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


Festivals   – Food and drink  – Books and literature
Horse racing – Sport, games and the great outdoors – Cinema and theatre
Plants, gardens and natureMusic and concerts
TheatreArt and exhibitions


Summer holiday fun

July 25 – Summer Children’s Wednesday, Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

Entertain the children with history shows, a fun fort, an adventure playground, a bouncy castle and story-telling in a breathtaking setting. Standard admission applies, 10am–4pm.

Country house auction

July 25 – Chorley’s Country House sale, Prinknash Abbey, Gloucestershire

A number of items originally from the former collection of renowned singer and songwriter Roger Whittaker will go under the hammer, including ‘The Whitaker Table’, designed by the singer’s namesake Henry Whitaker, and an ‘Armada’ chest, as pictured below, which despite the name is a Victorian curiosity with an intricate lock system.

Plant, gardens and nature

July 22 – NGS opening of Goldsborough Hall, Harrogate

Splendid 17th-century Goldsborough Hall opened for the NGS from 1928 to 1930, when it was home to Princess Mary, daughter of George V. After a decades-long gap and following restoration, the gardens are once again open on limited days. Visitors can enjoy the majestic herbaceous borders, rose garden, walled garden and a lime avenue planted by the royal owners. 12pm–5pm. £5, children free.

July 21–September 2 – ‘Gertrude Jekyll: An Artist’s Eye’, Hestercombe House, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Somerset

A range of original works, artefacts and memorabilia from the Hestercombe archive, plus other galleries and museums, give a personal insight into Jekyll’s extraordinary .

A garden gate at Hestercombe. The garden was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll between 1904 and 1908. (©Country Life Picture Library)

A garden gate at Hestercombe. The garden was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll between 1904 and 1908. (©Country Life Picture Library)

Soft toy sculptures

Until September 23 – ‘Mister Finch: The Wish Post’, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, West Yorkshire

More than 75 hand-sewn soft sculptures inspired by British folklore, wildlife and the Bretton estate, including life-sized badgers, hedgehogs and rabbits.

Festivals and fairs

July 26 – Annual Charity Summer Fair, Forde Abbey and Gardens, Chard, Somerset

Classic cars, model boats, a dog show, falconry displays on horseback, a fun fair, fly fishing and food amount to a wonderful day out for a family. Adult tickets from £6, 11am–4pm.

July 20–22 – Curious Arts Festival, Pylewell Park, Lymington, Hampshire

A thoroughly English and eccentric affair involving everything from novelists, poetry, dogs and G&Ts to midnight bat-walks and poker games. Adult tickets from £55.

July 27–29 – The Game Fair, Ragley Hall, Warwickshire

The 60th-anniversary year will see gundog scurries, falconry and fishing demonstrations plus live music from Ronnie Scott’s and food by TV chef James Martin. Adult tickets from £27.

Food & Drink

July 26–28 – Sushi Sho presented by Tate St Ives & Carousel, Cornwall

Chef Carl Ishizaki of Stockholm’s Michelin-starred Sushi Sho will take over the gallery’s kitchens using local seafood. Dinner tickets (£49.50pp) include five courses plus access to the Patrick Heron exhibition after it has closed to the public, with sake and wine pairings available. Bar tickets (£14.50pp) include access to a Japanese barbecue and the exhibition.

July 28 – A Royal Experience: Celebrating 65 Years of Britannia, Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

Join an exclusive four-course dinner aboard Her Majesty’s yacht with the last serving captain as well as a tour of the State Apartments. From 7pm, £195pp.

The Royal Yacht Britannia makes it last appearance at Cowes Regatta before being decommissioned on August 05, 1996 in Cowes, Isle of Wight. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Books and literature

July 21–22 – ‘Northamptonshire’s Ideal Countrymen’, Lamport Hall, Lamport, Northamptonshire

This exhibition celebrating the life and works of two of the county’s greatest 20th-century authors, ‘BB’ (Denys Watkins-Pitchford) and ‘HE’ (Herbert Ernest Bates), will be accompanied by artistic displays and readings. 10am–4.30pm.

