Springwatch, Sherborne Park, from Mon 29 May
Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and the rest of the Springwatch gang are rocking up in Sherborne Park Estate this year where they’ll be hanging out in hides spotting linnets and yellowhammer, brown hares and barn owls, dung beetles and bats, among other wildlife wonders. Settle yourself on the sofa and prepare to go ‘ahhh’.
Half-term theatre for kids, Tue 30 May to Sat 3 June
If you need a bit of a sit-down in a darkened room over half term, The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury and Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham have come to the rescue. On Tuesday at 2.30pm at The Roses, The Three Musketeers will be dishing up hearty portions of 17th-century slapstick with CBeebies favourites from Justin’s House and Spot Bots, while over at the Everyman, you can catch the toe-tapping family favourite Annie from Tuesday to Saturday 3 June and a charming new adaptation of Wind in the Willows on Wednesday 31 May featuring handmade puppets of Ratty, Mole and the rest of the gang.
A-maze-ing May Day, Painswick Rococo Garden, Wed 31 May
This family activity day from 10.15am to 3.30pm will get your small people gardening, cooking, creating and playing games in the Rococo maze. And for any budding Morris dancers out there, there will be a chance to have a go at maypole dancing, as well as sing some traditional May songs. Perfect for 5 to 11 year olds – leave cynical teenagers at home.
Guild Crafts Spring Show, Tetbury, Wed 31 May to Sun 11 June
I love a craft show, it’s the perfect antidote to some of the cookie-cutter merchandise you find on the high street, and this showcase of the work of 25 designers from the Guild promises to be a real treat, with original jewellery, ceramics, weaving, book-making, leather-making and basketry all to be admired and drooled over. The Guild members themselves will be on hand to discuss their work and inspiration (and take commissions, so chequebooks at the ready). Among the pieces on show will be jewellery by Su Trindle (I love, love, love her modernist rings pictured above), bespoke furniture by John Jacques and David Ian Smith, woven textiles by Nick Ozanne and Sarah Beadsmoore, leather goods by MacGregor and Michael and calligraphy by Andy Moore.
The Dumb Waiter, Gloucester Guildhall, Fri 2 June
Harold Pinter’s 1957 masterpiece, which was first performed on stage in London in 1960, plumbs a dark comedic line as two hitmen, Ben and Gus, wait in a windowless basement for their next assignment, arguing over semantics and occasionally being interrupted by a mysterious dumb waiter that delivers food orders. This production by the small touring company Drop of a Hat flawlessly acts out the one-act way with ominous slapstick. It went down a storm at last year’s Stroud Theatre Festival, so worth a gander now it’s back in town.
Wychwood Music Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Fri 2 to Sun 4 June
This family-friendly outing at Cheltenham Racecourse ticks pretty much all the boxes: over 100 bands – including the Buzzcocks, The Levellers, Aswad, Billy Bragg, OMD (staggers backwards at blast from the past) – comedy gigs, real ale, a kids literature festival (!), artisan food, and idyllic camping nestling under the hills of Prestbury. I’m in.
Spring Mischief Festival The Other Place, Stratford, until Sat June 17
A provocative month-long festival of new work, including a double-bill of two new plays, including The Earthworks by super talented playwright Tom Morton-Smith who had a huge hit with his debut play Oppenheimer about the father of the atom bomb in 2015 at the RSC and Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End. It will be directed by the RSC’s deputy artistic director Erica Wyman. There’s also Myth, a terrific collaborative work by innovative playwright Matt Hartley and award-winning director and Complicite Associate Kirsty Housley about a wine-fuelled dinner party that descends into chaos. I’m sure we’ve all had a few of those…! The joint cast includes Danish actor Thomas Magnussen who appeared in BBC 4’s Scandinavian thrillers The Bridge (season 3) and Follow the Money; RSC actor Lena Kaur, seen previously in The Rover, The Two Noble Kinsmen and Seven Acts of Mercy; Fehinti Balogun and Rebecca Humphries, both making their RSC debut.
rsc.org.uk, Tel: 01789 403493
Mila Furstova: Between Two Worlds, Chapel Arts, Cheltenham, until Sun 11 June
The Czech artist whose work featured on the Coldplay album Ghost Stories, four of their subsequent singles and was a back projection on their world tour was an art student in Cheltenham and artist in residence at Cheltenham Ladies College. This show celebrates her unique relationship with etching and features work that has never been exhibited before, including her three-dimensional etchings Motherhood and Sleepwalking.
Wolfgang Tillmans, Tate Modern, Southwark, until 11 Jun
If you’re in London for half-term and get a child-free moment, check out this show. The socially and politically engaged German snapper was the first photographer and the first non-British artist to receive the Turner Prize – and this exhibition will show you why. It’s set across 14 rooms, with photos pinned, high, low, everywhere and sometimes taped directly onto the walls; pinballing between subject matters and location, from Hollywood to Tehran. Even the most mundane subjects – cigarette butts, a lobster carcass – are compellingly beautiful when viewed through his lens. Until 11 June.
Julie Cope’s Grand Tour, New Brewery Arts, Cirencester until Wed 12 July
Head over to Cirencester’s New Brewery Arts to see Julie Cope’s Grand Tour: The Story of a Life – a pair of large-scale striking tapestries by none other than Grayson Perry, winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, cross-dressing delight and national treasure. The tapestries are on show until 12 July in Cirencester before they continue on a national tour so make sure catch them while they’re in our manor.
Giacometti, Tate Modern, until 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.
Giffords Circus, until Sun 24 Sept
Photography by Gemma Hall
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.
Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life, Sir John Soane’s Museum, until 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.
Book now for Grayson Perry, ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!’ 8 June to 10 Sept
It hasn’t started yet, but tickets for this London exhibition by Grayson Perry – national treasure, cross dresser and rather decent artist as it happens – are on sale now. A major exhibition of his new work, it promises to touch on many themes including popularity and art, masculinity and the current cultural landscape and is bound to sell out, so get to it people!
Kensington Gardens, London, W2, serpentinegalleries.org