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FESTIVAL: The Oxford Literary Festival, various Oxford venues, 25 Mar – 3 Apr

Calling all bookworms! This year marks the 25th Oxford Literary Festival, taking place 25 Mar – 3 Apr, and the schedule is absolutely jam-packed with big names: try Delia Smith; multi-award-winning children’s author Katherine Rundell; Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket; author of Fantastically Great Women Kate Pankhurst (descendant of Emmeline); highly-acclaimed novelist Zadie Smith; the iconic Jacqueline Wilson; and the one and only Joanna Lumley. Phew! Check the full line-up here.


Art, please! Let’s start at the Modern Art Oxford, which is showinga major solo exhibition by artist Jesse Darling: No Medals No Ribbons from 5 Mar – 1 May. This explores the fundamental vulnerabilities and contradictions of the social and constructed body — be it human or governmental. It’s entirely free, and – evidently – thought-provoking.

Then, on 8 Mar the MK Gallery is marking International Woman’s Day by showing the film Exhibition On Screen: Frida Kahlo. This takes an in-depth look at key works throughout Frida Kahlo’s career, bringing them to life using the latest technology. Meanwhile in Oxford at The North Wall journalist and podcaster Zing Tsjeng is hosting a talk on the untold stories of marginalised women throughout history.

Alice de Rothschild, 1866

Let’s hear it for the girls! This year Waddesdon Manor is celebrating the story of Alice de Rothschild (1847-1922), who inherited the estate in 1898 yet has typically been overlooked in favour of her brother Ferdinand. Alice’s Wonderlands will run 23 Mar – 30 Oct and will involve a programme of exhibitions and displays that show how Alice put her own stamp on the Manor through her collecting, gardening, entertaining, and management of the estate.

Up at the MK Gallery, there’s an exhibition called Ingrid Pollard: Carbon Slowly Turning (above) taking place from 12 Mar – 5 June. This is a major collection of Pollard’s works so far, which span photography, printmaking, drawing and installation, and interrogate social constructs such as Britishness, race, sexuality, and identity.

Towards the end of the month, the MK Gallery has a four-day festival of women in theatre and film, Taking the Stage, with theatre, cinemas and speeches taking place across 30 Mar – 2 April.

If you haven’t had a chance to catch the Ashmolean’s exhibition on Pissarro: Father of Impressionism (above), it’s cracking stuff. Camille Pisarro was an early impressionist and one of the most celebrated artists of nineteenth-century France, credited as influencing both Monet and Cézanne.

Over at the Oxford Museum of Natural History, the exhibition Biodiversity, continues to explore the diverse systems of the UK’s wildlife, combining the celebrated art of Kurt Jackson with reflections from Oxford University researchers.

And finally, you only have until 13 Mar to catch the online exhibition branch, courtesy of the Modern Art Oxford. Before you lose interest at the word ‘online’ (we see you!), this is really something: combining game design, interactive storytelling, speculative fiction, and citizen science, branch experiments with the future in a properly cool and engaging way.


Kick up your feet! Dancin’ Oxford have a series of events on throughout the month, from shows to classes for a range of ages and abilities. We’re interested to see Body Politic Dance: THEM (pictured) on 11 Mar, a performance of hip-hop dance fuelled by anger at sexual violence. Hard-hitting, but very powerful.

Feeling jazzy? On 3 Mar, acclaimed saxophonist Julian Costello will be performing at The Oxford Artisan Distillery in Headington, Oxford. These Spin Jazz gigs are always great, so well-worth going.

Or, head up to the Milton Keynes Theatre to catch the Jersey Boys, still crooning about late December, back in ’63 – on until 5 Mar

Can’t be bothered to leave your snug sofa? From 5-20 Mar, the Creation Theatre have an at-home digital play, The Witch of Edmonton, based on a classic of early modern drama written in 1621. Woven through with records of other historical witch trials, the performance will take place live each night.

If you head up to the Milton Keynes Theatre, meanwhile, between 8-12 Mar it’s all tangos in cell blocks with Chicago (dubbed ‘the sexiest musical ever’, if you need to sell it to a spouse).

Over at the Wycombe Swan, The Russian State Ballet will be stunning audiences with three ballet performances: Cinderella (10 Mar), Romeo & Juliet (11 Mar), and Swan Lake (12 Mar). Set to be exactly as beautiful, haunting, and athletic as you’d expect.

For more classical content, try Oxford Bach Choir’s performance of Rossini’s Stabat Mater on 13 Mar, taking place at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Or, a bit later on in the month, on 26 Mar the Oxford Harmonic Choir will be performing Handel’s Messiah at the Oxford Town Hall.

For something a little bit different, on 18 Mar TV presenter, naturalist, conservationist Chris Packham will be talking about his experiences with wildlife and photographing the natural world at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.

On 19 Mar, things are hotting up even more at the New Theatre Oxford thanks to Strictly icons Gorka Marquez and Karen Hauer’s Firedance, which promises an evening of sexy Latin dancing, pulsing music, and spades of passion. Um, count us in!

At the O2 Academy Oxford, we can’t wait to see indie heroes The Fratellis on 19 Mar, as well as post-punk mainstays White Lies on 25 March.

On 22-26 Mar, Willy Russell’s legendary play Blood Brothers is coming to the Wycombe Swan – a captivating and moving tale of twins separated at birth.

Also 22-26 Mar, the Welsh National Opera is coming to Milton Keynes Theatre with Madam Butterfly (pictured, 22-26 March), Don Giovanni (23-24 March), and Jenufa (25 March).

