What’s on this month
The Kite Runner, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, to Sat 4 Nov
A haunting tale of two childhood friends whose lives are shattered by a terrible incident, this stripped-down stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel left weeping West End audiences in its wake. Bring the tissues and go easy on the mascara. everymantheatre.org.uk
Stroud Book Festival, various locations, Stroud, Thu 2 to Sun 5 Nov
Yeah, yeah, Cheltenham may be the big cheese around here for literature festivals, but Stroud Book Festival punches well above its weight and is small but perfectly formed. Featuring the best of the best in new writing from brilliant novelists, non-fiction writers and poets to children’s writers and storytellers, there are over 30 events happening all over the town. Some of the highlights include Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee discussing what the state has ever done for you (answers on a postcard please), a sneak preview of poet Adam Horovitz’s new book and food critic Matthew Fort’s culinary travels through Italy. stroudbookfestival.org.uk
Christian Malford bonfire and firework display,Sat 4 Nov, gates open 5.30pm
Malmesbury bonfire and fireworks, Sat 4 Nov, from 6pm
£5 adults, £2 children, family ticket for up to 3 children is £12. Tel: 01666 825725
Swindon Lions fireworks spectacular, Sat 4 Nov, gates open 5.30pm, fireworks 7.15pm
Swindon Lions Club will be holding its annual fireworks show at the Polo Ground, Marlborough Road. In addition to the fireworks display there will be a funfair all evening, the band Josie and the Outlaw and food stalls selling, burgers, hot dogs, hot drinks, soft drinks, sweets and candy floss.
Fancy Dress & Fireworks Party, The Woolpack, Slad, near Stroud, Sat 4 Nov, 8pm-1am
Joan, Salisbury Playhouse, 9-11 Nov
An earthy story of courage, conviction and hope, this play is a refreshing look at Joan of Arc – history’s greatest underdog. Performed by drag king champion Lucy Jane Parkinson, Joan takes the stage as a gutsy gender warrior, dragging up as the men she’s defied. What happens when a disguise soon becomes something a lot more real and you have to fight for who you really are? A fearless solo show, with uproarious songs, exploring what it means to stand out, stand up and stand alone.
Mitch Benn – Don’t Fear the Reaper, Salisbury Arts Centre, 10 Nov
It’s been a morbid time for “the country’s leading musical satirist” (The Times); he’s turned 46 – over the hill by anyone’s standards – his personal life is in turmoil, and his childhood heroes are dropping like flies. At times like these, a man feels the Reaper creeping up on him… But is death anything to fear? And is it really the end? (Yes. Yes, it is, sorry!) Mitch confronts his – and YOUR – mortality with hilarious (and tuneful) consequences. Join him – it’s time you’re not getting back…
War Horse, Bristol Hippodrome, to Sat 11 Nov
After young Albert’s beloved horse Joey is sold to the cavalry and shipped over to France during WW1, he sets off on a dangerous mission to find him and bring him home. Be prepared to shed a tear. We’ll be reviewing the show on opening night, so watch this space. Want to know how they created the horses? There’s a 2-hour family workshop on Sat 21 Oct.
Murder Mystery Night Down on the Farm, Cholderton Charlie’s, 11 Nov
Adults only this time ladies, for this fantastic night of Murder Mystery, with a three-course dinner.
No worries if you missed all the fireworks action last weekend, there’s still some crackers lighting up the skies on Saturday 11 November in this hamlet outside Gloucester. Prices to be confirmed. Tel: 01452 721552
Hannah Ryggen, Modern Art Oxford, 11 Nov – 18 Feb 2018I’m always excited when Modern Art Oxford introduces a new exhibition and this one is going to be a corker. Hannah Ryggen was one of Scandinavia’s most outstanding artistic figures of the 20th century, an impassioned artist responding to the socio-political events of her time, from the the rise of fascism and the Nazi occupation of Norway, to nuclear power and media coverage of the Vietnam War. This is the first major presentation of the artist’s work in the UK and surveys her career from early portraiture through to the intricate tapestries that characterised her career from the 1920s onward. Don’t forget that Modern Art Oxford is free entry, and there’s a corker of a cafe on site too.
