Things to do: A black-tie dinner at Highgrove, a craft festival in Cardiff and the chance to make a sustainable wreath in London

Country Life rounds up the best things to see, do and book over the next few weeks.

Follow our quick links to find things to do by region:

East Anglia
South East and Home Counties
Northern England
Cotswolds and the Midlands
West Country


October 18–January 10, 2020 –  ‘Wildlife artists’, WWT London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, London SW13

For the first time, two local art groups have been invited to capture London’s first manmade, inner-city wetland reserve.

October 26-27 — Lily’s Kitchen ‘House of Treats’, 30 Elizabeth St, Belgravia, London

Dogs of all shapes and sizes will take centre stage as they journey through dog-themed spaces designed to bring them (and their owners) joy and happiness. There are dog treats supplied by event sponsor Lily’s Kitchen, a doggy relaxation den (dubbed ‘Petflix & Chill’) and even a mocked-up laundry room where dogs can be applauded for stealing socks from the tumble dryer. Admission is free for both dogs and owners.

October 24–November 9 — ‘The Natural Eye: Society of Wildlife Artists Annual Exhibition’, Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1

More than 350 works documenting endangered British birds, priced from £95. 10am–5pm, free entry for two people when you quote ‘Country Life’ at the desk.

October 9–December 4 — An Introduction to Garden History, Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London

Seven-part course covering medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan gardens through to the 20th century. Speakers include Elisabeth Whittle, Dr Katie Campbell and Tim Richardson. From £115.

November 3 – Fauré Requiem and Tavener Invocations, St John’s Smith Square, London SW1

The Brighton Festival Chorus and Youth Chorus perform two pieces divided by a century, but united by themes of tranquillity and meditation. Other works by Fauré and music by Coulais also feature. Tickets from £15.

November 11 — ‘Thamesmead: A New Vision’, The Gallery, 77 Cowcross Street, London EC1M

This London Parks and Gardens Trust Lecture is given by Dr Phil Askew, Head of Landscape and Place Making at the Peabody housing association, who took over the running of Thamesmead in 2014. Dr Askew will look at the Greater London Council’s futuristic new town, which was begun 50 years ago. The planned housing was not completed but much of the landscape structure was, and a new 30-year plan is in place to regenerate the town. Doors open 6.30pm, lecture 7-8pm. Tickets £12, which includes a glass of wine.

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Views by the lake, Thamesmead..

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Until November 16 – ‘Personal Space’, Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London W1

Eileen Cooper focuses on the female figure in day-to-day life, addressing fertility, sexuality and motherhood, as well as celebrating sisterhood and friendship. 10am–5.30pm.

November 28 – Sustainable Wreath Making & Table Arrangement Full Day Masterclass, McQueens Flower School, London E2

Create wreaths and decorations inspired by seasonal flora and fauna, guided by expert tutors. Further dates available throughout December. 10am–5pm, tickets £220.

Until January 5, 2020 — ‘Two Last Nights! Show Business in Georgian Britain’, The Foundling Museum, Brunswick Square, London WC1

‘Going to a show’ was a popular 18th-century pastime, with theatres and festivals appearing around the country. This interactive exhibition explores advertising, ticket sales, audience, dress code, sets and venues.

South East & Home Counties

October 25–27 – Doddiscombsleigh Art Show, Teign Valley Community Hall, Christow, Devon

A host of international artists will exhibit more than 500 pieces for sale, with money raised going towards holistic education and extra-curricular activities at the local primary school.

October 25–November 10 – Brighton Early Music Festival, East Sussex

Performances include the complete Lamentations for Good Friday by Antoine Brumel, a devotion to Bach, focusing on his Musical Offering, plus the Feast of Fools, Ovid and Handel, The Art of Moog and performances by local school children. Prices vary.

October 26 – The Vintage Bazaar, The Cheese & Grain, Frome, Somerset

Buy vintage, antique and handmade pieces, such as toys, jewellery, decorations and fashion items. A second bazaar will run on November 30 in Devizes, Wiltshire.

November 2 — Winter Family Raceday, Royal Ascot, Berkshire

From an epic fireworks display and a pop-up cinema to a Father Christmas meet & greet and an animatronic polar bear, the winter season at Ascot is packed with family fun, all alongside free fairground rides and top-class racing.

October 26–November 3 – Petworth Festival Literary Week, various venues, West Sussex

Enjoy expert talks on a range of topics, including history, politics, poetry and travel, from high-profile writers, journalists and public figures such as Prue Leith, Hugh Bonneville and Jenny Éclair.

Until November 3 — Visit the Nerine collection at Exbury Gardens, Southampton

See more than 900 shades of Nerine sarniensis or jewel lily—from orange, scarlet and white to pink, purple and bronze—in the collection started by Lionel de Rothschild. 10am–5pm, admission included with standard entry.

October 25–November 3 –‘Leonardo da Vinci: Masterpieces of Motion’, Windsor Castle, Berkshire

Dances inspired by the artist’s drawings, six of which will be on display. From 7pm, adult tickets £30.

