MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
Presents Galore Christmas Fair, Newmarket Racecourse, 22 – 24 November 2019
Christmas shopping – eurgh, two words that are enough to bring most busy adults out in a sweat. The list just gets longer each year and there’s never enough time to buy them all, let alone think of brand new ideas for presents each year. Get it all over and done with, in enjoyable and efficient style at Presents Galore in Newmarket. Not only is it a rather pleasant way to shop (no extortionate car parking tickets, everything is all in one place and there’s a restaurant to refuel in), but you’ll find beautiful local products that aren’t in mainstream shops, and it’s a registered charity so you can feel like you’re spreading some seasonal cheer.
A festival dedicated to documentaries? Yes, the 100-year-old cinema at Aldeburgh has been hosting this festival for 25 years now and it attracts all sorts of famous faces to the stage… Joanna Lumley and Bill Nighy have spoken at the event in previous years, and 2019 (1 – 3 November) will see Anthony Horowitz and Paul Merton as keynote panellists, in between the screening of some incredible and moving documentaries.
Just down the coast in Southwold, there’s a literature festival, Ways with Words, from the 7 – 11 November. Everything from Brexit and Trump to Thomas Cromwell and climate change will be discussed, plus some comedy to lighten the political mood!
Hmm Cambridge didn’t get the memo that Oktoberfest translates as ‘October’ Fest in English and should really happen in… October. No matter, that just means more beer drinking for us in November. Cheers to that! The city hosts its Oktoberfest from 8 – 9 November on Jesus Green.
And, as if they just can’t get enough of the nectar of gods this month, Cambs is also hosting The Cambridge Winter Beer Festival the following week from 13 – 16 November at the University Social Club on Mill Road. It’s your classic beer festival… you get a glass and then try every beer under the sun until you pass out.
When you’ve got over the hangover from the double beer festival action, it’s time for something of more cultural nature, Lavenham Literary Festival from 15 – 17 November. This beautiful little town attracts big names for its Lit Fest. This year it’s Ian McEwan, Pam Ayres and Ruth Jones. Catch them and many other famous authors across the weekend in Lavenham’s beautiful historic buildings.
At the end of the month, it’s Cambridge’s turn to go all bookish. The Cambridge Literary Festival (29 November – 1 December) is huge and includes talks, workshops and events from the likes of Dame Darcey Bussell (now she’s got some spare time away from Strictly), George Alagiah, Tom Bradby, Richard Ayoade and Raymond Blanc.
Classical music is having a bit of a moment, with downloads on the up, especially with millennials (who’d’ve thought?!). So The Boldfield Orchestral Series at the Cambridge Corn Exchange ought to be a hit! On the 1 Nov, you can hear a heavenly trio of composers’ music (Sibelius, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky) brought to life by the Philharmonic Orchestra. Then they return at the end of the month on the 30th with excerpts from Grieg, Brahms and Dvorak.
Forget shivering in the cold while you watch your fireworks this year. At Cambridgeshire’s super-cool and unique venue, The Missing Sock you can enjoy Whoosh! on 2 Nov, a Bonfire Night with a side order of cracking electronic music with special headline guest Phil Hartnoll (ORBITAL) DJ Set. This party is all about funk, disco, house, tech, breaks & DnB, plus an outdoor red bus bar and karaoke, indoor bar with acoustic music, fire-pit, UV/glitter face-painting, and fire performers. Now that’s our kind of fireworks night!
Manchester band, The Happy Mondays are on their Greatest Hits tour, and the good news is, it includes Cambridge Corn Exchange on 2 November. Take a trip down memory lane and dance the night away to their most famous hits including, Step On, Kinky Afro, Hallelujah, W.F.L., Loose Fit, Judge Fudge and 24 Hour Party People.
Not only is it impressive that Nicolas McCarthy is a concert pianist despite only starting the learn at the age of 14, but incredibly he was born with only one hand. He’s the only one-handed graduate of the Royal Academy and can play Rachmaninoff and Brahms faultlessly. Marvel at his skill during My Piano Pilgrimage on 4 November at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds.
Cambridge Music Festival, a boutique classical music festival, is upon us from 6 – 14 November and there’s so much on my head is spinning with trying to work out how many events I can physically make it to. Grammy award-winning Saxophonist Amy Dickson is in town, Joshua Bell is playing Mendelssohn and there’s the 2019n Young Composers Network showcasing up and coming new talent.
Classical not really your bag? How about some soul then? The Cambridge Soul Festival with Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band comes to The Junction for one night only on 8 November. Expect the finest 60s soul music and the biggest names in the industry.
Maybe Jazz is more your thing? Well that’s ok, because hot on the heels of the other music festivals is Cambridge Jazz Festival from 13 – 24 November at various venues throughout the city. There are 11 days of incredible music events to choose from as well as fringe events, workshops and tributes and films.
