HERITAGE: Art Installation: Casting Light, Mottisfont, Romsey, Sat 11 Jan – Sun 8 Nov
This month sees the launch of a brand new light installation at Mottisfont – Casting Light – and its tipped to be very illuminating (sorry!) Located in the Red Room, this immersive experience is by renowned artists Heinrich & Palmer, and uses modern technology to show the layers of history in Mottisfont unlike ever before.
EVENT: Mindfulness Trail, The Vyne, Sat 11 Jan – Sun 9 Feb
National Trust buildings and locations are known for being historically important and jaw-droppingly beautiful, so how about factoring this into some needed reflection? The Vyne is running a special Mindfulness Trail for the duration of January, giving visitors a chance to walk around its beautiful spots and take in some well needed mental clarity.
FAMILY: Surviving the Stone Age, Gosport Gallery, Sat 11 Jan – Sat 22 Feb
If the thought of the wi-fi cutting out gives you the cold sweats, then spare a thought for our poor old ancestors who didn’t even have dial-up. Surviving the Stone Age is a new exhibition at the Gosport Gallery looking at what life was like in Stone Age Hampshire, featuring artefacts that have lasted millennia and have-a-go activities.
EXHIBITION: Comedy & Commentary, Mottisfont, Sat 18 Jan – Sun 19 Apr
Who says cartoons are for kids? This new exhibition at Mottisfont features the works of respected and talented cartoonists, with a spin on modern events. With scathing wit and satire, this is comedy for grown-ups.
FAMILY: Raymond Briggs’: The Bear, Theatre Royal Winchester, Sat 1 – Sun 2 Feb
Tilly has a bit of a bear problem. The girl has made friends with a cheeky polar bear who is going to get her into ALL sorts of trouble. This tale by Raymond Briggs (yep, the guy who wrote The Snowman) brings puppetry, theatre and music together for a captivating show that will enchant and delight. The Guardian even compared it to er… War Horse.
FOOD & DRINK: Vegan Fiesta, Festival Place, Basingstoke, Sun 2 Feb
So, Veganuary is just about over but whether you’re now a full plant-based convert or just want to be a little bit flexitarian Basingstoke Festival Place has their monthly Vegan Fiesta this weekend. As well as yummy ethical food, you can also check out cruelty-free beauty, gifts and more.
EVENT: St Valentine’s Fayre and Jane Austen Talk, NST City, Southampton, Sun 2 Feb
It’s the month of lurveeee and this weekend sees the NST City in Southampton transform into a lovey-dovey artisan fair. As well as foodie bits and local crafters, there’s plenty of free activities for the kids to try out as well as a talk all about Hampshire’s very own Jane Austen.
OUTDOORS: Foxbury Equestrian Open Day, Foxbury Enclosure, Sun 2 Feb
If you like to gallop with the best of them, check out this horsey event in beautiful Foxbury. Taking into consideration the soggy Winter weather this organised ride-out is a chance to explore the beautiful National Trust area and give your pony a good old plod.
THEATRE: The Adult Panto, Peter Panties, Kings Theatre, Portsmouth, Sun 2 Feb
Yeah, ok Christmas is VERY much over but… we do LOVE panto and this isn’t just any old panto. Leave the kids well and truly at home for a raucous, rude and raunchy retelling of Peter Pan… with added saucy bits. Oooh errrr!
THEATRE: The Woman In Black, Kings Theatre, Portsmouth, Mon 3 – Sat 8
Following a record-breaking run in the West End, this tale of curses, creepy things and all the stuff that goes bump in the night makes its way to the King’s. If you spend the show watching from behind your hands, it still counts as culture.
CULTURE: Band of Gold, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, Tues 4 – Sat 8
It’s quite the casting line-up for this stage adaptation of the 90s TV classic. With a cast that includes Laurie Brett (Yep, that’s Jane from Eastenders), Shayne Ward and Gaynor Faye (Emmerdale, Playing the Field, Calendar Girls), dive into the seedy underbelly with a whole lot of production values.
TALK: IoIo Williams: Life Before the Lens, Winchester Theatre Royal, Wed 5
If you’re an animal fan then this evening with acclaimed wildlife presenter Iolo Williams is the ticket for you this month. With anecdotes of his exploits from a young age, this also carries an important message about protecting our eco-systems for the future.
