1) YOUNG CHILDREN – Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas, Oxford Playhouse, until Thursday 24 December (book by Tuesday 22 December) Watch Briggs’ grumpy but loveable Father Christmas, adapted by Pins and Needles, from the comfort of your home, as he gets ready for his busiest day of the year, Christmas Eve. Preparing his Christmas deliveries, feeding his reindeer and finally taking flight into the snowy night, this digital performance is full of merry touches with plenty of live music, songs and playful puppetry. A perfect festive treat for under 8s and anyone young at heart! Tickets at www.oxfordplayhouse.com

2) MUST SEE EXHIBITIONKorky Paul at The North Wall The legendary local children’s illustrator brings his illustrations of Winnie The Witch’s adventures to Summertown which are available for sale. Pictures are installed at children’s height so the whole family can enjoy the tour. https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/exclusive-korky-paul-the-famous-childrens-illustrator-on-his-new-exhibition-at-the-north-wall-and-one-off-book-about-oxford/

Winnie and Wilbur Meet Santa

3) FAMILY: Festive Family Open Days at the Science Oxford Centre: December 29-31. There’s Christmas cheer a-plenty in the amazing hands-on Exploration Zone where families can try to beat the super-fast Scarf Shooter challenge, spin discs at the Turntable or discover nature under the microscope. Creating a festive optical illusion or make your own spinning ‘Thaumatrope’ to take home. Have a blast designing and testing flying crafty ‘fireworks’ at the Air Table to celebrate the new year.

Bring your wellies, get some fresh air and your brains buzzing with the Big Science Quiz 2020! 12 Days of Christmas clues have been hidden in the woodland, with exciting science questions and highlights from this most unusual year to crack. Don’t forget the woodland trail map, and see if you can spot a festive Robin, Holly and the Ivy – or even a fleeting glimpse of our resident Rudolph and his furry friends amongst the trees. For age 6+. Book in bubbles of up to 6 at https://scienceoxford.com/events/

4) OUTDOOR – Blenheim Christmas Lights – This season’s Illuminated Trail has excelled itself creatively, artistically and sensitively with the stunning one million lights evidenced in this family friendly walk about extravaganza, running until January 3. Enjoy more than 20 special light installations along the way.

New features this year include Blue Neuron – a kinetic light installation with a mesmerising blue light which fizzes and dances through the branches, Heart of Stars – thousands of tiny refracted beams across the path leading to the Rose Garden, the Water Terrace Fire Garden’s magical mix of fire and water, and a Christmas light-show finale in the Great Court. Read our review here and book your tickets now https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/review-the-best-yet-why-blenheims-2020-christmas-lights-are-the-ultimate-festive-treat-despite-the-complex-conditions/

5) VIRTUAL Creation’s Wizard Of Oz, 19 Dec – 3 Jan – Christmas wouldn’t be complete without Oxford’s most innovative theatre company’s festive offering, and this year it doesn’t disappoint with a stunning digital rendition of The Wizard Of Oz performed live every night so you can watch it with loved ones around the country and the world. Read all about it here: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/the-lion-speaks-creations-wizard-of-oz-is-already-receiving-international-interest-so-book-now-for-its-fabulous-christmas-show/ Book your tickets at https://www.creationtheatre.co.uk

The Lion in creation’s Wizard Of Oz

6) LIVE STORYTELLING – Suddenly a Star, The Story Museum from 18 December to 3 January, a magical show for families in the new Wood Shed Theatre which open to the public for the first time in socially-distanced household groups.

Written, performed and produced by award-winning writer Renata Allen and songwriter and musician David Gibb, the show revolves around an adult son who unexpectedly moves back in with his mother. They begin to share traditional Christmas tales featuring donkeys, wishes, cunning mice and clever grandparents. Weaving together a constellation of stories old and new, the show uses music and song from rock to disco to explore how a star can suddenly appear when it’s least expected. With gentle humour and a big dollop of family squabbles (it is Christmas, after all), suitable for ages 5+. Audience members aged 11+ will be required to wear masks during the performance. Book at http://www.storymuseum.org.uk or 01865 807600 

7) COMEDY – Forgiveness by Jonny Donahoe at OFS on Friday December 18, is a warm and uplifting show about the cycles of abuse that form and affect who we are; if and how we can escape them and move on. Described as “possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see, full stop’. Enjoy it live on Zoom. This is his first new solo show in five years. If you miss it an on demand version is available from 23 December 2020 – 23 January 2021.

Jonny Donahoe

8) CLASSIC – A Christmas Carol – The Theatre Chipping Norton – Simon Callow’s acclaimed one-man adaptation is the ultimate classic Christmas tale which has been performed in the West End. 

