What’s On This Weekend
FRI NOV 2 - SUN NOV 4
Bonfire and Fireworks, across Warwickshire
See our guide to the top family-friendly events here.
COMEDY: Jen Brister: Meaningless, Studio, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Sun Nov 4
Ever wanted to know the meaning of life? No, neither has Jen, she’s too busy trying to stop her twins from using her shoes as a toilet. Still, we’re only on this planet for a finite time, so wouldn’t it be good to find a bit of meaning in your otherwise pointless existence? 7.45pm. Age 16+, £13.
The March of the Imagination, Compton Verney, Fri Oct 26-Sun Nov 11
For the third year running, the stunning ‘Capability’ Brown grounds and Robert Adam-designed house are going to be illuminated in a new outdoor art work. The Warwickshire art gallery and park has commissioned award-winning artists, Musson+Retallick, to create a series of remarkable night-time displays. Five playful installations will explore the relationship between the human mind and machines across the next two weekends in November. Seasonal treats including speciality hot chocolates and freshly baked wood-fired pizzas will be served.
Each event runs from 6.30pm-9.30pm (Fri, Sat, Sun), with timed entry starting. Tickets are priced at £10 for adults and £5 for children, comptonverney
Mimbre: The Exploded Circus, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, Sat Nov 3
Step into the moment where an explosion has been frozen in time, the remnants of a big top caught mid-air – with everything from circus rings, sequins and fairground horses suspended above ground in this 1 hour 10-minute performance by 6-strong female acrobatic group, Mimbre, 2.30pm & 7.30pm.
The Haunted Castle, Warwick Castle, until Nov 4
Half-term Halloween attractions include the Haunted Hollows for the spooky woodland trail, Dead Centre Stage (open from 11am) the Witches Tower and new for 2018, the Escape Room – an actor-led attraction set within the medieval jail and the House of Wax scare maze. Fire jousting returns, promising an awesome display of horseback heroics. Children aged 10+ can enter The Castle Dungeon, a live-actor experience that plunges victims into the deathly darkness of the Middle Ages, while maximum fear factor belongs to Séance a spectacle exclusive to Warwick Castle that uses innovative binaural spatial audio technology to share spirits’ stories of life on ‘the other side’: prepare to be petrified!
Book entrance and accommodation online at warwick-castle
Discover:Gather:Give’ Arts Fair, Stratford-upon-Avon Town Hall, Sat Nov 3 & Sun Nov 4
Looking for artisan Christmas gifts? Look no further…This fabulous and free art fair is now in its fifth year and features 40 artists exhibiting more than 500 pieces of original and passionately created art, offering an exciting and eclectic mix of paintings, illustrations, ceramics, jewellery, glasswork, decoupage, textiles, wood turning, digital art, sculpture and book binding, #Cafdgg. Don’t miss out on The Golden Cup Cafe upstairs in the Ballroom where visitors can enjoy tea and coffee from Monsoon Estates served in elegant vintage golden tea sets on crisp white linen with fresh flowers and and delicious cake!
THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, RST, Stratford-upon-Avon, only until Sat Nov 17
Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, this is the company’s first gender-equal production of Shakespeare’s “most testosterone-fuelled” play. Set in a futuristic post-apocalypse Troy, it will involve close collaboration with the virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie. It’s on for one month only!
Sigrid, O2 Academy Birmingham, Sun Nov 4
Breakout star of the year. Since being crowned the BBC Sound of 2018, Sigrid’s been selling out shows across the globe, ending the year with with a Top 10 single – Strangers and a debut album on the horizon. Her biggest headline tour to date is accompanied by new electropop single, Sucker Punch.
Russian State Ballet: Swan Lake, Giselle & The Nutcracker, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Thurs Nov 1 – Sat 3
Not to be missed! A trio of classic ballets accompanied by a live 30-piece orchestra by this internationally renowned company including a sumptuous new production of Swan Lake, an early Christmas treat with The Nutcracker and an original twist on Adolphe Adam’s unforgettable Giselle by award-winning former Bolshoi Ballet soloist Konstantin Uralsky. Expect a stunning new set and elegant handmade costumes in this fresh re-imagining of the world’s most romantic ballet.