FOOD & DRINK: Cook Off Clayton’s Kitchen, Fri 8
Get behind the kitchen door with this live demonstration of culinary prowess from Rob Clayton. As well as getting a chance to sip on some of Hampshire’s finest from Hambledon, you’ll learn tips and tricks to zhush up your cooking mojo before tucking into a fantabulous supper after all your hard learning.
COMEDY: Ed Byrne: If I’m Honest, The Anvil, Basingstoke, Fri 8
Ed Byrne’s latest show is a scathing and hilarious look at what traits he thinks are actually worth passing down to his kids… if any. A regular on shows such as Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week and QI, a few good laughs will set your weekend up just right.
FAMILY: Walk a Donkey Day, Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary, Ventnor, Sat 8
Every time I head to the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary I’m always astounded I don’t end up trying to bring any of them home. These gorgeous creatures are well looked after and loved at this little slice of donkey heaven on the Island and for a small donation of £5, you can take one out for a little stroll. Perfect for littlies or even big ones who are a sucker for soppy fluffy creatures.
COMEDY: Phil Wang: Philly Philly Wang Wang, Winchester Theatre Royal, Sat 8
Phil Wang is awkwardly hilarious and has plenty of uncomfortable jokes in his comedy repertoire. This weekend sees him bringing that cringeworthy comedy to Winchester with his latest show, Philly Philly Wang Wang.
THEATRE: Educating Rita, Kings Theatre, Portsmouth, Mon 10 – Sun 15
Featuring Stephen Tompkinson, this latest adaptation of marks the 40th year since the first production of a modern classic and follows the trials and tribulations of Frank and Rita, him a poetic drunkard and her a married hairdresser with aspirations to do more.
TALK: In Conversation with John Sergeant, Chewton Glen, Mon 10
Not content with being the chief political correspondent for the Beeb, John Seargeant won the hearts of the Great British Public when he appeared on Strictly. While he may no longer dance the foxtrot, he’s still full of fabulously salacious tales of which he will be sharing with guests at this special night at Chewton. Come for the food and stay for the goss.
THEATRE: Mama Mia!, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, Tues 11 – Sat 29
Full of camp Abba numbers and a cheesy love story, Mama Mia is a show that is guaranteed to get you in a good mood. Heading to Southampton for a three-week run, you’ll be transported to the Greek Islands for a hilarious tale of baby daddies, fey laughter and plenty of singing.
FOOD & DRINK: Chocolate Indulgence Cookery Class, The Kitchen at Chewton Glen, Wed 12
Well, it’s got chocolate so we’re already off to a good start. This fab half-day course will get you tempering chocolate like a Parisian master and mirror glazing like Mary Berry. Lunch is included and that’s before you even eat all the “mistakes” you’ve made.
FAMILY: Spirit of the Orient, Robin Hill Country Park, Newport, Fri 14 – Sat 22
If you haven’t been able to check out the amazing light events at Robin Hill yet then you really must have a look. The whole park is magical in the daytime, but when the sun goes down and the lights come on, it’s like you’ve stepped into another world.
COMEDY: Ardal O’Hanlon: The Showing Off Must Go On, Theatre Royal Winchester, Fri 14
The kind of comic your mum loves, Ardal O’Hanlan holds a special place in our hearts as the incredibly daft but endearing Father Dougal. However, Ardal also does stand-up and brings his latest show, The Showing Off Must Go On to Winchester this week. And don’t forget “These cows are small and those are farrrrr away.”
FOOD & DRINK: Brewing Romance, Chewton Glen, Fri 14 – Sun 16
Tea for two with added swoon. Chewton delivers the goods on the perfect afternoon tea complete with lovey-dovey vibes. And, if they don’t let you have the Red Velvet Battenberg, they probably aren’t worth it.
EVENT: Festival of Light, West Quay, Southampton, Fri 14 – Sun 23
To celebrate 400 years since The Mayflower set sail, West Quay is brightening up with its fantastic festival of lights. Perfect for “oooohing” and “aahhhhh”ing at, the free event has brand new installations this year and is also conveniently by alllll the shops.