The Nutcracker, The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, Sun 12 Nov
A Christmas season staple, this performance by the Russian National Ballet will transport you to a fairy-tale world where everyone is happy and good triumphs over evil. Not to be missed, especially as it’s the first time the Russian National Ballet has visited The Roses. rosestheatre.org
As You Like It, Oxford Playhouse, Tue 14 – Sat 18 Nov
Shakespeare is for life, not just jaunty summer productions. Former Oxford Playhouse resident company Shared Experience bring Shakespeare’s much-loved romantic comedy to the theatre. It’s a modern setting for this production, just in case that sways you either way.
Oxford Playhouse, 11-12 Beaumont St, Oxford, oxfordplayhouse.com
The Ladykillers, Salisbury Playhouse, to 18 Nov
When Mrs Wilberforce puts a sign in her newsagent’s window advertising ‘A Room to Let’ she’s delighted when the mysterious Professor Marcus proclaims it perfect for rehearsing his unorthodox string quintet. However, she soon discovers that she is not making tea for a motley band of musicians but harbouring a gang of hardened criminals and conmen planning the great King’s Cross Train Robbery! As his masterplan goes off the rails, and the bodies drop onto them, it begins to dawn on the Professor that, in Mrs Wilberforce (and General Gordon, her extraordinary featherless parrot), he may have finally met his match.
Dark Arts, Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios, London until Sun 12 Nov
Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios are brilliant at ringing the changes with their events and for this one the Great Hall will be decorated with over 100 floating pumpkins, just as seen as in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with a table laden with a Halloween feast of red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Kids can also delve into the sinister world of the Dark Art – wand combat techniques and Death Eater duels as well as filmmaking snot, blood and drool. Er, nice! wbstudiotour.co.uk
The Wipers Times, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Mon 13 to Sat 18 Nov
An amazing, and true, story about a satirical newspaper created by two officers from a bombed-out building in Belgium during the First World War. Stationed in Ypres (pronounced Wipers by British soldiers), two officers discovered a printing press and decided to put together a subversively funny newspaper to lift the spirits of the troops. A West End recruit penned by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, the pair will be at the theatre following the Tuesday evening performance for a Q&A session. everymantheatre.org.uk
Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Sat 18 Nov – 4 Feb
Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas! The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, wbstudiotour.co.uk
NT Live: Follies, Salisbury Arts Centre, 16 Nov
New York, 1971. There’s a party on the stage of the Weismann Theatre. Tomorrow the iconic building will be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves. Tracie Bennett, Janie Dee and Imelda Staunton play the magnificent Follies in this dazzling new production.
Living Crafts for Christmas, Blenheim Palace, 16 – 19 Nov
The first of the big crafty events that we’re about to bombarded with over the next 6 weeks. This one is more pleasurable than most – more than 150 British designer-makers showcasing their craft in the Churchill and Marlborough Pavilions in the Great Court. Millinery, ceramics, studio glass, leather work, sculpture, textile crafts, photography, toys and puzzles and all that jazz. If you’re looking for a good pub afterwards, head into Woodstock to The Woodstock Arms or The Crown, I’ve eaten in both and can totally recommend.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, blenheimpalace.com
Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival, Fri 17 – Sun 19 Nov
Oooh, sparkly lights! This free festival will be taking over the city’s streets and open spaces for three days, with the newly opened Westgate Oxford (let us worship) as one of the main venues, along with Oxford Castle quarter, Gloucester Green and Broad Street. The Westgate will be hosting art installations, and will also form part of the route taken through the city as part of the popular lantern parade. Expect street artists, outdoor exhibitions, markets, music and dance throughout the weekend.
