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What’s On This May Bank Holiday Weekend

A 3 day weekend to look forward to. The cool, quirky and unmissable in Warwickshire and beyond.

11 Million Reasons to Dance Photography Exhibition, The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, until Sat June 17

To coincide with International Dance Day on Saturday April 29, the free photography exhibition 11 Million Reasons to Dance is now on display at the Belgrade Theatre.  This exhibition, commissioned by People Dancing and photographed by Sean Goldthorpe, uses Deaf and disabled artists to recreate great cinematic set-pieces, like Gene Kelly’s Singing in the Rain, Billy Elliot dancing his heart out before his dad and Moira Shearer playing a young ballerina in The Red Shoes. The title of the exhibition reflects the fact there are more than 11 million disabled people currently living in the UK. On Sat June 17 there will also be a performance in B2 with the same title (£6.50), including local children and a duet by Kate Marsh and Welly O’Brien – dancers with missing limbs, who are both interested in the specificity of their own physicality and how this informs and enriches their work.

Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival Children’s Day, Sun April 30

Stratford Literary Festival’s brilliant family-friendly event pulls out all the stops to celebrate children’s books with delightful events including a musical retelling of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, a Shadow Puppet Workshop, Jinks & O’Hare Funfair Repair and a Big Draw Challenge with 4 of the country’s best children’s illustrators – Sarah McIntyre, Philip Reeve, Rob Biddulph and Jonny Duddle! There’s also a Horrible Histories performance, The Best of Barmy Britain, a workshop with Horrible Histories author Martin Brown and chance to meet the author of The Pirate Cruncher & The Pirates Next Door series, Jonny Duddle.

Wild Fest@Brandon Marsh in aid of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Sat April 29

Have a truly wild family day out with fun nature activities for all ages. From cooking over a campfire and willow weaving to mini-beast hunting and pond dipping. Get creative with hands-on crafts and discover wildlife on guided walks. There’ll be bushcraft sessions, face painting, a tombola and hook a duck with a twist – all ducks are painted to show the colours of the UK’s native ducks. It’s all in aid of raising funds for Warwickshire Wildlife Trust – the leading local charity working for wildlife and local communities across Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull. Normal admission applies: £2.50 adults, £1 children, £1.50 concessions and members free.

Celebrate May Day at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Museum, Mon May 1

A jam-packed traditional celebration of fun-filled activities and traditional village games at this award-winning national art gallery in Warwickshire, including tug-of-war, welly-wangling, Aunt Sally and hook-a-duck. Join the Morris Dancers or come dressed as a May King or Queen and march in the procession led by the Royal Spa Brass Band. Meet artist Faye Claridge to find out what happened to Kern Baby or discover Compton’s new Pigment Garden with artist Sigrid Holmwood, whose works are including in the gallery’s critically-acclaimed Creating the Countryside exhibition currently on display (“enchanting views of country life” – Mail on Sunday, 4-stars; “an intriguing look at what ‘countryside’ means to the British” – Daily Telegraph). The Museums of British Folklore will be displaying a selection of Morris Folk Dolls in the Folk Art collection. Kids can also make their very own hand puppet with Lucy Dore. 11am-4pm. 

Kids Carnival Day, Warwick Racecourse, Mon May 1

A huge crowd is expected to descend on England’s best small jumps track for the Carnival opener, where family-friendly entertainment including horse racing, pony rides, bungee run, carnival slide, bouncy castle, horse simulator, sumo suits, total wipeout, face painting, magic, juggling, balloons, stilt walkers, a mascot race, plus appearances from Paw Patrols Chase at intervals throughout the day. New this year will be the launch of Junior Jumpers at Warwick – bringing children exclusive news about their favourite jockeys and horses, plus the chance to meet them and take part in special activities. For details see here. Kids aged 17 and under go free. Opens 11.30am. First race 1.30pm and last race at 5pm.

The RSC’s Shakespeare’s Rome debate series: Julius Caesar, Studio Theatre@The Other Place, Sat April 29 

Do we want to be empowered as a population, or would we rather be led? Ritula Shah (presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight) chairs a look at the power dynamics of the Rome depicted in Julius Caesar and how that relates to the present day. The panel includes Natalie Haynes (classicist, broadcaster and author of The Ancient Guide to Modern Life), Ayesha Hazarika (political commentator and former Labour Party adviser) and Angus Jackson (Rome Season Director, and director of Julius Caesar), 5pm. This is the first in a series of 75-min panel discussions exploring themes in the RSC’s current plays.

The Hypocrite, RSC Stratford, now until Sat 29 April

Lots of bosom heaving, jokes about stools, cross-dressing princes, a prostitute called Sweet-Lips and visual gags in this well-received play at the RSC starring Caroline Quentin and The Full Monty actor Mark Addy as a formidable, acrimonious sparring act. Highly recommended if you fancy a trip up to Bard country. Read my review here

RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon,

Leamington Music Festival Weekend, The Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington Spa, Fri April 28-Tue May 2

Baritone: Roderick Williams

It was hearing outstanding baritone Roderick Williams in recital that prompted nationally acclaimed composer Howard Skempton, who has lived in Leamington for nearly 30 years, to accept a commission to compose a setting of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner for him in 2015. One of the highlights of the festival will be to hear Roderick perform this Romantic poem with members of Ensemble 360 on Mon May 1; while on Sun April 30 he will sing Die Schone Mullerin joined by Iain Burnside. This classical festival also includes a starry line-up of internationally recognised artists.

