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Hello July! What’s On this month

Shine on Summer.... From foodie festivals to art, comedy, theatre and floating yoga, here's what's on in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight this July.

FESTIVAL: Winchester Hat Fair, Fri 2–Sun 4 July, North Walls Rec Ground

Pic: Adrienne-Photography

With a tagline of “the art of the unexpected”, Winchester becomes a cacophony of curious sights and moments during the Hat Fair. Think street theatre, dancing and wonderfully bonkers things at every turn, this is Winchester in a totally different light. To avoid the usual crowds along the cobbles, the 2021 event is ticketed and all three days are at North Walls Recreation Ground.

COMEDY: The Noise Next Door, 9 July, Theatre Royal Winchester

After a year plus of going increasingly stir-crazy, a spot of madcap comedy billed as ‘finely-tuned anarchy’ sounds pretty perfect. It’s what’s on this July at Winchester’s Theatre Royal, curtesy of the cheeky-charming comedy foursome, The Noise Next Door. The sell-out veterans of The Edinburgh Fringe and stars of the telly box are all about the audience-prompted improv. Be prepare to get involved!

VISIT: Stanstead Unlocked! 10-11 July, Stanstead House, Rowlands Castle

A gorgeous grand house on the Sussex border, the estate’s Stanstead Unlocked! summer extravaganza is a hit parade of grand British traditions. On the bill this year are The Band of the Grenadier Guards, soothing jazz and Stanstead’s gorgeous light railway. Oh, and Napoleonic reenactments, cricket on the lawn and a mystical maze! Look out for Muddy quaffing all the Pimms…

VISIT: Sunset Safari, Sat 10/24 July, Hawk Conservancy Trust Andover

Safari hotspots are not likely to be on the green list anytime soon – but this might just be the next best thing. See the African birds soar across the skyline at sunset as your guide transports you to the Savannah for the evening. Soaring above will be a Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, falcons, a Secretary Bird, vultures, and an intriguing-sounding African Fish-Eagle. Experts will tell tales of native wildlife in Africa with theatre, music and special effects.

CINEMA: Pictures in the Park, 8-11 July, The Walled Garden, Basingstoke

Movie magic for all the family in the gorgeous walled garden at Basingstoke’s Down Grange is coming. Choose from ten fab films screened as part of Basingstoke Festival 2021’s Pictures in the Park. Think classics like Frozen 2 and Madagascar for the Mudlets, Black Mamba and Bridesmaids for the grown-ups and The Greatest Showman singalong for all the fam.

FITNESS: SUP Yoga with Emma, Wed 14 & Sat 31 July, Bembridge, IoW

Floating downward dog anyone? You’ll be in good hands with professional yachtswoman-turned-yoga-instructor Emma. And you don’t need to be a yoga or SUP pro, either – beginners in both activities are welcome. Take to the water on a stand-up paddleboard, stretch, flow and enjoy the blissful stillness of dusk on the water off St. Helen’s beach.

FESTIVAL: Foodies Festival Winchester, Fri 16 – Sun 18 July, Winchester

Something for everyone at this three-day foodie festival, from a Masterchef winner in the Chefs Theatre to a GBBO finalist in the Cake & Bake Theatre. It’s not all about the food though: there’s wine, champagne, beer and cocktail making masterclasses too, plus shopping village with artisan producers, street food, a Kids Cookery School and live music. Foodie fabulous.

VISIT: Mrs. Elton’s Strawberry Picnic, 17 July, Jane Austen’s, Chawton

Mrs. Elton's Strawberry Picnic event what's on July Jane Austen's House Hampshire

Defy Mr Woodhouse’s concern and enjoy tea fresh strawberries and cream in Jane Austen’s beautiful cottage garden. Celebrating the wonderful Emma, you’ll take a tour of Jane Austen’s House, see the rooms where she wrote it and hear where her inspiration for the novel came from. Then you can discuss it to your hearts content with the museum staff and fellow enthusiasts. Fan girl heaven!

