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What’s on this week


New Year’s Day meet, Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Mon 1 Jan, 10.30am

race horses and jockeys

What better way to round off the festive season and kick off 2018 with a bang. Delay dry January till the 2nd, have a flutter on the gee-gees and bring the kids! There’s a Family Fun Zone which Paddington Bear will visit, along with balloon artists Twistina and Twistopher, who will give the first 500 children a walking pet balloon. There will also be face-painting, pony plaiting and rosette making among other crafty fun. And ladies, dress up in a splash of colour as #ColourMeMarch Ladies Day tickets worth up to £90 will be up for grabs.


January Brewer of the Month, Corinium Ales, The Strand Pub, Cheltenham, all of Jan

This Cheltenham pub is a great supporter of local brewers and this month it’s showcasing Cirencester’s micro-brewery Corinium Ales, which will be serving up its five core beers, as well as its winter 1 AD Porter. So we’ll be forgetting about dry January this year!


Ros Koch Appellation Art Exhibition, Averys, Bristol, now until Fri 2 Mar

paintings and drawings by Ros Koch

The historical cellars and family wine merchant in Bristol’s Culver Street is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year and is kicking off with a new art show by Ros Koch, a British-born artist based in South Africa who creates beautifully delicate watercolours and drawings. Free entry and the artwork is for sale so prepare to be tempted.


Hidden Water Walk at Dyrham Park, near Bristol, Tuesdays throughout Jan, 1-2.30pm

A winter walk with a difference, this special guided tour takes you from the natural springs to hidden water chambers in the hillside to the cellars of the house to track the 17th-century mansion’s water works. No need to book, just turn up with your wellies on.


Midweek Movie Night: Girls Trip, Barnsley House, near Cirencester, Wed 3 Jan, 6.30pm

pink leather cinema armchairs

I can’t think of a nicer way to soften the blow of the first week of January than hunkering down in a two-seater pink leather armchair in Barnsley House’s deluxe cinema with a box of popcorn in front of Girls Trip, last year’s US comedy about best friends the ‘Flossy Posse’ reconnecting on a trip to New Orleans. You get a two-course supper at The Village Pub first and then it’s film night! Click here for the rest of the month’s Midweek Movie and Sunday Cinema Club nights. I’ve got my eye on quite a few…


Dracula (or A Pain in the Neck), Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, Wed 3 to Fri 5 Jan

Give your stomach muscles a workout at this Gothic tale spoof by mad-as-a-hatter company Rain or Shine, hailed last year as “a delicious mirth fest”. Bonkers, Morecambe & Wise-style comedy, this is a play you’ll really be able to sink your teeth into. (Sorry.)


The Hucklebuck + Belle Day, The Marshall Rooms, Stroud, Fri 5 Jan, 8.30pm to Sat 6 Jan, 3am

Five-piece band The Hucklbuck will be serving straight-up blues from early jump blues to later Texas and Chicago material, while Bristol-based band Belle Day will be weaving deep sultry blues and heavy grooves inspired by a eclectic mix from Led Zeppelin to Sam Cooke.


Snow Mouse, Salisbury Arts Centre, 5-7 Jan

Watch two friends embark on an adventure in a magical forest full of play, puppetry, music and wonder in this enchanting tale for babies and the very young to enjoy with their families. When you enter The Pit, it’s as though winter has arrived, with woods covered in sparkly snow. A child runs outside to discover it all but soon feels lonely. Drawn by a sound, the child finds a sleeping mouse buried under the soft white flakes. Together they explore, sliding, tumbling and laughing, keeping each other safe and warm.


Dark Island live gig, Stroud Brewery, Thrupp, Stroud, Sat 6 Jan, 7.30-10pm

Folk, blues and jazz will fill the bar at Stroud Brewery courtesy of singer guitarist Scotty and singer songwriter and instrumentalist Alex. Expect powerful emotional storytelling music about love, nature and the supernatural. No need to book, just turn up and enjoy!