FAMILY: Shipwreck Explorers: Royal Romance, The Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth, Sat 15 – Sun 23
Henry VIII was known for his erm… love affairs and this month sees a very special Shipwreck Explorers all about Tudor lurvveeee. Find out about the love tokens they gave each other, how they celebrated V. Day and what was the best way to keep your head if you were married to the King (Clue… it involved having a son).
EVENT: Snowdrop Sunday, Chawton House, Alton, Sun 16
Chawton will be all abloom with the return of its annual Snowdrop Sunday. Tour the grounds of Jane Austen’s former residence, hunt down the little white blooms and then top it off with a giant slice of cake.
CULTURE: Open Studios @ The Hotwalls, Portsmouth, Sun 16
Calling all you culture vultures, the Hotwalls Open Studios are on this weekend and you can have a good snoop around to see what the artist are up to. From fabulous printing from Fours&Eights, to brilliant artwork from other local creatives, make sure you pop along (and stop for a bite at Muddy LBBer The Canteen while you visit!)
FAMILY: Talk to the Animals Show, Tapnell Farm, Freshwater, Mon 17 – Sun 23
If animals could talk… well, now they can! This fantastic family-friendly event get the words right from the animal’s mouth, courtesy of Terry Antular and his crew. With interviews with the local wildlife and fun activities for all, it’ll be eye-opening to say the least.
TALK: Writers In Conversation: Gill Hornby, Chawton House, Alton, Wed 19
Chawton is an absolute hub of female literature and continuing the conversation right into 2020 is Gill Hornby with this special talk happening in February. Sunday Times bestseller Gill is launching her latest book, Miss Austen, and will be chatting with fellow author Carole Burns about her latest tome.
THEATRE: Seaside Terror, Ventnor Exchange, Wed 19
Yes, so… this one looks odd BUT terribly interesting. This is puppetry with added menace, courtesy of the creepy, sinister ice-cream man. I’m guessing we do not like to be beside the seaside after viewing this quirky performance. *shiver*
FAMILY: IoW Story Festival, Riverside Centre, Newport, Fri 21 – Sat 22
I’m not sure who will be more excited about this one, the kids or the grown-ups. The Island gets a magical, fairytale makeover this weekend as the IoW Story Festival returns for another year. With top names on the roster including illustrator Nick Sharatt and Sarah McIntyre, there’s story games, activities and workshops for kids of all ages.
MUSIC: Jack Up the 70s, Lower Hyde, Sat 22
Get ready to disco! The Island is stepping back to the groovy 70s with the latest Jack Up event this February. You can jive, hustle and do the funky chicken to your heart’s content accompanied by The Zoots.
THEATRE: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Kings Theatre, Portsmouth, Sat 22
Forget scripts and forget planning, this show is all about winging it. Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is an Oliver winner, Edinburgh Fringe mainstay and absolutely guarantees that no two shows are the same.
COMEDY: Suzi Ruffell: Dance Like Everyone’s Watching, The Berry Theatre, Hedge End, Sat 22
Hampshire’s very own Suzi Ruffell has made a name for herself on the comedy circuit and her latest stand-up show is all about being happy. The Pompey girl talks marriage, babies and a little bit about her local roots in a night that will have you giggling in the aisles
EVENT: Annual Pancake Race, Yarmouth, Tues 25
Shrove Tuesday means pancakes for all and in true Yarmouth spirit, they, of course have an annual pancake race. Gather to watch locals flip, toss and generally make a mess with the annual pancake dash before stopping by to explore this gorgeous little spot on the Wight.
TALK: Kitchens with Light Space & Laughter by Keith Myers, Myers Touch, Winchester, Tues 25
The kitchen is the heart of the home and Keith Myers knows a thing or two about kitchens. This special talk is all about maximising the hardest working room in the house, with great design ideas, nods to the latest trends and plenty of expert insight.
FAMILY: Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever, Kings Theatre, Portsmouth, Wed 26 – Thurs 27
The pink porcine hits the stage in a show that will delight toddler and hopefully win parents a little bit of peace and quiet. Peppa and co will be taking you along for a rip-roaring day of exploring caves, discovering dinosaurs and jumping in… yep, you guessed it, muddy puddles. A couple of restorative gins at the theatre bar should help….