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Things To Do This Week


Imperium Part I: Conspirator, The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, runs until Feb 10 2018

Imperium Part I: Conspirator production photos, 2017. L-R – Jade Croot as Tullia and Siobhan Redmond playing Terentia, Photo: Ikin Yum, (c) RSC

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.


Meet The Lost Words Artist Jackie Morris, Compton Verney, Sun Dec 3

Dandelion by Jackie Morris

The Lost Words is one of two brilliant and thought-provoking family-friendly exhibitions on until Dec 17 celebrating the best of British illustration and literature with The Lost Words based on the best-selling beautifully illustrated spell book by Robert Macfarlane, and Jackie Morris just named the Hay Festival Book of the Year 2017; alongside Quentin Blake’s Inside Stories – a very personal and insightful look at Britain’s best-loved illustrator Artist Jackie will be talking about the exhibition and signing books (a stunning Christmas gift), 11.30am-4.45pm. Visitors can also can venture out on Spell Walks in via two specifically commissioned digital trails that can be downloaded straight to your smart phone.

 Etsy Made Local, Fargo Village, Coventry, Sat Dec 2 & Sun Dec 3

Looking for some more individual one-off Christmas prezzies?  Come and see the amazing talent of Etsy sellers from foodies to designers, furniture restorers to jewellers from around the county at the creative and buzzing Fargo Village! The perfect event to start (and maybe even finish) your Christmas shopping!

For more information see here, 10am – 6pm.

Cinderella, The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Weds Nov 22 – Sat Jan 13 2018

Greg Powrie, left, joins actor, writer and director Iain Lauchlan, right

This festive season Cinderella’s raucous Scottish step-sisters Dyspepsia and Listeria, played by the brilliant panto legends Iain Lauchlan (he has the best laugh!) and Greg Powrie, are looking for no strings attached highland flings – so  ‘loch’ up your fellas! Iain worked on BBC’s PlayschoolFingermouse, BBC Playdays, Storytime and Fun Song Factory but is perhaps best known as writer of the BAFTA award-winning children’s TV series, The Tweenies. Fellow Scottish actor Greg Powrie’s TV and film credits include Outlander, Taggart, River City, Still Game and Dr. Finlay. Craig Hollingsworth returns for his 6th Belgrade panto, and Alice Rose Fletcher will be putting on her glass slippers as Cinderella.


A Christmas Carol, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Mon Nov 27 – Feb 4 2018 

Photo credit: Helen-Maybanks – Wind-in-the-Willows

A new eagerly-awaited stage adaptation by David Edgar of Charles Dickens’ seasonal classic starring the excellent PoldarkSherlock and Quadrophenia actor Phil Davis as Scrooge opens in preview this week. Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, pictured, who brought The Wind in the Willows to the London Palladium earlier this year starring Rufus Hound as Toad.

Book here.

BBC 3’s People Just Do Nothing: Kurupt FM, Kasbah, Coventry, Fri Dec 1

As seen on the BBC 3 ‘documentary’ following MC Sniper, DJ Beats and the rest of the chamunity as they struggle to make a name for themselves with their pirate radio station, Kurupt FM.


Join GoT actor David Bradley Help Plant 1000 Trees in a Day, Forest of Hearts, Stratford-upon-Avon, Fri Dec 1

The Warwickshire-based GoT, Harry Potter and Dr Who actor is supporting a new £8,000 funded project to help over 100 local, isolated people including young parents, elderly and people with learning and physical disabilities be more active by hosting an eco-friendly challenge to plant 1000 trees in just one day. The Forest of Hearts funded by a Heart Research UK and Subway® Healthy Heart Grant, aims to promote physical exercise and heart-health through nature-inspired, psychical activities including growing trees and edible crops, learning how to cook nutritious meals and garden walks. Go along anytime between 11am – 3pm, to help create “Honey Bee Wood“.