November 10 — Exclusive dinner with Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Coworth Park, Ascot, Berkshire

The executive chef of the Michelin-starred Northcote in Lancashire joins Adam Smith, executive chef of the also Michelin-starred Coworth Park, to present diners with a bespoke, six-course tasting menu. 6.30pm–9pm, £120pp, excluding drinks; optional wine package available at £80pp.

Until March 1, 2020 – ‘Talking Maps’, The Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, Oxfordshire

Ancient, pre-modern and contemporary maps, plus imaginary and war maps, taken from the Libraries’ collection of more than 1.3 million examples. Highlights include the Gough Map – the earliest to recognisably show Great Britain – and fictional maps by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.


October 4–January 26, 2020 – ‘The Luxury of Time: Clocks from 1550–1750’, National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh

See 25 rare timepieces from a golden age of watchmaking and innovation. 10am–5pm, free admission.

October 20–25 — Nature and Environment Writing Course, The Grant Arms Hotel, Grantown on Spey, Scottish Highlands

Residential course led by award-winning writer Karen Lloyd. The author will host a mixture of field trips, seminars and talks, in which participants are encouraged to engage with the landscape and wildlife. £750pp, including accommodation and most meals.

November 6 – Centennial Recital at Marchmont House, Greenlaw, Berwickshire

Organist Thomas Trotter marks the centenary of Marchmont’s concert organ and Music Room with a recital of works by Bach and Elgar. 6pm–8.30pm, tickets £49, including Champagne reception.

Northern England

October 25–27 – Art& Comes to York, York Racecourse, North Yorkshire

Focusing on art collectors, buyers and art lovers, with 120 artists’ work both for sale and commission, plus opportunities to meet them. Adult entry £6.50.

November 2 — The North-East’s Biggest Pyromusical: Toe-tapping Hits from the Movies, Kynren, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham

This musical journey will combine spectacular pyrotechnics with iconic songs to light up the skies for 30 minutes. Gates open at 4pm with food available, before the show at 7pm. Adult tickets £10.

Until January 26, 2020 – ‘Making a Masterpiece: Bouts and Beyond (1450–2020)’’, York Art Gallery, North Yorkshire

Examination of the necessary steps to creating a masterpiece, inspired by a 15th-century painting by Dieric Bouts, on loan from the Bowes Museum. Includes work by masters such as Hans Memling and Lucas van Leyden. 10am–4.30pm, adult tickets £8.

Cotswolds and the Midlands

October 25 — Autumn Wildlife Trail, Sudeley Castle & Gardens, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

Follow in the steps of Sudeley’s wildlife — from badgers and foxes to hedgehogs, red deer and stoats — and marvel at the brilliant colours of autumn in the award-winning gardens. Children will be offered trail sheets with crayon-rubbing and colouring in. Included with standard admission.

Until December 15 – ‘Magnum Manifesto’, Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park, Warwickshire

Founded in 1947, the Magnum Photos Agency is an indispensable collection of images memorialising world events, culture, people and places. The exhibition uses newspaper articles, book excerpts and other rarely viewed material to encapsulate more than 70 years of history, juxtaposed with everyday life.


November 1–3 – Craft Festival Cardiff, City Hall, Glamorgan

More than 130 leading jewellery makers, sculptors, furniture makers, blacksmiths and glassblowers, plus workshops. Adult tickets £7.

September 5–November 30 –  Frankenstein, various venues

This theatrical adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic horror will visit Perth, Canterbury, Coventry, Brighton, Cardiff, Guildford, Liverpool and Glasgow.

West Country

October 18–26 — Wells Festival of Literature, Cedars Hall, Somerset

Diarmaid MacCulloch, Jane Glover, Christopher Andrew, Roma Agrawal, Alison Weir, Gina Rippon, Peter Hennessy, Kate Humble and Melvyn Bragg are just some of the authors at this year’s festival. Adult tickets for talks £10 each.

July 20–October 26 ‘Wild Hares and Hummingbirds’, The Museum of Somerset, Taunton

Hands-on experience for families, based on the book by naturalist Stephen Moss, telling the story of the wildlife of his home village, with original illustrations by Stephanie Cole. Adult entry £3, children £2.

November 6–10 – Stroud Book Festival, various venues, Gloucestershire

More than 50 events focusing on fiction, food, fitness and fabrics. Highlights include a writing workshop with Katri Skala and a mending workshop with Atelier Stroud.

December 21 – Black Tie Dinner at Highgrove, Tetbury, Gloucestershire

Enjoy a three-course meal, fine wines and live jazz, plus Champagne and canapés on arrival. 7pm–10.30pm, tickets £105.

East Anglia

November 2 – Cocktails and Calligraphy, The Northgate, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Workshop with lettering artist and stationery designer Kirstie Bird focusing on essential ‘nib knowledge’ and calligraphy technique for Christmas cards. There will be a second event for Christmas tags on December 7. £45, including a calligraphy materials kit to take away.

November 3 — Guided tours of Holkham Hall Gardens, Norfolk

Walk through the estate’s private gardens with one of Holkham’s most knowledgeable gardeners. The gardens comprise unusual and rare specimen trees resplendent at this time of year, with foliage in an array of autumnal tones. Adult tickets £10.