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The C&TH Guide to the Summer Season 2019

Fill up on the elixir of the year while it lasts!

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Festivals, flower shows, food markets – the array on offer this summer season is enough to make the head spin. And that’s before we even get started on the opera. Jenny Rowe selects the best.

Your Ultimate Guide to the Summer Season

11-12 May

Althorpe Food and Drink Festival, Northampshire

This year’s culinary event runs alongside a new exhibition, Animals of Althorp (also showing from 1 July to 31 August), that tells the story of the estate’s lesser- known, four-legged residents through a series of intriguing artefacts – so make a weekend of it.

17-19 May

Fairfax & Favor Rockingham International Horse Trials, Northampshire

Views over the Welland Valley and an impressive five counties make this British eventing programme
a special summer spectacle. Arena highlights include the Riding Club Team Showjumping event, plus trade stands with the coming season’s must-have country clobber.

Until 1 June

I’ll Say it Again!, London

This all-female arts festival returns to Tara Theatre for its second year, its celebratory stories intelligently told through 21 theatre, music, comedy and dance events. Look out for the timely wit of Nyla Levy’s play, Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

17 May – 15 September

Pub in the Park, UK tour

A sell-out success last year, Tom Kerridge is taking his pubs and pals to more locations this time around, sharing his passion for good grub and music in eight towns and cities, including Tunbridge Wells, Bath and Leeds. The line-up includes Jodie Kidd’s Half Moon Kirdford and Heston Blumenthal’s The Hind’s Head.

20-25 May

Chelsea in Bloom, London

Chelsea in Bloom

Organised by Cadogan in association with the Royal Horticultural Society, this year’s theme will sink over 60 shops, restaurants and hotels ‘Under the Sea’, where they’ll compete for the coveted award of Best Floral Display.

23 May – 2 June

Hay Festival, Wales

Hay Festival 2016

Inspire your summer with intellectual adventures at Wales’ Hay Festival. The incredible array
of speakers includes world-changing novelist Arundhati Roy, activist Stacey Dooley, psychologist Steven Pinker, David Lammy MP and comedian Sandi Toksvig – all raring to get your mind whirring. Panel discussions cover topics ranging from ‘The Truth about Fat’ to a myth-busting session on food and plastics. In association with Country & Town House you can take a deep dive into the world of brand building. Whether you want to hear from the big names or just how LinkedIn could form the cornerstone of your own personal brand, an expert panel chaired by former Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey will have the answers. Among those hotly debating what makes the best brands pop will be jewellery designer and creative director of her eponymous brand, Annoushka Ducas, fashion designer Edeline Lee and creative director of Berry Bros & Rudd, Geordie Willis.

29 May – 26 July

Garsington Opera, Oxford

Its 30th anniversary season, set in the enchanting Wormsley estate, will showcase four new productions, including the UK stage premiere of Offenbach’s hypnotic Fantasio, Mozart’s darkly powerful Don Giovanni and Britten’s classic masterpiece, The Turn of the Screw.

13 June – 27 July

Caught in the Net, London

Developed in collaboration with Erub Arts and Lynette Griffiths and Marion Gaemers, Australian artists at the vanguard of the movement against ghost nets (abandoned fishing nets), the Caught in the Net exhibition at JGM Gallery is a call to arms against plastic pollution.

15 June, 6 & 27 July

Smoked & Uncut Festival, Somerset

Smoked & Uncut’s reliably delectable range of upmarket food and drink make this the prime event for more discerning festival goers. The glamping village at The Pig near Bath and Lime Wood is back, complete with a feast of Italian fare, courtesy of chef Angela Hartnett.

16 June – 7 July

Fresh Air Sculpture, Gloucestershire

Fresh Air Sculpture JitkaPalmerFA19Floating Beauty, Bath stone 2

The beautiful and extensive gardens of The Old Rectory in the Cotswold village of Quenington are the backdrop to this biennial contemporary sculpture show. Both traditional and experimental works, functional and decorative, large and small, are sprinkled throughout the grounds. But these pieces aren’t just for show. On sale with prices ranging from £50 to £50,000, it’s one of the most enchanting shopping experiences, since many installations have been created specifically for the gardens. Highlights include a ceramic installation across the river by Elaine Bolt, willow sculptures by Mary Butcher MBE and Julia Clarke, and Metamorphoman by John Williams. The Pool House Gallery will host a smaller-scale exhibition, entitled From Where I’m Standing, in which artists interpret ‘views’ using media ranging from cloth to metals.

18-22 June

Royal Ascot, Surrey

Racing thrills over for the day, party to the tunes of DJ duo Pips & Henri, and Radio One’s Chris Stark. This year the Village Green is home to the ever- popular Villiers Club, previously situated in the Village Enclosure.

Various dates in June and July

Nevill Holt Opera, Leicestershire

Nevill Holt

Dubbed ‘the Glyndebourne of the Midlands’, last year Nevill Holt Opera opened a brand new theatre, designed to elevate young, developing voices. NHO supports emerging global operatic talent, and RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architectural studio, Witherford Watson Mann, has worked with world leading acousticians, Sound Space Vision, to realise its mission. This means the estate’s country house, originally owned by the Cunard family who were renowned hosts, has come full circle in the last few years, now attracting thousands of glamorous operagoers each summer. Performances of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte and Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream promise another showstopping set of atmospheric summer evenings. More than just a theatrical experience, enjoy the opening act in the estate’s immaculate gardens that showcase a collection of modern British art and sculpture. A Midsummer Night’s Dream 12, 13, 15 and 16 June; Cosi Fan Tutte 26, 27, 29, 30 June and 2 July.

