FRI DEC 7 - SUN DEC 9
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 his sumptuous production of Antony & Cleopatra at The National in London, ending Sat Jan 19 2019. rsc.org.uk/timon-of-athens
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
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
A Christmas Carol, Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Tues Dec 4 – Jan 20 2019
Bah, humbug! With a new cast for 2018 including Aden Gillett replacing Phil Davis as Scrooge and all the magic, snow and atmospheric Victorian staging 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!
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.
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.
THEATRE: Tartuffe, Swan Theatre, Stratford, until Feb 23
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.
CAROLS: Carols by Candlelight by Armonico Consort, All Saints Church, Leamington Hastings, Sat Dec 8
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 7pm. There will another candlelit performance at Collegiate Church of Saint Mary, Warwick, on Dec 20 at 7.30pm.
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.
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),
ALTERNATIVE PANTO: Over the Top, B2, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Sat Dec 29
This has to be one of the funniest and silliest Christmas shows. 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 2017’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
ART: Whistler and Nature, Compton Verney, until 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.
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 Evening, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, Fri Dec 7
This open evening, 5.30pm-8pm,includes family-friendly crafts, a Christmas-themed Dramatic Draw with a life model in themed costumes linked to exhibitions and collections (need to book in adv, £6, as places are limited online at Sportsbooker or Tel: 01788 533217). There’s also an awards ceremony with speech and prize-giving at 7pm. In the Gallery you can see The Rugby Open Art Exhibition (until Jan 12) and an exhibition on Floor One by 2017 Rugby Open winner Bryan B. Kelly, whose work ‘The Fall’ was selected by Grayson Perry for the prestigious Royal Academy summer show in London out of 19,000 entries (until Dec 13)!
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
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,
Tudor Spice, Hall’s Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sun Dec 8
Step into Suzanna’s kitchen and meet Hall’s Croft’s resident Jacobean cook. Immerse yourself in the day-to-day workings of a Jacobean kitchen – learn about the traditional Christmas spices used in recipes and you can even taste some of the more interesting flavours, 12pm – 4pm.
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: 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 on the ice but private skating tuition can be booked ahead if needed! 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.
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.
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.