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This weekend


ONE-DAY THEATRE FESTIVAL: Bite Size, Warwick Arts Centre, Sat 18 Jan,

This day-long festival serves up an eclectic, jam packed taster menu of theatre from the Midlands – excerpts of brand-new work, full-length shows and pieces still in development. Presented by home-grown artists – from critically acclaimed, award-winning companies to fresh faced, emerging theatre-makers. Featuring Lewis Doherty’s action-packed Game of Thrones style adventure comedy BOAR, and the West Midlands premier of the multi award-winning, 5 star show All of MeCaroline Horton’s unapologetically dark exploration of wanting to live and wanting to die. You can also see exclusive extracts of work commissioned through sister festival, First Bite 2019Georgie Jones’s ish… and B Team’s Slow Violence.

Tickets (including festival passes and offers) and full programme available here.


*NEW*THEATRE: The Gift, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Sat 18 Jan-Sat 25 Jan

A play about imperialism, cross-racial adoption, cultural appropriation…and tea. This is the third show to emerge from Eclipse’s groundbreaking Revolution Mix movement including Black Men Walking, which is spearheading the largest ever delivery of new Black British stories in theatre, film and radio. Janice Okoh’s The Gift, featuring a six-person cast, will premiere in Coventry before embarking on a UK tour.  It tells of two Sarahs; one African girl adopted by Queen Victoria in the 1860s and one present-day middle-class black woman. Both Sarahs’ meet Queen Victoria for tea – and this won’t be your regular tea party…Look out for Muddy’s afternoon tea with the cast, coming soon!

Book online


*NEW* EXHIBITION:  Sensing the City: An Urban Room, The Herbert, Coventry, Mon 13 Jan-Sat 18 Jan

Another newbie is this interesting and unusual exhibition which will give people access to visit the underpass system at Junction 5 of the Coventry ringroad and surrounding areas daily between 3.30pm – 5.30pm (Monday 13 & Friday 17 January) and short audience experiences for up to eight people daily as well as daily film screenings of Coventry Radiant City by Michael Lightborne.  It is the result of a collaborative research group of artists and academics who have spent three years exploring the impact and manifestations of their specialist subjects in and around Coventry, including the application of experimental methodologies in dance and choreography, creative writing, performance, film, photography and sound technologies.

See here for details of special activities taking place during the exhibition.


WEDDINGS: Mallory Court Wedding Open Day, near Leamington Spa, Sat 18 Jan

Got a special sparkly something for Christmas? If you or anyone you know is planning a wedding, you’ll not want to miss the chance to visit the beautiful, serene country manor house that is Mallory Court. Event suites will be set up for your inspiration and the award-winning events team will be on hand to answer all your questions. Make sure you take time to explore the beautiful landscaped gardens, too!

Register and find out more here.


*NEW Breaking New Ground, Historic England

View of Jacob Epstein’s sculpture of the devil being hoisted into position. This image was catalogued as part of a pilot project funded by the John Laing Charitable Trust. © Historic England Archive, John Laing Photographic Collection.

Breaking New Ground is a 21-month project to digitise and explore the John Laing Photographic Collection, a unique record of Britain’s construction history, including previously unseen archive photos of the construction of Sir Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral in the aftermath of the Second World World. See how Coventry was rebuilt after the old medieval cathedral was devastated in the Blitz. Around 2,000 newly-digitised images have been released on the Historic England website. This is the first batch group of a total 10,000 images that will be made available to the public by autumn 2020. The Collection includes striking and unique photographs of some of Britain’s most significant infrastructure projects and public buildings.

View images from the Collection, share your experience on social media using #BreakingNewGround, tag @HistoricEngland and sign up to Historic England’s newsletter.


TEENS: Teen Wave Rave, The Wave, Coventry,  Fri Jan 17

The Wave

The city’s new waterpark is holding its first Teen Wave Rave for 13-16 year olds from 7.30-9.30pm. The tropical themed Wave Rave will feature music and mocktails for all attendees. Every teenager needs to be a competent swimmer and places must be pre-booked as they are limited.