Based on Charles Dickens’ own one-man readings of the story, this moving, captivating stage version, goes straight to the heart of an all-time literary classic. Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and a trio of ghosts will perform the festive story, with famous actor David Bradley playing Scrooge until Dec 24. Best suited for those aged 7+. https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/whats-on/a-christmas-carol

9) CLASSICAL WORLD PREMIERE –  John Rutter’s Joseph’s Carol performed by The Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra starring Sir Bryn Terfel on Friday December 18 at 6.30pm in recognition of the remarkable work by Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine team. Join Merton College Choir conducted by the composer, in this new piece written in tribute to the Oxford Vaccine Group, the Jenner Institute and the RECOVERY team. Performed alongside are Elgar’s Chanson de Matin, William Henry Monk’s Abide with Me with Alexander Olleson and Alexandra Lowe, and Rutter’s Look to the Day, plus one of the most famous pieces of joy and hope, Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah.

John Rutter conducting

The special celebratory concert was filmed at the Sheldonian Theatre (READ ABOUT IT HERE) https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/sneak-preview-opera-star-bryn-terfel-joins-merton-college-choir-for-world-premiere-with-oxford-philharmonic-in-tribute-to-vaccine-team/ and will be livestreamed on the orchestra’s YouTube channel at 6.30pm on Friday with clips available at a later date. Go to www.youtube.com/c/OxfordPhilharmonicOrchestra

10) OLDER CHILDREN – Sammy and the Beanstalk Saturday 19 December to Sunday 3 January. Oxford Playhouse has teamed up with Olivier Award-winning OperaUpClose to present a fun, spooky and contemporary Christmas story, told from the perspective of 8-year-old Sammy. This new, urban, fairy tale is one of bravery and kindness, which also tackles the isolation we’ve all experienced over the past few months. Inspiration has been drawn from classic winter tales, both cosy and gothic, as well as opera, theatre and film to create a thrilling story-telling experience, in a wonderfully intimate setting. The question is, can Sammy release Dad from his illness in time to make Mum’s present with her, before Mum gets home for Christmas? Aimed at children aged 7+, families and any adult with a sense of fun and wonder. Book at www.oxfordplayhouse.com

Abigail Kelly

11) CAROL SINGING Carols by Candlelight – Sundays December 20, 6pm, University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford. The carol service at the University Church is always a popular event. This year, due to numbers in the church having to be limited, there will be three carol services on successive Sundays, the final one being the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The services are very similar, and will be the traditional celebration of the Christmas story by candlelight, with music by the University Church Choir. These are ticketed events, each supporting local homeless charities The Gatehouse (www.oxfordgatehouse.org), The Porch (www.theporch.org.uk) and Oxford Winter Night Shelter (www.ownsoxford.org.uk). www.universitychurch.ox.ac.uk/content/upcoming-services

12) LIVE – Little Gift, tells the story of Ted, a lonely old soul, living all alone in the big city. One morning his life is changed forever when a mysterious helping hand steps in and disrupts his quiet routine. This playful production by M6 Theatre presents Ted’s tale with a heart-warming mix of puppetry, live music and song coming to The North Wall from Dec 19– 23 December 2020. For ages 3-7.

Little Gift with Guy Hargreaves (credit Lewis Wileman)

The North Wall auditorium has been transformed to allow for social-distancing, with each family having plenty of space to sit in separate family bubbles. Book on 01865 319450 or visit www.thenorthwall.com     

13) TINY TOTS: The Gift Of Winter – A Lyngo Play@Home until Friday December 18. For families looking to keep their very young ones busy and entertained during the weeks in the run up to Christmas, Oxford Playhouse and Lyngo Theatre have developed a show for young families to do at home, not just watch! 

Following fun instructional videos sent to you when you book, you’ll make props and table-top sets from recycled materials and household objects, invent your own sensory sessions and take a creative-play journey together through a garden of delights. The music, songs and narration are also included so you can tell the story. Book at www.oxfordplayhouse.com

14) There is Nothing Like a Dame! The Theatre Chipping Norton, Fri 18th 7pm & 9pm, Sat 19th December 9pm – In the absence of panto, Chippy has a very special treat for you – a musical cabaret from Chippy favourite, Dame Andrew Pepper. London’s tallest cabaret star and three time Chippy panto dame returns with a hurricane of limbs, mischief and money notes, Pepper comes armed with songs, stories and splits. Expect turbo-charged showstoppers, blistering ballads and a forage around the dame’s washbag. Age recommendation 14+ https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/whats-on/there-is-nothing-like-a-dame



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