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This week


COMEDY: Leamington Spa Comedy Festival, until Sat 12 Oct

The Horne Section – Alex Horne (band leader), Joe Auckland (trumpet and banjo), Mark Brown (saxophone), Will Collier (bass), Ben Reynolds (drums and percussion) and Ed Sheldrake (keyboards).

We could definitely do with a laugh right now – and as luck would have it, Leamington Spa Comedy Festival brings bucket-loads of them. Sarcastic side-splitter James Acaster comes to town (sadly sold out!); Gary Delaney fires ‘expertly crafted gaggery’; improv troupe The Noise Next Door bring their off-the-cuff quick wit; plus The Horne Section (Oct 7), Matthew Parker (Oct 8), Josh Pugh (Oct 9), Justin Moorhouse, George Hinchliffe’s Ukulele Orchestra of GB (Oct 11) and the Comedy Club 4 Kids (Oct 12).


ART: Coventry Biennial: The Twin, Fri 4 Oct-Sun 24 Nov


The highly anticipated second Coventry Biennial unfolds across the city with the contemporary art exhibition at The Herbert remaining open until Sun 26 Jan. The title this year is The Twin, exploring relationships. Coventry has 26 twin cities around the world and is known as an international city welcoming migrants and refugees. The Twin includes translation, collaboration and togetherness while also exploring some of the difficulties presented by globalisation, political inequality and conflict. There will be more than 25 artists presenting work and embedded in the wider Coventry Biennial 2019 programme are opportunities to speak to or eat with the artists, to learn a new skill, to warm yourself by a fire, to dance through the night or to ease yourself into the day with a yoga session.


A Museum in Baghdad, Swan Theatre from Fri 11 Oct – Jan 25 2020

A compelling tale of two women, decades apart; Gertrude Bell is founding a museum in Iraq’s capital in 1926 and Ghalia Hussein is attempting to reopen the establishment following looting during the war. They share a goal: to create a fresh sense of unity and nationhood. But in such unstable times, questions remain. Who is the museum for? Whose culture are we preserving? And why does it matter when people are dying?


 Magnum Manifesto, Compton Verney, Sat 12 Oct – Sun 15 Dec

Alessandra Sanguinetti, ‘We are altogether united for the best and for the worst. We, the French, are deeply wounded on behalf of France and her victims. Love, PEACE, Solidarity…’, Nice, France, 2016 © Alessandra Sanguinetti /Magnum Photos

Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park is the only UK destination for Magnum Manifesto; an exhibition charting the world through the lens of some of the most iconic and influential photographers of the past 50 years, The Magnum Photo Agency captures the influence of events and emotions on human rights and the experience of life. Rarely seen emotive images dating from 1947 through to the 21st century document the rise of the Taliban and the impact politics, war and terrorism has had on people and relationships.


 MUSIC: Richard Hawley, O2 InstituteThur Oct 10

Sheffield singer-songwriter Richard Hawley  known for his work with Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, Shirley Bassey and Nancy Sinatra celebrates his 20th anniversary as a solo artist and his ninth studio album, Further,


EVENT: A Positively Rebellious Wine Dinner, Hampton Manor, nr Solihull, on Fri Oct 11 at 7.30pm

The gloves are off for as the hotel hosts a battle between two egos of the Birmingham wine scene over a decadent four course dinner with two paired wines per course. Sam Olive of Wine Freedom fame, curator of the Hampton Manor Wine list, takes on Tony Elvin, proprietor of The Wine Events Company and former Hotel du Vin stalwart, participate in a unique and fun wine off. Tickets £105.


LITERATURE: Birmingham Literary Festival, Thu 3 Oct-Sun 13 Oct

Readings, talks, workshops and more await you at the Birmingham Literary Festival

If you’re more of a bookworm, check out the amazing events going on at the Birmingham Literature Festival curated by BBC 6 presenter and music journalist Stuart Maconie, who lives in the Midlands. Just a few of the highlights across the city include An evening with Carol Ann Duffy and Friends (Thur Oct 3) on National Poetry Day; poet Simon Armitage: In Conversation; Billy Bragg, Paul Mason and Selina Todd discussing politics in Understanding the Past, Building our Future (Sun Oct 13); an LGBTQ+ creative writing workshop (Sat Oct 5); Labour MP Jess Philips and a Read On Day presented by young writers aged 12 – 16 (Sun Oct 6).


THEATRE: King John, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Sat 21 Mar 2020

Catch one of Shakespeare’s rarely-performed works as director Eleanor Rhode makes her debut at the RSC. Stirring an uneasy semblance to the present day, the tale tells of a nation in turmoil and a king  – played by Rosie Sheehy (above) who will stop at nothing to keep her crown. Watch out for a huge on-stage food fight! Just don’t wear your best garb if you’re on a front row seat…

Places for the director talk are limited; book ahead; see tickets for King John here.


Fargo Dining Club, Fargo Village, Coventry, Sat Oct 12 and Sun Oct 13 

Digbeth Dining Club are touring far and wide including two weekends at  Coventry’s Fargo Village, returning Sat Oct 26 & Sun Oct 27, as well as their regular evenings every Thu, Fri, Sat & Sun in Digbeth, Birmingham.


