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What’s on July


 Animal Magic, Fisherton Mill, Salisbury, 1-29 July

An exhibition of wildlife sculptures, paintings and ceramics. 

Into the Woods, Salisbury Playhouse, 3-8 July

Capturing the imagination of the young and old by intertwining classic fairy tale characters that we know and love with the musical talents of Stephen Sondheim. Humorous and heartfelt, this enchanting and sometimes mysterious musical will delight all with its twists and turns and fabulous music.

Barbury Castle International Horse Trials and Show, Marlborough, 6-9 July

Barbury International features the world’s top Eventers competing over the renowned Mark Phillip’s designed cross country course set in a natural amphitheatre formed by the beautiful Marlborough Downs.

Avebury Rocks Music Festival, Swindon, 7-9 July

2 days, 2 stages, lots of great live music. Join for either the whole weekend with or without camping, or just for the day. There’s an eclectic line up with something for everyone.

Family Theatre: According to Arthur…, Pound Arts Centre, Corsham, 8 July

Meet Arthur – an odd old man who lives all alone in his attic. He never ventures into the outside world; instead he spends all of his time with his only friend – the Moon.But now, Arthur needs your help. The clouds have covered the sky and the Moon is nowhere to be seen, and without it Arthur’s life suddenly feels empty. PaddleBoat Theatre Company invite you to bring your unbounded imagination as together we try to help Arthur find the Moon – with your help, who knows what else he might discover outside his front door…

Marlborough Puppetry Festival, 8-9 July

A two day festival to celebrate 70 years of Bob Pelham’s World of Puppets. With parade, family shows, puppet making workshops, exhibitions and more.


Marlborough College Summer School, 9 July – 5 August

Back for 2017, Marlborough College Summer School has grown beyond compare into one of the largest multi-generational learning experiences of its kind. A huge range of adult and child courses in art, culture and sport.

Cheltenham Music Festival, Sat 1 to Sun 16 July

From Mendelssohn at Syde Manor and A Scott Joplin Cabaret at Chapel Arts to celestial choirs in Gloucester Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey and Love Songs in Cheltenham Town Hall, there are two jam-packed weeks of musical bliss at the Music Festival this year, with a stellar lineup marking director Meurig Bowen’s 10thanniversary. Toddler in tow? No fear, there’s entertainment for them too.

Heddstock, Nr Calne, Wilts, 8 July

This baby only lasts for one day, so don’t blink or you’ll miss it. It costs less than a tenner so you won’t be surprised that it is less David Bowie and more The Bowie Experience. Not so much for serious head bangers this one, but bring your kids, stick ‘em in front of Peerless Pirates and enjoy some ‘us’ time. It’s cheap, you can park here and you don’t have to bring all that camping kit. What’s not to love?

Heddington, Nr Calne, Wilts,

Dirty Dancing, Bristol Hippodrome, Mon 3-Sat 8 July

At a holiday resort with ma and pa in the summer of ’63,  17-year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman stumbles across an all night staff dance party. Mesmerised by the raunchy moves  – and raunchy dance instructor Johnny Castle – she’s soon having the time of her life. Steamy dancing; let’s hope the theatre’s air con is working.

Dirty Dancing, Cowley Manor, near Cheltenham, Thu 6 July

Ahhh, Dirty Dancing under the stars poolside at Cowley Manor. Hello summer, we love you! And there’s a barbecue, too, 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 ogle Patrick Swayze’s guns and have the time of your life…

An Evening with Ann Widdecombe, Marlborough College, 11 July

Outspoken and controversial, Ann Widdecombe is one of the most high profile politicians of recent times. A self-confessed ‘grumpy old woman’ Ann is never afraid to speak her mind or short of an opinion.Ann became a Member of Parliament in 1987 and was Minister of State for Employment and Minister of State for Prisons in John Major’s government. Never one to do the expected, what she did next was surprising even by her standards. At the age of 63, Ann became the oldest contestant ever on BBC One’sStrictly Come Dancing and, despite never being a favourite with the judges, continually defied the odds with her dance partner Anton Du Beke, surviving 10 weeks into the competition. Her comedy inflected routines showed a self-deprecating sense of humour and won her legions of fans.

Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford, Glos, 14-17 July

Held annually each July at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, the Royal International Air Tattoo, the world’s largest military airshow, has gained the well-earned reputation as one of the UK’s top outdoor family events.

