Orfeo ed Erudice, Longborough Opera Festival, Tue 1 August
The festival’s final hurrah, Orfeo ed Euridice, is its Young Artist Production for 2017, and is a new production directed by Maria Jagusz. Based on the tale of Orpheus, one of the most famous and beloved Greek myths, it features some of Gluck’s best known pieces of music including the Dance of the Blessed Spirits and Che farò senza Euridice. The grounds, not far from Moreton-in-Marsh, are glorious, so dress up in your glad rags, pack a picnic or pre-order a hamper or, why the hell not, just dine in The Coach House Restaurant (see the menu here, £45 per person for a three-course meal) or Valley Buffet (£35 per person), and enjoy the show. Glyndebourne, eat your heart out.
Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tuckwell Amphitheatre, Cheltenham, Wed 2 August
This magical, amphitheatre tucked away in the woods next to a brook in the grounds of Dean Close School hosts the critically-acclaimed Pantaloons Theatre Company who tell Shakespeare’s timeless comic tale in their own distinctive and anarchic style.
Joe McElderry: Saturday Night At The Movies, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Wed 2 August
Enjoy a song fest with Joe McElderry and guests (X-Factor’s Sam Callahan among others) with iconic songs such as Daydream Believer, Gloria and Love Is All Around weaved in with some new tunes from his latest album Saturday Night At The Movies. What better way to get you over #humpday?
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, Thu 3 to Sun 6 August
Bit posh? Then you’ll love Wilderness, which is a lot more genteel than its name suggests. This year’s bash at the idyllic 400 acre country estate includes an outpost of Petersham Nurseries, a long-table banquet cooked by Ottolenghi and talks hosted by Tate Britain and School Of Life. Rock’n’roll! Music-wise, be sure to catch disco diva ne plus ultra Grace Jones – always an utter mentalist when playing live.
Moulin Rouge, Cowley Manor, near Cheltenham, Thu 3 August
Ahhh, Moulin Rouge under the stars poolside at Cowley Manor. Hello summer, we love you! (Although, could someone have a word about the weather? We’ll have July’s back please.) But, hey, we’re English, so whatever the weather, this’ll be good, with a posh barbecue serving beef burgers, hotdogs, marinated butterfly chicken and mushroom & halloumi burgers. The film starts at 9.15pm but doors open two hours beforehand, so you can mooch around the grounds and munch on barbecue fare before you settle down to get lost in the music and dance.
Giffords Circus, Frampton on Severn, Thu 3 to Mon 7 Aug, Minchinhampton Common, Thu 10 to Sat 12
Back in Gloucestershire after its London and Oxfordshire turns, this year the inimitable Giffords Circus visits a 17th-century Spanish court where it lays on its usual quirky mix of silliness, awesomeness and eyes-pop-out-of-your-head amazingness, with baroque costumes, dancing horses, funky live band and everyone’s favourite clown Tweedy. Catch it while you can – it’s showing in various venues around Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and London until August – and it’s a corker. You can read my review here.
Fieldview, Chippenham, Wiltshire, Thu 3 to Sun 6 August
God, I love this one. Its non-profit ethos, the fact that it can be run solely on chip fat and solar power, the smell of burning joss sticks… If you can’t face the magnitude of size or price of Bestival, Latitude or Cornbury Park, Fieldview is a small but perfectly formed bundle of summer festival loveliness. Now in its tenth year, you won’t find Madness or Mark Ronson, celebrity chef feasts or pop-up spas, but there is plenty for the kids to get stuck into, it is small enough so you can stage dive into the mosh pits and you might even stumble across the next Ben Howard or Mouse Outfit. Workshops for small people include jewellery making, treasure hunts and circus skills, with yoga and Tai Chi for adults (helps the hangover, I’m told). So load up the happy campers and head down to the shhh… secret location, but near Chippenham.
The Festival of British Eventing, Gatcombe Park, Minchinhampton, Fri 4 to Sun 6 August
As well as a weekend of top-class eventing at Princess Anne’s gaff, there will also be a fun dog show, a ‘have-a-go’ dog agility competition and a shopping village. Get your poshest green wellies on and a headscarf wouldn’t go amiss either, you never know who you’ll bump into.
Top Gun, Egypt Mill, Nailsworth, Fri 4 August
Get yourself down to Egypt Mill’s gorgeous gardens to watch Tom Cruise in this classic from 1986 (which was before we all realised how strange Cruise was and felt like we could fancy him). A new venture for the Mill, you can drift up to the barbecue for a bite to eat and a drink. Book tickets in advance, only £8.
