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This week

MON 15 – SUN 21 JUL


FILM: Force of Nature Natalia, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Mon 15– Tues 16 Jul

Force of nature Natalia Osipova Royal Ballet principal ballerina practice studio

Prop up the barre and go behind the scenes of life as a ballerina. Natalia Osipova allowed the cameras to document her preparations for a fifth season as a principal of the Royal Ballet. She spills the beans about her life and history, her childhood in Russia, her time with American Ballet Theatre and her journey to the Opera House. If you dreamed of being a ballerina as a kid or simply love the swan-like elegance and cute outfits, it’s a stunning watch.


THEATRE: Giffords Circus: Xanadu, Great Windsor Park, now – Mon 22 July

Giffords Circus pitches up its Big Top once again at Oxford’s University Parks on its summer tour with a brand new show Xanadu– the theme this year is the Summer of Love, set in Hyde park 1973, so expect hippies, hipsters, rock stars and all-out grooviness alongside Nell Gifford’s brilliantly curated circus acts. The show then rolls up at Stonor Park Henley on Thames, 25-29 July.


COMEDY: Reading Fringe Festival, various locations, Fri 19 – Sun 28 Jul

Reading Frindge Festival 2019 Crayola the queen head to toe greeN and green background

No need to schlep to Edinburgh for the Fringe, some of the finest comedy shows are being performed in Reading now. One of my favourite events of the year, there’s loads of cool stuff for grown ups and kids to see. I’m liking the sound of A Very Crayola Fringe Show (above) on 27 Jul in which the Queen of Crayola will be bringing her campy, cartoonish, lady clown LOLs to the occasion. Seska’s Quack Quack Boom, super-crazy comedy magic show is a family fave on Sat 20 Jul and Eddie Summers School of Burglary will quite simply be utterly boonkers (Sat 20 Jul) Grab your chance to see our up and coming comic stars without the ridiculous price tag (many performances are just £8). Bargain!


EVENT: Summer Evening Racing and Gin Festival, Thu 18 Jul

The beauty of lighter evenings (sunshine or not) is that the opportunities to put on a nice shoe and totter out for the night are seemingly endless – and Newbury Racecourse does not disappoint with gin and gee gees. It’s hosting its annual Gin Festival with 30 different varieties to sample, resident DJ and great racing. Get your gang together and make yours a double.


WELLBEING: World Yoga Festival, Beale Park Pangbourne, Thu 18 – Sat 21 Jul

World Yoga Festival Beale Park Pangbourne indian tent with yoga class

OMMMMMMMMMM! If you’re on a path on enlightenment that doesn’t involve rosé, then the World Yoga Festival could be just the  ticket. It’s a dedicated weekend wellness festival where you can learn from yogi masters, there’s an abundance of traditional yoga classes and meditation, healthy cookery classes, craft and food stalls, an intention setting ceremony, music and dancing.


EVENT: Friday night pop up bar, Douai Pavillion Woolhampton, throughout July

bottles of gin lined up on 2 wooden shelves in a bar

Picture the scene: balmy summer evenings, unspoilt countryside, kids happily playing games without the need for you to referee the perpetual bickering, while you enjoy a blissful Friday night sundowner. This utopia is a reality at the Summer Pop Up Bar at Douai Pavillion in Woolhampton. Running every Friday night from 6pm, it’s a great place for the whole family to let off steam. Winner! 


FILM: Open air cinema, Caversham Court Gardens Reading, Thu 18 – Sat 20 Jul

First Man film starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstong Moon landing

Another cinematic refresh in the guise of First Man. La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s biopic of Neil Armstrong, the first man in the moon, has Ryan Gosling (be still my beating heart) playing the legendary astronaut and Claire Foy, last seen as the Queen in The Crown, as his wife, Janet. If you’re longing for a cinematic cheesefest, Mammia Mia! Here We Go Again should hit the spot on Thu 18 Jul and there’s always another opportunity to see Bohemian Rhapsody on Fri 19 Jul. Doors open 7.30pm, film starts at 9.15pm.


DANCE: The Dreamboys, The Hexagon Reading, Thu 18 July

dreamboys dance cast 2019

Take me back to the 90s and pass the baby oil. Far be it for me to objectify, but feast your eyes on this lot – it’s only The Dreamboys. I’ll just leave this image hanging here and let your minds wonder. Tickets are selling faster than these boys can get down to their pants, so be snaffle one while you can.


FILM: Open Air Cinema, Ascot Racecourse, Thu 18 – Sat 20 Jul

Bohemian Rapsody Live Aid Scene Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Twentieth Century Fox film

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

Giddy up to Ascot for three nights of fabulous of films under the stars. The giant cinema screen will be positioned on the lawns of the racecourse with this stunning backdrop of the grandstand. The Luna Bar will be fully stocked (good job with the expected Muddy stampede, and there will be food to soak it all up). What’s being screened? All the big hitters of the last year – Bohemian RhapsodyMary Poppins Returns and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Pay your money, take you choice. Doors open at 7.45pm, film starts at 9.15pm.


TALKS: Women In Power: Afternoon Tea with Elizabeth Day, Cliveden House Hotel, Fri 19 Jul

Journalist Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day, award-winning author, journalist and podcaster, will be lifting the lid on her career in newspapers and her book How To Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong – partly inspired by her chart-topping podcast where she interviews successful people such as Sebastian Faulks, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Mishal Husain – about what they have learned from three failures in their life. It’s a unique afternoon that’s so much more than neat sarnies and precision pastries.


KIDS: Zog – Live, The Hexagon Reading, Fri 19 – Sun 21 Jul

Written by Julia Donaldson, creator of The Gruffalo of course, Zog is a  young dragon eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon’s school. If your kids have seen Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales and Tabby McTat, it’s a dead cert as it’s the same team behind the production.


