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This month

Bristol Puppetry Festival, Tobacco Factory Theatres & Watershed, Bristol, Fri 1–Sun 10 Sept

Puppets against yellow background

Ten days of puppetry and animation shows, workshops, films, talks – including lots of free stuff – and a carnival parade at the UK’s foremost international puppet festival. From traditional to experimental, from light-hearted silliness to the Dark Side, for everyone from kids up to professional puppeteers and animators.

Family Saturday, Hauser & Wirth, Bruton, Sat 2 Sept

Be inspired to get creative by the Oudolf Field and Radić Pavilion (the awesome 2014 Serpentine Summer pavilion that looks like a cross between a potato and spaceship). Free but booking essential: or call +44 1749 81 4060.

The Downs, Bristol, Clifton Downs, Sat 2 Sept

cool boot girl

Still time to squeeze in one more teeensy, weensy festival before the end of the summer, no? Elbow’s the big name at the second Downs Festival, along with Seasick Steve, De La Soul and Soul II Soul.

Moonlighting, Westlands, Yeovil, Sat 2 Sept

This year’s Oscar for Best Film went to this coming of age drama about a young gay man growing up in a rough area of Miami. Mahershala Ali (above) won Best Supporting Actor, the first Muslim ever to win an Oscar. I’d already got him down as a star after admiring his handsome bod, I mean fine acting ability, as Remy Danton in House of Cards.

The Frome Independent market, around Frome, Sun 3 Sept

frome independent market

The first Sunday of the month and it’s the splendiferous Frome Independent – surely one of the UK’s best street markets, with stuff for you and your home from designer-makers, vintage plus food, drink, music and all.

Stewart Geddes, Atkinson Gallery, Street, Mon 4 Sept–Weds 11 Oct

It’s the President of the Royal West of England Academy’s turn in the spotlight at the Atkinson Gallery this month. The man himself will be on hand in the gallery on Sat 23 Sept at 3pm to talk you through his work – the one above is called Oi Oi.

Driving Miss Daisy, Theatre Royal, Bath, Weds 6–Sun 9 Sept

There’s more to Derek Griffiths than Play School and Corrie;  the actor takes the wheel with Sian Phillips in the back seat in this Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of an unlikely friendship set in the American south.

Have breakfast with TOAST, Kilver Court, Shepton Mallet, Thurs 7 Sept

Not a TED Talk but a TOAST Talk?  Inspirational CEO of the thoughtful, functional fashion/lifestyle biz Suzie de Rohan Willner and KC’s own Monty Saul talk about her role in the company and women in business – while everyone noshes on a light breakfast (I’m thinking croissanty stuff?), tea and coffee. 10am–11am. Free. You’ll need to email to reserve your place and your coffee.

Dinner in the sky, Bristol, Wed 6–Tues 12 Sept

Go up in the world, why don’t you? Guest chefs from top restaurants, a sommelier and waiting staff serve everything from breakfast to evening cocktails from a pop-up kitchen in the centre of a table 100 feet up in the sky. Gulp.

John le Carré – an evening with George Smiley, Westlands, Yeovil, Thurs 7 Sept

john le carre george smiley

Broadcast live from the Festival Hall in London,  John le Carré discusses his career and extraordinary Cold War novels and characters, including George Smiley,  and reads from his latest novel A Legacy of Spies. In aid of Médecins Sans Frontières /Doctors without Borders (MSF).

Jane Austen Festival, various venues around Bath, Fri 8–Sun 17 Sept

women dressed in regency costume dresses

On the 200th anniversary of her death, the annual Jane Austen Festival kicks (every delicately) off with the Grand Regency Costumed Parade, ‘the largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costume’, according to the Guinness World Records.  The 10 days of  Austen-related fun and frolics include walks and talks, performances, workshops (dance or write a letter just like Jane) and a masked ball.  Don’t forget to sup some  the Earl Grey Red Ale beer brewed in her honour (you didn’t know she liked a pint?).

South West Outdoor Festival, near Cheddar Gorge, Fri 8–Sun 10 Sept

Outdoor festival South West National Trust

Slide off the sofa and out into the great outdoors: mountain bike challenges, kayaking, caving, skiing and snowboarding (!), camping, live music. star-gazing, talks, story-telling, food and a lot of cider and ales.

Affordable Art Fair, Brunel’s Old Station, Bristol, Fri 8–Sun 10 Sept

Make room on your wall: more than 50 UK galleries under one roof selling original contemporary art costing between £100–£6k. The Bristol outpost of the famous art show.

Glow in the Park,  Longleat, Warminster, Sat 9 Sept

The ultimate night time neon family fun run over 6k: light shows and beats as you mosey on through UV paint blast, foam zone, time tunnel…

Moulin Rouge, Curzon Cinema & Arts, Clevedon, Sat 9 Sept

Art Deco Clevedon Cinema becomes turn of the century Parisien night club the Moulin Rouge for one night – a screening of the film, cocktails, magic, dancing – and even a trickle of the green fairy.

Sarah and Duck’s Big Top Birthday, the egg, Bath, Sat 9–Sun 17 Sept

Photo: Pamela Raith

The musical adventures of a seven-year-old girl and her best friend who just happens to be mallard. If you’ve got young kids you’ll probably know I’m talking about the BAFTA award-winning CBeebies pair. The animated characters have been transformed into puppets for their nationwide tour.

Mediaeval Falconry Day, Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Sat 9 Sept

Birds of prey on gauntlets and in the air.

The Caretaker, Bristol Old Vic, Bristol, Fri 9–Sat 30 Sept

Photo: Idil Sukan

Patrice Naiambana, Jonathan Livingstone and David Judge in Pinter’s classic about what happens when a homeless man is taken in by two brothers.

