues 10 July – Sat July 14
A site-specific performance at the city’s 1950’s former newspaper offices and print room created by the Belgrade Theatre and Mercurial Dance. It’s been inspired by real-life stories across 50 years in two separate shows. In Retold, Mercurial Dance take over the foyer area with an interactive, cabaret-style performance, uniting three skilled professional dancers with a local musician and composer, and 4 emerging dance artists. And in City Final, the Belgrade Theatre’s 9 youth and community groups present a series of snapshots of local history, popping up throughout the building.
belgrade Tel: 024 7655 3055
FOOD & DRINK: After hours Ale tasting with Bob Yeats Tunnel Brewery, The Shakespeare Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon, July 14
Bob Yeats Tunnel Brewery will present a collection of hand-crafted ales for tasting. A mixture of popular craft ales, Traditional Beers and a Mulberry Ale made with mulberries from the famous Mulberry trees at Shakespeare’s New Place, 5.30pm – 7.30pm. Ticketed event, £10.
Strictly sweethearts Kevin and Karen Clifton are back with a sultry, hip-swinging new show, backed by a supporting cast of dancers and 12-piece show band.
Outdoor Yoga & Brunch, Hilltop Farm, Hunningham, July 15
Held in the beautiful grounds of Hilltop Farm, overlooking scenic countryside views, yoga instructor Kerry Palmer will guide you through an energising 75-min yoga practice (10am -12.30pm). All levels including beginners are welcome, yoga mats are provided though feel free to bring along your own if you have one. Having worked up an appetite, you’ll head inside to the Hilltop Cafe where you’ll be treated to freshly prepared smoothies, a meat or veggie option breakfast plus teas and coffees, £21.50.