19-28 June

The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, London

London’s longest-running antiques event has extended its stay to ten days this year. Browse contentedly for exquisite treasures that will transform your home.

21 June – 8 September

The Tempest, UK Tour

Illyria, the only UK open air touring company to have won four international awards, brings The Tempest to life in Britain’s most atmospheric outdoor locations, including the castles of Thirlestane in Edinburgh and Arundel in Chichester.

22 June – 29 September

Yorkshire Sculpture International

A free 100-day festival, the inaugural edition of YSI will show works outdoors in Leeds city centre and Wakefield, including seven major sculptures by Damien Hirst. It includes a programme of events and exhibitions across the four world-renowned galleries that form the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle.

27 June – 3 July

Masterpiece, London

A cross-collecting fair featuring art, design, furniture and jewellery, Masterpiece takes over the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. It’s the summer’s unmissable art fair.

4-7 July

Cartier Style et Luxe at Goodwood Festival of Speed, Chichester

The stunts pulled by cars and bikes as they race up Goodwood’s Hillclimb track is more than enough to get your heart pumping. But for a quiet contest of style, elegance and rarity value, head for the Cartier Lawn.

10-14 July

Henley Festival, Oxfordshire

Art, music, comedy and black tie make for an ideal summer soirée. Family Sunday features an eclectic selection of youth choirs, dance theatre and the mainstay of any summer fair – face paint.

19-21 July

Thames Traditional Boat Festival, Oxfordshire

Three days dedicated to British boatbuilding and craftmanship, as well as a WWI air display and vintage car show. Many boatmen and women invite visitors aboard, if you’ve the sea legs for it.

19–26 July

Moon Festival, Greenwich

Making its debut this year is an intriguing London-based festival that celebrates humanity’s relationship with the moon. Not just for budding astronomers, this week-long cultural cornerstone of the summer has something for everyone, including an incredible headliner: Margaret Atwood will kick off a series entitled Maverick Women and the Moon on 20 July.

26-28 July

The Hatch Ballet, Wiltshire

Hatch Ballet

This summer stunner is back with a bang for its tenth year, set in the natural theatre of Hatch House’s beautifully wild 17th-century gardens. Growing organically from humble beginnings, this dance extravaganza now showcases the gold standard of global ballet dancers. This year, Ksenia Ovsyanick, Principal of Staatsballett Berlin, will return to perform at Hatch, along with Steven McRae, Principal of The Royal Ballet, who will dance a work that fuses ballet and tap. Xander Parish OBE, Principal of the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg, will also feature over the weekend – the first British dancer to be employed by this prestigious company. Though the ethereal movement of such world-class dancers under the stars is undeniably the magic of the night, it’s enhanced by complimentary champagne and a three-course wine and dine delectation. This grand plan, devised by Matt Brady, director of The Covent Garden Dance Company, is as flawless as the dancers themselves.

26–28 July

The Game Fair, Hertfordshire

Every field sport has a place at Hatfield House, which hosts Europe’s largest countryside festival. Admire spectacular live demos and enjoy the loyal attendance of all your favourite world-class brands, including Fairfax & Favor, Albion England and Aigle.

23-25 August

The Big Feastival, Cotswolds

Don’t let an impressive trio of headliners (Rudimental, Jess Glynne and Elbow) distract from the foodie focus of this farm-based weekender. NEFF Skillery kitchen tutorials mean you won’t just have a great time, but learn life lessons too.

23-26 August

Curious Arts Festival, East Sussex

Boutique and bonkers enough to keep you and your curious kids on their toes, this family-friendly literary, comedy and music festival is small, civilised and charming. Now in the beautiful new location of Pippingford Park in Ashdown Forest.

24-25 August

River Cottage Festival, Devon

Feast in the River Cottage threshing barn, forage with John Wright, talk Pakistani cuisine with Sumayya Usmani and then relax to good music. Yoga, reiki and woodcraft workshops are also on the bill this year.

5-8 September

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, Lincolnshire

Your last chance to revel in the nail-biting drama of top-class showjumping, cross- country and dressage before Britain is taken under Autumn’s wet wing.

12-15 September

The Good Life Experience, Wales

The Good Life Experience

Dreaming of bygone days full of simple pleasures? Charlie and Caroline Gladstones’ farm in Wales delivers just that. Mass sing-a-longs, comedy, abseiling, poetry, pottery, painting, wild swimming and axe throwing… each to their own! Launched in 2014, the four friends who pioneered the Good Life Experience didn’t want to their vision confined to just culture or food or craft. They wanted nothing less than to nurture the soul by creating memories of unbridled joy. Chefs cooking over the campfire this year include Sandor Katz and Honey + Co, and there will be many opportunities to hear poets, pioneers, craftspeople and explorers speak, plus much raucous music. Even better, there is no VIP tent or backstage out-of-bounds area. The full line-up (and their dogs, probably) will be living the good life as equals and more than happy to chat to you. That’s why this festival can claim to be the friendliest and most intimate around – committed to keeping things small so each guest benefits to the max.

21-22 September

Abergavenny Food Festival, Wales

Pick the brains of chefs, farmers and food writers, where masterclasses and debates make this more than a day of eating (though there’s a fair bit of that).

All Summer

Chichester Festival Theatre, West Sussex

Countless plays that debut at Chichester end up transferring to the West End. This year there are two musicals, some Shakespeare and new family shows.

New Openings

Hauteville House, Guernsey

Following a refurbishment costing nearly £4 million, the home of Victor Hugo during his exile from France has reopened its doors.

Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, London

John Soane’s little-known Manor House in Ealing is a living portfolio of his architectural range. Refurbished and reopened with its own auspicious gallery space, the inaugural exhibition by Anish Kapoor is complementary yet questioning.


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