FOOD & DRINK
Not to be outdone on the food or music front, Foodies Festival sets up shop at Oxford’s South Parks from 27-29 Aug. Expect Noughties nostalgia galore from the music – the line-up includes Natalie Imbruglia, Toploader, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Scouting for Girls, The Feeling, Five and East 17 – as well as Michelin-starred chefs, Bake Off and Masterchef winners, and master mixologists at work.
Foodies rejoice! Feast on Cloud 9 finally arrives at the Wormsley Estate in High Wycombe this month – we’ve been looking forward to this one ever since we tried Feast’s incredible catering at their Feast over Flame pop-up at Henley Regatta. Head to the Wormsley’s walled gardens and ancient orchard up to 28 Aug (depending on whether you have an evening or lunchtime booking) to gorge on a nine-course tasting menu from the comfort of your very own wicker basket with hot air balloon.
More of a beer girl? Tap Social’s very own beer festival, Change is Brewing, takes place over the Bank Holiday (wise) on 28 Aug, at their Tap Social Taproom in the Curtis Industrial Estate in West Oxford. You can sample from over 13 different breweries, with street food to help you soak it up and live music to sway to.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS
Over in Middle Claydon near Buckingham, Towersey Festival rounds out the month, taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend from 26-29 Aug. Held on the beautiful Claydon Estate, the festival is a whopping 58 years old, and is packed with music, comedy, dance and family-friendly entertainment. Names for this year include Imelda May, Turin Brakes, Kate Rusby and Del Amitri, with Bill Bailey popping up with his own brand of musical comedy.
Also taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend is Alex James’s headliner festival, Big Feastival, which still has day tickets available. The musical line-up has more big names than you can shake a wedge of cheese at (The Human League, Anne-Marie, Stereophonics, Sugababes, Jake Bugg, Basement Jaxx, Eurovision breakout star Sam Ryder and loads more), but it’s the food we’re going for. There are demonstrations from Michelin-starred chefs, an M&S Food Cookery School, a dining tent hosted by local caterers Feast and so much street food you’ll need to wear stretchy pants. Head to Alex James’s farm in Kingham on 26-28 Aug to fill your boots.
Henley Country Craft Show arrives at Stonor over the Bank Holiday weekend, 26-29 Aug – perfect if you’re looking for a day out to keep the family entertained (Fido included). This year there’ll be over 200 indie businesses there, as well as gourmet street food, a children’s fairground, workshops and the classic falconry display.
Also held over this weekend (26-28 Aug) is the Oxford Storytelling Festival, which launched its inaugural event last year at Waterperry Gardens. This year promises more of the same zen vibes with stories, spoken word and music taking centre stage (or, tipi, more accurately) as well as workshops and classes (we’ll be headed for the laughter yoga).
End the month with a bang (literally) at Abingdon’s Summer Balloons and Fireworks Festival – the biggest in the country. Expect multiple musical fireworks displays, including one from the British Fireworks Champions Illusion Fireworks, as well as hot air balloons, a massive fairground, light shows and lasers, plenty of local food and buckets of Pimm’s to wash it down with. Book your tickets – still available – for 27 Aug.
Time to perfect those victory rolls: Bletchley Park still has availability over the Bank Holiday weekend for its Summer Concert Series of vintage music on the lawn, with a food truck to keep attendees’ hunger at bay. Expect 1940s and 1950s jazz and swing tunes from Natasha Seale on 27 Aug and Miss Lily Lovejoy, who performed at Captain Tom’s 100th birthday, on 28 Aug.
If you’re thinking of visiting National Trust gem Hughenden in High Wycombe there’s a whole litany of wholesome outdoor events on offer this month, including a Royalty in Nature family-friendly trail and a Mindful Monument walk if you want to escape the crowds this weekend.
Meanwhile at Greys Court in Henley, August is a month for mindfulness. Take a deep breath and try one of their wellness events, including an Unwind Outside relaxing children’s nature trail, available this weekend and until 10 Sept.
Brace your Instagram feeds – Millets Farm in Abingdon is once again welcoming local PYO flower farm Dahlia Beach to their fields from 20 Aug. You can PYO blooms from a selection of 4,000 (!) for £2 a stem, or go all-out and book a 2-hour flower experience for £50pp, which includes an arranging class, a photoshoot in front of the farm’s bright pink double decker bus, Poggy, and all the dahlias you can lay your mitts on.
If dahlias are your thang, check out the Dahlia Festival – a peach of an annual event, at Chenies Manor House in Bucks. This year it’s on 29 Aug.
Snap these tickets up ASAP: Turn End and Middle Turn, the award-winning Haddenham-based houses and gardens owned by architect Peter Aldington, have released more availability for their Open Day on 29 Aug. It’s a fantastic estate, and definitely worth exploring for the inspiration.
KNIGHTS & VIKINGS
Or over in Oxon, Kids will love Oxford Castle & Prison‘s Knight School, running until 29 Aug. An hour-long session, the little blighters will learn all the essentials for defeating King Arthur’s enemies, plus get a certificate and sword to take home.
Over at the Banbury Museum, this weekend and until 6 Nov there’s an exhibition on Heroes of the Viking World. This is a neat, engaging idea for a display: all about the real-life ‘celebrities’ of the Viking world, including the charmingly-named Eric Bloodaxe. There is also apparently the chance to immerse yourself in the “smells of the Viking Age” thanks to a replica Viking tent. Hope they’re not trying to sell that as a perfume…
As always, Oxford’s Ashmolean makes for an easy, arty day out (thanks in part to the chilled-out roof terrace, which is the ideal spot to escape to during summer in the city). Their recently-opened Pre-Raphaelite exhibition is one of our top picks until it closes until late Nov.