Tel: 024 7655 3055, belgrade
HALLOWEEN: Little Horrors Hide and Shriek, Kenilworth Castle, Sat Oct 27 – Sun Nov 4
Join Victorian investigators for a paranormal quest around Kenilworth’s creepy castle. Enjoy bone-chilling tales, set off on a quest to defeat Victorian critters, and pick up some handy tips on how to handle some most unpleasant creatures. Daily fancy dress competition with prizes. Halloween tours on Oct 31 have now sold out.
Booking is recommended, english-heritage.org.uk Tel: 0370 333 1181
Whistler and Nature, Compton Verney, Sat Oct 20 – 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.
Pumpkin Carving ZooLab & Puppet Theatre, Mary Arden’s Farm, Wilmcote, Stratford, Daily, Sat Oct 27 – Nov 4
Get creative with your own pumpkin designs in a marquee in the Falconer’s Field, (£1.50-£3, depending on the size of the pumpkin!), ZooLab return with their entertaining Tudor creature workshop on Mon Oct 29 (12 – 4pm) and see Muddy Stilettos’ Award-winning best Children’s Business in action – Castle Small Puppet Theatre – who are presenting a special Halloween show on Wed Oct 31 (12.30 & 2.30pm).
The Mad Museum, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, all week
The MAD (Mechanical Art and Design) Museum this month celebrates its 5th anniversary of moving to Stratford’s most popular tourist street. This quirky family friendly attraction is the only permanent museum of its kind in the UK which showcases more than 90 pieces of kinetic art and automata. Watch and interact with mind-boggling mechanical creations such as flying mechanical birds, clever clocks and witty characters, build marble runs and learn some engineering and physics principals along the way. Open: 10am – 5.30pm.
UK SCHOOLS & THEATRE TOUR: First Encounters with Shakespeare: The Comedy of Errors until Dec 7
Designed by RSC Visual Communications (c) RSCWondering 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 Leamington, Warwick, Nuneaton, Birmingham, Northampton, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, Kent, York, Bradford and Stoke-on-Trent. It will have a number of public performances in The Swan. A lovely, interactive experience for families. See our review here.
THEATRE: War Horse, Birmingham Hippodrome, Wed Oct 10 – Sat Nov 3
Soooo excited that the outstanding National Theatre production of War Horse is coming to Birmingham in October. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and featuring those incredible, life-size puppets of the horses, it’s likely to sell-out, so please don’t leave it too late to book.
Pumpkin Spooktacular, Hatton Adventure World, near Warwick, throughout half-term
Children can join in a spooky Halloween hunt around the gallery, there’s Sensory Splats for babies and toddlers (Mon); while under 5’s can sing-a-long in a Mini Explorers Halloween special (Tue Oct 30, 11am) and listen to Room on a Broom (Thurs Nov 1). Older children can create a paper pumpkin (Tues, 2pm – 4pm), decorate their own spooky rock (Wed Oct 31, 2 – 4pm) and Paint and Glaze in the Café (Fri Nov 2, 10am – 1pm).
HALF-TERM: Halloween-themed crafts & Zoolab Creature Workshops, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery
Head to the Family Activity Marquee and make some spooky crafts to take home. On Thurs Nov 1 meet the creatures around when Shakespeare was growing up with the brilliant ZooLab.
KIDS: Meet a Pumpkin Patch Tarantula, Stratford Butterfly Farm, throughout half-term
New to the Butterfly farm this Halloween is The Pumpkin Patch, a spider originating from Colombia, with distinctive, brightly-coloured orange and yellow markings on its stomach. Although fairly small in size, it has plenty of attitude and is on display in Minibeast Metropolis. Throughout half-term the twice-daily Meet the Mini-Beast sessions will have a spooky theme.
butterflyfarm, Tel: 01789 299288
Potion-making, Murder & Mayhem and Gunpowder plot live drama, Shakespeare’s New Place, Stratford, Sat Oct 27 – Nov 4
Macbeth comes to New Place, with potion-making around the cauldron in a witches’ cave in the Great Garden (daily, 12pm – 4pm). Learn how New Place was also the site of two real murders that could have been plucked from one of Shakespeare’s plays (daily, 2pm) and on Sat Nov 3 see a 30-min costumed presentation about The Gunpowder Plot and how the plotters escaped into Warwickshire by Live’n History (12noon & 1pm).
