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A-maze-ing August: best things to do in Wilts this month

Hands up who's excited? Because there's a whole month left of fun to come before the days get shorter and we all get that back to school feeling. So make the most of not having to wear a coat and go out and about to all the festivals, fairs and parties this month.

FESTIVALS, PARTIES & FAIRS

Festival on the Farm, Purton House Organics, Purton, 5-7 August

Sing yourself a sore throat with three days and two stages of cover bands, headlined by Queen Tribute band Flash on Friday (above), That 80’s Rock Show on Saturday and EX TC on Sunday fronted by actual XTC drummer Terry Chambers. Bell tent glamping available.

Wiltshire Game and Country Fair, Bowood Estate, Calne, 13 & 14 August

This promises to be the fresh dairy cream of all country shows. Yes it has the usual craft tent, falconry and horse riding displays along with lots of hearty food like locally-made cheeses and hunks of pork pie. But better than that there are some more unusual activities like horse boarding (a horse pulls a man on a giant skateboard), chainsaw carving (horror handcraft) and the best ever – World of Dogs. Yep, if you love four legged friends this is the show for you (and your dog) with plenty of races (like Chase the Bunny when they basically run round), shows and training.

Carnivalism, Cross Guns, Avoncliff, 20 August

Ibiza and Notting Hill come to Wiltshire this month, when the Carnivalism team get behind the decks at the Cross Guns to celebrate 20 years since their first Notting Hill Carnival after party. I’m looking forward to the Balearic vibes on the river bank and topping up my cocktail glass at the Summer Tiki bar.

Mexican Taproom Party, True Brewing Co, Westbury, 20 August

Craft beer goes ay caramba later this month when the True Brewing Co throw another Taproom Party at their new HQ, serving up eight of their latest beers alongside Mexican street food from Tortilla Bar. Plus pub games, table tennis and music.

Pipe and Slippers Rave, Trowbridge Town Hall, Trowbridge, 20 August

You don’t have to have been a fully-fledged raver to appreciate the wisdom of an early start and an early finish – which is why this group of six DJS have dubbed their hit dance night “Pipe and Slippers Rave”. Kicking off at 6pm they’ll be mixing House, Acid House, Techno, Jungle and Break until 11pm, meaning everyone can party like it’s 1999 and still be home for cocoa.

Semley Summer Music, Semley Grange, Semley, 18-21 August

August is the ideal time to enjoy music in marquees in beautiful Wiltshire gardens – just like at Semley Grange, where they’re in their third year of a new festival that started as a result of the pandemic. Enjoy beautiful melodies and operatic performances all in aid of good causes like the Cherubium Trust, an organisation that supports aspiring musicians by loaning them professional instruments.

Edington Music Festival, Priory Church, Westbury, 21-28 August

Did you know that a small village in Wiltshire hosts one of the oldest annual festivals of church music in the world that draws visitors from all over the world? It’s now probably one of the most well-known festivals of music within the liturgy, where over 80 musicians gather at the 14th century Priory Church of St Katherine to sing the principal daily services in three choirs. Uplifting, soul-stirring and definitely worth a visit.

CastleFest, The Castle, Bradford on Avon, 27 August

If you’re not sunbaking at the coast this August Bank Holiday, there’s still plenty for you to do inland in Wilts. For instance, Castlefest at Bradford on Avon’s Castle pub will entertain you from 1-11pm with eight local acts, a BBQ, Hog Roast and of course lots of long, cool drinks. Come early and set up camp in the garden as numbers are limited. Free entry.

Lodge-Fest, The Lodge, Warminster, 28 August

The day after Castlefest is Lodgefest which is running for a second year, with two stages (woodland and restaurant) and a silent disco. Ticket price includes your very own Lodgecup which you should hang on to as it’s part of the event’s drive to reduce plastic waste.

Bank Holiday Boogie, Timbrell’s Yard, Bradford on Avon, 28 August

Laid back Summer vibes, music by DJ Graham and a pop-up gin bar by the side of the River Avon at one of Bradford on Avon’s most stylish bars. Sounds like the ideal way to say goodbye to those long days and look forward to mellowing nights.