THEATRE: Frankenstein, The Belgrade, Wed 2 Oct-Sat 12 Oct

Scottish screen actress Eilidh Loan (from Glasgow), as Mary Shelley and Ben Castle-Gibb as Victor Frankenstein. Photo by Colin Hattersley Photography

The Belgrade gets us ready for Halloween with a resurrection of Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece Frankenstein. More than 200 years after its publication, the novel’s 19-year-old author takes centre stage in an  electrifying adaptation by Rona Munro. Remember hearing about the competition to stitch a scary story in our September guide? It’s time to hear some of the entries and see the winner presented with exclusive swag at the Big Comfy Bookshop on Wed 2 Oct.


CULTURE: Heritage Storeys, The Herbert, Thu 3 Oct-Sun 3 Nov

Heritage Storeys is a clever prototype Virtual Reality experience that sounds very intriguing. You travel through time in a lift and immerse yourself in a series of compelling historical stories including the 175 million year journey of the Herbert’s ichthyosaur skull. Trace its route to Coventry from discovery in a quarry back to this giant marine reptile swimming around Warwickshire’s Jurassic seas. Each experience lasts approximately 3 minutes. But you don’t have to limit yourself to only one experience – return as many times as you like and choose a different storey! As the doors slide open, a fully explorable scene is revealed – from oceans to battlefields and Bronze Age settlements. Free, designed for ages 13+.


THEATRE: Status, Warwick Arts Centre, 9-10 Oct

China Plate and Staatstheater Mainz’s Status explores themes of nationality and identity. Co-commissioned by Warwick Arts CentreStatus uses then PM Theresa May’s assertion that “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere” as a starting point.



BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Sorry to Bother You, Britain Needs You (Windrush Exhibition) & Desi CentralBelgrade Theatre, Coventry, Wed Oct 2 – Fri Oct 25

This year’s programme opens with a free screening of Boots Riley’s acclaimed Sorry to Bother You (Wed Oct 2). Named by GQ as the best film of 2018, this dark, sci-fi comedy tells the story of Cassius Green, a telemarketer, while Maureen Cottle’s timely exhibition Britain Needs You highlights real-life stories from the Windrush Generation (from Sat 5 Oct). On Fri 18 Oct, the hugely popular Desi Central are back with another unmissable Black History Month special. There’s a free kids taster of the Belgrade’s youth theatre groups during half-term with a one-off session at 11am on Wed 23 Oct open to 11-16-year-olds, exploring elements of black history through drama. The month ends with a big celebration of history, music and poetry on Fri 25 Oct, with Coventry Diversity Forum. Expect live African drumming from Jahman Aggrey and storytelling from 7pm.

belgrade or Tel: 024 7655 3055


COMEDY: Daliso Chaponda’s Blah Blah Blacklist, Warwick Arts Centre Sat Oct 12

In his very funny daring new show, Daliso looks at disgraced, blacklisted celebrities and historical figures we’re ashamed we once admired. There’s also the small matter of family member arrests, exploding buildings in his home country and the enterprising Malawian who tried to blackmail him.


FAMILY: Potato Shindig, Hatton Country World, until Sun 20 Oct

What’s a weekend without mud?!

Pick your own spuds and sweetcorn in the vegetable fields; while still enjoying the usual Hatton fun. Humble yet satisfying fun that’ll save you a trip to the green grocer’s. Available every weekend 11am-4pm. More info here.


FAMILY: Wild Autumn Evening Out, Ryton Pools Country Park, Sat 12 Oct

Who doesn’t love a lark around a campfire? Discover nature’s nocturnal side, feast on jacket potatoes and toasted marshmallows and test your nerves (and silliness) with tracking and stalking games in the dark. Charlecote Park offer some spectacular sights and photo opportunities with Deer at Dusk; on various dates throughout the month.


EXHIBITION: Nature’s Champions, Upton House and Gardens, until Mon 9 Dec

Credit: The National Trust

Spot famous faces who have played prominent roles in conservation, organic farming, wildlife presenting and everything in between in this exhibition in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery. Sir David Attenborough, Gerald Durrell, Beatrix Potter and Dame Vivienne Westwood are among the champions’ portraits. The way that artists have interpreted nature over time is also explored, using landscape paintings from Second Viscount Bearstead’s extensive collection dating from the 16th-19th Centuries which are brought together for the first time. Normal admission applies; more details here.


EXHIBITION: The Move and Play exhibition, Coventry Transport Museum, until Sun Nov 10

A good one to visit with the kids during the summer holidays, this exhibition, created by Heureka Overseas Productions – a division of the Finnish Science Centre – has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors during stints in Bangkok and Hong Kong, as well as Germany and the Netherlands. It consists of 19 different physical challenges designed to put your senses to the test. From disco donuts to nostalgic tennis, thermal cameras to tightrope walking – activities encourage visitors to be active through collaborative, non-sporting activities – the majority of which are accessible to visitors of all abilities. Team up in activities such as Team Stomp, a game where the more enthusiastically you stomp your feet, the faster your virtual character will advance in the competition. There are also individual activities, such as ‘How Accurately Can You Kick?’ where you must kick a ball at electronic targets to score maximum points and see if you have what it takes to be the next football star!