Once Upon A Time in the West, Trowbridge, Wilts, 13-16 July

A fab little festival with a great name, Out West doesn’t take itself too seriously, although it is run by a crew who brought you the likes of Glasto and some of the other big contenders. A light hearted fest that is light on the wallet too (£75 including camping), it insists on keeping its commitment to West Country local while enticing some friends from the bigger events to come and play. It’s all independent, eccentric even, rating smiles over sub-bass. Did I say they are determined to be laid back? Perhaps it’s all that cider…

Trowbridge and Westbury, Wilts,

Bear Hunt, Roves Farm, Swindon, 15-18 July

Hop on a tractor ride to swish, splosh, squelch and tiptoe on this Bear Hunt. Bringing the classic story to life on the farm, with the chance to meet their very own friendly bear.

Bradford on Avon Mini Book Festival, 15 July

A day of free author events and book-related crafts and activities with well known children’s writers. And a chance for local children to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge.


Melksham Party in the Park, 15 July

A great day out for all the family, full of activities, live entertainment, stalls and displays.

Salisbury Racecourse Meetings, 15 July – 16 August

Salisbury Racecourse is one of England’s most historic racecourses, racing having taken place at the picturesque downland course since the 16th century. Salisbury stages a number of meetings during the summer months when it successfully combines high quality racing with a friendly and enjoyable day out. Facilities include bars and catering outlets, and a big screen opposite the Stands.

Around the World in 80 Days, Hamptworth Lodge, Landford, 19-29 July

Based on the novel by Jules Verne, adapted for the stage by Laura Eason, this play takes place in the open air at Hamptworth Lodge.


The Third Policeman, Ogbourne Maizey, 21 July

An Irish Alice in Wonderland? A trippy Father Ted? This bonkers comic adventure is not to be missed! See the Muddy review. 

Sci-Fi Southwest, Trowbridge, 22 July

Sci-Fi returns to Trowbridge for a fantastic 3rd year, celebrating all things science fiction. This year they have added Sci-fi After Dark with a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.


Stratton Festival, Swindon, 22 July

The plans for this years festival are well under way and the festival promises to be a jam packed event for everyone to enjoy.


Summer Fun, Wiltshire Music Centre, 24 July – 18 August
Highlights include a contemporary dance intensive with award-winning Neon Dance Company and Street Theatre, where budding actors can devise a new play in two days. Young rockers will experience playing in a band at Rock It and aspiring composers and songwriters can take part in a three-day course where they’ll write new music based on a folk tale.
Illyria: The Lost World, Marlborough College, 25 July

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s thumping adventure first published in 1912 inspired the likes of King Kong, Godzilla, Alien, Jurassic Park and a host of other much-loved movies.Intrepid explorers travel to an uncharted plateau and find flora and fauna beyond their wildest dreams. Yet, how will they make anyone believe the wonders they have seen actually exist?

The HandleBards: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rockley Manor, Marlborough, 26 July

Join the HandleBards in the grounds of beautiful Rockley Manor for their all-male, bicycle-powered production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Four young lovers find themselves enveloped in the dream-like arms of a magical forest full of sprites, where a feuding Fairy King and Queen are at war over the possession of an Indian boy. A group of amateur actors share the same forest. They’re rehearsing for a play. Fairies and humans collide. Hilarity ensues.

Fantastic Beasts, American Museum in Britain, Bath, 27 July

Join them for a monster-filled activity inspired by the 1920s-set film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Drop-in, age 3+.

Womad, Malmesbury, Wilts, 27-30 July

Starting with a biggie, we’ve got to give a nod to Womad. In the warm blur of the festival season, this celebration of international music, arts and dance still stands out. Check out acts including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, listen to Benjamin Zephaniah’s tomes and take a World Rhythm’s workshop, then ditch the worthy stuff and join Steven Moffatt (of Sherlock fame) chatting about Dr Who, check out Matthew Bourne’s new ballet and stuff your face with the Hairy Bikers. Not literally, mind.

Charlton Park, Charlton, Malmesbury, Wilts,

Camp Bestival, Dorset, 27-30 July

Argh! I hear you shout. Not Bestival! Go newer, go smaller, go funkier. But I’m afraid I still bow to the beast that is Bestival, or at least the little kitty cat that is Camp Bestival, Bestival’s family-friendly offspring. It’s just over the border in the luscious grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset, there’s loads for the kids to do and the bookings are tip top. This year it’s Mark Ronson, Madness and Brian Wilson headlining plus All Saints, Holly Johnson and Leftfield, plus its first big kids show has been announced as School of Rock – The Musical. No wonder it regularly snaps up the coveted title of Best Family Festival. Tip – don’t come without kids. This one really is for them.