WORKSHOPS

Daytime Life Drawing, Spacecraft Westbury, Westbury, 19 August

Nothing improves your artistic skills more than drawing the human body..not to mention your powers of not sniggering. But once you’re over your initial embarrassment you’ll find the class absorbing and the models professional and friendly, putting you completely at ease. You’ll almost forget they’re naked.

Oil Painting Weekend, Spacecraft Westbury, Westbury, 20-21 August

If you’re a bit more creative with a paintbrush than just touching up the skirting board, Portraits is the second in Spacecraft’s oil painting weekend courses. It’s designed to teach you how to paint with oils, understand how oil paint behaves, prepare a palette, mix colours, use a palette knife and different brushes. You will create a least two portrait paintings over the two-day course and the price includes all tuition, materials, refreshments and a vegetarian lunch both days.

Ilustrate Your Own Graphic Novel, Spacecraft Westbury, Westbury, 26 August

Go wild for Watchmen or want to create the Tankgirl for the Gen Z generation? This one day course will teach you how to develop your characters, create worlds, explore dynamic drawing styles and learn about how to submit your work to indie publishers. Come with a synopsis, a sketch book and a pencil. Coffee included.

Gather and Ink writing workshop, The Court Street Gallery, Trowbridge, 23 August

This is the second of two taster workshops led by writer’s coach Sam Osbiston, in preparation for fortnightly classes in the Autumn. You should leave having completed some of your own creative writing, supported by Sam and your peers.

CINEMA

Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War, The Parade Cinema, Marlborough, 19 August

You often hear of Eric Ravilious’ artwork on daytime TV and really his art should be as sought after as Clarice Cliff pottery. Despite that, he’s grossly undervalued but this documentary seeks to put that right. Made with the blessing of the Ravilious Estate, this first full length feature documentary about the artist unfolds in his own words to a backdrop of wartime locations that inspire him, through previously unseen private correspondence and rare archive film. And as he has painted Wiltshire white horses, it’s one we all should watch – and then scour the charity shops.

MUSIC

La Rondine, If Opera, Belcombe Court, 26 & 29 August

Bradford on Avon is fast becoming a musical mecca thanks to the Wiltshire Music Centre and the ever-popular If Opera company, which takes up residence at grand Georgian house, Belcombe Court (above). I like the look and sound of La Rondine (The Swallow) by Puccini – a tale of young love and heartbreak. Tissues will be needed but umbrellas possibly not, as they construct a saddlespan dome theatre in the grounds.

West of England Youth Orchestra, Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon, 27 & 28 August

Did you know that Wiltshire has its own youth orchestra that comes together three times a year for courses, followed by performances? These young players are some of the county’s most talented as you’ll hear at the Summer concerts at the end of the month. They’ll be playing masterpieces from great romantic giants – Hindesmith, Tchiakovsky and Elgar. Prepare to be impressed.

FEEL GOOD FASHION

Hello dopamine dressing! Bicester Village has teamed up with Smiley® to launch a collection of beach-ready sliders, hats, t-shirts and more with all proceeds donated to BV’s DO GOOD charity partners. Visit the pop-up shop at the village (the collection is super-reasonable, with most pieces around £25), plus keep your eyes peeled for the bright yellow installations around the village – perfect Instagram fodder. 

Bicester Village’s Extraordinary Sale is also running until 14 Aug with up to 70% off normal Village prices – and that includes many SS22 current season items. PLUS the Summer Evenings programme has started with live music, cocktail happy hours and 10pm opening every Thursday until 25 Aug.  

This Month’s Markets

Art in the Square, Art Market, Salisbury Market Square, 7 August

Trowbridge Weavers Market, Artisan & Independent Market, Town Centre,13 August

Shop Small Swindon , Makers’ Market, Hop Pole Swindon, 14 August

The Melksham Makers’ Market, Makers’ Market, Melksham Market Place, Melksham, 27 August

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