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What’s On in the Country? The Culture Diary

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What’s On in the Country? The Culture Diary

Don't miss the best cultural events in the UK during the month...


What’s on this week in the countryside and the UK beyond London? Wonder no more! Find out all the hottest show openings, new art exhibitions, restaurants to book into and more. (Or if reading this is all too much, download our What’s On Podcast, here.) Here’s your culture guide to the month ahead…

Looking for events in London? Check out our Town Culture Diary

What’s On in the Country this Month? October 2018

1 October

A Universe Full of Stars, Northumberland

Questions of the universe have occupied philosophers and astrologers throughout the ages. Gary Fildes, founder of the Kielder Observatory in Northumberland (which turns ten this year), will show you our unique position in the cosmos through his telescopes – as the third largest protected Dark Sky reserve in the world, it’s the best place for stargazing in the UK. Until 16 November,

Kielder Observatory

3 October

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance – Contagion, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Shobana Jeyasingh’s new work Contagion is inspired by the nature and rapid spread of viruses, both in the context of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and through the broader idea of war as a global contagion. The work of Austrian artist Egon Schiele, who was a victim of the pandemic, is a powerful footnote to the choreography. The work, co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, is set to an atmospheric soundscape and presented in a promenade style with digital visuals in unusual venues, many with connections to the First World War. Until 20 October.

Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s Trial by Laughter

Following the sell-out success of The Wipers Times in the West End and across the country, Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have once again taken inspiration from real life events for their new play Trial by Laughter. In 1817, bookseller, publisher and satirist William Hone stood trial for parodying religion, the despotic government and the libidinous monarchy. The only crime he had committed was that of being funny. In 2018, the satirists Ian Hislop and Nick Newman rediscover this forgotten hero of free speech and ask if just over two hundred years later our press has any greater freedom. Until 27 October,


4 October

Helaine Blumenfeld at Ely Cathedral

If the 900-year-old Ely Cathedral in Cambridge wasn’t already an attraction, Helaine Blumenfeld’s large-scale sculpture installation has certainly made it one. Entitled Tree of Life to reflect humanity’s complexities 17 bronze and marble sculptures comprise the exhibition throughout the cathedral and grounds. Until 28 October,

Ely Cathedral

A La Ronde, Devon

A La Ronde, Devon

Empowered feminism in en vogue, but its purest form made it to Devon more than 200 years ago. After a grand tour of Europe, cousins Jane and Mary Parminter designed a wildly off-trend house that only unmarried women could inherit. Apart from one chain-break, it passed through the female line for its whole history. Feathers frame the art collection alongside sand and seaweed art and a shell gallery fills the top of the house. A succession of secret doors provide exits to escape from French soldiers, who were expected to invade at any point. Truly visionary.

5 October

Biennial Benchmarch

Beautiful world, where are you?, the 10th edition of the Liverpool Biennial, features artists and their reflections on a world in social political and economic turmoil. The largest festival of contemporary art in the UK boasts 40 artists, including Ryan Gander and Angès Varda, across Liverpool’s public spaces and galleries. Until 28 October,

Biennial Benchmarch

Agnes Varda Ulysse (film still, 1982)

6 October

Stanley Spencer in Focus, Cookham

Head to the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham to view the Patron Saints exhibition that boasts an incredible collection of loans, including a work that has not been viewed by the public for over 50 years. The exhibition will examine the complex relationship Spencer had with his patrons and how it shaped his work. Until 4 November,

Stanley Spencer in Focus

7 October

The Grand Tour, Chatsworth

Fasten your seat belts for a whistlestop tour of the UK’s top art institutions. Start at Chatsworth, where Linder Sterling will take up the post of the country house’s very first artist-in-residence, the fruits of which will inform a major new artist-curated exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary. The Harley Gallery and Derby Museums are getting in on the act too. Until 21 October,

The Grand Tour Linder Sterling

8 October

Rhondda Rips It Up!

