Enchanted Christmas Kingdom, Hatton Adventure World, nr Warwick
hattonworld.com/adventure-world or Tel: 01926 843411.
CHRISTMAS: A Christmas Carol, Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Dec 4 – Jan 20
Bah, humbug! With a new cast for 2018 including Aden Gillett replacing Phil Davis as Scrooge and all the magic and cosiness of last year’s smash new adaption by David Edgar, this ‘magnificent & wonderful’ (Daily Telegraph) show is selling quickly and now only has best availability for January performances. A wonderful Victorian festive treat! rsc
PANTO: Sleeping Beauty, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed Nov 21 – Sat Jan 6
The fab writer and director Iain Lauchlan, who wrote BAFTA-winning series The Tweenies, returns this Christmas as Nanny McWheeze. He will be joined by partner in crime Craig Hollingsworth as Muddles the Jester. Together the comedy double-act will be helping Prince Valiant on his quest to rescue the sleeping princess through a sci-fi Stranger Things (Netflix) inspired time-portal. Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade
ART: Haroon Mirza: reality is somehow what we expect it to be, Ikon, Birmingham, Nov 30 – Feb 24 2019
UK artist Haroon Mirza recently displayed two new artworks at Frieze London in response to French Fashion house, Louis Vuitton. Imitation, featuring Louis Vuitton bags and wallets, are installations created by the artist, “in response to window displays in various cities by the French fashion house that Mirza says are ‘blatant appropriations’ of his solar-powered sculptures,”. The artists’ new show is the most comprehensive exhibition of his work in the UK to date. The Ikon’s exhibition space will be filled entirely with moving imagery, sculptural installation and electronic sound. ikon-gallery.org
THEATRE: Timon of Athens, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat Dec 7– Feb 22 2019
Simon Godwin directs the acclaimed Kathryn Hunter as Timon in Shakespeare’s sharp satire on wealth, greed and betrayal. Poignant, funny and bitter, it tells the story of how the world moves from privilege to poverty with heart-breaking speed. Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo star in Godwin’s sumptuous award-winning production of Antony & Cleopatra (above) at The National in London, ending Sat Jan 19 2019. rsc.org.uk/timon-of-athens/
ALTERNATIVE PANTO: Over the Top, B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Sat Dec 29
A surefire hit! Each year Coventry-based playwright Nick Walker outdoes himself with a new script inspired by the main stage panto such as his Beauty and the Beast-inspired comedy horror Vampomime, film noir spoof Private Dick Whittington, panto comedy crime caper Oh No It Isn’t! and last year’s spaghetti Western-style The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Sisters. His sixth show deals with #FirstWorldWarProblems, following a group of fearless suffragettes who find themselves stuck behind enemy lines in 1918. A fab all-female cast directed by leading UK actor Katy Stephens. Tel: Box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade
FESTIVE: Hathaway’s Christmas, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, nr Stratford, Thur Dec 6 – Jan 6 2019
Marvel at the traditional festive table displays through the ages, decorated with garlands of food and flowers to reflect the different time periods of the Hathaway family living at this beautiful thatched cottage – from Elizabethan to Victorian eras, 10am – 4pm. shakespeare.org.uk
THEATRE: Tartuffe, Swan Theatre, Stratford, until Feb 23
A Wassailing We Go, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Wed Dec 19–Sun Dec 30
Go on a fascinating guided tour of Shakespeare’s Birthplace and discover stories of traditional Tudor Christmases William would have enjoyed as a boy. Get into the festive spirit and enjoy a glass of traditional Wassail – alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available. Meet the Tudor cook and learn about traditional recipes worthy of a Tudor feast, 12pm – 4pm, www.shakespeare.org.uk
Christmas Markets, Hatton Shopping Village, every weekend from Sat Nov 24 – Dec 16 & every day Dec 21 – 23
Back by popular demand are the Christmas Markets (10am – 5pm) at this quintessentially English Victorian shopping village, home to a myriad of independent retailers. For those after a unique and special gift, there will be a diverse range of stalls from local suppliers. At the weekends visitors can also enjoy festive singing, mulled punch, mince pies and a great festive atmosphere. hattonworld.com/shopping-village
FESTIVE: Magical Lantern Festival, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, until Jan 1 2019