Valley Fest, Chew Magna, Somerset, Fri 4 to Sun 6 August
This is the festival where the spectacular views over the Chew Valley Lake (you’d never guess you were just nine miles outside Bristol) are given a run for their money by the delish organic food, sizzling music and atmosphere on the shore. Set on an organic farm in Chew Magna, north Somerset, Valley Fest, now in its third year, was set up by farmer Luke Hasell in memory and celebration of his parents’ zest for life and love of good food, and it takes place on a community farm growing and selling organic food. Food is big here and you could just sit and stuff your face, but there’s too much else going on for that. The live music lineup includes Argentian-Swedish indie troubadour José González, legendary London and festival clubnighters White Wedding, popsters Goan Dogs and a psychedelic orchestra. There’s no kids’ area as such, but plenty for them to do from training a sheepdog and foraging to DJ-ing and arts and crafts.
Prescott Speed Hill Climb, Gotherington, Cheltehnam, Sat 5 to Sun 6 August
Since 1938, the Vintage Sports-Car Club’s annual hill climb has seen 250 pre-war racing and sports cars zoom (or maybe not quite zoom) up Prescott Hill. Got a little petrol head in tow? Swing by Cheltenham Science Group’s Gear and Cars event with the Bugatti Trust. And there are also two-wheel events going on for under 10s, under 16s and all-comers.
Horrible Histories Live On Stage: The Best of Barmy Britain, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Sat 5 to Sun 6 August
One of my favourite kids’ offerings, the Horrible Histories TV shows, books and especially live shows are all laugh-out-loud brilliant. Treat your six years and older kids to the funnily gruesome side of British history – from battling Boudicca and the putrid plague to dastardly Dick Turpin and pyrotechnic Guy Fawkes – and enjoy a belly laugh yourself in the process.
Namibia night, The Malthouse Bar & Kitchen, Stroud, Sun 6 Aug
Enjoy a night of storytelling about a handful of Brits who flew out to Namibia to work on the feature film Mad Max: Fury Road. With food and Namibian things in one of Stroud’s funkiest bars and eateries.
The Wines of North America, The Grape Escape, Cheltenham, Mon 7 August
It’s not all about California when it comes to North American grapes, you know. For this night of wine tasting, The Grape Escape puts out a flight from Mexico to New York State, Canada to Oregon. Go on, titillate your tastebuds with something new.
Outdoor Cinema Night, Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Thu 10 to Sat 12 August
Got a taste for outdoor cinema yet? You can fill your boots this month as here’s yet another venue serving up an al-fresco movie night, as Cult Screens set up in the stunning grounds of Sudeley Castle. You can bring your own lounging options or hire comfy deckchairs and beanbags when you’re there, and there’ll be popcorn, craft beers, cocktails and wine to scoff. And what can you watch? On a giant, high-definition screen with super audio, there’ll be La La Land on Thursday, Lost Boys on Friday and Dirty Dancing on Saturday.
Macbeth, Oxford Castle, Fri 11 & Sat 12 Aug
Out damned spot! Sorry, this weather is playing up with my skin something terrible. Anyway, this production of Macbeth, part of the Oxford Shakespeare Festival by Siege Theatre, takes place in the exquisite surroundings of the Oxford Castle courtyard. Performances start at 7.30pm.
Oxford Proms: Romantic Classics, Sheldonian Theatre, Sat 12 Aug
Jocelyn Freeman has been hailed as ‘one to watch’ by Piano magazine, and no wonder – she’s accompanied Bryn Terfel and Alfie Bow, and performed as a concert soloist, recitalist and instrumental duo partner. She performs Liszt’s Piano concerto No2 in A major, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, plus Rachmanivov, Liszt and Chopin.
Sheldonian, Theatre, Oxford, oxfordplayhouse.com
Romeo And Juliet, Cowley Manor, near Cheltenham, Sat 12 August
Don’t fancy Dirty Dancing at Sudeley tonight? Well, how about Romeo And Juliet at Cowley Manor? In its second cinema by the pool night, the Muddy Award-winning spa and hotel is screening Baz Luhrmann’s genius interpretation of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy set in LA’s gangland.