David Bowie 1977 Iggy Pop exhibition, Snap Galleries, 50 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa, Until Sun Dec 10

Photo credit: Masayoshi Sukita

This former London gallery moved to a spanking new 1,500 sq. ft. gallery space in Leamington Spa on Nov 18 and launched with Masayoshi Sukita’s exhibition of David Bowie and Iggy Pop photographs from his sessions in 1977 including the Heroes album cover image.


Show Coventry some support in its UK City of Culture Bid 2021 on Social Media, Fri Dec 1

This Friday the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will be showcasing Coventry on social media before the big announcement later his month. With all eyes on Coventry, this is the biggest opportunity in the competition yet to show the DCMS all the wonderful things the city has to offer and why the time is right for Coventry. Starting at 9.30am post as much content as you can about Coventry – making sure to use #ThisisCoventry with @Coventry2021 and where appropriate @DCMS and #UKCityofCulture2021

facebook; Twitter & Instagram

Audley Binswood Hall Christmas Fair, Leamington Spa, Wed Nov 29

Christmas theme cookies

Join the festive celebrations with complementary mulled wine and mince pies on arrival. Browse a selection of beautiful handmade gifts including jewellery, woodcraft and cards in the glorious setting of this Grade II listed Victorian gothic mansion – now a retirement village with lovely restaurant, 12 – 4pm. Free entry.

Binswood Avenue, Leamington Spa, CV32 5SE, audley
 Dear Ester Live, Birmingham Town Hall, Tues Nov 28 & Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Wed Nov 29

The story of videogame Dear Ester is brought to life in a live 70-minute thought-provoking performance piece. BAFTA-nominated narrator Oliver Dimsdale takes you through the game, journeying from a Scottish island, to a car crash on the M5, to a crisis of faith of a guilty heart, to the lost shores of a dreamed shoreline into a final ascent through the waters of madness to the release of flight accompanied by a live performance of BAFTA winning composer Jessica Curry’s powerful score.


Warwick Victorian Christmas Evening and Christmas lights switch on, Thurs Nov 30

This popular Victorian fair features craft stalls and a packed programme of traditional entertainment including a Victorian ferris wheel, Best Victorian Outfit competition, a snippet of the Spa Centre’s panto – Sleeping Beauty and live music from Chasing Deer. Father Christmas will help the Mayor of Warwick switch the town’s Christmas lights on at 7pm. The Collegiate Church of St Mary in Warwick is the setting for the annual Christmas Tree Festival, from Nov 30 – Dec 10.  Visitors can vote for their favourite Christmas tree and be entered in the prize draw. Entry is 50p per adult and children are free.  Music also includes a festive Hand Bell ringing demonstration, mulled wine & mince pies plus craft stalls and gift shop selling Christmas presents. Rounded off with a short carol service at 8.45 pm.


We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Goose Nest, Warwick Arts Centre, Wed Nov 29 – Sun Jan 7 2018

An intrepid family and their musical dog will take you on an incredible quest through the swishy swashy grass, the splishy splashy river and the thick oozy, squelchy mud filled with catchy songs and interactive scenes. The stage adaptation of Michael Rosen’s award-winning book is brought vividly and noisily to the stage by Sally Cookson and accompanied by Benji Bower’s versatile lively score. For ages 3+


See the Christmas Lights across Warwickshire 



This week’s the big Christmas Lights switch on in Kenilworth High Street on Friday Dec 1 and in Warwick Road on Sun Dec 3. Visit Yuletide Fayres in Leamington every Sunday from Nov 19.

Omid Djalili: Schmuck for a Night, Stratford Artshouse, Stratford-upon-Avon, Fri Dec 1

The comic actor and stand-up is back on the road after his critically-acclaimed turn as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof at Chichester Festival theatre this summer.

Book here.

Book now: The Warwick Christmas Lectures: Red and Yellow and Pink and Green…Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre,  Mon Dec 4

Tickets sell out quickly for this annual fun family-friendly interactive lecture series. An evening of brilliant new ideas, explosions, experiments and answers to the questions taxing the University of Warwick’s finest minds. With a generous helping of fireworks, prepare to see colour in a new light on a journey through rainbows and stars.