Sport, games and the great outdoors

July 28 – International Day Polo for the Westchester Cup, Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, Windsor

The ‘home of English polo’ hosts a day of competition pitting English and American teams against each other for a trophy first played for in 1876. Besides the polo there will be a dressage masterclass from Charlotte Dujardin, the  former Olympic gold medallist, World and European champion demonstrating the training techniques that catapulted her onto the world stage.

July 21–22 and 28–29 – Summer jousting tournaments, Hever Castle & Gardens, Edenbridge, Kent

The Knights of Royal England will battle it out in the saddle and on foot in an authentic arena, surrounded by gardens dating back to the 13th century. There will be further tournaments throughout August. Adult admission £14.50.

things to do this week

July 16–22 – The Real Tennis Champions Trophy, Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey

Professional competitors from around the world battle it out for a second year on the Royal Tennis Court, where Henry VIII once played. Tickets from £15, including admission to Hampton Court Palace.

Cinema and Theatre

July 29 – Folksy Theatre presents Love’s Labour’s Lost, Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Somerset

Open-air Shakespeare on the Orangery Lawn with live music and audience interaction. Picnics encouraged. Adult tickets £13.50, 6pm–8.30pm.

July 21–September2 – The Scarecrows’ Wedding, Leicester Square Theatre, London

The latest of Julia Donaldson’s enchanting children’s books to get the stage treatment features Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay, scarecrows whose wedding plans are scuppered by the devilishly smooth Reginald Rake. It’s a 55-minute show suitable for ages three and up – tickets £19.50/£14.50, with family tickets available at £55.

July 13, 14, 20 and 21 – Withnail and I at Sleddale Hall, Shap, Cumbria

This screening of the cult film at ‘Uncle Monty’s cottage’ is the ultimate outdoor-cinema experience, with food, an onsite bar, games, dancing and compulsory camping. Entry from 5.30pm, tickets £45 including evening meal. Luxury furnished bell tents available at extra cost.

August 25 – Romeo and Juliet, Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

Cycling theatre company The HandleBards presents an all-female performance of the Shakespeare classic. General admission £15, from 6.30pm, with doors open an hour earlier for guests to enjoy picnics in the gardens.

Music and dance

August 8–27 – The 25th International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, Royal Hall, Harrogate

This silver-jubilee event includes 100 performances with five new productions and speakers from 10 countries.

July 20–21 Nicolò Isouard’s Cinderella, The Deanery Garden, Bampton, Oxfordshire

Bampton Classical Opera celebrates its 25th anniversary with this lyrical telling of the classic fairytale. Further performances will take place at The Orangery Theatre, Westonbirt School, Gloucestershire (August 27) and St John’s Smith Square, London SW1 (September 18). Adult tickets £38.

July 20–22 – Ballet Under the Stars, Hatch House, Tisbury, Wiltshire

Three nights of world-class ballet, contemporary and classical, performed by the Covent Garden Dance Company in the 17th-century walled Dutch garden, with a Best of British theme. Gardens open at 6pm and, post-show, there’s a cocktail bar with music until 1am. Tickets from £120 including three-course dinner with drinks.

July 28-August 25 – Dartington International Summer School and Festival concerts and events, Dartington Hall, Totnes, Devon

Bumper celebration of the Summer School’s 70th anniversary with a different theme each week: The Heavens, Moon and Stars; Bach’s St Matthew Passion; powerful women; and the history of Dartington and Dorothy Elmhirst’s influence.

Art and Exhibitions

July 26–29 and August 2–5 – The Wonder Project, Wakehurst, Ardingly, West Sussex

This after-hours experience at Kew’s sister botanic garden is an interactive journey through the landscape made up of specially commissioned artworks using light, sound and sculpture. Adult tickets £15, 7pm–9.30pm.

July 14–22 – Jacqueline and A. Lincoln Taber, Geedon Gallery, Fingringhoe, Essex

Recent works by the mother, who primarily paints still-lifes, and son, who has a propensity for insects.