Family Cycling Day, Blenheim Palace, Sun 13 Aug
Grab your bikes and helmets and head to Blenheim Palace for the once-yearly chance to cycle around the idyllic parkland. Make sure you bring a picnic so you can justifiably stop before you start to puff embarrassingly. No age restrictions for kids but they have to wear the safety gear and be escorted by adults. There are two bike routes, one around Queen Pool or the second around the Park perimeter if you’re feeling extra energetic.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon.blenheimpalace.com
Household at Lodge Park, Sherborne Estate, Sun 13 to Mon 14 August
Show the kids a slice of 17th-century entertainment as re-enactors bring along games and technology from the 1600s and set up in England’s only surviving grandstand. And a beautiful bit of grandstand it is, created by John ‘Crump’ Dutton in 1634 as a den of gambling, banqueting and entertaining. Afterwards you can explore the estate, which this year hosted BBC Springwatch and has more wildlife than you can shake a stick at.
The Big Batsford Bug Hunt, Batsford Arboretum, until Thu 31 Aug
Love creepy crawlies? (er, NO). Well never mind, your children will love peering among the foliage, finding the bugs and marking their locations to win a prize. No need to book, just turn up and ‘enjoy’.
£2.50 per child, plus Arboretum admission fee. Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, batsarb.co.uk
Green Man, Brecon Beacons, Wales, Thu 17 to Sun 20 August
Green Man is set in the beautiful Brecon Beacons with the Black Mountains as a backdrop to the Mountain Stage. This year’s acts include the wonderful PJ Harvey, Ryan Adams, Future Islands and Michael Kiwanuka. 100% independent, it still draws a brilliant lineup of performers spanning indie, psychedelia, Americana, electronica and folk. There’s also comedy, cinema, art, Einstein’s Garden (a fab family-friendly science area), Nature & Nurture (a spa, yoga and therapy zone), Little Folk (for two to 12-year-olds) and Somewhere (for 13 to 17-year-olds with DJ & song-writing workshops, fire shows, film-making & football).
Soul Circus Yoga & Wellness Festival, Elmore, near Gloucester, Fri 18 to Sun 20 Aug
Dubbed the festival for wellness wierdos by The Sunday Times, Soul Circus promises to blow your mind, body and soul, show you a good time and leave you feeling balanced and Zen-like at the end of it. Now in its second year, this summer sees rapper, singer-songwriter and Faithless lead vocalist Maxi Jazz headlining the Saturday night DJ set, and also hosting a live DJ yoga class and talk on Buddhism. Yeah, I know, yin and yang. As well as thumping tunes, there’ll be loads of yoga, too, of course – hot, rocket, acro yoga dance – you name it, Soul Circus has it. And Bamford Haybarn Spa will be there with the Pop Up Hotel dishing out wellness in the form of treatments, saunas and wood-fired hot tubs where you can chill out next to the lake with a pre-prandial bottle of Moet before dining at a supper club and then throwing some moves with your newly flexible body late into the night. Pack your Lululemon leggings and limber up, it’s good for you, you know.
Wild Night Out, The Ebworth Centre, The Camp, Stroud Sat 19 August
Are you up for an all-nighter? Here’s one you can bring the kids along to. There’ll be no hangover and you can commune with badgers, bats, owls and other nocturnal creatures out in the woods with a wildlife quiz round the camp fire, a midnight feast of jacket potatoes and marshmallows, and a hot breakfast timed for the dawn chorus. And if the young ‘uns don’t have the stamina, there’ll be a ‘Zzz zone’ where they can grab a bit of shut eye. £30 per adult, kids go free. Book before Fri 11 August.
Tel: 01452 813982 / 07584 596377; email: [email protected]
Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival, Tewkesbury School, Sun 20 August
Got a classic car? Well, you can get in free to this festival if you do and join 700 other vintage beauties – and if you don’t, it’s only £5 per adult and kids under 12 go free, and, hey, all the money goes to Midlands Air Ambulance, so it’s a good cause. Among the exhibits will be an Alfa Romeo Grand Prix car worth £2.25 million and a 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 reunited with the son of its original owner after 75 years. There will also be burgers, bangers, tea, cake and Pimms, as well as live music and a carnival atmosphere. And if you fancy a drive-in movie the night before to get you in the mood, they’re screening Grease, gates open at 5pm, tickets cost £10.
The Big Dig, Chedworth Roman Villa, Mon 14 to Thu 31 August
The digging continues at Chedworth as archeologists carry on a five-year research programme excavating more of the north range and cleaning the finds. Chat to the experts and discover what they’re unearthing at the remains of one of the grandest Roman villas in Britain.
Merry Wives of Windsor, Woodchester Mansion, Thu 24 August
The Festival Players are rocking up at the atmospheric Woodchester Mansion to put on an all-male production of Shakespeare’s rollicking comedy. There’s a keep calm and carry on attitude, so the show will go on whatever the weather. Fingers crossed, everyone will be packing suncream and shades, not brollies and capes. Grounds open at 5.30pm for picnics, with the show kicking off at 6.30pm.