Book here.

Paddington 2, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, all week until Sun Dec 3; Fri Dec 22- Sun Dec 24; Wed Dec 27 – Thurs Dec 28

Follow the adventures of the nation’s favourite bear in a new film as enchanting as the first with a scene-stealing Hugh Grant on top form as a cravat-wearing villain. A special run at WAC on assorted dates throughout Nov and Dec. On general release in cinemas across the UK.


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 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. Visit Yuletide Fayres in Leamington every Sunday from Nov 19.

An Evening with Let’s Animate: Animated Christmas Messages, Fargo Village, Coventry, Fri Dec 1

Christmas wishing card

Create your very own animated Christmas card to send to your family and friends, one hour slots available 5pm – 10pm. Also on, Fri Dec 8 & Fri Dec 15.


Book now: Ragley Hall Christmas Candle-lit Tours, Alcester, Fri Dec 1, Sun Dec 3, Sat Dec 9 & Sun Dec 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.


Twelfth Night, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, until Feb 24 2018

Adrian Edmondson as Malvolio Photo credit: Manuel-Harlan, c RSC

Adrian Edmondson is very funny as Malvolio, and Kara Tointon elegant as Olivia in Shakespeare’s delightful comedy with a luminous performance by Birmingham actor Dinita Gohil as Viola.

Book here

Love Cov Music Show, The Empire, Coventry, Fri Dec 1

This Friday come join a special evening to celebrate some of the finest Coventry music in aid of the Lord Mayor’s charity appeal, Teenage Cancer Trust and Zoë’s Place Coventry. The Love Cov Music Show is the final of our advanced events programmes, and features an evening of live music from the Neville Staple Band, a DJ set from Jerry Dammers, plus Barbdwire and AutoPilot.


Christmas Vegan Festival, Fargo Village, Coventry, Fri Dec 1 & Sat Dec 2

The first ever Etsy Made Local Vegan Fair with more than 20 totally Vegan stallholders plus Fargo’s vegan shop The Green Unicorn Vegan Store, vegan Brewery Twisted Barrel Ale Brewery and Tap House & vegan Cafe Totally Vegan. The festival runs 5pm – 10pm on Fri and 11am – 6pm on Sat.


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.


Leamington Lantern Parade, Leamington Spa, Sun Dec 3

Photo credit: BID Leamington

Leamington’s Lantern Parade is the perfect family-friendly start to December. Bring along your own handmade lantern. Starting at The Royal Pump Rooms Gardens Bandstand at 4.30pm accompanied by a local band it will end with Christmas carols around the Tree of Lights at the Town Hall at 6pm.

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 until 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

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


The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Birmingham Rep, Thurs Nov 30 – Sat Jan 18

Gloria-Onitiri-as-Cruella-De-Vil. Photo credit: Graeme-Braidwood

West End Star Gloria Onitiri is foxy as villainous Cruella de Vil in furs. The Birmingham uni graduate, who played Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard (The Adelphi), and Nala in The Lion King (The Lyceum) returns to the city making her REP debut. This Dodie Smith stage adaptation by writer and director of the Nativity films, Debbie Isitt is sure to get tails wagging with its clever puppy puppetry! Running time: 90 mins. For ages 5+, Tel: 0121 236 4455

The Nutcracker 2017, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome, Fri Nov 24 – Wed Dec 13

Sir Peter Wright’s lavish festive production of The Nutcracker has been part of the City’s Christmas tradition for more 26 years – and is a stunning watch. Gigantic sets, gorg costumes, 60 dancers and a full orchestra combine to make it a perfect family Christmas treat. I took my 7-year-old last winter and she didn’t budge in her seat!

Book here

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).


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

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.



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.

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 Nov 15, you can also take a twirl on Somerset House’s gorgeous outdoor ice rink.

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 deciphered 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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