Jacqueline and A. Lincoln Taber, Geedon Gallery

July 17–August 4 – ‘Britten’s War Requiem Print Exhibition’, Kevis House Gallery, Petworth, West Sussex

Series of eight prints inspired by Britten’s War Requiem by artist Ruth Dent, who made initial sketches while watching a performance of the piece.

July 12–21 – ‘Jonathan Cooper: 30 Years’, Jonathan Cooper Gallery, Park Walk, London SW10

Thirtieth anniversary group exhibition showcasing the works of 30 international artists within the genres of wildlife, botanical, landscape and still life.

July 7–January 6, 2019 – ‘Catwalking: fashion through the lens of Chris Moore’, The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co Durham

A rare insight into the fashion world, with 200 original photographs from shows by Balenciaga, Chanel and Vivienne Westwood plus a selection of catwalk outfits.

July 4–July 28 – ‘Getting Away!’, Arthouse1, Grange Road, Bermondsey, London SE1

A playful glimpse of the great British holiday using sculpture, paintings, video, plaster and ceramics, from melting ice creams to deck chairs and bank-holiday traffic. The exhibition will also appear at Quay Arts, Newport, Isle of Wight, from August 4 to September 29.

‘Getting Away!’, Arthouse1

June 9–July 21 – Martin Greenland, New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham, Surrey

‘Beautifully detailed, highly realistic yet surreal’ landscape paintings by the award-winning Lake District-based artist.

Until October 21 – ‘Canaletto and the Art of Venice’, The Queen’s Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh

The exhibition was a hit in London last year, and now The Royal Collection’s 18th-century Venetian work is on display in Edinburgh, with pieces by its most famous view-painter and his contemporaries.

Canaletto, Piazza San Marco looking East towards the Basilica and the Campanile, c.1723-4, part of a set of six views of Venice. Royal Collection Trust/(c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017 For single use only in connection with the exhibition 'Canaletto & the Art of Venice' at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, 19 May - 12 November 2017. Not to be archived or sold on.

Canaletto’s Piazza San Marco looking East towards the Basilica and the Campanile, c.1723-4, part of a set of six views of Venice. ©Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

May 26–November 11 – ‘Baldwin & Guggisberg: Under an Equal Sky’, Canterbury Cathedral

Large-scale glass installations designed to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War include 100 glass amphorae suspended in the shape of a ship. Normal admission prices apply

Until January 27, 2019 – ‘House of Portraits’, Powis Castle, Welshpool

Portraits by the likes of Reynolds, Gainsborough and Sargent will be on show, as well as Isaac Oliver’s miniature of Lord Edward Herbert of Cherbury, which was bought for the nation in 2016.

Powis Castle – Lord Herbert of Cherbury - OMN_250716 002 whole

May 8–October 31 – ‘An Elixir of Letters’, Chelsea Physic Garden, London

New artworks by leading lettering artists on the theme of drink, featuring pieces in stone, slate and metal inspired by the plants that go into teas, cordials and beers.

Until January 27, 2019 – ‘The Poppy: A Symbol of Remembrance’, National War Museum, Edinburgh Castle

Exploration of the symbolism of the poppy, from John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields to the inaugural ‘poppy day’ in 1921 and the first poppies to come out of the factory established by Lady Haig in 1926. Free admission with entry to the castle.

March 30–September 30 – Outdoor Sculpture and Indoor Art Exhibitions at The Walled Gardens, Croome Court, near High Green, Worcestershire

A series of exhibitions showcasing the works of various artists, including sculpture, landscapes, wildlife paintings, glasswork and embroidery. All pieces will be offered for sale. Standard admission applies.

Until January 27, 2019 – ‘The Poppy: A Symbol of Remembrance’, National War Museum, Edinburgh Castle

Exploration of the symbolism of the poppy, from John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields to the inaugural ‘poppy day’ in 1921 and the first poppies to come out of the factory established by Lady Haig in 1926. Free admission with entry to the castle.