WELLBEING: Rainbow Rise & Shine Festival Weekender, Wasing Estate Aldermaston, Fri 19 Jul

Wasing Estate Aldermaston Berkshire woodland tents sunset festivals retreats

Detox before you retox. Come on, we can do this, one weekend of wholesome goodness in the stunning woodland setting of Wasing Estate. The Rainbow City Rise and Shine Retreat Festival Weekender –  part festival, part retreat. Plant-based and alcohol free, this  is
All plant based and alcohol-free, there’s oodles of feel-good yoga, meditation, food and partying to be done. No hangover guaranteed. You even plant your own baby tree in a special ceremony.


FAMILY FUN: The Big Camp, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, Fri 19 – Sat 20 Jul

The Big Camp Cliveden Natioanl Trust taplow Canvas bell tent

The perfect weekend away. The family sleep under canvas in the five-star gorgeous grounds. They’ll discover wildlife, play games, explore the nearby Play Trail and be taken on a bat walk through the woods before marshmallows round the campfire. You, on the hand, need to be checking in to the hotel, enjoying a nightcap and star-fishing in a giant bed. Everyone gets to have an adventure. It’s just one as a luxury bathroom and the other doesn’t. Also running: Fri 19 – Sun 21 Jul and Fri 26 – Sun 28 Jul.


EAT OUT: Dining Under The Stars, Coworth Park Sunningdale, now – Sept

Coworth Park Dom Perignon dining under the stars outdoor dining orb candlelit gardens

The most ridiculously exciting pop up this summer. Coworth Park, has just launched Dining Under The Stars – a new summer al fresco private dining concept. Coworth’s Michelin starred chef Adam Smith has created four menus inspired by constellations, each course is paired with a vintage glass of Dom Pérignon and there’s a telescope for your to get your Prof Brian Cox on while your tickling your tastebuds. Sadly Brian’s’s not part of the package (damn it), but it’s a special foodie experience.


FAMILY FUN: Maize Maze, Bucklebury Farm Park, Sat 20 Jul – 30 Sep

Maize Maze Bucklebury Farm Park Newbury Berkshire scarecrow

If you’re looking for covert and creative ways to lose your kids for a five minutes over the school holidays, there’s always Bucklebury Farm Park’s Maize Maze. New for 2019, your kids will run wild, answer clues and discover the homes of Stanley the Stag, Freddie Fox, Mary Mouse and Ola Owl. Don’t miss the grand opening on Sat 20 Jul – join the Walking Theatre Company live from the Maze, live music,  family bushcraft, BBQ and Bar.


MUSIC: Wetherbys Supersprint with Tom Jones, Newbury Racecourse, Sat 20 Jul

Welsh singer Tom Jones singing in black siot image in black and white

Grab your knickers  and get ready to lob them at a Welsh warbling octogenarian (OK, he’s 79, but who’s counting?). The legendary Tom Jones will be taking to the stage at Newbury Races this month’s Party In the Paddock. Following his stint on The Voice, the great man is not to be missed when he takes to the stage in Newbury. Tickets are flying out, so get your mitts sharpish.



THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until 7 Sept 

Tis the season to dodge the rain and enjoy some outdoor thespian action so grab your rug, brolly and, of course, a sneaky hipflask as Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre is pitching up at Blenheim Palace with MacbethA Midsummer Night’s DreamRichard III and Romeo & Juliet– the 13-sided scaffolding theatre, with three tiers of covered seating and open courtyard for ‘groundlings’, will be accompanied by a Shakespearean Village selling local ales, ice cream and side shows (8 Jul – 7 Sept).


OPERA: Garsington Opera Season, Wormsley Estate, until 26 Jul 

Garsington Opera‘s mega summer season is still on the go at the bucolic Wormsley Estate. This week you can see The Turn of the Screw (15, 19), Fantasio(17, 20) and Don Giovanni (18, 21).



The Radio 4 of festivals – refined, civilised and cultured, it’s camping weekender Latitude, over in Suffolk this week –  with its line-up of literary readings, theatre, comedy and Sadlers Wells ballet performances. They don’t skimp on the live music easier – this year Lana Del Rey, Underworld and Primal Scream are on the bill (18 – 21 Jul). And if you’re heading for the Big Smoke, there’s tons to do all summer between London and Tower Bridge with the largest outdoor festival in the capital, Summer by the River (until 28 Aug). Outdoor cinema as well as concerts, workshops, comedy and quizzes- you can scoff and drink to your heart’s content from the obligatory artisan stalls and then join in one of the fitness events to assuage the self-loathing.



Must-see exhibitions in London this month include a new collection of Manolo Blahnik‘s designs at The Wallace Collection above, which contrasts the designer’s work with paintings, sculpture and ornate furniture from the Rococo art movement. The intimate collection has been curated  by Blahnik himself and features items from his private archives (until Sun 1 Sept). Or you can check out Beasts of London, at the Museum of London, a fully immersive, digital installation exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London with the likes of Kate Moss, Brian Blessed and Pam Ferris voicing the animals which are brought to life using video projection mapping.

Muddy visited the Mary Quant retrospective (until 16 Feb) above at the V&Arecently and it’s definitely worth checking out- over 200 items from the iconic ’60s designer’s career, from miniskirts to her make up range, accompanying images and a strong feminist undertone (girl power!) Also at the V&A is the the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, it’s sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance, or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A (until 1 Sept). The major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain is also worth a gander, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery (until 11 Aug). And finally, if you’re heading up north, there’s the new Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool, a legend on the ’80s graffiti, pop art and underground club culture scene, the exhibit features 85 works including large-scale paintings, posters, photos and video. Very cool.

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