To reserve your place, please email


FOOD: Earlsdon Supper Club, Coventry – New Year New Menu, Jan 18 (3 Tickets Left) 

This new supper club is kicking off the new year with a brand spanking new menu, and there’s not a turkey in sight.It was designed taking inspiration from a recent tour of Venice. If you have dietary requirements or allergies please, get in touch at once you’ve booked.



EXHIBITION: New sculpture, The MAD (Mechanical Art and Design) MuseumStratford-upon-Avon, now unveiled 

A brand-new moving sculpture inside an old decommissioned telephone box has been unveiled by The MAD (Mechanical Art and Design) Museum. One of their favourite resident artists, Pascal Bettex, a kinetic artist from Switzerland, was commissioned to create the sculpture inside the box. The theme of the sculpture is a tribute to William Shakespeare and features several objects relating to the Bard and his plays. Although the Museum now own the phone box, it must remain in place in Henley Street. More than 5,800 payphones have been adopted by communities since 2008.

Open Mon – Fri from 10:30am – 4:30pm and at weekends/holidays from 10am – 5:30pm,


BAKE-OFF: Launch of The Big Birmingham Bake, Floodgate Street, Digbeth, Jan

January sees the launch of The Big Birmingham Bake on Floodgate street in Digbeth, the new baking venue gives everyone from friends and family to co-workers the chance to compete in a bake off. It is hosted in a fully kitted out marquee, with 12 bake stations and is lead by a team of professional bakers. From gingerbread grottos to rainbow filled eclairs, every month sees a new baking theme. Customers are adorned with all the ingredients, equipment and instructions they need to create a stunning bake. The venue has its own private adjoining bar serving a cake themed cocktail each month as well as a lounge area. It is the second venue of its kind to open in the UK with The Big London Bake already popular on Designmynight, Timeout, Tripadvisor and the Evening Standard.

Check out: The Big London Bake at thebiglondonbake/


DANCE CLASSES: Learn to dance with Motionhouse, Spencer Yard, Leamington Spa, starting in January 2020

New Year sees the launch of three new dance fitness classes at this Warwickshire based leading UK dance-theatre company for 2-5’s, over 60’s and Surge a new male youth dance company for boys aged 11+. See our fitness feature for more details.



YOGA: Fitness Yoga, The Farm, Stratford, Wed Jan 15

Reset yourself after the busy Christmas & New Year period with fitness yoga…then, for the best bit, enjoy coffee & protein balls in The Farm’s glorious café Nourish.

Book online: Wed 15 JanWed 22 Jan & Wed 29 JanPeruse the fab selection of other masterclasses and cookery courses going on at The Farm throughout the year here.


HERITAGE: Conservation in Action, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, 6 January-20 February

Credit: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Meet the conservation team at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in their pop-up workshop and hear about the history of Shakespeare’s Birthplace, and the work they do to care for the building and the museum items inside.


Hidden Revealed, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, every Tuesday throughout January
Take a 45-minute guided tour of Anne Hathaway’s to see hidden fossils and witches’ marks that are normally hidden from view, and even objects visitors have left behind. Places limited to 8 per tour, book at reception, 11am.



 The Boy in the Dress, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Sun 8 Mar

Toby Mocrei as Dennis in The Boy in the Dress. Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

This exuberant, beautifully directed and moving new musical, based on the best-selling children’s novel by David Walliams, features 16 original songs by pop star Robbie Williams and his long-term writing partner Guy Chambers. It’s directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and adapted by former RSC writer-in-residence Mark Ravenhill. Tickets are half price for children – up to four can go with one adult.

Box Office: 01789 331111, RSC


King John, The Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon now until Fri 20 Mar

King John production photo by Steve Tanner with Rosie Sheehy

Catch one of Shakespeare’s rarely-performed works as director Eleanor Rhode makes an “engrossing” debut in the Swan Theatre. Stirring an uneasy semblance to the present day, King John tells of a nation in turmoil and a preening king, played by Rosie Sheehy, who will stop at nothing to keep the crown. The Guardian says the production “tingles with a tangible sense of spontaneity”.


