FRI 13 – SUN 15 JULY
THEATRE: Giffords Circus: My Beautiful Circus, Great Windsor Park, Fri 13 – Mon 16 July
This year the inimitable Giffords Circus is celebrating the birth of circus which happened near Westminster Bridge in London in 1768. It’s all brilliantly bonkers putting on a candle-lit international gymnastic show with dancing horses, a live band and everyone’s favourite clown Tweedy. Stonor Park Henley on Thames, 19-23 July.
FESTIVAL: Readipop, Christchurch Meadows Caversham, Fri 13 – Sun 15 Jul
Perfect weather for a festival, so dig out your Daisy Dukes, load up on pear cider and off you go. No need to wait until August’s gargantuan rock fest, Readipop is getting quite a rep for alternative and up and coming talent with an old skool flava. Double Brit award winners (Best Group & Best Album) and Mercury Music Prize nominees, Stereo MCs headline alongside 808 State, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, Happy Mondays’ vocalist Rowetta and Odyssey.
EVENT: Henley Garden Show, Stonor Park, Henley, Oxon, Fri 13 – Sun 15 Jul
Garden shows nowadays are so much more than displays of the best plants by the top producers around the country. The beautiful Stonor Park is the setting for an orgy of foliage, talks by experts, shopping, entertainment, food and drink. Be inspired and get those green fingers ready to transform your own patch back home.
EVENT: Friday night pop up bar, Douai Pavillion Woolhampton, throughout July
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!
Another month, another David Walliams book transformed for the stage, but who cares when the kids love them so much? His seventh children’s book is another winner and tells the story of a rich orphan whose aunt tries to swizzle her out of her inheritance. Great staging, a truly inventive set design with gothic turrets, hidden drawbridges and chimmeys, plus puppetry and energetic performances combine to bring a stage show that should delight Walliams’ many fans.
Put your Daisy Dukes away, this is a strictly black tie affair. Well, it is Henley, darlings. This massive five day bash is chocka with live music, contemporary arts, comedy (Paul Merton, Mark Watson, Rob Brydon, Lucy Watson), street theatre and food glorious food, with 12 restaurants and nine bars. Rita Ora, Grace Jones, Nile Rodgers and The English National Opera are among the headliners, plus there’s the massively popular Family Sunday. Renowned local chef Paul Clerehugh and his team from London Street Brasserie, Reading are running a pop-up in the Spiegeltent – and even more spiffing, mention Muddy Stilettos for a free flute of champagne. Never say we don’t look after you, dear readers! Family tickets start at a reasonable £35 but this only allows you to wander around the event and hear the concerts. To see the floating concert stage you need to buy lawn (from £55 to £110) or grandstand (undercover) tickets from £70.
Jerusalem, Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – Sat 21 Jul
The Watermill is staging the first major revival of Jez Butterworth’s multi-award-winning play, Jerusalem. A contemporary classic which originally starred Mark Rylance as the anarchic Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron in 2011. Big shoes to fill for Jasper Britton. Expect fruity language in this wild and defiant rekindling of our national identity. One of the show’s of the summer.
Lynn Chadwick, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – Oct 2018
If you loved the Benar Venet sculptures at Cliveden last year, then the new installation of English sculpture and artist Lynn Chadwick’s awesome abstract metal works inspired by the human form and natural world. His big, bold sculptural pieces are doted around the grounds. Take a stroll, admire and then pop into Cliveden House for afternoon tea or lunch at the Astor Grill. nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden
THEATRE: Brian Blessed directs Unexpected Guest, Mill at Sonning, now – Sat 28 Jul
BOOM! The man with the biggest voice in show business is back in Berks. National treasure Brian Blessed in the director’s chair at The Mill at Sonning, following on from his successes with A Spider’s Web and The Hollow. And who better than Flash Gordon to take on Agatha Christie’s classic whodunnit, An Unexpected Guest? Brian has been peddling his acting wares for 60 years and knew and worked with Christie, so you know this will be a corker. And remember, your ticket price also includes a two-course meal.
Family Fun Day, Ascot Racecourse, Sat 14 Jul
Love the races but feel it’s not family friendly? After a few fizzes and a flutter you may forget you have children completely. Just me? Oops. Knowing the juggle is real, Ascot is laying on a fairground, helter skelter, pony rides, spinning teacups, inflatable obstacle course, footy comp, a vlogging workshop for wannabe Zoellas and more – and it’s all FREE. Kids under 12 can even eat for free. You heard me right, it’s costs zilch. Get yourself down there and win at life.
ART: The Head and the Load, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London, Wed 11 Jul – Sun 15 Jul
Commemorating the contribution of hundreds of thousands of African porters and carriers during WW1, William Kentridge uses music, dance, shadow play and sculptures to create a dramatic show in the Turbine Hall. The composer, Philip Miller, and musical director Thuthuka Sibisi have created an original score that draws on a wide range of traditions plus there’s an international cast of singers and dancers, many from South Africa. It sounds spectacular. If you’re in the vicinity on Fri 27 Jul, don’t forget to check out Tate Late when the gallery comes alive with music, talks and workshops after hours.
THEATRE: True West, Vaudeville Theatre, London, from Fri 23 Nov
Booking is now open for the West End Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard’s ferociously funny, modern classic, True West. Directed by Matthew Dunster, an Olivier-nominated director, playwright, actor and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe, and starring Kit Harington (of Game of Thrones fame) and Johnny Flynn (Genius) as warring brothers, this sure sounds like a goodie.