Oh hello there, October. Where the blazes did you pop up from? Time flying faster than Concorde for you too? Make sure to read my edit of the best of the events to book yourself into this month in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk – it’ll save you plenty of time and you’ll not miss out on any of the awesome happenings in our neck of the woods.
FOOD & DRINK:
I’m just going to take a moment to say a quick ‘Danke’ to our friends across the North Sea, because it’s thanks to them that our October is going to be filled with beer, without any judgement. The biggest of all the Oktoberfest-inspired events is taking place in Ipswich, where they know how to throw a good old knees-up…
Ipswich is coming over all Bavarian on the 4 – 5 October with Oktoberfest at the Town Hall (aka an excuse to sink loads of beer). So crack out the lederhosen, and get ready to slap your thighs as you take part in this fun festival. Bury St Edmunds also hosting their own beer-filled event in Nowton Park on Saturday 5 October. While in Cambridge it’ll take place on Jesus Green from 8 – 9 November.
For something a bit more virtuous, although I hear Vegan beer is very popular these days, there’s the Ely Vegan Fair on 19 October in the market place. There will be over 20 of the region’s vegan producers in situ and plenty of tasty grub to sink your teeth into (yes even for staunch meat-eaters!).
It’s the morbid conversation we all love to have, even though the chances of us ending up on death row in America are pretty slim (I hope!). What would your last supper be? For the record, mine would be a good old roast dinner with lashings of gravy. Find out what food critic Jay Rayner’s would be, as well as why we’re all fascinated by the idea of a last supper in his new show, My Last Supper: One Meal, A Lifetime in the Making, coming to Bury St Edmunds’ The Apex on the 29 October. Apparently it’s a show to die for (geddit!).
Love food, drink and films? Who doesn’t? Then get yourself along to Film Feast, a festival in Suffolk that celebrates those three things. Over three days, 4 – 7 October, you can see films from around the world – feature films, documentaries and short films, all on the subject of food and drink and screenings taking place at independent cinemas and independent cafes and restaurants. The best bit? You won’t go hungry. Film-goers get to enjoy delicious locally-sourced menus inspired by the film your watching!
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the arrival of October means we’re only two months away from Christmas (*gulp*). Kicking things off in their usual fantastical style is Scotsdales Garden Centre in Great Shelford, who are opening their magical Christmas department on 9 October. You can be one of the first to see what they’ve come up with this year and also get 10% off all purchases. There’s also a harpist to provide the music while you enjoy your first mulled wine and mince pie of the season.
The racing season is coming to a spectacular end at Newmarket this autumn starting with the Dubai Future Champions Festival, from 11 – 12 October. Friday is Ladies Days, so pull out your dress coat and smart boots and have a second go of the year at being best-dressed lady. It’s a chance to discover new racing talent (and have absolutely no idea what to bet on!!) – Frankel was a previous champion here.
Harvest festivals are in full swing during October and one of the prettiest to attend is Kersey Harvest Flower Festival at St Mary’s Church from 12 – 13 October. The medieval church is rather stunning on it own, but during the festival it is adorned with incredible floral tributes.
It’s the University’s 12th Cambridge Festival of Ideas from the 14 – 27 October, which includes hundreds of free events like debates, workshops, talks, exhibitions and performances, celebrating the arts, humanities and social sciences. We particularly like the sound of The Rising Tide: Women at Cambridge, How Does Work Play a Role in Mental Health and the Yoko Ono Exhibition.
Cambridge is the place to be this October, it seems, as the city also hosts another huge event, The Cambridge Film Festival from 17 – 24 October. Think Cannes Film Festival, just a little more down to earth, with less sunshine, no red carpet and therefore less Hollywood stars! The festival celebrates films from the past, present and future (err is that even possible?!), and directors and film writers like Christopher Nolan have been discovered here in the past so it’s a good chance to spot the emerging talent. The films are screened at all sorts of unusual places around the city, from Jesus Green Lido to Grantchester Meadows and operates a Pay What You Can Afford scheme. Count me in!
Giving Cambridge a run for its cultural money this month is Bury St Edmunds with their Literature Festival that runs from 23 – 27 October. It’s only in its second year but is already huge. Lots of amazing authors were born or live in West Suffolk, and Charles Dickens includes many mentions of The Angel Hotel and the town in The Pickwick Papers, so it’s perfectly placed to run a literary festival. Events include talks and reading from some of these acclaimed authors as well we a short story competition, so you can become the next J.K.Rowling!
