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FESTIVAL: Countryfile Live, Blenheim, Oxon, Thu 2 – Sun 5 Aug

Can’t get enough of Adam Henson and the Countryfile gang? Roll up, roll up, catch the show while you can at Blenheim Palace as the team showcase the best of the British countryside. Expect live arena shows where Matt Baker does a semi-naked trapeze act while John Craven tames the Fresian cows in top hat and fishnets. Apparently (and this bit is true) there’s also a National Trust theatre, waterside activities, off-road experiences, animal displays and 700 exhibitors. This year they are also throwing a BBC Countryfile Live Summer Party on the Saturday 6-9pm, headlined by country duo The Shires (a BBC Radio 2 favourite) and supported by Newton Faulkner and Ferris & Sylvester.

FILM: McQueen, Norden Farm Maidenhad, Wed 1 – Thu 2 Aug

McQueen documentary film – Alexander McQueen with model at the end of a runway show

Fashion genius and tortured soul, Alexander McQueen’s burst not the scene in the 1990s hellbent on shaking things up. And ‘the hooligan of fashion’ did just that with his lavish, unconventional runways, controversial themes and the ‘bumster’ (we forgive you). This documentary takes a personal look at the extraordinary life, career and artistry of the fashion designer – combining exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archive footage, exquisite visuals and music.

MUSIC: Battle Proms, Highclere Castle, Sat 4 Aug

crowds of people waving flags gather in front of the palatial stately home Highclere Castle

Who needs the Royal Albert Hall when you have Highclere Castle Battle Proms. Pack up the hampers and champers, drape yourself in a Union Jack and party in the park to the Land Of Hope And Glory, Jerusalem plus a Spitfire display to Elgar’s Nimrod, The Red Devils parachute team freewill demo and groundshaking live fire from over 200 cannons!. Call the Corn Exchange Box Office on 0845 5218 218 for tickets.

FESTIVAL: Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Thurs 2 – Sun 5 Aug

Pink green and purple balls above the crowd at Wilderness Festival Cornbury Oxon

Pic: Andrew Whitton

Possibly the coolest local festival of them all, here there’s a heady mix of right-on hippiness (think yoga, skinny-dipping and hot tubs) combined with great music from the likes of Bastille, Nile Rodgers and Chic and Groove Armada. Plus The Flying Seagulls, Mortimer Nannies and The Artful Badgers Breakfast Boogie to keep the kids happy. A few years back, my daughter ended up in tears after clocking a ‘real’ mermaid flicking her tail on a rowing boat – she couldn’t understand why she wasn’t allowed to ditch the family and go live with her magical new friend. That’s Wilderness for you! Pricing: Child 0 – 5 years £5, Junior 6 – 12 years £35, Teen 13 – 17 years £115, Adults from £179 upwards, with all sorts of camping options to be had.

DAYS OUT: Summer of Fun, Legoland Windsor, now – Sun 2 Sep

Legoland Windsor Sand Sculptures mark the beginning of the summer of fun berkshire

This way to the beach… As the Lego figures wrestle with their Love Island style short shorts and high cut wedgie swimwear, your kids can go wild at Legoland Windsor’s first ever Beach Party with pop music, activities, challenges, sandy beach, splash safari and drench towers.

COMEDY: Comedy In The Bewery, Windsor & Eton Brewery, Sat 4 August

Comedy + beer – what could possibly go wrong? Head to the factory floor of Windsor & Eton Brewery for a unique night of laughs and heckling as four up and coming circuit comics take to the stage. Jenna Younis, Jake Farrell, Andy Zappand Jo Coffey will be bringing the craft comedy, the brewery’s got the craft beers nailed, you just need to bring the laughs. Doors at 7pm Comedy starts at 8pm.

ACTIVITY: The Big Tree Climb, Cliveden Taplow, Mon 30 – Tues 31 Jul

kids and adults hanging on ropes in the trees The Big Tree Clim Company Cliveden

Harnesses on? Not eaten anything in the last half hour? Then head to the delicious Cliveden for Tree Climbing with The Great Big Tree Climbing Company. Wheeeee!  I humiliated myself doing this once (I will need 3 gins to spill that story) so have a go just for the laughs. Coming to Cliveden Mon 30 – Tues 31 July and Wed 29 – Thu 30 August; Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace 2-5 August, Stonor  Thu 9 – Fri 10 Aug and Hughenden Thu 30 Aug. Minimum age: 6.

ART: Nick Sharrat: Pirates, Pants & Wellyphants, River & Rowing Museum, now until Sun 16 Sept 

If you’ve got kids, you’ll have a book somewhere in your house with Nick Sharrat’s fabulous illustrations. An interactive exhibition of his work is now on at this lovely venue which is a great place to take kids but there’s plenty of adult amusement with all you ever wanted to know (or not know) about rowing, visiting painting and sculpture exhibitions, a cafe with posh nosh, and a short stroll to the river and shops of Henley.

