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September hit list: what’s on this month

Sexy September! 19 brilliant things to do in Hants and the Isle of Wight this month including music, theatre, festivals, exhibitions and more.

VISIT: The Vyne, Basingstoke, until 6 September

The Vyne, Basingstoke

We’ve been deprived of our National Trust property fix this summer, but luckily The Vyne, former Tudor powerhouse turned 17th-century family home, is open for a few select dates in September. Book your slot online before you set off. 

FAMILY: Dogstival at Burley Park, New Forest, 5-6 September


Ready for a paw-fect day out? Dogstival is back again for another year at new venue, Burley Park. Dog lovers will be blown away by the extreme dog agility show (canines leaping through flaming hoops, anyone?) and glean expert advice from TV vet, Dr Scott Miller. Get your pup involved with stand-up paddleboarding, dock diving and scent challenges – or take them to the chill out area for a groom and a nap. Sounds like dog heaven. 

GARDENING: The Garden Show at Stansted Park, Rowland’s Castle, 5-6 September

The Garden Show at Stansted Park, Rowland’s Castle

Chelsea Flower Show might have been postponed this year, but you don’t have to miss Stansted Park’s very own Garden Show. Blooming floral arrangements, garden doctors and artisan craft and food stalls will all be there. There’s even a plant creche where you can leave your kids, sorry plants, so you don’t have to lug them around all day.

SAILING: SheSails Social Sailing Day, Haslar Marina, Gospot, 5-6 September

Fancy taking to the high seas? Join this hardy group of women for a day yachting on the Solent with a female skipper. No experience of sailing is required, you can even rent waterproofs at the marina. Think friendly, non-intimidating day learning the ropes (quite literally) of a new sport.

FESTIVAL: Festival of Transport, Isle of Wight Steam Railway, 6 September

Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Vintage trucks and old-fashioned bicycles are the order of the day at the Festival of Transport. If you (or your kids) love cars, lorries and anything with wheels, then this is the perfect family outing. Top off the day with a ride on the steam train. It’s free entry to the festival, train rides are £13.50 for adults and £6.50 for children.

FOOD AND DRINK: Wednesday Evenings Mezze & Cocktails at The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight, from 9 September

Cocktail night The Garlic Farm

Summer isn’t quite over yet. Soak up Greek vibes on the Isle of Wight at this pop-up mezze and cocktail night. Sit out on the terrace, surrounded by peacocks, and forget that you ever had pre-Covid summer holiday plans in the Med. Sob sob.

FILM: Eastleigh Film Festival 2020, Itchen Valley Country Park, 12, 18, 19 September

Jurassic Park

Forget arty French films; the Eastleigh Film Festival is all about the classics, including Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Jurassic Park and Evil Dead II. Celebrating its seventh year, it will be a drive-in edition with tickets costing £25 per car. Bring your own snacks and rosé. 

MUSIC: Jacob & Drinkwater at Rockbourne Open Villa, Fordingbridge, 13 September

Jacob & Drinkwater

Mumford and Sons fans will fall head-over-heels for Jacob & Drinkwater, described by BBC 6 Music as ‘stand-out new folk’ band, and Lucy Ward, at this live outdoor gig. Listen to their dulcet tones wafting through the ancient ruins of this Roman villa. Julius Caesar will be disappointed he missed this concert by a few millennia. 

MUSIC: The Wight Proms at Home, 13 and 20 September

The Wight Proms at Home

Pour the Pimm’s and crack out your Union Jack at home this year. The Wight Proms are streaming online for just £10 per household. You can’t buy the tickets in advance, but don’t worry – just head to this webpage at 3.30pm to join. The neighbours might think you’ve gone nuts, singing Jerusalem out of tune mid-afternoon, but who cares!

FILM: Late Summer Screening on the Lawn: Emma, Chawton House, Alton, 13 September

Emma film

Stylish new release of Emma, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, may have missed the silver screen this year. But, what better way to watch it than on the lawn of Chawton House, just metres away from Jane Austen’s real home? Get ready to laugh at Bill Nighy playing hypochondriac Mr Woodhouse. Popcorn available from the tearoom.

THEATRE: Alice in Wonderland Open Air Performance, Basingstoke, 19-20 September

Haven’t we already descended down the rabbit hole this year? Kids will go mad for this outdoor performance of Alice in Wonderland, complete with jazzy musical numbers and psychedelic costumes. Tickets are £12 per person and the performance is just one hour, so wriggly bottoms won’t get too grouchy.

FOOD AND DRINK: Cider and Cheese Festival, Isle of Wight Steam Railway, 19-20 September

Cider and Cheese Festival

Autumn wouldn’t feel right without a tipple of cider and a cheese platter. With over 25 varieties to choose from, many local to the Island, this festival has now become a key part of the calendar. Entry is free from 11am to 5pm, but steam ride trains require ticket purchase.

KIDS: Pirate Weekend at Bursledon Windmill, Southampton, 19-20 September

Pirate weekend

Can’t get your kids out of the costume box? Then leave them in their pirate gear and carry them down to Burlesdon Windmill for this buccaneer celebration. Make your own pirate ship, learn to talk like a pirate and follow the map to uncover buried treasure. Dishy Jack Sparrow won’t be making an appearance though (darn!) 

EXHIBITION: Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Winchester Discovery Centre, until 22 September

Wildlife photographer of the year exhibition

Marvel at the world’s best nature photography – from podgy speckled seals to delicate tropical fish – snapped by amateurs and professionals. Organised by London’s Natural History Museum, crowds flock to this touring exhibition, so make sure you book in advance.

FILM: Suzuki drive-in movie, Southampton, 24-27 September

Drive in cinema

Embrace this summer’s Grease-style cinema experience at Southampton’s Drive-In. Sing your lungs out at the Grease car-eoke night or take the kids to an Aladdin matinee. Food is delivered to your car door, plus Saturday evening performances also include live stand-up comedy.

CLASS: Creative writing workshop in historical fiction, Chawton House, Alton, 26-27 September

Claire Thurlow

Ever wanted to write a period drama? Learn how to bring history to life with author Claire Thurlow through this online workshop. It’s organised by Chawton House, home to Jane Austen’s brother. Not only will Claire teach you the key elements of historical fiction, but also tips on painting your own Mr Darcy in words.

FOOD AND DRINK: Gin Cocktail Masterclass, Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Whitchurch, until 30 September

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Did you know gin should be stirred, not shaken, because it ‘bruises’ the spirit? For more brilliant booze facts, tour the Bombay Sapphire distillery before settling down for a one-hour interactive cocktail mixology session. Create two cocktails plus quaff a Leggero Martini at the Mill Bar after, all for £45 per person. Available every Wednesday, as well as Friday to Sunday, until the end of the month.

EXHIBITION: The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists, Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery, Basingstoke, until 17 October

The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists

Travel back in time with this kitsch Ladybird book exhibition. After all, who can forget Peter and Jane? Dating from the Second World War, their distinctive rainbow spines and vibrant imagery are a key part of our childhoods. If you haven’t already, check out the hilarious modern Penguin versions here – from The Ladybird Book of Donald Trump to The Midlife Crisis. Free with entry, open Wednesday to Saturday, from 10am to 5pm.

KIDS: Supersized! at Marwell Zoo, Winchester, until 1 November

Supersized Marwell Zoo

Remember The Borrowers? Both freaky and fascinating, experience being a tiny human surrounded by giant animals made of toy bricks at Marwell Zoo. Guaranteed your kids will love the deep-sea angler fish and red spitting cobra. Three metre high tarantula? Errrr… I’ll be waiting around the corner.

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