Dr Nerium’s Garden of Ghouls, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, until Sun Nov 4
A live action spooky trail through the Birmingham Botanical Gardens featuring street food, performers, music and entertainment, with earlier time slots available suitable for the whole family and all ages. Time slots booked after 7pm are recommended only for visitors aged 14+.
Autumn walk and Daffodil Planting, Upton House and Gardens, Oct 29 31 and Nov 4
Put on your wellies, kick up some fallen leaves in the Woodland Walk and see how many bees and butterflies you can count enjoying the Asters. And if it’s a rainy day, get puddle splashing! This is also the time of year to plant bulbs ready for spring. Daffodil King Alfred is one of the varieties that flower each year beneath the apple trees in Upton’s orchard.
During half-term families can pop into the potting area near the plant centre and plant three of these bulbs in a pot to take home for your garden, £3 on day. There will also be family Garden Storytelling Walks on Nov 11 (11.30am & 1.30pm). Hear about Kitty Lloyd Jones who designed the garden for Lord and Lady Bearsted in the 1930s.
Tudor Superstitions, Shakespeare’s Ghosts and Find the Witches’ Familiars Trail, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford, daily
Enjoy spooky talks on superstitions, witches, ghosts, and nightmares (12noon & 2pm daily), see acting troupe Shakespeare Aloud! recreate the ghosts that appear in Shakespeare’s plays (daily, 12noon – 4pm) and find the Witches’ Familiars trail (daily).
BOOK NOW! Stratford Literary Festival, Nov 9 – 17
The impressive winter festival line-up features internationally best-selling author, Jodi Picoult, historian and TV presenter Lucy Worsley OBE, who will be talking about her latest book The Many Faces of Queen Victoria, Sir Michael Parkinson, sharing his admiration for the legendary footballer, George Best; and Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman whose new book, Bloody Brilliant Women, highlights forgotten but ground-breaking women from history.
For the full itinerary check out: stratlitfest
Othello, Warwick Arts Centre, Tues Nov 6 – Sat Nov 10
Tickets are going fast for this ETT production. Director Richard Twyman’s original modern-dress production received rave reviews. For ages 12+ Running time: 3hrs.
An Evening with Nigella Lawson, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Thurs Nov 8
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of TV chef Nigella’s ground-breaking debut cookbook, How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food, as she talks about her life in food and what she’s cooking right now, followed by a 1-hour book-signing.
Bonfire Night, The Fleece Inn, Evesham, Sat Nov 3
Bonfire, stationary engines, and vintage Tilley lanterns at this 15th Century National Trust owned pub. A firework-free, more traditional way to celebrate Bonfire night. This event is free entry and proves to be a great night for all the family year after year.
Halloween Horrors, Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire, Oct 27 – Nov 4
Follow the frighteningly fun Creepy Collection trail in the house, hunt for hidden pumpkins and scarecrows, dare to enter the abandoned tunnel and listen to spine-tingling storytelling in the garden. For families there’s also facepainting, reptile handling and fright flights. You can also enjoy the garden exhibition, Chatsworth Outdoors: Grounds for Sculpture, curated seasonal park walks, grab a bite to eat in one of the five restaurants or cafes and a visit to the award-winning farm shop with more than half of all products prepared on the Chatsworth estate.
THEME-PARK: Scarefest – Alton Towers, Staffs, Oct 19 – Nov 2
Alton Towers’ hugely popular Scarefest attraction returns this month with live shows, award-winning scare mazes, the brand new CBeebies Monster Ball and immersive rollercoaster Wicker Man experience with new six-storey high flaming effigy.
Dark Arts, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios, Watford, until Sun Nov 12
Over Halloween the Great Hall will be decorated with more 100 floating pumpkins, just as seen as in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. The hand-carved pumpkins are created by Head Propmaker on all the Harry Potter films, Pierre Bohanna, and modelled on those found in Hagrid’s pumpkin patch in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – no two are alike! Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Art – wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels as well as film-making snot, blood and drool. Lovely!
Warner Bros. Studio Tour london, Studio Tour Dr, Watford, Leavesden, wbstudiotour.co.uk
Xscape, Milton Keynes
How cool is this? We’ve already had a test of the new Rush VR (virtual reality) immersive experience and it’s totally awesome! Nothing like fighting zombies building castles or wandering through a Mayan maze after a few coffees. If you’re heading up to Xscape, you can also check out Hollywood Bowl, Snozone, iFly and Cineworld. Boom – a day of half-term sorted!