Summer fun! What’s on this August
Fireworks, festivals, art, alfresco theatre and family fun - here's our pick of brilliant things to do around Hampshire and Isle of Wight this August
ART: Front Lines exhibition at Sandham Memorial Chapel, now until 25 September, Burghclere
A fascinating set of sketches by artist Geraint Ross Evans. Front Lines explores the day-to-day life of medics and patients at a Welsh hospital on the front line of the battle against COVID-19. Evans was inspired by the huge world-famous artworks of war artist Stanley Spencer, created from Spencer’s own experiences as a hospital orderly and a soldier during the First World War. See both exhibitions at this National Trust-run Chapel and gardens.
KIDS: Donkey Days at Exbury Gardens, Tues 2, Wed 10, Thurs 18 and Fri 26 Aug, Exbury, New Forest
Hee haw! There’s lots of things for kids to do at Exbury Gardens, including the Play Area, Log Trail, riverbank walks, woodland hideouts and steam train, to name a few. Adding to the fun this month, kids aged 18 months to 12 years can also go for a trot on a gorgeous donkey, too, on special ‘Donkey Days’. No long faces after that.
ART: Mythomania at the Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery, now until Sat 15 Aug, Basingstoke
Ancient Greek legends, modern superheroes and ‘fake news’ have all inspired movies and Leeds-based Canadian artist Ian Kirkpatrick, who’s work is on display now at the Willis and Sainsbury Museum. Conceived using graphic design software, the large-scale sculptures allude to ancient monuments, dragons and robots. The surface of each piece reflects our culture’s obsession with heroes, villains, utopias and impending apocalypse. Big stuff.
KIDS: Farm Fun and Film Nights, Tapnell Farm, every Tues from 2 – 30 Aug, Yarmouth
Have a day of fun at Tapnell Farm then stay on to watch kid’s big hitter Encanto every Tuesday night through August. There’s plenty of treats too, like candy floss, popcorn and ice cream and a tipple or two from the a licensed bar. ‘Captain Pizza’ from Cowes will be cooking up pizzas and pizza nachos. Just don’t mention Bruno… Also this month, The Island’s Biggest Kid’s Party is on every Thursday night, Think bubble shows party games, live music, party dances and a disco to bust their best moves at.
OUTDOORS: Magic in the Skies at The Needles Landmark Attraction, Thursdays from 4 Aug – 1 Sept, Alum Bay
It’s not just the sandy cliffs at Alum Bay drawing the crowds in with their beautiful hues. Visit The Needles Landmark Attraction every Thursday at dusk this August to see the sky lit up with colours too, all set to a special musical score.
KIDS: Thomas The Tank Engine at The Watercress Line, Sat 6 – Sun 14 Aug, Ropley, Alton
All aboard! Thomas the Tank Engine and loads of his friends are back at The Watercress Line this Summer. Littlies will love steaming along the track and having a meet and greet with the likes of Sir Topham Hatt, Rusty & Dusty.
FOOD & DRINK: Summer Supper at The Grazing Rooms, Fri 12 Aug, Sky Park Farm, near Petersfield
The latest Summer Supper Series of special foodie fine dining events continues this August at the Grazing Rooms restaurant, found at the Sky Park Farm near Petersfield. Tuck into five beautiful courses made using seasonal produce from local suppliers. Dishes will be paired with English sparkling wines from East Hampshire’s multi-award winning Trotton Estate Vineyards.
FESTIVAL: Jack up the Party, Sat 13 – Sun 14, Ryde, Isle of Wight
Ready for retro? This boutique, family-friendly celebration of pop music from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s brings top tribute acts for the likes of George Michael to Tom Jones, Meatloaf and Madonna. Fresh bangers and burgers come from the picturesque Hazlegrove Farm where the event is hosted.
OUTDOORS: The South Downs Show, Sat 13 – Sun 14 Aug, Queen Elizabeth Country Park, near Petersfield
Family fun and all things countryside in the South Downs National Park. This year, the two-day South Downs Show will be held at Queen Elizabeth Country Park. And it has all the makings of a great family day out. Think dog shows, an animal petting zoo, children’s rides and fun zone, country life stalls, alpacas, live music and a beer tent (dibs not driving).
MUSIC: Wight Proms, Tues 16 – Sun 21 Aug, Northwood Park, near Cowes
Gear up for a week of top entertainment on the Island. From celeb drag with Kitty Scott-Claus (above) and Ella Vaday to the hilarious children’s TV show, Horrible Histories, gala opera and a ‘Wight Laugh’ with Julian Clary, there’s plenty to pick from. If BIG musical concerts are more your thing, the weekend brings Wight at the Musicals, finishing with flag waving, Pomp and Circumstance and Jerusalem at Last Wight of the Proms, starring the multi-platinum selling X-Factor stars, G4.