This year’s Christmas themed Lantern Festival will illuminate the gardens turning it into a spectacular fusion of dual culture, vibrant colours and life-size artistic sculptures. See some of the most impressive and artistic lantern installations outside of China! It is open Thurs – Sun each week and every day during the school Christmas holidays from Fri Dec 21, 5pm-10pm each day. birminghambotanicalgardens
CHRISTMAS FAMILY SHOW: Tall Stories’ Wilde Creatures, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, until Sun Dec 30
From the company that brought you The Gruffalo, a motley crew of storytelling musicians bring Oscar Wilde’s classic fairy tales to life in Tall Stories’ magical 65-minute new show, direct from London’s West End. Characters from The Happy Prince and other stories spring to life as the pompous mayor, the petulant princess and the love-sick student compete to become the new town statue. A perfect festive treat for everyone aged 5 to 105. Tickets: £15.50 (£13.50), warwickartscentre
PANTO: Dick Whittington, Royal Spa Centre & Town Hall, Leamington Spa, Sat Dec 1 – Sun Dec 30
Panto favourites JP McCue and Sean Dodds will be returning for a fifth year. JP will be donning his fabulous frocks and killer heels as Dame Dolly Fitzwarren and Sean will be starring as Silly Simon in this festive family production by Imagine Theatre. With some performances already sold out book early to avoid disappointment. Tel: 01926 334 418, royalspacentreandtownhall
FESTIVE MARKET: Frankfurt Christmas Market, Victoria Square & New Street, Birmingham until Sun Dec 23
Prost! Bratwursts, tankards of German beer and hot Glühwein – it can only mean one thing… Brum’s Frankfurt-style market is back, now attracting more than 5.5million visitors a year! It’s the largest outdoor Christmas market in the UK, and the biggest German market outside Germany and Austria, open 10am – 9pm. thebfcm
CAROLS: Carols by Candlelight by Armonico Consort, Collegiate Church of Saint Mary, Warwick, Sat Dec 20
A highlight of the festive season. Critically acclaimed Warwickshire-based UK choir and instrumental ensemble the Armonico Consort will be performing a mix of seasonal favourites, well-known carols and new discoveries at at 7.30pm. armonico
The Canterville Ghost, Warwick Arts Centre, Tue Dec 18 – Sun Dec 23 & Thu Dec 27 – Sun Dec 30
Oscar Wilde’s spirited spectacular. Award-winning Tall Stories present this gruesome ghost story as re-imagined by a charismatic compare and his company – an illusionist, a comedian and a psychic! A darkly comic and marvellously musical show from award-winning Tall Stories – definitely not suited for under 12’s! 7pm. Running time: 1hr 40mins including interval. Tickets: £15.50 (£13.50) & under 26s £12, warwickartscentre
CHRISTMAS SHOW: The Wizard of Oz, Birmingham REP, until Sun Jan 13
Follow the yellow rick road to the REP this Christmas! Directed by Liam Steel, a core collaborator at Regents Park Open Air Theatre and choreographer on the Oscar-winning film version of Les Miserables is bringing a fresh, authentic take and a bit of sass to this glorious family musical. Chisara Agor plays a cool urban-style denim dungaree and Doc Martin wearing Dorothy. Tickets from £15, previews from £10 (subject to availability, £2.50 transaction fee applies) Box Office: 0121 236 445, birmingham-rep.co.uk
MUSIC: Christmas with East 17, Leamington Assembly, Thurs Dec 20
If you were a fan of this 90’s boy band here’s an early Christmas pressie – they’re back with a vengeance! You may want to Stay Another Day in the House Of Love – It’s Alright!
EVENT: Songs and Sonnets, Hall’s Croft, Old Town, Stratford, Dec 14 & 20
Join special guest actor, Jasmine Earnshaw as she reads your chosen Shakespeare sonnet to accompanying music. Choose a mask to wear and have a go at some light dancing, 12 – 4pm. shakespeare.org.uk
Meet the Experts, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Dec 17
A rare opportunity to meet the Collections team as they showcase rarely seen, Christmas related items from their internationally-designated museum and archive collection, 12-4pm. shakespeare.org.uk
FESTIVE: Ice Skate Birmingham, Eastside Green, Birmingham, now until Sun Jan 6
One of the best outdoor skating rinks in the UK, it can accommodate 300 people per 45-minute session on the ice. You don’t have to be Tonya Harding but private skating tuition can be booked ahead if required! This year the rink has been relocated from Broad Street to Eastside Green, off New Canal Street. It’s open, 10am – 10pm, with the last skating session at 9pm (need to arrive 30-mins before). Next door is The Ice Lounge with festive food and drinks.
