May kicks off with Muddy fave Craig Revel Horwood appearing in the stage production of Annie at The Mayflower in Southampton until Sat 4th. Packed to the rafters with everybody’s fave songs, this is the perfect feel-good production to start the month off with a bang.
Also at The Mayflower this month is the Welsh National Opera with its performance of Roberto Devereux on Fri 10th. Donizetti’s tale of treason and secret love in Tudor-era England is sung in Italian, but don’t worry there are English subtitles just in case your Italiano is a tad rusty. And if that’s a bit heavy for you, the day before there is also a performance of The Magic Flute complete with a score featuring Mozart.
Over in Portsmouth, The New Theatre Royal is putting on a heck of a show with Les Musicals 2019 on Tues 14th. This is a mash-up of everybody’s fave tunes from shows such as Wicked, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Greatest Showman, fronted by G4 lead man (and my old school cohort) Jonathan Ansell and winner of BGT, Jai McDowall. This is bound to be a popular one as last year’s show sold out completely.
At The Point in Eastleigh, the theatre continues its modus operandi of thought-provoking and avant-garde theatre with Anima on Thurs 16th. Part acrobatic spectacle, part philosophical introspective for the psyche, this show by Joli Vyann is all about ‘breathing’. Not your average night out at the theatre but definitely one worth catching.
Over to Winchester now where the Theatre Royal is hosting Intergr8 Dance with a reimagining of the family classic The Wizard of Oz. The Road to Oz is all about Dorothy and her motley crew making their way to the Emerald City. The performers in this show range in age from 4-20 and have incredible talent and runs from Thurs 30th to Fri 31st.
The sun has reappeared and that can only mean one thing – festival season is upon us! Wooohoo! Starting off the season with a woofing awesome event is Dogstival at Pylewell Park in the New Forest. Occurring on Sat 18th – Sun 19th, this is tipped to be the ultimate day out for you and your dog. You and your furry friends can check out the events and activities plus lots of canine shopping as well.
Also on the 19th May is the annual Alresford Watercress Festival. With the ever important Watercress Eating Championships plus guests such as Masterchef Champs Shelina Permaloo and Jane Devonshire, this is a fantastic celebration of local fare and Hampshire fun.
Meanwhile, over on the Island, it’s sensible stilettos on for the Isle of Wight Walking Festival (Sat 4th – Sun 19th) where Islanders and visitors alike can discover some of the beautiful scenery of the Wight on foot. With a range of guided walks and special events, if you’ve ever wanted to explore a bit more this is the perfect opportunity.
If you fancy going a tad further afield then head just over the border to Dorset for the first ever Mudeford Seafood Festival on the Bank Holiday weekend (Sat 25th – Mon 27th). With amazing locally caught seafood to try, special guest appearances from Rustie Lee, chef Brian Turner and Hampshire fave Fred Dineage, this celebration of fishy food and local industry is going to be awesome.
Things are getting a bit saucy in Portsmouth on the first weekend of May. Brand spanking new food court, Outside-In, is holding a Latin Street Festival for Cinqo de Mayo. Featuring South American food (definitely check out the amazing offerings there from Arepa2Go… they are insanely good), plus a whole host of Latin music and entertainment, you’ve also got the whole Bank Holiday Monday to recover from too many mojitos.
Muddy Little Black Booker Gee Cartwright is hosting a dinner party with a difference at Gamble Down Farm near Romsey on the 9th. Her Hands On Cookery Evening will get you cooking a fabulous three-course dinner from scratch. Gee’s courses are really well respected and she teaches them around Hampshire, as well as in London. Tickets are £55pp.
If you fancy a break from meat then celebrate National Vegetarian Week with a special veggie supper club on Thurs 16th. Located at the super swishy surroundings of Myers Touch in Winchester, McCrimmon & Reid work their magic creating fantastic dishes for diners – completely meat free. Tickets cost £45pp and it’s bring a bottle.
Over on the Island, The Boathouse continues its calendar of fantastic foodie events with a night of Isle of Wight produce on Sat 18th. It’s no secret that some of the food and drink made on the Island is some of the best and, this evening, in the beautiful surroundings of Seaview, brings the creme de la creme together for a total foodgasm.
The Purefoy Arms in Basingstoke is celebrating English Wine Week (Sat 25 May – Sun 2 June) with a specially selected 9-course tasting menu paired with some fantastic plonks from nearby Hattingley Valley. Gordon Stott aka ‘Chef of the Year’ is known for his fantastic creations and at £59.95 plus an optional charge for a wine flight along with it, it’s tipped to be a rather fantastic gastronomic experience.
For something a little less fancy then head down to Gunwharf Quays on the Bank Holiday Weekend (Sat 25th – Mon 27th) for the southern heats of the British Street Food Awards. Featuring the best of the best as they battle it out to be crowned ‘Kings of Street Food’. Bring your appetite for this one.