Peter and the Wolf, Mill Arts Centre, Banbury, Sat 18 Nov
Featuring animal antics of singing birds, waddling ducks, sneaky cats, and a rocking wolf this production features new music lovingly inspired by Prokofiev’s classic – including real musical vegetables (the mind boggles) plus puppetry and physical comedy for kids 4+.
The Mill Arts Centre, Spiceball Park, Spiceball Park Rd, Banbury, themillartscentre.co.uk
The Roses’ Christmas Market, The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, Sat 18 Nov
Following its success last year, this second outing for the theatre’s Christmas market will see loads of lovely stalls selling gifts, local produce and affordable art which will help you nail your Christmas shopping. There’ll be food and drink too, as well as festive carol singing. rosestheatre.org
Angel Making Workshop, Marlborough, 18 Nov
Mandy Mander is back at Elements of Avebury with her wonderful Angel workshop. Learn how to make a gorgeous Angel. Using silver plated wire, Mandy will carefully show you how to make this amazing Angel, and then she will be yours to keep!
Christmas Through the Ages, Avebury, 22 Nov
Have you ever wondered how Christmas was celebrated in Tudor times, or wanted to wander back through memory lane to see Christmas in the 1930’s? Be the first to see Avebury Manor decorated for Christmas throughout the ages. Each room in Avebury Manor is set in a different period, reflecting the lives of people who lived here from the 16th century to the early 20th century.
A Little Party Never Killed Nobody – A Jazz-Age Inspired Christmas, American Museum in Britain, 23 Nov – 17 Dec
Get a wiggle on to the American Museum in Britain this winter for a party like no other. Party through the ages in their period rooms and discover what Americans did to let their hair down in days gone by. The jewel in the crown is the dazzling Central Hall Christmas tree, bedecked in decadent decorations, glorious glitz, and Gatsby-esque glamour of the 1920’s. Whether you’re a dancing dame or a fancy fella, our Jazz Age inspired Christmas is set to be the swankiest soirée in town!
Fast Love – A Tribute To George Michael, Melksham, 23 Nov
Get ready for an unforgettable evening with a global superstar, as he puts the Boom Boom into your heart in the all new production for 2017.
Salisbury Christmas Market, 23 Nov – 22 Dec
Salisbury Christmas Market returns to the heart of the beautiful city of Salisbury for its sixth consecutive year. This year sees a mixture of new and returning exhibitors who will be housed in German style wooden chalets.
Middle Eastern Supper Club, Harts Barn Cookery School, Longhope, Fri 24 Nov
Warm up with this Middle Eastern-themed supper club at the lovely Harts Barn Cookery School. Falafels, baba ganoush, flatbreads and roasted red pepper houmous for starts, Turkish spiced chicken, grilled aubergines, couscous and freekeh salad for main, and apricot almond cake and rose Turkish delight for pud. I’m salivating! hartsbarncookeryschool.co.uk
Russian State Ballet – The Nutcracker and Romeo & Juliet, Swindon, 21-22 Nov
Russian State Ballet and Opera House is back with this vibrant, breath-taking and enchanting ballet production, which will be a feast for the eyes and will delight the whole family.
Black Swan Arts Open 2017, Frome, to Weds 29 Nov
Browse and buy contemporary original art selected from over 900 entries by judges including writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup and Dea Vanagan, director of Hauser & Wirth Somerset. This is the fifteenth year of the annual competition. Everything’s for sale, priced from £90 to £12,000. Go Weds for the preview night and enjoy live music and DJs.
Romeo and Juliet, Bristol Hippodrome, Tues 21–Sat 25 Nov
The English National Ballet won Outstanding Company at the 2016 National Dance Award, so we’re expecting great things from their version of their world’s greatest love story. Review coming up.
Dick Whittington And His Cat, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Fri 24 Nov to Sun 7 Jan, 2018
It’s panto time! And Tweedy the Clown returns to the Everyman stage with his comic-book licks and tricks in this year’s show, Dick Whittington And His Cat, who travels from Gloucester to London in search of his fortune. Expect the usual high jinx and laughs. everymantheatre.org.uk
Cheltenham Christmas lights switch on, Sat 25 Nov
Who needs Oxford Street when you’ve got Cheltenham’s Christmas lights switch on? I have to say there’s something chic and discreet about the lit-up trees which makes me proud to hail from the Regency town. There’ll be the annual Christmas market to mooch around, too, so it’s the perfect place to get yourself in the mood a month before the big day.