Keeping things in the city, Adapt Transform, a new interdisciplinary exhibition about urban design is on display this weekend across two sites – Modern Art Oxford until 18 Sept and The Glass Tank Gallery at Oxford Brookes University until 11 Sept.
Arty teens should get a kick out of The Ashmolean‘s (free!) exhibition Young & Wild, about 1980s exuberant German art. It’s a very cool look at a movement that rebelled against minimalism, and found inspiration in urban sub-cultures like the Punk and gay scenes. All music to a rebellious teen’s ears…
Over in Bucks, MK Gallery is putting on Kan Ya MaKan (which translates from Arabic to ‘once upon a place’) which combines personal anecdotes and memories with traditional Middle Eastern design. It ends on 28 Aug.
TAKE ME TO THE STAGE
Or if Shakespeare’s more your bag, Chipping Norton Theatre is putting on a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Newbarn Farm, Ditchley, on 27-28 Aug.
It’s more over the Bard over at Banbury too as The Three Inch Fools bring their musical and comedic talents to deliver Twelfth Night at Sulgrave Manor & Gardens on 28 Aug.
Oxford Playhouse is bringing its family-friendly A-game this month, with the spell-binding West End winner Dragons and Mythical Beasts (above) flying in from 26-28 Aug. In Bucks, the under fives will love Milkshake! Live at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on 29 Aug.
Chiltern Open Air Museum
Fancy learning a new skill – and knocking up a little something to boot? COAM’s Blacksmith Experience Days are ideal for those aged 18 and over who want to turn their hand to a little metalworking (or who just want to smack an anvil with a massive hammer) and there’s availability this weekend. Learn the basic techniques in the Victorian Forge before making your own hand-forged object to take home.
Fascinated by willow weaving? Make a day of it at COAM’s Willow Weaving Experience Days, which also have availability this weekend and are designed to teach ages 12 and older, under the expert guidance of sculptor Gina Martin, how to create sculptures for your outdoor space using just bendy twigs! And while we’re on the subject of natural crafts, did you know there was a Guild of Straw Craftsmen? You do now – because you can be taught by a guild member to make your own corn dollies and decorations, also at COAM. It’s suitable for ages 16 and up, with free tea and coffee, and you can snaffle up snacks from the Tea Room while learning an endangered craft.
Suitable for ages 5-11, the Bodleian Libraries are running Tutankhamun Family Fun days at Weston Library in Oxford on Tuesdays and some Thursdays until 1 Sept. Exploring the library’s Tutankhamun exhibition, this is great for any kids that like the Ancient Egyptians, and appealingly (whisper it!) educational.
Or, are you sick of reading the same books aloud to ’em? Outsource to The Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, which is putting on Summer Storytelling every day except Mondays until 2 Sept.
Then the Discover Bucks Museum has a Summer Science Festival running until 3 Sept. Packed full of things to explore and discover, this should keep the little tykes engaged: interactive exhibits, activities, and lessons all around the museum and garden.
Fancy something a bit more grown up? Then this Introduction to Lino Printing on 28 Aug in Lechlade, just over the border, is pure creative zen and by the end of the workshop, you will have designed, carved and printed your own Lino block. Ta dah!
Throughout August, Tumblestone Hollow is once again offering Sparkle Bright Summer – bringing story telling and characters to its somewhat fabulous adventure playground, Tumblestone Hollow, set in the woodland of this magnificent 210-acre estate near Henley. Tickets cost £9-11 and there’s the trusty wood-fired pizza and barista coffee van on site. Happy kids and adults all round! Book early to avoid disappointment.
Hop to it! Blenheim Palace is putting on a Peter Rabbit Garden Adventure this summer, from 6 July – 3 Sept. Using a mix of storytelling, live performance, and puppetry, this immersive adventure has the audience helping a young Beatrix Potter to rescue Peter Rabbit from being baked into Mr McGregor’s pie — a fate we’d all, surely, like to avoid.
Then there are the Fairy Tale Trails at Waterperry Gardens, running until 4 Sept. These lead you on an interactive hunt, exploring the ornamental gardens and admiring sculptures made by a local artist that are inspired by the natural world.
Need to run off the Bank Holiday excess? Enter the Headington 5 on 28 Aug, described as a ‘fast’ (hopefully that means no hills…) 5-mile loop in the city, It takes in the tracks on the Northern bypass and the Marston Ferry road with a largely traffic-free route. There’s also the Dorney 5km, 10km and half marathon and tri events, just over the border near Windsor on the same day.
Show me a kid that doesn’t like animals and I’ll eat my hat. Enter: The Ultimate Animal Challenge at Whipsnade Zoo over the border in Beds, running until 4 Sept. Included in entry ticket, this introduces a list of animal-inspired challenges to tackle whilst going round the zoo, such as an elephant memory test and a meerkat foraging test. A fun way to mix things up!
At Woburn Safari Park it’s allll about the littlies with appearances from the likes of Paddington, Hey Duggee and Peppa Pig over the Bank Holiday weekend. That’s as well as the tigers, meerkats, penguins, baby Joeys and all, of course.
Over at College Lake in Tring, Bucks, there’s a self-guided family walking trail running over the weekend, created by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. The route takes around 1 hour and explores various habitats from woodlands to meadows. Book ahead to get your trail map.
The Oxford Natural History Museum is running a family-friendly specimen handling session on 27 Aug exploring marine reptiles. Drop-in, no booking needed.
TAKE A RIDE
The Cholsey & Wallingford Heritage Railway is a real peach for a mixed generational day out. It only runs on certain days and one of the upcoming ones is this Bank Holiday Monday when it’s offering cream teas onboard while you watch the pretty Oxon countryside chug by. A round trip from Wallingford to Cholsey and return takes around 40 – 45 mins and it costs £45 for two people including tea.
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