Recognise the name Glenn Hughes? Well, you should, he’s the former bassist and singer of Deep Purple, known to millions as the ‘Voice of Rock’, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and the current front man for rock super group Black Country Communion. Suffice to say, he’s music royalty and he’s coming to The Cambridge Junction to sing Deep Purple material for one night only on 19 November 2019.
“Next to me ooooh oh oh oh!” You might not want to be standing next to me at this concert on 26 November at the Cambridge Corn Exchange as my voice is nowhere near as beautiful as multi-platinum, award-winning singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé’s! Part of her Real Life tour, expect bold, confident vocals, that aim to give people hope and confidence.
Love your 80s anthems? Then you’d better get yourself some tickets for a gig that is guaranteed to sell out – Adam Ant at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 28 November, singing the full version of his landmark friend or foe album including many of his 22 chart-topping albums!
More of a 90s fan perhaps? That’s ok, because November has something stellar for you too, – Dodgy playing at the Cambridge Junction on the 29 November. They’ll be playing their album HOMEGROWN to celebrate it’s 25th anniversary, as well as a handful of the other hits they had back in the early 90s – Staying Out for the Summer, In a Room, and Good Enough.
End the month on a classical note with a trip to see Suffolk Sinfonia’s Autumn Concert on 30 Nov at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds. They’ll be playing a trio of Russian favourites and a Mexican masterpiece.
If you go down to the woods tonight you’re sure of a big surprise… because it’s the Wimpole Night Run on 2 November! Head torches at the ready, this is a unique opportunity to explore Wimpole after dark with either a 2km or 7km route to choose from. It makes for a spectacular spectator sport too, watching all the lights bobbing around the parkland.
Ooh another spooky woodland sporting event this November at Go Ape Thetford, who are open after dark on 2 and 3 November and 9 and 10 November as part of their Sundown Series. You can zoom through the forest on Segways after nightfall, launch yourself off a platform on a zip line into the darkness, or scaling a high ropes course as the sun sets.
Want your girls to be fearless and reach for the sky? Then take them down to Clip ‘n Climb in Cambridge for their #thisgirlcan session on 14 November for ages 16+. Part of the Sport England initiative, these sessions aim to celebrate all the different ways women can exercise, and we think learning to climb is a pretty fab way to release those teenage endorphins.
World-renowned contemporary dance choreographer Richard Alston is bringing his company to Snape Maltings on their final tour (*sob*) so it’s now or never if you want to see this incredible company. Final Edition will be at Snape Maltings on 1 and 2 Nov performing the world premiere of Alston’s new piece Shine On, danced to a live performance by soprano Katherine McIndoe and pianist Jason Ridgway of Britten’s first published songs, the W.H. Auden settings On This Island.
On paper, this one sounds more than a little odd, but we have it on good authority that Dave Gorman’s With Great PowerPoint Comes Great ResponsibilityPoint is really entertaining. Want to find out what on earth it’s about? He’s coming to the Cambridge Corn Exchange on 3 November with his laptop and projector screen and his unique style of comedy!
Remember Alice Sebold’s best-selling novel The Lovely Bones? Well, the stage adaptation is coming to The Cambridge Arts Theatre from 4 – 9 November and it’s a stunning piece of theatre that will have you reaching for the tissue box but leave you feeling unlighted all at the same time! Magical stuff.
Follow the yellow brick road on tiptoes from 18 – 20 November at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds with Ballet Theatre UK who have transformed the much-loved story of Wizard of Oz into a full-length ballet (including Toto!). It’s set to a delightful classical score and is the perfect first ballet for little ones.
There are two parts to An Evening with Lenny Henry at Cambridge Corn Exchange on 25 November. Lenny with take you through a jam session of funny and sad memories from his childhood and starting his career. Part two sees his friend, broadcaster and author Jon Canter, interview him for further insights into his life and career, followed by questions from the audience. There’s bound to be plenty of laughter – this is Lenny Henry after all.
The incredible play, Prism, sold out during its London run, so make sure you catch the brilliant Robert Lindsay as Jack Cardiff (the man who made Hollywood’s greatest divas beautiful), while he’s in Cambridge at The Arts Theatre from 18 – 23 Nov.
FOOD & DRINK
Now this is our kinda take on the nativity… The Three Wine Men are coming to Cambridge Guildhall on 9 Nov turning the space into a wine wonderland. The men in question are Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin MW and Olly Smith, but don’t worry it’s not all about the men, they’ll be joined by Susy Atkins of The Telegraph, who will be hosting A Splash of Gin, an area to introduce you to a range of boutique gin distillers. In short it’s a gin and wine festival hosted by the most knowledgeable names in the biz. So you’ll be sure to come away merry and with some amazing Christmas bargains.
The winter supper clubs are still going strong and we’ve got three coming up this month. First up is Art & Soul’s The Brothers’ Supper Club on 22 November in St Neots. Check out the tempting menu and book here.