If you are a Coventry resident make sure you sign up to a GoCV card for free entry,   


HERITAGE: British Folklore Exhibition, Charlecote Park, nr Stratford-upon-Avon, until Sun 20 Oct

Enjoy a refreshing romp around the deer park of this Victoria mansion hunting for installations from local artists, Rachel Harwood and Ros Ingram – all inspired by the National Trust book A Treasury of British Folklore by Dee Dee Chainey. There’s also a chance to meet the author, along with illustrator Joe McLaren, on Sat 28 Sep. A half-hour talk about their inspiration and creative processes is followed by the chance to get your copies signed.

More info here.



CULTURE: Black History Month Launch, Leics, throughout Oct

Check out Black History Month (BHM) events in Leicester. This year’s vibrant programme promotes the history and contribution that African and Caribbean communities have made to Leicester with films, dance shows, comedy from Dhaliso Chaponda and Dennis Rollins will be playing funk music as well as textile, art and poetry events. A particular highlight is BHM Live showcasing several pieces of new work by emerging black artists across art forms on Thurs Oct 17 in Curve.



EXHIBITION: William Blake, Tate Britain, London, until Sun 2 Feb 2020 

Poet, painter and printmaker William Blake has created some of the most iconic images in British art. This new exhibition, the largest of Blake’s work for almost 20 years, will feature over 300 original works, as well as an immersive recreation of the small domestic room in which Blake showed his art in 1809. Other pieces will be digitally recreated on an enormous scale.


EXHIBITION: Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, V&A Museum, London, until Sun 8 Mar 2020

 Curated in collaboration with the lauded avant garde Vogue portrait and fashion photographer, this will feature some of Walker’s seminal, fantastical images from his 25-year career, featuring major celebs including Kate Moss, Sir David Attenborough, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, Björk and many more. You can also see 10 new photographic series created for the show, by Walker, influenced by the museum’s exhibits.



THEATRE: The Entertainer, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Oct 15-19


The Belgrade is one of the few venues hosting a new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer by Curve Leicester, Anthology Theatre and Simon Friend as part of a UK tour. Moving the action to 1982 against the backdrop of the Falklands War, this innovative adaptation will see Shane Richie take the lead as washed-up comic Archie Rice, Belgrade


MUSEUMS AT NIGHT 2019: House Party on Henley Street, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Nov 1&2

Shakespeare’s Birthplace will be hosting a house party with a twist, as part of national Museums at Night festival. Outrageous characters from yesteryear will come to life for a House Party on Henley Street, performed by Bristol-based creative company, Compass Presents featuring mischievous hosts Puck and Ariel, who will travel through time to introduce guests to a motley crew for a social with the neighbours. Guests are invited to revel in the historic building and the famous street on which it stands, with a chance to enjoy performances and play a part in the quest to shape Shakespeare’s destiny. what better way to celebrate Halloween weekend than to party at Shakespeare’s pad…

There will be three performances each evening — 5.30pm, 7pm and 8.30pm, with each lasting around 90 minutes. Tickets cost £16 per adult and include food and drink, fancy dress optional. For tickets, go to:


FESTIVAL: Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival Winter Weekend, Fri 1 Nov-Sun 3 Nov

Jenny Eclair Photo Credit: Ray Burminston

Indulging your passion for books, writing and reading doesn’t just have to mean staying inside with blankets and cocoa…there’s a super programme of talks and workshops to expand your horizons and inspire you this November. Tickets are now on sale for the wonderful Winter Weekend from the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival, which is one of the most significant literary events in the UK. Take your pick from captivating talks by the likes of Sir Trevor McDonald, Jess Philips MP, Ben Miller, Jenny Eclair and more. Children certainly don’t miss out on the fun, with a choice of craft workshops, Arty Splatz sensory play, the Really Big Pants Theatre Company and further treats.

Explore the schedule here.


COMEDY: Steve Martin & Martin Short’s The Funniest Show in Town at the Moment, Resorts World Arena, Birmingham, Wed 18 Mar 

Comedy pals Steve Martin and Martin Short

Following their sell-out tour An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, comedy icons Martin and Short bring their latest critically acclaimed hilarity to Brum. Expect trademark subversive, self-deprecating, rapid-fire jokes as they mock Hollywood, the nature of celebrity…and each other. Their unique, fizzy chemistry on stage reflects a friendship forged decades ago on the set of Three Amigos. They’ve been touring together since 2016, when they launched their first live show A Very Stupid Conversation. Their 2018 Netflix special An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life, described by Rolling Stone as “wryly hip but unexpectedly touching” and by the New York Times as “gleeful and satisfying”, received four Emmy nominations.
Tickets go on sale 10am on 27th September 2019 online or by calling 0844 33 88 222.

Find more ideas here

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