THEATRE: The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Thurs 18 Aug, Uppark, near Petersfield
Love a spot of alfresco theatre? Then hop to it. Book the family in to enjoy the Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny’s exciting adventures, in this enchanting theatrical adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s much-loved classic. It’s being performed on Uppark’s spacious lawn from 7pm – 8.45pm. Also this month, bring the kids for Uppark’s fun conservation-themed trail (on until Sun 4 Sept) with 10 activity points that’ll see them drawing butterflies, bouncing like a hare and helping build a giant nest. Oh, and there’s Bug Bingo too. What a buzz!
OUTDOORS: Night Glow, Fri 19 – Sun 21 Aug, Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Isle of Wight
The hot air balloons are back again at Robin Hill Country Park and this time they’re super lit… Novelty shapes will brighten the evening sky with bursts of colour and float along to special soundscapes, with sing-along favourites for Night Glow and a firework finale. Boom.
FOOD & DRINK: The Big Alfresco Farm Feast at Hollycombe Home Farm, Sat 20 Aug, Hollycombe, near Liphook
Fresh, seasonal produce cooked over a wood-fired stove with cocktails, local beers and wines and live music are the rather appealing sell of this relaxed summer pop-up, farm-to-fork alfresco restaurant event. Three courses will be served-up picnic-style, looking out over gorgeous countryside.
FESTIVAL: The Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, Sat 20 – Sun 21 August, Newchurch
Yep, you are seeing right – a garlic-loving vampire! Only on the Isle of Wight… Back for the first time since 2019, the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival is the Island’s biggest summer show. Held at The Fighting Cocks Crossroads, just outside of Newchurch, expect chef demos, musicians, live music and children’s activities. Plus (of course) lots of garlic. Mints at the ready.
ART: Hampshire Open Studios, Sat 20 – Mon 29 Aug, various locations, Hampshire
Ceramics, canvas, jewellery and loads more. Take a peek at works by the local talent in your patch of Hampshire and beyond on the Hampshire Open Studios annual art trail. Over 290 studios, galleries, artists and art groups will open their doors to exhibit original works.
FESTIVAL: Victorious, Fri 26 – Sun 28 August, Southsea Common, Portsmouth
Dance the August Bank Holiday away on Southsea seafront with great tunes and a beautiful view of the Solent. Big acts confirmed for the feel-good Victorious Festival include the likes of Paulo Nutini, Stereophonics, James, The Sugarbabes and loads more.
FESTIVAL: CarFest South, Fri 26 – Sun 28 Aug, Laverstoke Park
If you like a bit of motor car action with your big-hitter musical headliners, head to Laverstoke Park in North Hampshire this month. Racing legend Jodie Scheckter’s 2,500 acre water-buffalo farm hosts big-name acts like Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Jack Savoretti, the Kaiser Chiefs, Steps and Sophie Ellis Bextor, raising funds for children’s charities. Along with the music and the cars, this year you’ll also find foodie, kids, retro and adventure fun.
THEATRE: Romeo & Juliet, Sun 28 Aug, Winchester College, Winchester
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? The gorgeous grounds of Winchester College are the setting for the star-crossed lovers’ enduring tale of love and loss. It’ll be performed by national open-air theatre veterans, The Charterhouse Theatre Company.
FOOD & DRINK: The FB Pocket Orchestra & Fizz, Sun 28 Aug, Hambledon Vineyard, Hambledon
England’s oldest commercial vineyard has a stellar lineup of tours and English sparkling wine tastings this summer, as well as pop-up fine dining among the vines and sparkling afternoon teas. And there are some fab musical events too, like this cool concert with the FB Orchestra. The oh-so-cool musical trio will take you ‘around the world in 80 staves’ with picnic, views and glass of Hambledon Rose. Perfect.
OUTDOORS: The Emsworth Show, Mon 29 Aug, Emsworth
Brass bands, doggie agility, fairground rides, Punch & Judy, craft, music, prize-winning veg and horticulture – the Emsworth Show has all the right ingredients for a wonderfully British, rosette-winning Bank Holiday day out.
THEATRE: Girl from the North Country, Tues 30 Aug – Sat 3 Sept, The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Reimagining the songs of Bob Dylan, Girl from the North Country is set in 1934 in the heartland of America. A group of wayward souls cross paths in a time-weathered guesthouse, facing up to unspoken truths with a soundtrack by the legendary singer-songwriter. Here as part of its first UK tour, the production is a double Olivier and Tony Award-winning West End and Broadway hit. And critics have raved over it. Definitely one to catch.