FILM: Open air cinema, Shaw House Newbury, Thu 2 Aug

Eighties poster boys strip to the waist and spray on the leather trousers for The Lost Boys. Worth a pop up cinema perv at Shaw House on 2 Aug. These boys were plastered over many teen girls’ walls and exercise books. New romantics meets vampires, it’s a worth at trip down memory lane. Alternatively, you can see box office smash The Greatest Showman, Fri 3 Aug.

DRINKIES: Friday night pop up bar, Douai Pavillion Woolhampton, throughout Aust

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! 

THEATRE: Old Herbaceous, Cliveden Taplow, Sat 4 Aug

Old Herbaceous gardner theatre cliveden House Taplow Berkshire

Lighter evenings, no school night curfews, heatwave, quite frankly it would be rude not to go and see an al fresco theatrical production. Cliveden will be the backdrop for Old Herbaceous (basically Downton Abbey with gardening tips); children’s classic The Railway Childrenand Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes whodunnit The Hound of The Baskervilles.

Open Air Cinema, Stubbings Nursery Maidenhead, Fri 4 – Sat 5 Aug

PVC thigh high boots never looked so good. Ah the romance of prostitution and the mega rich. It’s Cinderella, if she’d spent a few months in a crack house. But you can’t beat Julia Robert and Richard Gere in this classic rom-com. Pretty Woman is popping up at Stubbings Nursery on Friday 4 August, followed by The Greatest Showman on Sat 5 Aug. If you can bear to hear the soundtrack one more time.

KIDS: The Maidenhead Beach, Norden Farm Maidenhead, now – Sun 2 Sep

Footprints in sand on beach

This way to the beach. And no it doesn’t involve a motorway queue, windbreaker or an umbrella. Norden Farm’s sandpit of fun is open for business. Head to Maidenhead with the kids. They can enjoy this laid back tropical Goan paradise, fun activities, an indoor sensory space while you say kick back at the Beachside cafe. It’s totes freeee and open from 10am-4pm.

EVENT: A Vow To A Kill,  St Laurence’s Church Reading, Sat 4 Aug

A Vow to a kill murder mystery treasure hunt bridal bouquet wedding rings
There are days when I would happily throttle Mr Muddy, but our wedding day wasn’t one of them. The team behind A Shot I the Saddle and A Dish To Die For are back with a new murder mystery treasure hunt. Grab your smartphone, solve the clues and play detective on the streets of Reading. The story brings are whole new meaning to tying the know. Brilliant event for tech obsessed teen and wannabe Miss Marples.
FILM: Swimming With Men, Corn Exchange Newbury, Mon 30 Jul – Thu 2 Aug

Male Synchronised swimming team Swimming With Men film starring Rob Brydon and Jane Horrocks Corn Exchange newbury

If the cineplex blockbusters aren’t floating your boat, check out Swimming With Men starring Rob Brydon and Jane Horrocks. A mid-life crisis leads unlucky-in-love Eric (Rob Brydon) to the local pool where he plunges into the all-male synchronised swimming scene to win back wife Heather (Jane Horrocks). Sync or swim, it’s laugh-out-loud from the get go.



THEATRE: Kids Week, various London locations, throughout August

This August, children aged 16 or under can get FREE theatre tickets to selected performances across London (when  accompanied by a paying adult). There is a huuuge selection of shows to choose from including Sound and Sourcery at The Vaults, an immersive music concert experience inspired by Disney’s Fantasy. Under Waterloo station, collect your headphones at the door and step inside the tunnels where you will dance with a funky hippo, walk in a prehistoric wasteland, seek out the fairies in a magic forest and sneak into the Sorcerer’s lair. Over at the National Theatre, the Star Seekers need help saving their space station in this interactive 50 minute show for 3 – 8 year olds. Or for older kids, Pressure at the Ambassador’s Theatre is a funny and tense play about the D-Day landings.


THEATRE: Little Shop of Horrors, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Fri 3 Aug – 15 Sept

This off-beat musical about florist shop assistant Seymour who pines for his work colleague Audrey but doesn’t know how to win her heart or what to do to sate the appetite of a human-eating plant looks great fun. Matt Willis from Busted fame, drag queen Vicky Fox from the USA support Jemima Rooper and Marc Antolin star in an OTT show that seems perfect for summer in the lovely setting of Regent’s Park (bonus fact – the theatre boasts the longest bar in the West End!).


EVENT: Circus Sampler, Somerset House, London, now – Tues 7 Aug

More circus celebrations with a free exhibition Circus Originals opening on 25 July plus live circus events. Dance artists Far From The Norm perform Union Black that combines humour, hip hop and circus using Chinese poles and tight-wire. Between performances, you can watch international record-breaking hula hooper extraordinaire, Marawa. She’s joined by her team of hoop performers, The Majorettes, and they’ll teach you to hula hoop after the show.


ART: All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life, Tate Britain, London, now until 27 Aug

Paulo Rego, Bride 1994.

Soon to end, this fascinating exhibition All Too Human celebrates the painters in Britain who have tried to capture human figures, their relationships and surroundings, in paint. With works by Lucian Freudand Francis Bacon (including 3 of his works which have not been shown in Britain for decades) amongst others, the intimate representations of reality make for a powerful experience.

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