 A Museum in Baghdad, The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until Sat 25 Jan

An original compelling tale of two women, living 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? It’s written by Hannah Khalil, a playwright with Middle Eastern heritage.


RSC NEW YEAR CALL OUT: Want to perform at The Dell, Stratford-upon-Avon, on weekends this summer?

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is offering amateur and semi-professional theatre groups, schools and colleges the opportunity to put on a play written or inspired by Shakespeare at The Dell, the Company’s open-air performance space on the banks of the River Avon in Stratford-upon-Avon, on Saturdays and Sundays throughout next summer 2020. The Dell provides a space for groups to perform an established piece of work, or to create a new one inspired by Shakespeare, and it has already seen more than 300 groups perform on its stage since it launched 12 years ago.  Two performance slots are available on Saturdays and Sundays at The Dell throughout July and August 2020.

If you’re interested in mounting a production download The Dell 2020 Guidance Notes and Application Form, here: Closing date: Mon 24 Feb 2020.



Peter Pan, Birmingham Rep, until January 19

Peter Pan at Birmingham Rep. Photo by Johan Persson

You can catch Liam Steele’s critically acclaimed gritty re-imagined 21st Century version of J M Barrie’s classic set in foster home on a Birmingham housing estate. Cora Tsang and Lawrence Walker, play Wendy and Peter with Nia Gwynne, as Captain Jess Hook.


Snow White and the Seven DwarfsBirmingham Hippodrome, until Feb 2

The all-star line up features Lesley Joseph, Matt Slack, Joe McElderry, Faye Brookes, Flawless, Doreen Tipton and Andrew Ryan. Tickets here.


TRAVEL: New Flights to Vienna from Birmingham Airport, starting January

Tom Screen, Birmingham Airport’s Aviation Director and Jonathan Ford, Aviation Development Manager, Birmingham Airport are pictured with the Austrian Airlines crew serving the new Birmingham-Vienna route.

Austrian Airlines has become Birmingham Airport’s newest airline, with direct scheduled services to the Austrian capital of Vienna and onward connections across Asia and Europe.The new service improves the choice of connections for passengers travelling to Asia, particularly those looking for services to Beijing and Tokyo. Closer to home, Austrian Airlines now provide greater onward connectivity to many capital cities such as Budapest, Sofia and Zagreb, as well as popular destinations in Central and eastern Europe, plus regional connections to Graz, Innsbruck and Klagenfurt. The winter schedule operates four-weekly service on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sun. From the summer, this will increase to a daily schedule. Vienna is known for its imperial architecture, a vast range of museums and coffee shop culture, and often referred to the ‘City of Music’.


MUSIC: 7 live tribute acts, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Fri 17 Jan –  Fri 24 Jan

Navi as Michael Jackson

Thu 16 Jan sees the return of another Belgrade favourite, with Legend: The Music of Bob Marley paying tribute to reggae music’s greatest icon in a two-hour extravaganza. Then on Fri 17 Jan, internationally renowned Michael Jackson tribute Navi is also back with a spectacular and heartfelt tribute to The King of Pop. Hired as Michael’s official body double/decoy due to his incredible resemblance to the tar, Navi is the only tribute artist to have been chosen by the singer himself.  On Sat 18 Jan, a family friendly double-bill sees We Love Little Mix’s Ultimate Little Mix Party at 1pm, followed by The Take That Experience’s Greatest Hits Tour (below) at 7.30pm.

Tel the box office on 024 7655 3055, belgrade


GARDENS: Hill Close Gardens, now open weekdays 

Re-opening on Fri 3 Jan, Warwick’s hidden haven has a flourishing programme of events for 2020. The programme kicks off properly in February, with Snowdrop Weekend on Sat 1-Sun 2 Feb, but in Jan you can still seek solace in the 16 different garden plots during winter opening hours (Mon-Fri 11am-4m). If you have pre-school children, pop along to the monthly Family Drop-In from 09.30-11.30am on the second Thursday of each month, for a wholesome morning of digging, planting and puddle-jumping!