Love that opening scene in James Bond when Daniel Craig finds himself in the middle of Mexico’s Day of the Dead parade? One of Muddy’s favourite Cambridgeshire cafes/restaurants, Bohemia in St Neots, is hosting their own version of the festival with their Day of the Dead Halloween Event on 31st October. Start the evening with a four-course Mexican meal followed by cocktails and partying into the night in the bar with DJ Dan.
Libraries have had their day? I don’t think so… The Library Presents is the autumn programme from 23 of Cambridgeshire’s libraries and runs throughout the month of Oct, Nov and into December. You’ll find all sorts of arts, dance, magic, comedy and theatre events to attend. On the 23 October there’s a family day in Ely, which is not to be missed!
ART & CULTURE:
This national campaign from 5 – 6 Oct is all about sharing creative skills in the community through free workshops, tasters, talks and special events, and there’s loads going on in Cambs and Suffolk for adults and kids. With events are taking place in libraries, museums and galleries you can try your hand at anything from illustration, dance and knitting, to poetry, science and archaeology. Just search by area on the main site to find out what’s happening near you.
Love a bit of local talent (creative talent, that is!)? Then you’ll enjoy a trip to Wickham Market Arts Festival and Big Draw on 19 October. The event celebrates the artistic talent of local artists and if you think you’re one of them, and even if you’re not, you can take part in The Big Draw, workshops. It’s for all ages, and is free, with all the materials provided.
You can admire Cambridgeshire’s artistic effort, too, this month as Cambridge Drawing Society put on their Autumn Exhibition from 20 – 26 October at The Leys School. There is will over 250 new original works by around 100 local artists, with the majority being available for purchase, so if you’re having a house refurb now is a good time to think about how you’re going to deck the halls.
Miloš: The Voice of the Guitar, a Royal Academy of Music trained guitar hero is showcasing the classical guitar at The Apex in Bury St Eds on 3 October. You’ll hear familiar pieces of gorgeous guitar music, plus a rather spectacular finale with his take on The Beatles’ music.
Just when you thought music festival season was over for another year, one pops up out of nowhere in early October! Cambridge Night Festival on 5 – 6 October from 9pm until 6am (do people still stay up all night these days?!) at the Junction, has an all star line-up, who don’t want to hang up their festival wellies once the summer hols are over – Seb Fontaine, Norman Jay, Cuban Brothers and Plump DJ’s.
Following the release of their incredible album, In Harmony, Aled Jones and Russell Watson are taking to the road and luckily for us their tour includes both Cambridge Corn Exchange on 5 October and Ipswich Regent on the 3rd! Expect incredible classical hits and to come away wishing you could sing half as well.
Here’s a woman with a set of lungs on her and a repertoire that’s seen as many reinventions as Madonna. Lesley Garrett limbers up her vocal chords for a night of song and conversation about her career to date in An evening with Lesley Garrett at Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden on the 9 Oct. You might want to bring those earplugs if you’ve got front row seats though as she can sure belt out a note or two!
Gary Numan, pioneer of electronic music, is playing a special 40th Anniversary gig at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 7 October. Yep, that’s right, 40 years since his first tour. How old do you feel right now? Not too old to miss this gig surely?
From Gary to Gilbert and an altogether different type of music. Gilbert O’Sullivan is at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds on 15 October. Make sure he isn’t Alone Again with that impressive head of hair (seriously, I want his secret to creating that much volume!) and get your tickets to hear him go through is many famous hits, along with new songs, in a delightfully intimate session.
Remember Lissie from the Twinings Tea ad? You know, she covered Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way (and sung it better in my humble opinion!). Well she’s bringing her American folk rock to Camnbridge’s Emmanuel United Reform Church on 13 October with her latest project When I’m Alone: The Piano Retropsective. An incredible opportunity to see a star in an intimate setting.
Prefer your music to be of the classical variety? Snape Maltings is hosting a Britten Weekend entitled Britten and Russia on 18 – 19 October detailing the composers friendships with Shostakovich and Rostropovich from the 1960s, which had a huge impact on the Aldeburgh Festival. The BBC National Orchestra will be recreating the concert from 1960.
David Hare’s Skylight is coming to The Theatre Royal, Bury St Eds from the 1 -3 October and is a delightful play that explores matters of the heart and the state of the nation (bloody hell we’ll be there all night then!). Skylight won an Olivier Award for best play in its West End and Broadway days, so it’s well worth the trip!
