Watlington’s Spire & Spoke pub is the starting point for a 10km cross country race this Sunday, 28 Nov. The bad news? It’s described as a hilly and challenging race around the Chiltern hills. The good news? All race entrants are entitled to claim a free pint/glass of wine at the Spire & Spoke post race, and the pizza oven will be fired up for post-race chow-down.
At Waddesdon Manor, the fabulous Christmas build-up is in full flow – and lasts until 23 Dec. Expect a winter lights trail set to music, a festive fair with handmade and unusual gifts sold from little wooden chalets (above), an exhibition of work by Leo Villareal and even a festive afternoon tea at the Manor Restaurant (check out the website to book ahead). You can also enjoy Christmas dining at The Five Arrows – roast turkey, herb-crusted hake, plant-based bourguignon — clean plates all round we reckon.
Christmas shopping still sitting on the to do list? We’ve got your ultimate Christmas market. This one’s a big’un: the Henley Christmas Fair, 25-28 Nov, at Stonor Park. See four reasons why to visit here.
Christmas at Blenheim Palace has started and lasts until 2 Jan. This involves an after-dark illuminated trail, winter street food, and the story of The Nutcracker re-imagined within the Palace’s rooms. The Christmas market likewise runs 19 Nov – 19 Dec. Meanwhile, the Banbury Festive Light Show will run every night until 5 Jan. The Waterperry Gardens Santa’s Reindeer Trail, runs until 23 Dec.
The Winter Wonderland autumn and Christmas arts and crafts show is still going in West Ox Arts Gallery, Bampton until 18 Dec. The stalls and artists change weekly but you can expect glassware, jewellery, watercolour, oils, textile wall art, photography, knitted and felting goodies and sculptures. Tues-Sat 11.30am-4.30pm, Sun 2-4pm.
If you want to enact your own winter wonderland scene, check out these local outdoor ice rinks for a festive skate. And if you wander further afield to the big smoke this month, the ice rink at the Natural History Museum is already open for Christmassy business, as is the Somerset House one (ft. swanky Moet & Chandon partnership).
Heathers The Musical opens with a bang tomorrow at Wycombe Swan Theatre, and is on until 27 Nov. It’s had two massive West End seasons and is now just down the road. Expect high school drama and rockin outfits.
The Robin Hood Panto starts at The Oxford Playhouse from 27 Nov – 9 Jan. Oh no it doesn’t, oh yes it does, et cetera et cetera. Watch Robin and his band of merry men outwit the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham and generally have a rip-roaring time.
Over at the New Theatre Oxford, you can catch comedian and composer Tim Minchin (25 Nov), plus for the internationally acclaimed musical hit Jersey Boys, 30 Nov – 4 Dec. More comedy, for a much-needed laugh right now, is happening at Common Ground in Oxford, a co-working space that also hosts yoga, life drawing classes and talks alongside its Saturday Jericho Comedy nights.
More theatre, you cry! On 26-27 Nov you can catch a performance of Another Winter’s Tale and enjoy a three course meal at Missenden Abbey. Directed by Jenet Le Lacheur (Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, RSC), this atmospheric performance travels through coldest winter from Russia and across Europe, utilising puppets of every kind — even with some traditional Japanese street theatre.
FOR THE KIDS
For those of you with a budding scientist, it might be worth checking out Oxford Natural History Museum‘s Super Science Saturday: People & Planet on 27 Nov. A family science fair, kids can learn more about what scientists are discovering about the environment.
There is one more weekend left of Fairytale Farm’s Illuminated Evenings, which run until 28 Nov. At dusk, the lights come on and there’s fairy light trails, fountains and an illuminated Snow White’s Castle and Seven Dwarfs’ house. You can stay on with a day ticket for free or get a reduced price ticket for entry after 4pm.
Over at Whipsnade Zoo, Santa Paws is Coming to Town on weekends from 20 Nov – 24 Dec. Learn about reindeer, give “a gift” (some food) to the animals, and take your little ones to meet Father Christmas.
Got some little ones that need some fresh air and entertainment? Black Pines Camp in Bucks runs weekly Tots Go Wild sessions on Fridays, including 26 Nov, in term time. They’re aimed at walking 2-4 year olds accompanied by an adult. Expect a mud kitchen, digging pit, water play, bug hunting, weaving, balancing and more. Book a single session or block book a term at a time.
At the Ashmolean you can catch Dante: The Invention of Celebrity until 9 Jan. It’s the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante so this exhibit explores his influence on art and culture throughout the centuries since.
Muddy award winners Darl-e and the Bear, in Woodstock, is showing its joint-artist exhibition Presence, celebrating the works of Mary Chamberlain and Tim Steward, now in its last week and finishing on 28 Nov. Both artists take the idea of a caught moment, and move in different directions with it.
Also worth noting are some of the excellent ongoing exhibitions in the local area – we’re spoilt for choice! Try Skyscape: The limitless art of the sky at River & Rowing Museum, Henley, until 16 Jan, for a focus on aerial landscapes and the sky. Or MK Gallery‘s big exhibition Laura Knight, A Panoramic View, charting 20th century artist Laura Knight’s career, on until 20 Feb. You can also still see this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year display at the Banbury Museum until 23 Jan, and Anish Kapoor’s ‘Painting’, at the Modern Art Oxford until 13 Feb.
Need some peace? Head to Greys Court, Henley’s gorgeous National Trust pile and gardens, and join guide Deborah Lewis for a meditative walk through the woodland… strictly no phones! It’s on 23 Nov at 10.15am. Cool ahead to book, but there’s no charge.
It’s all about a rewind on 26 Nov when boutique cinema Clayton’s, in Marlow heads Back to the 90s via a throwback night of dancefloor hits. And looking ahead, Taylor Swift fans will need to clear the diary on Dec 4 for ‘Swiftogeddon‘. It’s a club night at the O2 Academy on Cowley Road, dedicated to the hit singer’s top tunes, extended mixes, fan favourites and no doubt some fancy dress ensembles. Meanwhile this weekend is all about the tributes, with Bowie and Arctic Monkeys hits taking centre stage on Friday and Saturday nights.
THE BIG SCREEN
King Richard, Spencer, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, No Time to Die and Eternals and Die Hard are all showing at Everyman Gerrard’s Cross over the nest week. Meanwhile Henley’s Regal Cinema has a similar line-up plus Zog and Onward for kids and The French Dispatch, Tokyo Story and Mothering Sunday for the indie crowd. At Oxford’s indie Phoenix, there’s also Petite Maman, a subtitled French flick from Céline Sciamma.
Staying with the screen, Clayton’s Marlow continues to bring us boutique cinema every Tuesday night. Book ahead for dinner, cocktails and films such as Nomadland and The Holiday. While over at The Abbey Cinema in Abingdon there’s a line up of Mothering Sunday alongside Bond and House of Gucci, which you can watch together with a full meal and drinks, thanks to the table seating.