Elf – A Christmas Spectacular, Birmingham, The Genting Arena, Thurs Dec 20 – Mon Dec 24
Elf, the hit West End and Broadway musical based on the hilarious Hollywood film starring Will Ferrell, is to be supersized into a Christmas spectacular this December. Pop legend David Essex will play Buddy the Elf’s father; Love Actually star and singer Martine McCutcheon as Buddy’s girlfriend, Jovie; plus, comedy actor Tam Ryan as Buddy. Following huge public demand, 10,000 extra tickets have been released! gentingarena
Emily and the Thing, Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome, Mon Dec 17 – Jan 6
Created for the stage by Tall Stories (The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale) this is an imaginative adaptation of the much-loved book by the award-winning duo Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon) and Neal Layton for children aged 3+. The production has enjoyed sell-out runs including Edinburgh Fringe, and appeared at the Sydney Opera House, in Melbourne, Brisbane, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. After Birmingham, the show will transfer to New York for a North American tour in 2019.
Tickets: £12.50. birminghamhippodrome.com or Tel: 0844 338 5000.
New Year’s Eve Family Rave, Coventry Cathedral, Dec 31
Welcome in the new year with family rave pioneers Big Fish Little Fish for the post-rave generation of parents. DJ Heavenly Jukebox will be spinning club classics, old skool, house, hip hop, electro, techno, UK garage, drum’n’bass and anything else that takes his fancy on the multi-sensory dancefloor with glitter cannons, bubbles, giant balloons and THE parachute dance finale. At 2pm there’ll be an early Midnight Moment. They also have a snow machine so it could get messy. The party includes craft tables with a giant mural, themed crafts and playdoh table, free transfers and glowsticks! And for the grown ups – a licensed bar! Optional fancy dress: Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, 1pm – 3pm. £10 adult, £8 per child.
The Museum of Architect’s Gingerbread City, V&A, South Kensington, London, until Jan 6
I love the sound of this! An edible entire city made of gingerbread by architects, designers and engineers, in an exhibition now in its third year.
CHRISTMAS: Christmas at Bletchley Park, dates throughout Dec
Time travel back to a 1940s-themed Christmas at home of World War II code-breakers, Bletchley Park near MK. There’s live retro music (on 2, 8, 9 & 15 Dec) and a 40s-style Christmas Grotto until 23 Dec. If you’re really into solving puzzles you can book the Codebreaking Christmas Dinner Party on 12 Dec with a three course dinner in the mansion, live music and a code to crack with clues arriving throughout the dinner. A prize awaits the winning team.
CHRISTMAS: Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail, Blenheim Palace, now until Sat 6 Jan
Blenheim’s Christmas light shows are pretty spectacular and this year’s trail has even more lasers, projections and thousands of pea-lights. There’s a new Field of Light, the scented Fire Garden, a Canopy of Light and Singing Trees. Santa and his elves will also be popping up along the way too. The house opens up this Sat decorated with the theme of Cinderella and the Christmas Market begins in the Great Court with rustic wooden chalets selling all sorts of festive gifts.
CHILDREN: Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Watford, now until Sun 27 Jan
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.
BEEN & GONE:
THE RSC’s UK SCHOOLS & THEATRE TOUR: First Encounters with Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors until Dec 7
Wondering what’s the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for 7 – 13-year-olds? The RSC’s fab First Encounters with Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors, a 90-minute abridged version just for kids, is touring several partner schools and theatres across the UK including Northampton, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, Kent, York, Bradford and Stoke-on-Trent. A lovely, interactive experience for families. See our review and where it’s heading here.
FESTIVE MARKET: Warwickshire’s Etsy Made Local Festive Pop-up market, Fargo-Village, Coventry, Sat Dec 1 & Sun Dec 2
It’s back – bigger and better than ever! Come along to this wonderfully festive pop-up market, featuring some of the best handmade gifts, vintage goods, art and craft supplies available on Etsy.com, Sat (11am – 6pm) and Sun (11am – 4pm). Fargo’s Vegan Festival is also on the Saturday. Free entry. With more than 50 free artisan goodie bags available on each day, be sure not to miss out! facebook
MUSIC: All Saints, O2 Institute Birmingham, Oxford, Mon Dec 3
Don’t they look like they mean business in their grey suits? Back with a vengeance, All Saints’ fifth album Testament has had fans and critics in raptures. The girls are embarking on a winter tour to feature the album plus all their hits and you can catch them in Birmingham for one night only. academymusicgroup.com
Spot Santa, Compton Verney, Sun Dec 9
Father Christmas and his faithful reindeer have taken time out of their busy schedule to enjoy a couple of days at Compton Verney (also Sun Dec 9). Can you spot him as he wanders around this world-famous Capability Brown landscaped park between 1 & 3pm?