Vera Van Heeringen Trio, Stroud Brewery, Stroud, Thu 24 August
Get in the mood for Stroud Fringe with this soulful acoustic trio made up of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Vera, harmony king Dave Luke on guitar, vocals and mandolin, and record producer extraordinaire Andy Seward on double bass.
Stroud Fringe, various venues in Stroud, Fri 25 to Sun 27 Aug
Now in its 21st year, the August Bank Holiday weekend sees Stroud transformed into a creative hotbed of live music, parades, street theatre, comedy, literature and performance art all showcasing the valley town’s homegrown talent as well as imported acts. Stroud has a special kind of alchemy at the best of times and the Fringe is so popular, the whole town gets booked out so this year glamping pioneers ZooBells are helicoptering their luxe bell tents into Stratford Park to serve up a boutique camping experience alongside the festival fun, laying on early bird arts and crafts sessions and bedtime stories if you’ve got the kids in tow and free entry to the lido. Perfect. Click here to book.
Beat Fest, Pittville School fields, Cheltenham, Fri 25 to Mon 28 August
There’s a big lineup of acts at Cheltenham’s hip Beat Fest, including Jasper In The Company of Others (pictured above), Monkey Jam, Smiley’s People and Beaver & The Foghorns. Expect quality street food – wood-fired pizzas, Asian fare, vegan spreads – as well as two large bars, plus entertainment in the form of inflatable slides, pole jousting and bungee runs.
The Big Feastival, near Kingham, Oxfordshire, Fri 25 to Sun 27 Aug
As the name suggests food is at the centre of this festival held on Blur bassist Alex James’ farm, with turns from Rick Stein, Antonio Carluccio, Gizzi Erskine, Candice Brown and, ahem, DJ BBQ (bit of a berk but great recipes). Not forgetting the various food markets, supper clubs, street food stalls and Alex James’ Cheese Hub (does Alex James make cheese? He never mentions it…) There’s music from Madness, Olly Murs and De La Soul and free day tickets for children aged 12 and under.
Bisley Flower Show and Fete, The WI Village Hall, Bisley, Sat 26 August
The first time I went to this event fresh from the metropolis I thought I’d entered walked into The Archers and was utterly charmed by it. It’s been going since 1863 and each year there’s a village hall full of Victoria sponge cakes, interesting vegetables and impressive flower arrangements. There are also traditional English fun and games, including skittles and a coconut shy, a children’s fancy dress competition, and the crowning of the Bisley Flower Queen.
Mamma Mia, Cowley Manor, near Cheltenham, Sat 26 August
In its last August screening, Cowley Manor puts the classic rom-com Mamma Mia on under the stars. If you haven’t made it to a Greek island this summer, take a vicarious trip through this feelgood, funny film with Meryl Streep in fine fettle, and Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard offering up some mature eye-candy.
The Phoenix Festival, Cirencester, Sat 26 to Sun 27 August
Bowie and Madness tribute bands will be joining all of the amateur talent on show at this festival organised by youth volunteers and celebrating young musicians from as young as five. Now in its fifth year, there will also be some of the area’s best local offerings to scoff and quaff, including tasty tipple Corinium Ales.
Alice in Wonderland, Rococo Gardens, Sun 27 to Mon 28 August
The fantastical Rococo Gardens are a shoo-in for Alice in Wonderland, so this production by IK Productions is bound to be magical and perfect entertainment for kids. It starts at 2.30pm. And at 6.30pm on Sunday, the show is followed by Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome’s comedy set on the River Thames.
Winchcombe Country Show, Winchcombe Senior School, Winchcombe, Mon 28 August
The show kicks off at 11.30am with the annual procession of vintage tractors, fancy dress contestants and the Happenstance Border Morris dancers that arrive at Winchcombe Senior School at midday for the quintessential English country fair with a flower show at its heart and 50 trophies up for grabs. Other highlights include a motorcycle show with some of the world’s best stunt riders, a one-man-and-his-dog agility course and a tea tent full of homemade cakes. And if you want to work up an appetite before the show, on Sunday 27 there’s the Run Winchcombe Event at Sudeley Castle with a 5k fun run, a 10k hill climb to Belas Knapp and a 1k quickie for the under tens.