Then it’s on to Cambridge Cookery School in collaboration with MJP (Mark Poynton) who will be hosting two nights of great food, wine and hospitality on 23 and 30 November.
So many displays to write about I’m ready to combust. Click here for my full fireworks guide for Suffolk & Cambs. KABOOM!
You don’t have to shlep all the way into the capital for some festive fun with the kids this winter. Cambridge has got their very own Winter Wonderland opening on the 16 November and it’s just as good. For starters, there’s a huge covered ice rink. There’s also the cosy Alpine Cabin Bar (hilarious in one of the flattest counties, I know!), which serves bratwursts, steaming hot chocolate, and mulled wine, as well as loads of fun fairground rides for the kids.
Everyone loves a bit of bling in their Christmas stocking, so get all your friends’ presents sorted in one fell swoop at Rural Magpie’s Jewellery Fair on 23 November at Foakes Hall, Great Dunmow. Designers include Marion Curtis, Dittany Rose, Harvey & Quinn, Maddog Cottage Creations, Tidal Treasure, Sandra Kerns Jewellery and Heather B Designs, plus there’s tea and cake to enjoy once you’re all shopped out.
9 -10 November: Wimpole Christmas Craft Fair
It’s a staple of the Cambridge Christmas scene – a meander around the Wimpole Christmas Craft Fair. It’s set in marquees in the grounds (don’t worry, they’re heated) and the market is filled with gifts and more importantly food – those Christmas pounds aren’t going to put themselves on after all!
14 – 16 November: Christmas Gift and Food Fair, Ely Cathedral
Can you think of a more idyllic setting for a Christmas event than Ely Cathedral? If so, I’m all ears. This fair is now eight years old and keeps getting bigger and better – over 120 stalls takeover the nave, Lady Chapel and a heated marquee in the grounds, there’s a cafe and The Stained Glass Museum will be open throughout. There’s even a park and ride from Sutton due to the popularity.
16 – 17 November: Craft Fair at Christmas, Ickworth House, Bury St Edmunds
Love supporting local craftsmen and women? Us too! And at this festive fair you can fill your stockings to the brim with beautiful handmade gifts from The March Hare Collective, a group of artists from East Anglia. And when you’re done with shopping, the idyllic grounds of Ickworth await (check out an amazing winter walk in the grounds here).
21 – 24 November: Bury St Edmunds’ Christmas Fair
Here’s a fact to blow your mind – Bury’s Christmas Fayre is one of the biggest in the whole of the UK and was even named the best fair in the country in 2016. Lucky us that it’s right on our doorstep! This super fair is a Christmas rite of passage and if you don’t enjoy it then you might as well rename yourself Scrooge. There are over 300 stalls that take over Angel Hill and the Abbey Gardens. There’s an opening parade, fireworks, a cookery theatre and dedicated food and drink area in the Cathedral grounds. And new for 2019 is a Farmer’s Market in the Butter Market on opening day as well as a ‘makers market’ which will consist of local crafts people and include demonstrations. Basically, it’s huge and not to be missed!
22 – 24 November: Huntingdon Christmas Market
Huntingdon put on a slick Christmas fair each year and 2019 looks set to be just as well-organised and festive. You can expect all the usuals – stalls full of stocking fillers, mulled wine, mince pies and local produce as well as kids’ entertainment and live music and dancing.
28 Nov – 1 Dec: Burghley Christmas Fair
Ok, so we’re slightly hopping over the boarder into Lincolnshire for this one, but Burghley House has a Peterborough postcode so it’s technically ours, right? Anyway, it’s worth the drive down the A1, because Burghley is mesmerising at Christmas. The stately home goes all Downton Abbey-esque and decks its halls with over 100 exhibitor stalls, a fine food market and opens up The Orangery Restaurant for delicious Xmas meals. Oh and did I mention they have a dedicated Christmas shop too!
29 November: Sudbury Christmas Fair & Light Switch On
Between 5pm and 9pm on the 29 Nov, Sudbury’s North Street, East Street and Market Hill will turn into a winter wonderland. We’re talking funfair rides, a grotto, a craft fair and the festive light switch on and live music.
29 – 30 November: Clare Christmas Fair
Even if you’re not religious, you can’t fail to be delighted by the magical atmosphere of the candlelit St Peter and Paul’s Church in Suffolk’s smallest town, Clare. There will be stalls to browse and mine pies to munch while you soak up the festive feels.
INTERIORS: Country Living Christmas Fair, Business Design Centre, London, 13 – 17 Nov
It’s Christmaaaaas! Well, not just yet, but head London’s Business Design Centre this month and you’ll find heaps of festive stalls from hundreds of British designers, makers, food artisans and crafters. As well as shopping there’ll also be live workshops and talks, plus Prue Leith will be chatting to Country Living’s Editor about all things food at Christmas time on Wed 13.
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 (below), 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.