Our favourite life-giving beverage (honestly, I can’t function without it) is getting its very own week with National Coffee Week (Mon 29th April – Sun 5th May). And, if you head down to Southampton Coffee Week they will be slinging the bean in every way imaginable. With indie businesses such as the brand new SO:CAKE and Nousha getting involved (they’re selling GLITTER coffee), plus lots of money being raised for charity it’s a fantastic excuse to drink even more of the caffeinated good-stuff.
Onto the harder stuff and there’s some fab boozy events happening in and around the county this month. Over at Winchester Cathedral they’re holding a ‘For the Love of Gin’ evening on Thurs 9th. This four-course meal comes complete with carefully selected gins for each element of the meal from the nearby Winchester Distillery. Tickets cost £35pp. We’ll see you there!
Now that it’s starting to get a bit sunnier its time to start on the al fresco parties and at Muddy Award-winning The Watership Down Inn they are holding a fantastic family-friendly Beer Festival on the latter May Bank Holiday weekend (Sat 25th – Mon 27th). This free event comes complete with a gorgeous view, fantastic food and a specially created cocktail from the next-door neighbour, Bombay Sapphire Distillery. They’ve also got lots of kids activities on Sunday so definitely one checking out with the whole fam’.
ART & EXHIBITIONS
The exhibitions are popping up left, right and centre this May, with Muddy Award-winning Eastwood Fine Art opening their Spring show all about Colour. This show, in Stockbridge, is full of mixed media and, for the first time, includes outside exhibits and even some inside the gallery owners home. Make sure you catch it between Fri 3rd and Sat 18th.
Meanwhile, also in Stockbridge, The Wykeham Gallery has its Spring show opening up as well (Fri 3rd – Sat 18th) . This collection of pieces comes from three artists, Mike Bernard, Paul Jackson and Jethro Jackson (Paul and Jethro are actually father and son), and features impressive insights of the Cornish coastline, ceramics and a great diversity of scope.
Over in Andover, Nadia Waterfield Fine Art is celebrating not only the Spring Hampshire Art Fair but also the opening of a brand new gallery space. With the preview on Thurs 9th, you’ll be able to visit the new gallery and check out work from a vast range of artists in different mediums (I particularly like Alexandra Brown’s work of oil on copper leaf). The show runs until Sun 19th, but the work can be viewed on certain days or by appointment after the event ends.
For all you shutterbugs there’s a fantastic exhibition of photography at the National Trust’s Mottisfont starting on Wed 1st. ‘A Good Year for Roses’ is a collection of images, some of which are super quirky, that were snapped during 2018 in the Rose Garden by The Caravan Gallery. The show runs until Sun 30 June.
The National Theatre Live is putting on a production of All My Sons by one of my fave playwrights, Arthur Miller. Broadcasting live from The Old Vic in London on Tues 14th, and featuring Sally Field, Bill Pullman and Jenna Coleman, you can catch this at a few places across the Hampshire and IoW regions, including The Berry Theatre, Everyman Winchester, Nuffield in Southampton and Ventnor Arts Club.
May is looking pretty funny with some great comics heading down south. On the 1st Strictly bad boy Seann Walsh heads to Andover with his new show After This One, I’m Going Home, to talk about his musings as a grumpy, somewhat funny, millennial. And on Sat 12th comedy musicians Flo & Joan head to Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms for a rescheduled show. If you don’t know who they are, then check out their tune, Perfect Night Out on YouTube for a good laugh.
For a twang of Stateside comedy then check out Rich Hall’s Hoedown on Thurs 16th at Princes Hall in Aldershot. He’ll be discussing all things Trump and then descending into a comedy Americana music-fest.
For something a little less divisive and a lot more fabulous, Julian Clary hits Southampton Mayflower on Sun 19th with his show – Born to Mince. Campy, witty, funny – Julian is the embodiment of everything smutty and wonderful on the comedy scene.
Also, if you can’t make that date then definitely make sure you check out Deborah Frances-White‘s show, The Guilty Feminist Live, also at The Mayflower, on Weds 22nd and check out our interview with Fleabag’s bezzie
To music now and this month you can enjoy the smooth sounds of Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra on Wed 1st at Basingstoke’s Anvil Arts. Also at The Anvil this month is 90s pop lovies Wet Wet Wet on Wed 8th – ‘we feel it in our fingers’ this will be a fantastic gig to check out.
Festival circuit faves and all round electro-punk outfit, The Sleaford Mods are dropping by The Pyramids in Portsmouth on Thurs 2 May. Undoubtedly this will be a fantastic set from the duo who just dropped their latest release, Eton Alive, back in February.
