If you’re looking to up your game on Insta in 2019, then check out how the pros do it. Light In The Lens – a brilliant exhibition from The Photographic Angle – let’s you into a little secret. It’s all about light. Know light and you’ll nail photography. Now if I could just take a selfie without gurning that would be magic.
Image by Poppy Berry
Anne Widdecombe and Nigel Farage are unlikely bedfellows, but then we are in unchartered political waters. While Anne and Nige admire their new matching Brexit Party PJs and slippers, we get to hear from the great lady herself at Cliveden’s new Women In Power lunches, celebrating the centenary of Nancy Astor being the first female MP. Never without an opinion, we get all the goss from Parliament to Strictly. Not to be missed.
ART: Contemporary Art Fair, Newbury Racecourse, Sat 11 –Sun 12 May
Sick of looking at blank walls? For the first time ever, the Contemporary Art Fair will be bringing more than 160 artists, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists and independent galleries from all over the UK and Europe to Newbury Racecourse. Have a mooch, chat to artists and, if you find something you love, prices start at just 40 quid. Phew. You can read about the five artists on my lust list here..
WEDDINGS: Wedfest, Forest Edge Tipis Hampstead Marshall, Sat 11 and Sun 12 May
Getting hitched? Before you say ‘I Do’ to a wedding venue, head to Wedfest. Not a festival for a mass wedding ceremony, but Forest Edge Tipis’ wedding fair with a difference. This brand new wedding venue is for brides who want to take it outside. Surrounded by woodland, permanent tipi for the reception and all the boring stuff taken care of like electricity, loos, and stuff. See the location, mets the guys who can make the magic happen – it’s guaranteed to be love at first sight.
CULTURE: Newbury Spring Festival, various locations, Sat 11 – Sat 25 May
This whopping festival has grown over the last 41 years to now attract the very best in classical, jazz and world music acts. The events will take place this year from Sat 11 to Sat 25 May in some glorious venues, including The Base, Englefield House, Highclere Castle, Shaw House and the Corn Exchange Newbury where you can catch the elegant Ballet Central (above), the BBC Big Band, musical farce Lucky Stiff and a talk on Queen Victoria by AN Wilson.
WELLBEING: Earth Living Festival, Caversham Court Gardens, Sat 11 May
Swap you daisy dukes and pear cider for a pair of yoga pants and wheatgrass shot, the Earth Living Festival is the antithesis of hedonistic oblivion. This fest is al relaxing, recharging, and feeding your mind, body and soul. What can you expect? Yoga, bootcamps, Bollywood dancing, essential oils, talks,, wild workouts, live music and so much more. It says family friendly, but leave them at home and max out on me time.
ARTS: Caversham Arts Trail, various locations, Sat 11 – Sun 12 and Sat 18 – Sun 19 May
Image: Caroline Streatfield
Hot on the heels of the Henley Arts Trail is this one based around Caversham and Emmer Green, north of Reading. Visit the studios, workshops, homes and gardens of 27 talented local artists (including Julie Simmonds & David Pope Ceramics, above). See their latest projects, ask questions, buy their art and be inspired! 37 artists in 17 venues the trail runs across two weekends: Sat 11and Sun 12 May and Fri 18 and Sat 19 May, 11am – 5pm.
FAMILY FUN: Spring Jousting Tournament, Blenheim Palace Woodstock, Sat 4 – Mon 6 May
Charrrrrrge! The annual Blenheim Palace ye olde joustingy thingy on the South Lawn featuring ‘The Knights of Royal England’. Falconry displays, archery, puppet shows, jesters and knights on horseback charging in the traditional tilt, and battling on foot with the mighty mace and quarter staff. Are you yawning? Well cheer up, lift your visor and head for the Champagne and Pimms tent!
HOME & INTERIORS
Image by Varana
In need of some home inspo? Award winning event, Grand Designs Live, lands at London’s ExCeL (Sat 4 – Sun 12) with loads of exhibitors, product launches and expert advice on how to pimp your pad whether you’re planning a self-build, renovation or are adding the finishing touches. Kevin McCloud will be on hand for a natter, too. Or, there’s Clerkenwell Design Week (I’ve been a few times, it’s well worth the trip)- home to more creative businesses and architects per square mile than anywhere else on the planet, this will be the 10th annual festival, which attracts some of the best of designers in the world, including a huge range of home-grown talent (Tue 21 – Thurs 23). Finally, feeling crafty? London Craft Week (Wed 8 – Sun 12) showcases exceptional craftsmanship in London with a programme of workshops by both unknown makers and celebrated masters held in famous studios, galleries and shops. This year London’s hippest new hangout Coal Drops Yard is getting involved for the first time with loads of cool workshops and installations.
Must see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include the V&A’s retrospective on iconic 1960s designer and the mother of miniskirts, Mary Quant– over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive (until Sun 16 Feb 2020); also at the V&A is this year’s biggie, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, which traces the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him (until Sun 1 Sept). The exhibit is sold out (*boo*) but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am (from the Grand Entrance) and it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibit by purchasing a membership for the V&A (plus you get loads of added extras like sneak previews, a magazine subscription and access to the members room). Also worth checking out is the new major Van Gough exhibit at Tate Britain- over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery, London. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg (until Sun 11 Aug).
Great Brick Safari, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Beds, now – Sun 2 Jun
More Lego! New for Easter, Whipsnade Zoo introduces its Brick Safari- there’ll be loads of LEGO brick beasts and animals around the mammoth zoo (it’s the biggest in the UK doncha know) made from over one million bricks, as well as hands-on family activities. Included in entry price.
ART: Chihuly Trail, Kew Gardens, from Sat 13 Apr
Run free my pretties but watch out for the delicate glass sculptures. Iconic artist Dale Chihuly’s stunning pieces are on display at Kew Gardens from Easter weekend, but I fear it’s an accident waiting to happen. Kids smashing the place up, children skewered on a giant flower. A true test of your parenting skills… but an Insta winner.
EVENT: Ladies Day –Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, Newbury Racecourse, Sat 18 May
Sound the klaxon. The summer social season starts here. Newbury Races’s Ladies Day (traditionally in August) has moved to Al Shaqab Lockinge Day on Sat 18 May. It’s first out of the fashion blocks, with Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot and Henley following –and they’re going BIG. Garden party vibes, pop up bars, an abundance of flroa and fauna, cocktails and Sophie Ellis Bextor and her hubby Richard Jones on the decks for the after party floor fillers. Go go go.
EVENT: Supercar Sunday, Stonor Henley On Thames, Sun 19 May
Supercar Sunday returns to Stonor House’s pristine front lawn, with race cars, super-sleek sports cars (I’ll take two please) and ultra modern hypercars. Throughout the day there’ll also be interviews with the owners, judging, prize giving and street food stalls. Heaps for kids too, including an adventure playground and treasure hunt in the Wonder Woods, traditional fair rides, laser tag and laser clay pigeon shooting.