Tango Moderno, Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol, Tues 12–Sat 16 Sept

The temperature’s rising, it isn’t surprising: Latin, ballroom and Argentine tango from Strictly stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace will be smouldering over at the ‘drome.

Carmen on the Lake,  various venues across Somerset, Thurs 14 Sept

Ace set design at this one night only, live broadcast of the famous opera from a floating stage on Lake Constance in Austria.  The habanera theme was the only tune I ever mastered on the classical guitar (it only required a finger sliding down one string).  Tra la la la!

Sky Safari, Longleat, Warminster, Fri 15-Sun 17 Sept

Over 100 balloons of all shapes and sizes will be going up, up and away – with a spectacular nightglow on Fri and Sat. Tickets to the airy fair-y event are included in the normal safari park admission price.

Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival, Forde Abbey, Chard, Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sept

Other TV gardeners Charlie Dimmock and Christine Walkden will be there too. Demos, talks, shopping, food, drink and live music in the rooms and gardens of Forde Abbey, which I imagine will moving towards gloriously Autumnal.

Bathscape Walking Festival, around Bath, Sat 16–Sun 24 Sept

From a short stroll to a 20-miler: 27 walks – all free and all with leaders – around Bath and surrounding countryside, focusing on history, wildlife, creative stuff, well-being….As well as discovering interesting stuff about the city and its environs, you could find yourself coming over all poetic and scribbling down a line or two.

The Real Thing, Theatre Royal, Bath Mon 18–Sat 30 Sept

DJ Hathaway, I mean, Laurence Fox stars as Henry in Tom Stoppard’s play about infidelity. Henry, the best playwright of his generation and married to Charlotte who’s appearing in his play about a marriage on the verge of collapse. Her leading man, Max, is married to Annie. Life starts to imitate art when Henry’s affair with Annie (keeping up?) threatens his own marriage – but are they really in love? Is it the real thing?

Dreamboats and Petticoats, The Playhouse, Weston-super-Mare, Mon 18–Sat 23 Sept

The jukebox musical’s hitting the road with toe-tapping toons from the 50s and 60s – be prepared to twist again (like we did last summer) in the aisles….

Chotto Desh, The Brewhouse, Taunton, Thurs 21 Sept

A boy dreams of becoming a dancer – cue hypnotic score, dream-like elephants and butterflies and Indian, ballet and contemporary dance moves. A family show by acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan

SuperSaturday, Somerset Performing Arts Library, Yeovil, Sat 23 Sept

The Eastville Project Space brings a combo of electronics, art and music to town. Armed with soldering irons and electronic components (provided), kids aged 10+ can make their own solar flower lights and synthesizers. Booking essential:

Somerset Arts Week Festival 2017, various venues across Somerset, Sat 23 Sept–Sun 8 Oct

Malcolm Ashman at Andelli Art

350 artists showcasing their work – much around the theme ‘Prospect’ – in 120 venues as part of the county’s largest festival of visual arts. You’ll find art in some of Somerset’s most stunning gardens, bookshops, scrapyards, tithe barns, pubs … as well as galleries. Cavaliero Finn’s ‘Essence of Home’ in an uninhabited Georgian Manor House (venue 88) caught my eye.   The Colony Room Club Somerset at the Bruton Art Factory returns as the official Festival Club. Plan your arty trail around the county with the Festival programme.

Shark in the Park, Macmillan Theatre, Bridgwater, Sun 24 Sept

nick sharratt

All three of Nick Sharratt’s books about the pointy-finned one live on stage….

Cressida Cowell, The Octagon, Yeovil, Mon 25 Sept

How to Train Your Dragon author launches her first new project in 18 years – The Wizards of Once – and gives tips on how to become and an author or illustrator and tells how the Dragon books made it to the big screen. This is a just a taster of the events that will be coming up in the Yeovil Literary Festival next month (Thurs 26–Sun 29 October).

My Cousin Rachel, Westlands, Yeovil,  Tues 26 Sept

rachel weisz

Recently widowed Rachel rocks up to her dead husband’s rambling Cornish estate to which she may or may not have a claim and sets her sights on the current incumbent – who starts to wonder if she had a hand in her husband’s death. Rachel Weisz is shimmering and scheming as the ‘did she or didn’t she?’ villainess in this film adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1951 thriller.

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! Arnolfini, Bristol, Weds 27 Sept–Sun 24 Dec

Did you see Channel 4’s programme about Grayson Perry touring the UK searching for inspiration to create his Leave and Remain pots? Well, you can see the pots themselves now. The pots, along with 24 other artworks dealing with masculinity, class, politics, sex, religion, popularity and art, Brexit and ‘Divided Britain’, are all on display in a major exhibition transferring from the Serpentine Gallery. There’s a programme of events to go with.

Feast Taunton, The Castle Hotel & Castle Green, Taunton, Fri 29 Sept–Sun 1 Oct

meat dish

A week-end festival celebrating West Country food and drink. Top notch nosh from top chefs Michael Caines, Josh Eggleton, Emily Watkins, Dominic Chapman and Jude Kereama – plus a host of demos, talks and workshops from other experts in their fields (in the case of foraging expert Greg Power, literally). Stuff to occupy kids, too.

Wild Air Run, Blaise Castle, Bristol, Sat 30 Sept

Europe’s longest inflatable slide – 60m long, 8m high and four lanes wide – is coming to Bristol as part of a giant inflatable 5k obstacle course at Blaise Castle. Suitable for 7+

2 comments on “This month”

  • Judith Calderbank September 5, 2017

    Great stuff. Feel inspired by all the possibilities as we go into Autumn.

    • suetucker September 5, 2017

      Me too!


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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Somerset