Over on the Island at The Shanklin Theatre, the fabulous La Voix, shimmies to the Wight on Sat 18th with her repertoire of wit and pitch-perfect musical impersonations. She’s so good that Sir Ian McKellan said of her ‘Better than Bassey, Camp my dear’
Also at The Shanklin Theatre, heartthrob and ex-Wet Wet Wet frontman, Marti Pellow is popping for his solo tour on Fri 24th. And bringing the Island to the mainland, Lauran Hibberd, who has been tipped by Huw Stephens and Clara Amfo from BBC Radio 1 as ‘one to watch’, is visiting the Southampton Joiners on Tues 21st with her modern sound of indie/rock honed from growing up on the Isle of Wight.
KIDS & FAMILY
The first Bank Holiday weekend of the month (Sat 4th – Mon 6th) means the kids can get out and about with a fantastic event, complete with crafts and bonkers Morris Dancing at the Buckler’s Hard Shipwrightry and Morris Dancing May Bank Holiday.
Also, whether or not you’ve had a chance to check out the fantastic Horrible Histories: Pirates exhibit at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, you’ll be pleased to know that the HH team are bringing their show Barmy Britain, to Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal on Sat 18th – Sun 19th May. This West End show brings the best (and gruesomest) bits of British history into full walking, talking and joke-cracking reality.
Also in Portsmouth this month is The Bureau of Untold Stories at Portsmouth Guildhall on Sat 25th. Here the kids can be inducted as the newest snooping recruits and uncover an interactive mystery of ‘The Eraser’
Another fab family show on this month is Zog, at The Haymarket in Basingstoke. Written by the kiddy lit masterminds behind The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, this story of an eager to please dragon is bound to win the hearts of the littlies on Weds 29th and Thurs 30th of the month.
At Hedge End’s family theatre, The Berry, Hampshire improv stalwarts, The Noise Next Door, are getting all ship-shape with their show The Noise Next Door at Sea on Thurs 30th. A good one for kids and adults alike.
Throw the kids into the great outdoors with a fab Wild Play Day at the National Trust at Foxbury on the Thurs 30th. Roasting marshmallows and climbing trees, the National Trust also have a fab list of ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ to tick off as they play.
If you prefer your outdoor pursuits to be a tad classier then make sure you pop Sat 25th in your diary for the New Forest Polo Spring Tournament in Brockenhurst. And don’t be put off if you don’t know your chukka from your champers, as this is actually a super family-friendly and accessible event. As well as the tournaments themselves there’s food, entertainment for the kids and the chance to channel all your Jilly Cooper-based fantasies while there.
For something a little less adrenaline-based then how about a calm quiet stroll through the grounds of National Trust property, Hinton Ampner. This May half-term (Sat 25 May – Sun 2 June) they’re running a Bee Trail across the property where you and the kids can draw, hunt and discover more about our buzzy friends.
NEW EXHIBITION: Beasts of London, Museum of London, Fri 5 May – Sun 5 Jan
This looks amazing- a fully immersive, digital installation (see above for a sneak preview) exploring the role animals have played in the shaping of London, from the Roman era all they way up to present day. The interactive show uses video projection mapping to bring the beasts, from rats to lions, to life as they narrate a virtual tour of London. There are some major British celebs involved too, with Kate Moss, Brian Blessed, Pam Ferris and more voicing the beasts. museumoflondon.org.uk
Must-see exhibitions in the big smoke this month include the V&A‘s retrospective of iconic 1960s designer and the mother of miniskirts, Mary Quant– over 200 garments, accessories and exclusive unseen pieces from the designer’s personal archive (until Sun 16 Feb 2020); also at the V&A is this year’s biggie, the largest House of Dior collection ever staged in the UK, which traces the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him (until Sun 1 Sept). It is sold out but there are a few first-come, first served tickets available from 10am from the Grand Entrance – it’s well worth trying your luck. Or you can see the exhibition by purchasing a membership for the V&A. Also worth checking out is the major Van Gogh show at Tate Britain, with over 45 works, including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon and David Bomberg (until Sun 11 Aug).
HOMES & INTERIORS
In need of some home inspo? Grand Designs Live pitches up at London’s ExCeL(Sat 4 – Sun 12) with loads of exhibitors, product launches and expert advice on how to pimp your pad whether you’re planning a self-build, renovation or are adding the finishing touches. Kevin McCloud will be on hand for a natter, too – let’s hope he’s in a good mood. Or there’s Clerkenwell Design Week (I’ve been a few times, it’s well worth the trip), home to more creative businesses and architects per square mile than anywhere else on the planet. It’s the 10th annual festival which attracts some of the best of designers in the world, including a huge range of homegrown talent (Tue 21 – Thurs 23). Finally, feeling crafty? London Craft Week (Wed 8 – Sun 12) showcases exceptional craftsmanship in London with a programme of workshops by both unknown makers and celebrated masters held in famous studios, galleries and shops. This year London’s hippest new hangout Coal Drops Yard is getting involved for the first time with loads of cool workshops and installations.