Lulworth Castle, Dorset,

Gin Tasting on the Terrace, Bowood Hotel, nr Calne, 28 July

A fabulous summer evening of gin tasting, great food and fab music on the Clubhouse Brasserie Terrace, hopefully in the sunshine. Showcasing a wide range of delicious gins, plus their team of chefs will be cooking some delicious tapas.

Jurrasic Farm, Roves Farm, Swindon, 29 July – 11 Aug

Join the Roves Farm ranger to detect and even discover a brand new species of dinosaur. Go on a tractor ride farm safari through their very own dinosaur territories…

Swindon & Wiltshire Pride Festival, Old Town, Swindon, 29 July

A vibrant, free, family-friendly event in Swindon which celebrates creativity and diversity with fun fairground rides and lots to do for all ages.

Wilton Horse Trials, Wilton House, nr Salisbury, 29-30 July

Held in the Park for many years, the Horse Trials sees top-class riders competing in dressage, show jumping and cross country.

Junior Summer Golf Coaching, Bowood, nr Calne, 31 July – 2 Aug

Junior golf coaching camps aimed at 6–16 years. Fun days of learning all the basics of golf, from the long game, to putting, pitching and chipping, as well as practise on their three hole Academy Course.

Iford Arts Festival, Iford Manor, Bradford on Avon, to 5 Aug

The internationally renowned Iford Arts Festival (opera, picnic proms and classical cloister concerts) takes place in the exquisite performing spaces of the Cloister and Casita in the Grade 1 Listed Peto garden of Iford Manor, 6 miles outside Bath. Opera is staged in the round and sung in English for a seated audience of 90. More importantly, don’t forget to bring the picnic and the Pimms.

Starcast Summer Workshop, Salisbury, 14-18 August

Get ’em off your hands and sign them up for some good old dancing, singing and acting over the loooooooong summer break. Bet they get to wear a cool costume too.

Giffords Circus, to Sun 24 Sept

This year the inimitable Giffords Circus is recreating a 17th-century Spanish court and putting on a candle-lit international gymnastic show with dancing horses, a live band and everyone’s favourite clown Tweedy. It kicks off on Friday 12 May at the circus’s home ground of Fennells Farm near Stroud, then tours Gloucs, Oxon and London until landing bang smack in Wilts from 24 August for 2 weeks. Worth booking early, this one.

There and Back Again – An Odessey, the egg, Bath, Sat 8 & Sun 9 July

Ulysses and his mates go on a fantastic voyage and outwit the fates to find his way home. Homer’s epic adventure recreated using table-top props and puppets.

Frome Festival, venues around Frome, Fri 7-Sun 16 July

The funky Bollywood Brass Band opens the 17th Frome Festival with an extravaganza of Indian dance, film and food. The fun continues over the week with the likes of  Mock the Week‘s Andy Parsons,  Jeremy Hardy, The Wonderstuff,  Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Germaine Green, Gyles Brandreth, Felicity Lott, Stephanie Cole, Ann Widdicombe and local talent.

Open air Shakespeare, Glastonbury Abbey, 12-16 July

In what must be one of the most spectacular settings for outdoor thespian activity: Durham University’s Castle Theatre Company’s  A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Weds 12 Jul) and the Butterfly Theatre company’s promenade production of Romeo & Juliet, Fri 14, Sat 15 & Sun 16 July).

National Trust Big Camp Weekend, dates throughout July and August

Crack out the marshmallows! Fill your hip flask! The National Trust Big Camp Weekends take place in various venues across the south of England, offering you and the nippers chance to sleep al fresco and stargaze amid beautiful surroundings. In Buscot Park in Oxfordshire, you can camp by the River Thames on Sat 15 July, or you can pitch up at    
Hinton Ampner in Hants 29-30 July, or Osterley Park and House and Morden Hall Park  on 21-22 July. None in Wilts that I can find but watch this space!

Pitt Fest Remixed, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, Sat 29 July

No, not a celebration of Brad Pitt (hey, every day is that kinda Pitt Fest in the Muddy office), rather the annual one-day festival at Oxford’s excellent museum.  Visitors explore the collections via performances, workshops, tours and talks around the cases, plus there’s live music.

Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford,

Dinosaur World, Banbury Museum, 22 July – 9 Sept

This is a summer hols saviour if you have little ones who love dinosaurs. At Banbury Museum they can create their own dinosaur lands, creature, masks and fossil collages and even a hatching dino baby. It’s on Saturdays and every day during the Oxon school holidays, with two daily sessions: 10:30am – 12:30pm or 2pm – 4pm.

Cogges Beer & Cider Festival, Cogges Manor Farm, Witney, Oxon, 21-23 July

Ultra-local booze from within a 30 mile radius will be served up at Cogges Beer & Cider Festival. The action takes place in the 17th century barns, complete with Morris Dancers (let’s hope they don’t drink’n’dance) and there’s a bouncy castle to keep the kids happy while you quaff those hops.

Kew The Music, Kew Gardens, Tues 11 – Sun 16 July

Amid the tropical palms lurk some major pop stars in Kew Gardens, West London, the gloriously verdant setting for this summer’s picnic concert series. Acts include Razorlight (put your shirt back on Johnny Borrell please, this is genteel Kew), All Saints, James and soul diva Mary J Blige,

The Postal Museum, London, from 28 July

How’s this for seeing London from a different angle – The new Postal Museum opens this month, with its 15 minute Mail Rail ride on the underground tracks that delivered the city’s post for 75 years. One for any Postman Pat fans in your household.

Phoenix Place, London WC1,


Lovebox Festival, Tower Hamlets, London, 14 – 15 July

Calling all midlife ravers – head to the consistently bangin’ Lovebox in London’s Victoria Park for all your dance music needs this summer. The line-up is strong, with Frank Ocean, Chase & Status, Jamie xx, Solange, and Rag ’n’ Bone Man among the acts.

Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets, London E3,


Alice, Oxford University Parks, 15 July – 19 Aug

More from quirky Oxford theatre company Creation. This time they invite you to fall down a rabbit hole in the green gorgeousness of University Parks for a family-friendly production of Lewis Carroll’s Alice. This particular wonderland is in a Big Top so inclement weather be damned!

Hampton Court Flower Show, until 9 July

Missed Chelsea Flower Show? Quick, Hampton Court is on this week. New this year is  Gardens for a Changing World which explores how we need to adapt our gardens for the future. There’s 300 stalls with gardening products and food, a butterfly dome, talks by celeb chefs and Plant Village, while children’s activities include a cookery school and seed sowing.

The Full Bronte, Blackwell’s Bookshop, Oxford, Mon 17 – Weds 19 July

A theatrical homage to the legendary literary sisters, this Creation Theatre production melds comedy, storytelling, music and games and has been described by one critic as “the anarchic love child of French & Saunders and Hinge & Bracket”. Wowzers. Catch it in Oxford following its sell-out run in Edinburgh and on national tour. (If you’re on hols then worry not, it returns 24-26 Aug.)


Battleproms Picnic Concert, Blenheim Palace, Sat 22 July


Bring out the bunting, wave your flags and get territorial with your picnic blankets! It’s the annual Blenheim Palace Battle Proms Picnic Concert this month.  Expect an exceptional evening of classical music, carefully choreographed Spitfire, cavalry and aerial freefall displays, dramatic cannon fire and a stunning firework finale.

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon,

Giacometti, Tate Modern, 10 May – 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.

Grayson Perry, ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!’ To 10 Sept

This London exhibition by Grayson Perry – national treasure, cross dresser and rather decent artist as it happens – 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,

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., Tel:01789 403493

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., 01789 403493

Come Fly With Me Summer Stage School, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Mon 31 July to Fri 11 Aug

Got a tween or a teen with ambitions to be the next Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone? Then quick, get them booked into this summer stage school, which will show 11 to 19 year olds the ropes (literally – they’re going to be doing aerial flying!) of musical theatre, including performing songs from musicals like Mary Poppins and Footloose and acting out extracts from shows such as Metamorphosis and Ostrich Boys. And it’s not just for front-of-stage types – the more technically minded can get their hands on the lighting controls or muck in with set design behind the scenes. At the end of the two weeks, there will be a performance on the Everyman’s main stage where you can feel your heart fill with pride.
Places cost £200 and can be booked at the Box Office on 01242 572573 or at

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.

Holland Park Opera Season starts,  1 June – 29 July

I remember taking my dear departed dad to a Holland Park opera a few years ago – it was masses of fun so I can definitely recommend from personal experience. There are 6 shows, including Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Puccini’s La Rondine, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Will Todd and even a performance by the Royal Ballet School. Tickets vary in price, from £77 at the top end down to a fiver so worth checking out.

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