Hill Close Gardens


DINING: Sunday Lunch with Live Music, Arden Hotel, Sun 19 Jan

Enjoy the wintery riverside scenery from the cosy comfort of Arden Hotel’s No. 44 Brasserie over a delicious, lazy lunch. A mouth-watering roast is served to the backdrop of great live music.

Two courses £25.95 per person; three courses £31.95 per person. Book here.

Sensory Stories and Rhymes, The Herbert, Tue 7 Jan-Tue 28 Apr

An opportunity for youngsters to engage with The Herbert’s collections in a way that is meaningful to them, is hands-on, appeals to their imaginations and above all else is fun. Children receive a goody bag to use throughout the session, filled with sensory play items which: help to keep them engaged; adds context by using a physical object to give words meaning; extends learning through play; and increases their opportunities to develop good listening and language skills. Also pop along to the Coffee and Cake Chinwag to mingle with other parents and carers in the cafe after the Sensory Stories and Rhymes sessions on: 7 Jan, 4 Feb, 3 Mar & 7 Apr.

Designed for children aged 0-4 years. £1 drop-in. Takes place every Tuesday during Coventry term-time. Two sessions per day: 10.30am-11am & 11.30am-12pm. Sessions take place in different galleries each week; ask at reception when you arrive.


Walkers’ Loyalty Card, Charlecote Park, Jan & Feb

Beautiful frosty views in the grounds of Charlecote Park. Photo: the National Trust

Looking for a great reason to work off all that Christmas food? Come for a walk around the deer park and ground during January and February while the house is closed for a big clean and get your card stamped each time you visit. Once you’ve filled it up the National Trust will treat you to a well-earned sausage or bacon bap (or veggie alternative). Ask at visitor reception for more information. You can download the parkland walk here. The house re-opens on February 15.


B’Opera, Belgrade Theatre, Fri 10 Jan-Fri 3 Apr

This weekly installment creates beautiful music for tiny ears through interactive sessions and performances for littlies and their grown-ups.

Suitable for children aged 0-4 years. Every Fri from Fri 10 Jan, 10am. Full info here.


GROUP WALKS: Check out Warwickshire Ramblers

‘These boots were made for walking…’

If you’re looking for a new challenge in 2020 the Ramblers have 13 well run groups in Warwickshire offering a wide selection of walks which you are welcome to join. Two groups are 20s/30s groups and there is one for those aged 40+. If you prefer walking independently, try one of the Ramblers Routes.



COMEDY: Josie Long: Tender, Warwick Arts Centre,  Coventry, Thu 23 Jan

An incredibly edgy take on the mind-bending intensity of new motherhood; plus kindness, gentleness and joy. She aims for you to leave feeling optimistic about the future (a big ask, right?!). The comedian won her first BBC Comedy Award aged 17 and has been doing the comedy rounds ever since (Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central, Dara O’Briain’s Go 8 Bit) while writing for The Guardian.

Showtime 7.30pm; tickets £17.

Introductory offer of £10 per ticket for the first show on Fri 10 Jan. Info and bookings here.


MUSIC: Beverley Knight – BK25 tour, Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry,  Jan 31

Photo; Mark Allan

Wolverhampton-born British soul icon Beverley Knight (Jan 31) celebrates 25 years in music, during which time she’s earned 14 Top 40 hits and countless awards. Her latest album, BK25, finds the singer, presenter and stage star at the top of her game. This is her only West Midlands anniversary gig,


THEATRE: The WhipSwan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat 1 February – Sat 21 March 2020

This provocative new play by award-winning playwright, journalist and University of Birmingham creative fellow, Juliet Gilkes Romero is set at the beginning of the 19th Century in London as politicians of all parties come together to abolish the slave trade. The price of freedom turns out to be a multi-billion pound bailout for slave owners rather than those enslaved. Two women navigate their way to the true seat of political influence, challenging members of parliament who dare deny them their say. Directed by the super-talented Kimberley Sykes (Dido, Queen of Carthage, 2017; As You Like It, 2019).