Can’t get enough of Strictly season? Get out from behind the telly and see some spectacular ballroom with your own eyes at Bury’s The Apex on the 6th. Come Dance with Me is choreographed by none other than Richard Marcel, the man who puts Strictly couples through their steps. It’s Victoria Wood meets Strictly, what a perfect combination. We reckon it’ll be a Sevennnnn!
“There’s a controversial new president in the White House, and racial tensions are on the rise.” Nope we’re not talking about modern day Trump, this is a play, Two Trains Running, at Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre on 7 Oct, set in 1969, written by American playwright, August Wilson about the struggle of everyday lives in a period of political uncertainty.
“Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, gophers sit on sofas and frogs sit on logs”. Who knew you could rhyme so many words with animals! Oi Frog and Friends is a delightful, light-hearted play full of puppets, songs and fun for families with children 3+ at the New Wolsey, Ipswich from 24 – 25 October.
I always find exercise easier if it’s for a good cause (ok, I’m lying, I never find exercise easy!), but you might, so the RSPB’s Race for Wildlife might be right up your street. On the 13 October there are two multi-terrain runs around the beautiful RSPB Lakenheath Reserve – a 10km and a 5km, all in aid of the amazing wildlife that you can see there. A nicely timed kingfisher spotting would really spur you on at the 9km mark!
It wouldn’t be halloween without some pumpkin carving. Get the kids to do the hard work for you by taking them to the Pumpkin Carving workshops at Wimpole Hall’s Great Barn from 19 October – 2 November. They provide all the pumpkins and tools – your kids just need the ideas. Halloween pumpkin – sorted!
Audley End House certainly knows how to do a themed event. Their miniature railway will be transformed from 25th October – 3rd November into a ghost train, where kids journey on the haunted Halloween Express with trick or treat bags to visit the witches in their haunted house. Fancy dress is very much encouraged. The craft tent is in action as always, so little monsters can create a creepy craft, have their faces painted, test out their thriller dance moves and listen to a spooky tale.
Don’t just want to stand on the sidelines and watch your little monsters having all the fun this Halloween. Let us suggest the Ely Spooky Spectacular Family Rave instead then. Yes you heard us right, there’s a rave happening at The Maltings in Ely on 26 October, organised by award-winning Big Fish Little Fish. DJ Trax + Countmonkula will be playing old school (grown up) music. The event will feature themed crafts, giant balloons, glitter cannons, bubble machines, amazing lighting, face painting and a parachute dance (you’ll just have to go and find out what this is!).
Fantastic Mr Fox is coming to Ipswich’s New Wolsey Studio from 29 October – 2 November. One of Roald Dahl’s most-loved characters, the story played by New Wolsey Youth Theatre follows him as three horrible farmers do their best to out-fox him.
ART & EXHIBITIONS
Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a new V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton, Björk and, er, Sir David Attenborough are among his subjects and he’s also created 10 new works for the show.
Meanwhile this autumn’s big-hitter is William Blake at Tate Britain, below, (until 2 Feb 2020). The visionary painter and poet’s work will be imaginatively displayed – some of it blown up to enormous scale using digital technology, other works in an immersive room that recreates the space in which Blake first showed his art in 1809.
Elsewhere Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican (4 Oct – 19 Jan) is probably the nearest I’ll get to clubbing this autumn. It’s such a cool concept – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s, including the Berlin cabaret scene in Weimar Germany and Harlem’s jazz clubs and lifesize recreations of some of the hotspots.
Then there’s a major retrospective of 88-year-old Bridget Riley‘s life’s work at the Hayward Gallery (23 Oct – 26 Jan), taking in her famous monochrome, makes-your-eyes-go-funny Op Art paintings from the 1960s among its 70 year career span.
And finally, playing “spot the Angel Of The North” as we drive up the A1 to Newcastle is a family ritual in our house (Geordie in-laws, you see), so I’ve got a soft spot for Antony Gormley’s striking sculpture. His new show at the Royal Academy (until 3 Dec) is billed as his most ambitious in a decade and involves six tonnes of steel mesh, eight km of coiled tubing and a gallery flooded with clay and sea water. Blimey!
THEATRE: Lungs, Old Vic theatre, London, 14 Oct – 9 Nov
The Crown alumni Claire Foy and Matt Smith (aka The Queen and Prince Philip, of course) are reunited in Lungs at the Old Vic (14 Oct–9 Nov), playing a couple wrestling with life’s big issues, such as whether to have children, against the backdrop of a world teetering on the edge of environmental and political disaster.