If you’re less into the soaring arias and more into a flock of hulking, shirtless, gyrating men (hey, each to their own), you can catch The Dreamboys at the New Theatre Oxford on 24 Mar.

Then, on 27-28 Mar, Britain’s Got Talent dance legends Diversity are coming to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre with a dance show that centres around the world of social media, the internet, and how we connect in the digital era.


There’s a whole slew of big name comedians coming to the MK Theatre: catch Jimmy Carr on 6 Mar; Katherine Ryan on 17 Mar; Romesh Ranganathan on 18 Mar; and Rob Beckett (pictured) on 19 Mar. At the Wycombe Swan you can see Henning Wehn (so often a favourite on Radio 4’s Just a Minute) on 3 Mar, and Ahir Shah on 6 Mar. Nish Kumar will be performing at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on 12 Mar, followed by Jon Richardson on 27 Mar. Over at the New Theatre Oxford, you can catch Dylan Moran on 30 Mar and Alan Carr on 31 Mar.

You can also see the ever-amusing Jericho Comedy at the North Wall, Oxford on 18 Mar. The line-up at Jericho Comedy gigs differs every night, but it’s delightful in range: from award-nominated newcomers to surprise visits from big-name headliners.

On 20 Mar, meanwhile, smash-hit podcast The Guilty Feminist is bringing its live performance to the New Theatre Oxford. A mixture of comedy, deep-dive discussion, and activism, it promises a night of witty, tongue-in-cheek conversation hosted by Deborah Frances-White.

There’s also generally a great line-up of smaller comedy nights at The Potters Arms in Amersham – it’s a brilliant local pub that’s a major player on the A-Lister comedy scene, so always worth checking if you’re nearby. Upcoming is Patrick Monahan on 31 Mar.


How’s this for charming? On 10 March there’s a Stargazing Evening up at Daylesford Farm in Kingham, near Chipping Norton, which promises an explanation by the Chairman of Chipping Norton’s Amateur Astronomy Group, 90 minutes of stargazing, and a hot drink, all for a tenner.

Then, from mid-March punting season is upon us (fingers crossed the sunshine follows!). All the local punt spots are opening for business, central Oxford has Magdalen Bridge or Folly Bridge / Donnington Bridge, but if you want to escape the crowds and grab a posh lunch while you’re at it, head to Cherwell Boat House– it’s all very civilised… until you fall or crash into the river bank.

Jog on! On 20 Mar there’s a five mile charity run around the grounds of Blenheim Palace, raising money for the Oxford Children’s Hospital. All runners and teams of all abilities (aged 10+) are welcome.

Missed the main showing of snowdrops this year? No worries! Waddesdon Manor will have a stunning installation of 500 delicate metal snowdrops in its Aviary Gardens from 23 Mar – 3 Apr. Hand-crafted by British Ironworks, each three-headed flower is in memory of a lost loved one, a partnership with Florence Nightingale Hospice.

From 25-27 March it’s the Thame Spring Market, promising a treasure trove of street food, artisan groceries, handmade arts, crafts, clothing, jewellery and more. Sounds like a great place to get a Mother’s Day (27 March) present, just saying…


Blenheim Pavilion, Cliveden

Say goodbye to snowdrops and a big hello to daffodils that are springing up everywhere. Now in its fourth year, you can experience Cliveden‘s Gilded Gardens, inspired by the 24 carat gilded golden gates on the Sounding chamber and thousands of daffodils that grow across the estate. Head to the Water Garden and Blenheim Pavilion for the best of ‘em. Stowe and Greys Court will also be brimming with the yellow bloomer, along with other pretty spring foliage. Or head to Waddesdon Manor who’ve named a whole patch of the grounds after the flower, Daffodil Valley – 350,000 spring bulbs were planted in 2019 alone. See our full list of where to see daffodils here.


Got a clutch of kids to entertain? The stage adaptation of David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy is coming to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on 3-6 Mar, and promises a big-hearted show with plenty of belly laughs.

Or, there are various family events on at the Oxford Museum of Natural History, particularly its Science Saturday on 5 Mar, a drop-in event for ages 8+ to meet scientists and investigate real specimens from the collection. There’s even a Super Science Saturday on 12 Mar, which focuses on minibeasts.

Various heritage sites and family attractions are coming out of hibernation this month, like the Chiltern Open Air Museum, which opens for it’s spring season on 19 March. If you fancy day-tripping across the border, Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire reopens 7 March, while Corsham Court in Wiltshire reopens everyday except Mon and Fri from 20 March. A few other great days out that are already open include Broughton Castle, near Banbury, which is not too touristy with large gardens for the kids to bomb about in. A 15-minute drive down the road there’s Upton House, or over near Chipping Norton there’s Chastleton House, which is beguilingly gothic in its state of maintained disarray.

Towards the end of the month, Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful is coming to the Oxford Playhouse from 23-26 Mar — a great, moving show to take the kids to (9+). Pack tissues.


With all the best tix getting snapped up like gold dust, it’s definitely not too early to have an eye on Stonor Park‘s Easter activities. Running 9-24 April, the Park’s annual (and really rather good) Easter trail is bolstered this year by new kit at the adventure playground Tumblestone Hollow as well as a brand new shepherd’s hut serving soft whip ice cream alongside the wood-fired pizzas. That’s a rare adult and kid win.

Need more inspo? Check out our 2022 Local Culture Guide, and see what’s on in London here.

The post 71 marvellous things to do locally this March appeared first on Bucks & Oxon.

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