Want to stand atop Stowe House and have the gorgeous National Trust Site’s Gardens at your heels? Don’t worry; there’s a last chance for you to catch the rooftop tours on 15 April. I can think of worse ways to spend an early evening.
Also, don’t forget to check out the most beautiful places for blossom at local National Trust properties – there are some gorgeous displays right now (just look at Greys Court above!), and I know where to find them.
Newness! Old Amersham is home to a brand new Artisan Food and Drink Market, happening from 10am to 3pm on the third Sunday of every month and kicking off this Easter Sunday. Snaffle paella from Little Urban Chef, pick up jams, jellies, chutneys, sauces and pickles from Violet’s Orchard and Sam’s Chilli Sauces and wash it all down with a G&T from Griffiths Brothers Gin. Best of all, as well as supporting local businesses, the market also helps out The Chilterns Dog Rescue Charity. Shopping trip ahoy, methinks…
Still hungry? The Great Missenden Food Festival is running from 15-18 April and boasts a hefty host of free masterclasses, tasting sessions, and workshops. Cheese and wine tasting – we are there! The festival includes tonnes of stuff for kids, too.
EASTER TRAILS/ EGG HUNTS
First up, it ain’t Easter without a National Trust Easter Trail. Hard to pick between Stowe‘s Capability Brown landscaped loveliness (running from 15 -24 April) and Waddesdon Manor‘s faux-French charms (from Wed 13 – Sun 24 April), while over the border into Cliveden (from 9-24 April), there’s an adventure trail, Easter decorations, and crafts with hands-on nature workshops as well as the egg hunt. Hey, maybe just do all three. The price of the trail is £3 per child and includes a trail map, pencil, and a chocolate egg at the end.
Or why not grab a pint at a pub while your kid races off to find and decorate Easter eggs in a real life castle? The Castle at Edgehill is hosting its first-ever easter bonanza (16 Apr) where you can do just that. Elsewhere, The Seven Stars in Marsh Baldon, which has a brand new tapas menu, and historic The Sun Inn in Hook Norton are also hosting egg hunts on 16-17 Apr and 16 Apr respectively.
Something for petrol heads? Head to the British Motor Museum just over the Warks border to spot colourful eggs amongst the vintage cars (15-18 April).
Makeover alert! The Discover Bucks Museum in Aylesbury has been a busy bee of late, transforming its central spaces into five brand new galleries that explore Bucks history. They unveiled on 2 April, so head on over for a dazzling, brand-spanking-new array of objects, costumes, and art tracing from 200 million years ago to the present day.
Over at The North Wall, in North Oxford, there’s a cool new exhibition kicking off this weekend (13 – 30 Apr). Myth features work from four contemporary painters – Julie Bennett, Josie Clouting, Michael Restrick and Lu Willis – to offer a new perspective on classical fables, from portraits of modern-day goddesses to botanical symbols inspired by the birth of Japan, with 15 paintings commissioned for the show including this striking piece by Bennett.
Meanwhile Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, is hosting a historic exhibition Battlefields and Baroque that alongside the history (it’s straight out of a period drama), will include costumes from the film The Favourite, which starred the brilliant Olivia Coleman.
Bit of a bookworm? Then you might like to head to the Bodleian Libraries, in Oxford, to pour over medieval manuscripts at the free North Sea Crossings exhibit exploring Anglo-Dutch exchanges between 1066 and 1688 (until 18 Apr). And, whilst you’re in Oxford, make sure you head to Westgate Oxford to see the two colossal balloon dog sculptures, courtesy of artist Whatshisname (no, that really is his name) and Castle Fine Art – and a spot of shopping, obvs.
Over in Milton Keynes, MK Gallery has quite a bit going on for art lovers, including a new exhibit showcasing four emerging visual artists and photographers called Moments of Integrity (above). For something more hands-on, the gallery is also giving out free Bramble Ramble kits for kids which you can pick up and use to uncover nature in nearby Campbell Park.
ARTS & THEATRE
Fancy a theatre jaunt? This weekend you can catch Singin’ in the Rain at the Milton Keynes Theatre (11 to 16 April) which – fun fact – uses a whopping 14,000 litres of water on stage every night alongside its high energy choreography and classic score.
Elsewhere on 15 and 16 April, the Opera International award-winning Ellen Kent Production will be belting out Puccini’s Tosca, followed by Bizet’s Carmen, at New Theatre Oxford.
If you’re looking for laughs or something a little quirkier, Jericho Tavern is hosting a comedy afternoon on 16 April, followed by a night of Dragprov on 17 Apr – who knows, you might end up watching the next hotshot comedian or Ru Paul’s Drag Race star in the making!
And finally, if you’re looking to support one of Oxford’s fab local Indies (always), head over to newly opened Gulp Fiction in the Covered Market (yes, the pun sold us too) on 15 April for a lock-in surrounded by books with live music, coffee and drinks.
KIDS & FAMILY
Hey there, it’s your weather girl speaking: the sun’s coming out and temperatures are set to rise to 20 degrees over the weekend, so perfect climes for Oxford’s favourite pastime, Punting! Magdalen Bridge Boathouse is back open and you can hire boats to ride down the River Thames – start at Oxford Botanic Gardens, glide through Christ Church College and then either fork left to see Magdalen School’s pretty rose gardens or right towards the Isis (this is my favourite).
Fancy a show? Try The Flower at Oxford Playhouse (13 – 23 Apr), a heartwarming tale about the beauty and need for the natural world as Brigg, who lives in a city with no flowers, discovers a seed for the first time. The show’s only 45 minutes long so perfect for little fidgeters.
There’s also no shortage of special weekender events including circus-themed activities at Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock – think circus skills, balloon modelling, bubble performances, Punch and Judy, bungee trampolines (15 – 18 Apr).
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is a no brainier for train-transfixed little ones (or big ones) with full size and miniature steam train rides, as well as engine demonstrations and vintage vehicles for its Easter Transport Festival (17-18 Apr). There’ll also be a special appearance from Peppa Pig on 15 Apr.
Chiltern Open Air Museum is holding a more traditional Easter weekend (15-18 April) with the chance meet baby the lambs and take part in an Easter trail – there’s also 45 acres of land to let the kids run rampant on.
Meanwhile, Waterstock Riding School, just outside Oxford, is running half-day Pony Easter Egg Hunts on 15 April and 18 April. Open to all abilities, these sessions see the children following clues to different activities and stable management sessions, followed by a horse ride searching for Easter eggs. You have to register to book the event.
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