Roller Disco, Melksham, 25 Nov
Let’s get them skates back on and get back down to Melksham Assembly Hall. With skate hire available, and friendly skate marshals and instructors on hand to help.
Judy Pfaff: Roots Up, Messums Wiltshire, Tisbury, until Sun 26 Nov
Judy Pfaff’s Roots Up exhibition, which also features paintings and drawings by her, is the first one American Pfaff has held in the UK. There has been two years of preparation for the exhibition, it will take three weeks to install and the installation process is being recorded and documented as it happens. messumswiltshire.com
A Christmas Carol, Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Wed 29 Nov to Fri 8 Dec
The perfect outing to get you in the mood for Christmas! Dickens’ touching tale of the transformation of Ebeneezer Scrooge through the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future is brought to the stage by Split Second Productions, who are regulars at Gloucestershire’s most historic castle, which is possibly home to a few ghosts itself. berkeley-castle.com
Softer: Jenny Holzer Exhibition at Blenheim Palace, until Sun 31 Dec
The fourth artist to to showcase contemporary art at Blenheim Palace (my kids still talk about Ai Wei Wei back in 2015), Holzer will be creating new work directly addressing our military and political history – eeek! For this show she’s developing large-scale light projections that will transform the Formal Gardens after dark in a series of night time public events. Sounds cool right? Plus visitors can also explore more meditative areas featuring examples of Holzer’s best known work. blenheimpalace.com
Whales Beneath the Surface
■ Natural History Museum, London SW7 ■ to Feb 2018
A major new exhibition exploring the extraordinary life of whales. Dive through one of the world’s most compelling evolutionary journeys in this family exhibition, when more than 100 specimens from the Museum’s collection will be on display together for the first time, from parts of a colossal blue whale to a small harbour porpoise. Travel back 50 million years to the beginning of the evolution of the whale. See how whales became sociable, aquatic mammals, some of which can communicate over vast distances.
■ Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD. nhm.ac.uk
Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens, London, Weds 22 Nov – 1 Jan 2018
Such a brilliant time to visit Kew as they do the Crimbo thing so well with it one mile sparkling path winding its way through the world-famous Gardens. This year they promise a million twinkling lights, Singing Trees, ribbons of light and a flickering Fire Garden, plus Father C and his elves at the North Pole Village, vintage fairground rides (a fee for that one) and shopping. Worth going with the fam.
Messiah at the Tower of London, 10 Nov
A slightly strange combination, but kind of intriguing. First performed in 1742 Handel’s Messiah is one of the most famous works of classical music ever written, and er, The Tower of London is well famous too! Actually, the concert takes place in the intimate Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower, a similar sized venue to when the original was performed.
The Tate Modern’s comprehensive retrospective of Modigliani’s work is going to be a treat. During his brief, turbulent life Modigliani developed a unique and instantly recognisable style. His nudes that are a highlight of the exhibition – with 12 nudes on display, this is the largest group ever reunited in the UK. First shown in 1917, police closed down his only ever solo exhibition on the grounds of indecency. Also expect sculptures, and portraits of his friends, lovers and supporters, including Pablo Picasso and his partner Jeanne Hébuterne.
Ghost Tours, Hampton Court, selected dates from 5 Nov – Jan 2018
Want to petrify your kids? Course you do! There are Family Tours on 5 Nov at 6.30 (and also 7 Jan 2018, but seriously I’m not even thinking next year yet!). It’s a 75-90 minute walking tour hearing stories of ghostly apparitions and paranormal activity Minimum age is 8 years and a maximum of 3 children per accompanying adult.
Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, East Molesey, hrp.org.uk