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This weekend


THEATRE: Matilda, Birmingham Hippodrome, Tues July 3 – Sat Sept 8

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!


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 belonging to the Queen 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.



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.


Miss Littlewood, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Fri June 22 – Aug 4 

With book, music and lyrics by Sam Kenyon and directed by the RSC’s Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, Miss Littlewood tells the story of Joan Littlewood, the anarchic revolutionary of 20th century theatre whose theatre workshop was responsible for a raft of successes including Oh, What A Lovely War!, A Taste of Honey and The Hostage. Clare Burt makes her RSC debut as Joan Littlewood. Aretha Ayeh, Sandy Foster, Amanda Hadingue, Dawn Hope, Emily Johnstone and Sophia Nomvete also play Joan at different stages of her life.



Cult Screen, Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, Wed July 4 – Fri July 6

Let’s hope the hot weather holds up for the first of six nights of films under the stars! You’ll be able to catch a youthful Kiefer Sutherland in cult vampire film The Lost Boys (15) on American Independence Day, Wed July 4, The Greatest Showman (PG) on Thurs July 5 and Dirty Dancing (12A) on Fri July 6. Book on a bean bag or deckchair on the Main Lawn of the historic gardens and tropical glasshouses. In late summer there’s Jean Reno as a hired hitman in Leon (18) on Thurs Sept 13, Pretty Woman (15) on Fri Sept 14 and Darkest Hour (PG) on Sat Sept 15.

FOOD & DRINK: Burgers and Beers, Fargo Village, Coventry, Sat July 7

Love a great burger with all the toppings and extra cheese, or maybe a tasty vegan option? Head on over to Fargo on Saturday for an afternoon of sipping beer and enjoying burgers in the sun with  and The Power Plant Company, both have some very ‘naughty’ burgers on the menu! 12noon – 6pm.
FOOD: All American fourth of July BBQ Garden Party as UK & USA Unite, Hall’s Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon, July 4


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,


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.



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.



Sundown Cinema, Hanbury Hall and Gardens, Worcs, Fri July 6 & Sat July 7

The stunning Oscar-winning musical La La Land, on Fri July 6, and Four Weddings and a Funeral will both be shown before the sun sets against the backdrop of this beautiful National Trust country house, 8 – 10pm.

Billesley Manor Gin Festival, Billesley Manor, nr Alcester, Sun July 8 

Two of Shakespeare Distillery Gins

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.





FESTIVAL: Timber Festival, The International Forest Festival, Derbyshire, Fri  July 6 – Sun July 8 

Photo-credit-Teneight. Timber Festival/Wild Rumpus

A new festival celebrating taking place across a 70-acre woodland site on the Leicestershire border. Expect an intoxicating experience where music, art, philosophy and sustainability weave together into an unforgettable, exhilarating weekend.  Artists, musicians, scientists and thinkers from across the world will dive into the poetry of nature, exploring what forests and woodlands means to them. This unique event will bring together inspirational writers, artists, poets, scientists, philosophers and educators as well as spectacular installations. Highlights include a masked ball and thrilling aerial acrobatics in the trees, riveting storytelling inspired by British folk tales and world myths from Ian Douglas.

Timber Festival, Rawdon Road, Moira, Swadlincote, DE12 6DQ.


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

Maxine Peake: Happy Days

The formidable Maxine Peake, an associate artist at the theatre, has written a play full of Northern wit, telling the remarkable story of four ordinary women who occupied a Lancashire mine in 1993 to protest against pit closures, stuffing their bras with nicotine patches and wet wipes to survive 80 metres underground. Directed by Bryony Shanahan.  The month-long run began just five days after she starred in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days.



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 smokinghot 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.


EXHIBITION: Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, (sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland), V&A, London, June 16 – Nov 14

Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

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.

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