Packwood Breakfast Tours, Packwood House, Warks, starting Feb 4

The Long Gallery, Packwood House. Photo: The National Trust

New for February 2020, book a delicious breakfast of Full English, Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine at 9am in the Packwood café followed by an exclusive tour of the restored Tudor house displayed just as Baron Graham Ash intended his guests to view the house. Come and hear the stories behind key pieces of the Packwood collection, finishing at 11.30am.

£18.50 per person, to book please click here or Tel: the box office on 0344 249 1895.


BALLET: The Red Shoes, Birmingham Hippodrome, Tue Feb 11 – Sat Feb 15

Matthew Bourne’s acclaimed stage adaptation of The Red Shoes, set to romantic music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann. The story follows a girl’s dream of becoming the greatest dancer in the world, and it’s Matthew Bourne, so there’s no doubt the moves will be excellent.


MUSIC: Madonna – Madame X tour, London Palladium, 27 Jan – Sun 16 Feb

Madonna kicks off the new year with 15 nights at the London Palladium, one in a series of rare, intimate performances celebrating the release of Madame X. Having played arenas and stadiums since her ground-breaking 1985 Virgin TourThis time she’s chosen smaller more intimate theatre venues, so you’ll be able to see Her Madgesty up close and personal. You never know when she’ll retire her corseted bodice. In November she was forced to cancelled three tour dates in Boston on doctors’ orders, due to injuries. The album has been influenced by living in Lisbon, Portugal over the past several years, and features 15 new songs celebrating Madonna’s career-long love affair with Latin music and culture.



London International Mime Festival, various venues, Wed Jan 8 – Feb 2

Still Hungry (Germany), RAVEN 21-24 Jan Jacksons Lane photo © Daniel Porsdorf

Ten overseas companies join eight British groups presenting premieres in this 44th year festival, especially commissioned productions from Ockham’s RazorThick & TightTold by an Idiot and Vamos Theatre. Belgium’s Peeping Tom and Kiss & Cry Collective return with new shows, there’s exquisite puppetry from New York, France, and by London’s String Theatre on its unique Puppet Barge. There’s also a triple-bill of remarkable silent movie classics with live jazz accompaniment, and a real life Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel mystery at new festival venue, the iconic Wilton’s Music Hall. Workshops for 2020 include an exclusive course taught by faculty members from the École Jacques Lecoq, Paris, and a residential course celebrating 30 years of the David Glass Ensemble – a new partnership with The Point, Eastleigh.

EXHIBITION: Thinking 3D: Leonardo to the presentthe Bodleian Library, Oxford, until 9 Feb

Timed to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the exhibition shows how Leonardo and his contemporaries made great strides in the realistic depiction of 3D forms. Thinking 3D explores technological advances up to the present day including 3D modelling, photography and stereoscopy; and also highlights the works of modern practitioners and researchers in Oxford.


ART: London Art Fair, Islington, London, 21-26 Jan

London Art fair image of woman in pink floral dress and tulle headress

Calling modern art lovers! Get ye over to Islington for this massive art fair offering everything from prints and editions through to major works by internationally renowned artists. There are talks, tours, screenings and curated spaces, plus Photo50, the annual exhibition of contemporary photography and Art Projects, featuring large-scale installations, solo shows and group displays.


Tutankhamun – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at the Saatchi Gallery, London, is one of the biggest cultural events in the winter calendar, the exhibit features 150+ original artefacts found in the Pharaoh’s tomb that was unearthed in 1922 (until 3 May).

A brand new (and, quite frankly, must-see) exhibition is now open at The O2, London  – ABBA: Super Troupers, a journey through the Swedish band’s career and will feature personal items and artefacts never seen before in the UK (until 21 Aug 2020).

Other exhibitions worth a snoop are Bridget Riley, a momentous lifetime retrospective, at the Hayward Gallery, SE1, (until January 26); Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane collection of work at the V&A (until 8 March); William Blake at Tate Britain, with the visionary painter and poets work blown up to enormous scale using digital technology (until 2 Feb 2020); Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican  – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s (until

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