End Of The Road, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, Thu 31 August to Sun 3 September
Hopefully it won’t be the end of the road for us as we hurtle into festival season with a new pair of Le Chameau (I wish, how much?), but it is worth checking out this alternative music festival. It’s not a biggie – 11,000 bods tops – and if you like folk, Ameriana and alt country (can anyone tell me what that is? Not Taylor Swift, then?), this one is for you. They get some good headliners here, we’re talking Bat for Lashes and the like, and this year Jesus and Mary Chain (cue mega flashback to sixth form) are playing. Four stages, secret sets, loads of stuff for kids and plenty of peacocks strutting around, it’s got it all.
Antony and Cleopatra, the RST, Stratford, until Thu 7 Sept
Shakespeare’s tragic love story between hot-headed Egyptian queen Cleopatra, played here by a luminous Josette Simon, and Antony Byrne’s Roman general Mark Antony. It’s directed by Iqbal Khan with music composed by award-winning Birmingham singer-songwriter Laura Mvula.
rsc.org.uk, Tel:01789 403493
The Brutalist Playground, The Edge, Bath, until Sat 9 Sept
Part sculpture, part architecture, all play! Artist Simon Terrell and 2015 Turner Prize winners Assemble have worked with RIBA curators to recreate abstract concrete playgrounds that were found in post-war housing estates throughout the UK. Free admission but book here to guarantee you’ll have a go.
Vice Versa, The Swan, Stratford, until Sept 9
An entertaining new farce ‘lovingly ripped off ‘from the Roman comedies of Plutus by playwright Phil Porter (2014’s WWW1 drama The Christmas Truce & 2013’s very funny A Mad World My Masters). A clever servant and a pair of wronged young lovers team up to bamboozle Trump-like pompous general. Felix Hayes is fantastic as the bombastic General Braggadocio, playing his servant, Dexter, is the wonderfully charismatic Sophia Nomvete, whose credits include The Colour Purple (Menier Chocolate Factory) and As You Like It (Shakespeare’s Globe). ‘Allo ‘Allo star Kim Hartman makes her RSC debut as ‘a lady of the night’ called Climax. Read Muddy Warwickshire editor Catherine’s review here.
RSC’s Rome Series: Julius Caesar, RST, Stratford, until Sat 9 Sept
Photography by Helen Maybanks
The well-received Julius Caesar runs in rep side-by-side with Antony and Cleopatra–the first double-bill in the RSC’s four-play Rome series. Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus will complete the quartet of Shakespeare’s most political and bloody thrillers in June and September. Season director Angus Jackson brought the brilliant atom bomb drama Oppenheimer, and Don Quixote, to the RSC stage. He’s directing Julius Caesar, which has strong performances by Andrew Woodall as Caesar, Alex Waldmann as Brutus, James Corrigan’s Mark Antony and Martin Hutson’ as Cassius.
Giacometti, Tate Modern, until Sun 10 Sept
Here comes a biggie. Tate Modern presents the UK’s first major retrospective of Alberto Giacometti for 20 years. Celebrated as a sculptor, painter and draughtsman, Giacometti’s distinctive elongated figures are some of the most instantly recognisable works of modern art in Tate Modern’s ambitious and wide-ranging exhibition of over 250 works. It includes rarely seen plasters and drawings and showcases the full evolution of Giacometti’s career across five decades, from early works such as Head of a Woman [Flora Mayo] 1926 to iconic bronze sculptures such as Walking Man I 1960.
Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life, Sir John Soane’s Museum, until Sat 23 Sept
Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life is a set of 12 new sculptures by British artist Marc Quinn, set in the super-stunning Sir John Soane’s Museum. This promises to be a brilliant exhibition. Quinn is always surprising – remember his twisted, yogic Kate Moss in solid gold, his Trafalgar Square plinth of naked, pregnant disabled artist Alison Lapper and the gruesome cast of his own head filled with ten pints of his own blood? You can hear a brief, 15-minute intro to the exhibition, every Thursday at 3pm in the Soane Gallery. Tis free, just turn up.
The Art of the Brick: DC Superheroes, South Bank, London, runs to Sept 2017
This contemporary art exhibition by LEGO® artist Nathan Sawaya uses nearly 2m bricks to create large-scale sculptures of the most enduring Super Heroes and Super Villains: from Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, to The Joker and Harley Quinn. You’re on the South Bank so plenty to do afterwards too, once you’ve got over the fact that a grown man does this kind of thing for a living!
Star Wars Identities, O2, Greenwich, runs to Sept 2017
A collection of some 200 props, models, costumes and artwork from the original Star Wars films, plus an interactive identity quest for Star Wars nuts at STAR WARSIdentities at the 02 in Greenwich. It asks the deep question ‘what force shapes you?’ The obvious answer is the sugared doughnut but I don’t think George Lucas has invented that character yet.