Nelson St. Good On Paper Party, The Marshall Rooms and Black Book Café, Stroud, Sat 6, 5pm to Sun 7 Jan, 2am

Stroud’s on-the-pulse independent culture magazine Good On Paper’s annual ‘We’re Still Here’ party is bridging two venues this year, with a heady lineup of live music, DJing, impromptu Shakespeare, puppetry and poetry. Muddy award-winning Salt Bakehouse will be providing artisan pizzas, there’l be pop-up record shops courtesy of Junkroom Records and Monobrow’s Vinyltopia and Pop & Shake organic popcorn by Mr Bobbington.


Dick Whittington, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, until Sun 7 Jan 

Join Dick and his cat as he travels from Gloucester to London to make his fortune and runs into a crazy cast of characters on his journey from zero to here. Molly McGuire plays Dick, with Ben Goffe as Tommy the Cat and, of course, expect to see Tweedy the Clown. Regulars to the Everyman panto and Gifford’s Circus will know his genius, but if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing Tweedy, he’s like a comic book character come to life. Brilliant basically. Always a sell-out, be sure to book soon, as Everyman chief exec Mark Goucher says, “It wouldn’t be Christmas without a great family pantomime.”


Snow Globe, Colston Hall, Bristol, until Sun 7 Jan 

Kid Carpet (that’s him above) used found objects – Casio keyboards, cardboard, broken toys, sellotape – to make ‘kiddy disco punk’. Here he shakes a storyteller’s snow globe to create a musical mix up of tales, rhymes and stories for 3 to 7 year olds. colstonhall,org


Jack and the Beanstalk, Salisbury Playhouse, to Sun 7 Jan 2018

Written by Andrew Pollard and directed by Ryan McBryde (the duo behind the last two smash-hit Playhouse pantos), with spectacular designs by James Button (Little Shop of Horrors, Salisbury Playhouse), Jack and the Beanstalk is the must-see family entertainment this Christmas. The fabulous cast includes the return of Richard Ede who had audiences in stitches last year as Widow Twanky.


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Theatre Royal, Bath, to Sun 7 Jan 2018

Photo: Freia Turland

Is this the fairest panto of them all?  Can’t vouch for the dame played by Nick Wilton (Mr Lister, Eastenders) but Harriet Thorpe (Carole in The Brittas Empire and Fleur in AbFab) sure is a glam evil stepmother. Whatever you do, don’t take that apple…


Aladdin, Bristol Hippodrome, to Sun 7 Jan 2018


Hop on board the flying carpet and watch a genie pop out of a lamp, etc.  You’d think Marti Pellow might be Wishee Washee (Wet Wet Wet, geddit?) but he’s the baddie Abanazar and it’s Joe Pasquale who’s WW, with Del Dingle (oops,  I mean Hayley Tamaddon) as Jasmine.


Sleeping Beauty, The Theatre Chipping Norton, until Sun 14 Jan 

I got insanely drunk on my 18th birthday but Sleeping Beauty celebrated hers by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel and falling asleep for hundreds of years. Bummer, eh! This promises to be a curveball, time-travelling rendering of the classic tale, spanning from Tudor times to the flower-powered late 1960s. The Theatre Chipping Norton, 2 Spring Street, Chipping Norton, Oxon,


The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Stories, Bristol Old Vic, until Sun 14 Jan 2018

Photo: Steve Tanner

After premiering up at Shakepeare’s Globe in London, the critically acclaimed production comes to Bristol. An impoverished girl strikes a series of matches to keep warm on the icy cold streets; each time she escapes into a different Hans Christian Andersen story. Expect cockles to be warmed.


Beauty and the Beast, Tobacco Factory, Bristol, until Sun 14 Jan 2018

Photo Camilla Adams

As you can tell from the pic, not a another stage version of the Disney film. This is a quirky re-telling of the classic French fairy tale, reminding us that beauty (or beastliness) is only skin deep. Littlies can enjoy the story of family, feathers and fitting in, in The Ugly Duckling (Sun 10 Dec to Sun 14 Jan).


The Little Mermaid, The Egg, Bath, until Sun 14 Jan 2018

Mermaid in a bath tub

This is a Hans Christian Andersen and mythical Cornish Mermaid of Zennor mash up.  Morgan lives at the bottom of the ocean in a shipwrecked 1950s cruise liner and surfaces in a 1980s yacht party on the English Riviera.  A period drama-cum-rom com with a jig-along classic 1980s pop soundtrack.

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