This event is included in standard Day Ticket admission (Free for Members and Annual Pass Holders), comptonverney
BALLET: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Birmingham Hippodrome, until Thur Dec 13
This world-famous BRB production by Sir Peter Wright, with exquisite designs by John Macfarlane has been part of the city’s Christmas tradition for more than 27 years. Enjoy Tchaikovsky’s fabulously festive ballet score, gigantic sets, lavish costumes, 60 dancers and a full orchestra. Tickets from £20, birminghamhippodrome
FESTIVE STORYTELLING: The Selfish Giant & The Snow Queen, Compton Verney, Sat Dec 15
Children can gather round the Christmas Tree and settle back to hear a pair of enchanting and much-loved Christmas stories; The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde (recommended for 5-7-year olds, 11.30am – 11.45am.) and The Snow Queen (read in two parts and suitable for children 8+, 1pm– 1.30pm& 2.15pm – 2.45pm). Sounds lovely! comptonverney
MUSIC: Soweto Kinch, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, Thur Dec 6
Gig by the award winning alto-saxophonist and MC – one of the most exciting and versatile musicians in British jazz. He’s curator of Birmingham festival, the Flyover Show, and radio host of Jazz Now on BBC Radio 3. His BBC documentary, Jazzology with Soweto Kinch (currently on iPlayer) took him on a personal journey through New Orleans, New York and london where he meets and plays with fellow musicians. Definitely worth a watch too.
NT Live cinema screening: Antony & Cleopatra, local cinemas, Thur Dec 6
Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo play the famous fated couple. Simon Godwin (Twelfth Night, Man and Superman, The Beaux’ Stratagem) directs.
MUSIC: Live at the RSC: Awake, Arise, The Other Place, Stratford, Sun Dec 16
An evening of festive folk music. Five of the English folk scene’s most inventive artists come together for an unmissable one-off collaboration. Awake, Arise celebrates the richness of our winter traditions. The line-up includes award-winning trio Lady Maisery, and the musical partnership of Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith. £15. rsc
DANCE/ACROBATICS: Mimbre’s Fierce Sisters, New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, Tue Dec 11 – Dec 15
Innovative London-based all-female acrobatic theatre group Mimbre will shine a light on the women of Shakespeare’s plays in a visually enthralling promenade performance in these contemporary sculpture gardens on the site of Shakespeare’s former home. Step into the world of Fierce Sisters, as they weave their spell with breathtaking acrobatics, evocative choreography and a modern soundtrack. Expect an energetic, witty and immersive take on how women are interpreted and portrayed, then and now. Specially commissioned by Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
MUSIC: Kate Rusby at Christmas, Town Hall, Birmingham, Thur Dec 13
See the Mercury Prize nominee and former Folk Singer of the Year, in the stunning surroundings of Town Hall for her national renowned Christmas tour. Kate’s beautiful, expressive vocals never fail to connect the emotional heart of a song to her audience. Famously down to earth, Kate’s engaging personality and sharp Yorkshire wit have further endeared her to fans. She will be joined by a sublime brass quintet.
Time Travelling Father Christmas, Hall’s Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon, Dec 15 & 16
Father Christmas has travelled back in time to teach the Jacobeans the wonders of Christmas. Little boys and girls can meet him and receive a bespoke gift. The festive experience continues in the café where children can decorate their very own Christmas biscuits to take home, or enjoy there and then! Tickets: Child: £10, Adult £5 to include tour of the house, 12pm – 4pm (Timed-entry, advance booking advisable.) 12pm – 4pm, www.shakespeare.org.uk
ART: Whistler and Nature, Compton Verney, ends Dec 16
An autumn ‘must-see’. Warwickshire’s Compton Verney is casting a new light on the work of the great late-Victorian painter, James McNeill Whistler, in respect of his family’s army background. Whistler and Nature (Sat Oct 20 – Dec 16), curated in partnership with The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow. The exhibition, which includes 90 oil paintings, explores the artist’s revolutionary attitude towards the natural world. Compton Verney
Tudor Music and Mince Pies, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat Dec 15 & Sun Dec 16
Enjoy traditional Tudor music playing in Shakespeare’s childhood home. Learn about musical instruments of the period, how these evolved into the contemporary instruments we play today, all whilst nibbling on Tudor-style mince pies, 10am – 4pm. shakespeare.org.uk