Welsh National Opera will tell a tongue-in-cheek story about the remarkable suffragette, Margaret Haig Thomas in an all-female, music hall production in Newport, South Wales before going on tour. Until 21 November,

9 October

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style

Symbolic of 20th-century modernity, ocean liners heralded the golden age of travel. The exhibition at the new Scottish outpost of The V&A examines ships such as the Titanic and the Queen Mary and their influence on popular culture. Until 24 February,


12 October

Oxford Lieder Festival

This year’s Oxford Lieder Festival celebrates European song from Finland to the south of Spain, and Dublin to Moscow. Programme highlights include a day-long event dedicated to Scandinavian song, a celebration of Claude Debussy’s centenary, plus ‘An evening in Spain’ with Spanish violin music, Spanish wine tasting and Flamenco. 12-27 October,

13 October

Mid Century and Vintage Fair at Bedruthan Steps Hotel

With over 50 stalls of fashion, homewares, furniture and lighting, antiques, collectables and vintage-inspired crafts and design – there is something for everyone! Featuring some of the finest Vintage clothes and homewares, this is a staple in our annual country calendar. 13-14 October,


19 October

‘Behind The Mask’ by Philip Jackson

Internationally acclaimed sculptor, Philip Jackson, will bring his art to Petworth, West Sussex this month and next for an exhibition of awe-inspiringly large-scale figures. You may recognise his work from Hyde Park where he created the iconic Bomber Command Memorial or his recent Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square; now, Jackson will be hosting his largest exhibition to date, with over fifty works on show, in West Sussex, showcasing dominating female figures and more in the surroundings of Petworth’s 18th-century Georgian townhouse and coach house, Newlands House. October 19 – November 24 2018,


20 October

Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection, Twickenham

Masterpieces from the magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture and curiosities created by Horace Walpole will be reassembled for this once-in-a-lifetime show. The pieces are from his celebrated gothic villa at Strawberry Hill and were later dispersed all over the world in the famous sale in 1842. The exhibition will provide a unique opportunity to experience one of the most famous 18th-century collections including great works by Joshua Reynolds, Anthony Van Dyck and Hans Holbein, reunited in the original setting of Strawberry Hill’s fine rooms. Until 24 February 2019.

26 October

Beneath our Feet at Carnglaze Caverns

Devised in collaboration with a pioneering group of archaeologists, geologists, historians, cavers and former miners, Beneath Our Feet is a promenade performance that will use dance and live music to tell the story of the underground. 26-27 Octobertickets from £12 at


Faces of Change: Votes for Women, Nationwide

The National Trust and the Portrait Gallery collaborate to bring paintings, photos and archival documents to Devon, Nottinghamshire and County Down. Until 3 Feb 2019,

6 December

Padstow Christmas Market & Festival

Padstow Christmas Market & Festival

What could be better than a Christmas market? Padstow’s Christmas Market & Festival, supported by acclaimed chefs Paul Ainsworth, Nathan Outlaw and Rick Stein! Head to the fishing town in Cornwall for a 3-day celebration full of pop-up stalls of artisan food from names such as Wild Food Kitchen and Cracking Nuts, fresh food and drink from Cornish Duck Truck and Wildbake amongst many great others, and arts and crafts, carolling, a fantastic fireworks display and enough festive cheer to fill you up till next December. Whilst you’re there, why not stay for a night or two at Padstow Townhouse? Opened by Paul Ainsworth and his wife Emma, the townhouse is an adult-only, boutique gem perfect for putting your feet up and relaxing after a day at the festival. Stays at Padstow Townhouse from £280 per room per night, based on two people sharing, including breakfast and VAT. To make a reservation email [email protected] , call 01841 550 950 or visit Entry to the festival is free so grab your flag of Cornwall, head southwest and enjoy!

February 2019

MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

The new MK Gallery, designed by Award-winning architects 6a, will open in February 2019, doubling the size of the current building and creating a world-class centre for contemporary arts in the heart of Milton Keynes. The new building will include a flexible suite of galleries to accommodate a rich variety of works, historical and contemporary. It will also include a cinema/performance space, a new foyer and bookshop, an informal bar/café, a learning space, plus areas for reading and study. Until July 2019,

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