FOOD: Lymington Seafood Festival, Fri 16 – Sun 18 July, Bath Road Park

Lymington Seafood Festival What's on July Hampshire

If you want foodie fun in the New Forest, check out Lymington Seafood Festival. An absolute Muddy must-visit, the festival is packed with artisanal street food from local producers and the pop-up ‘Bream on the Green’ restaurant. Demonstration kitchens will get you cooking like a pro. Plus there’s a line-up of soul, rock, pop and folk music to go with your lobster. This year, advance tickets (£5) are a must, so grab ’em now.

ART: Tomato Catch-up, 23 July, The Alfred Arms, Southampton

RIPE art exhibition Southampton

Opening night for a graduate art show? Well, its got to involve deep and meaningful conversation and a drink or three. Find both plus a barrel load of great work by brilliant local talent on display at Tomato Catch-up. Held at the Alfred Arms pub-turned-arts space, it’s the first in a series of ‘RIPE’ exhibitions, events and residencies from ‘a space’ arts.

ART: Ladybird Book Collection, 24 July – 5 Sept, Mottisfont, Romsey

Mottisfont always does exhibitions well. This one looks set to be a real goodie. Eighteen original watercolours from Ladybird’s 1950s and 1960s book series ‘What To Look For In Summer’ will be on show in the main gallery. Outside, in the beech tree circle, there’ll be an outdoor gallery space with vibrant digital illustrations by local artist Natasha Durley. Look out for brilliant works like this water vole scene, created for the brand new Ladybird edition of the classic title.

FESTIVAL: Ventnor Fringe, Fri 23 July – Thurs 1 Aug, Ventnor, Isle of Wight

The Fringe is taking over Ventnor! Drift through pop up venues and bars in every conceivable space along the seafront and beyond, with over 100 different music, comedy and theatre shows over the seven days. A full-on bohemian melting pot, there’s great entertainment for kids plus TV comedians and outrageously brilliant drag acts. Deliciously quirky, look out too for Shakespearean improv and, err, improvised hip hop in a Laundrette?!

COMEDY: Sarah Millican, 25 July, the Mayflower, Southampton

The brilliant Sarah Millican is back on the road with a real Bobby Dazzler of a show at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre. Typically off-limits, this time, you’ll hear her explain how throw poo over a wall and tell all about a surprisingly funny smear test, among the usual array of belly-laugh stories. Love it.

COMEDY: Shazia Mirza, 25 July, Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Minstead

Shazia Mirza comedy Hampshire July

Turns out brilliant female comedians are like buses. You wait ages… Reflecting on a year when the world got turned on its head and Meghan Markle “turned into the new Yoko Ono”, the totally fantastic Shazia Mirza is back in Hampshire at the New Forest’s Hanger Arts Centre this month.

KIDS: Pinocchio, Sat 31 July, Festival Place, Basingstoke

Pinocchio Festival Place Basingstoke Pumpkin Theatre

Fancy a little live family theatre in Basingstoke? It’s the classic tale of the wooden boy-puppet and his extending nose performed by the brilliant Pumpkin Theatre group. Afterwards, stage your own escape for a no-strings-attached pizza/burgers/sushi/noodles meal at one of the huge choice of Festival Place eateries.

SPORT: Cowes Week, 31 July – 6 Aug, Cowes, Isle of Wight

Pic: Paul Wyeth –

Ahoy! For one of the biggest parties (err, I mean sporting events) the Isle of Wight has to offer, ship out for Cowes Week. During the eight days of racing and socialising on the Island, Cowes is always buzzing. Tuesday is Ladies Day when the Royal Southern Ariel Trophy is awarded to the female helm with the best overall result. The fireworks are off this year but there’ll still be plenty of racing action, plus food, drinks and shopping shoreside.

Find more ideas here

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