Earlsdon Festival including Earlsdon Gardens NGS Open Gardens Day, Coventry, Monday May 1

Among this year’s events at Earlsdon Festival there’s Coventry & Earsldon Morris Men, The Coventry Elephantastic community drawing event with Mary Courtney & brain scientists from Warwick Uni at Earlsdon Library, a cartoon workshop and Street’s Noodle & Doodle. Meet the cast of Skellig at The Criterion Theatre, listen to Forte Gospel Choir and enjoy an open mic night at Millsy’s Cafe Bar at 7.30pm. During the day you can admire the spring flowers in bloom at 10 varied Earlsdon town gardens, 11am-4pm, for a combined admission of £3.50, children free. Light refreshments at St Barbara’s Church Hall.

Leonore Piano Trio and Esther Sheridan: Why Beethoven Threw the Stew, Sun May 30

Anyone with children might enjoy this entertaining family concert packed with well-known tunes, surprising facts and witty anecdotes that bring Beethoven and his music to life. Based on the much-loved illustrated storybook by renowned cellist Steven Isserlis and commissioned by the Leonore Piano Trio, it includes extracts from many of Beethoven’s most popular works interwoven with new material by Rachel Leach. It’s part of the Leamington Music Festival Weekend (see above), 3pm, Tel: 01926 334418

See the first critically-endangered Northern White-Cheeked Gibbon baby born in Europe in 2017, Twycross Zoo, nr Atherstone

A White-cheeked gibbon with her baby, at Twycross Zoo, Warwickshire. The first baby to be born in Gibbon Forest.
Photos: Lucy Ray

The world-renowned primate centre Twycross Zoo celebrates the birth of the first critically endangered Northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) infant to be born in Europe this year. The new arrival was born at the zoo on Tue April 18 2017. The baby can be seen with its mum at the zoo’s Gibbon Forest. Last year Twycross Zoo opened this new state-of-the-art £2million home for its gibbons, one of the largest gibbon facilities in Europe., 0844 474 1777


Handmade Festival, 02 Academy, Leicester, Fri April 28-Sun Apr 30 

May bank holiday has never been the same since Handmade Festival began. Curated by some of the city’s best independent venues and promoters, the festival will see a range of music, comedy, art, film, performance and photography come together over the long weekend. The line-up this year includes Van Zeller, Happyness, Life, Willie J Healy, Charlotte Carpenter, Fazerdaze, Easy Life, Dead Pretties, Neon Waltz, and lots lots more. Never heard of them? Neither have I, but hey it’s always fun to try something new. Tickets start at £40 for adults and at a discounted rate for students and under 16s.

Handmade Festival, O2 Academy, Percy Gee Building, University Rd, Leicester LE1 7RH

Modernist Bohemia – Montparnasse to St. Ives, Aidan Meller Gallery, Oxford

The young Henry Moore and Roger Hilton in London, plus original pieces by Chagall, Cocteau, Dali and Pascin from their Paris years, this exhibition reveals La Manche as the crux of Modernism. The gallery is bang in the middle of Oxford if you’re passing Turl St (drop in on Oxford’s hippest cafe The Missing Bean for your cafe fix first).

Aidan Meller Gallery, Turl St, Oxford,

Degas to Picasso: Creating Modernism in France, Ashmolean, Oxford, ends Sun May 7

After the success of last year’s Andy Warhol exhibition, the fabulous Ashmolean Museum in Oxford spools back to 19th century bohemian Paris where Manet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Degas and Picasso were collectively whipping up era-defining paintings and dreaming up the Modernist movement. It promises to be a doozy. And for a post-culture coffee or bite, don’t miss the chic Ashmolean Dining Rooms on the top floor, with its cute outdoor terrace for when things get a bit warmer

‘Degas to Picasso: Creating Modernism in France’ continues until 7 May. Tickets: £10, £9 concessions, children under 12 go free.

Billy Ocean, De Montfort Hall, Leicester, Thurs April 27 

The Caribbean Queen star will be performing his greatest hits from the new album and favourite tracks. The tour comes after the release of his latest album Here You Are: The Best Of Billy Ocean soared to number four.  Tickets starts from £22 and he will be supported by YolanDa Brown. Doors open at 7pm.

De Montfort Hall, Granville Rd, Leicester LE1 7RU

Ryan Gander, Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, until Sun May 21

Curated by leading British artist Ryan Gander, this exhibition offers a unique view of the Arts Council Collection in its 70th anniversary year. Night in the Museum represents the work of over 30 artists – the majority  acquired from young and emerging UK-based artists including Angela Bulloch, Patrick Caulfield, Don Brown and Rebecca Warren. Also for the first time, Ryan Gander’s new work ‘As Old As Time Itself’ will be on display.

Attenborough Arts Centre, Lancaster Rd, Leicester LE1 7HA

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