Our TOP 50 GUIDE on WHAT TO BOOK FOR 2023 including theatre, comedy, concerts, festivals, children’s shows, musicals and exhibitions. Get booking!
1) Angela Barnes’ HOT MESS, North Wall, Friday, 3rd March. The comedian has good intentions but trying to live your best life, as it turns out, is really bloody hard. Stand-up, stories and jokes from one of the UK’s finest comedians.
2) Nick Mohammed The Very Best & Worst Of Mr. Swallow, Oxford Playhouse, Thursday April 27. Double Emmy award-nominee and star of Ted Lasso, Nick takes his critically acclaimed alter ego Mr. Swallow on his first UK tour with a mix of new, old, very old and previously unusable material. Expect noise, maths, magic and the whole of Les Mis! https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/nick-mohammed-as-mr-swallow
3) Buffy Revamped, Thursday February 2, The Mill Banbury. Seventy minutes. Seven seasons. One Spike. Fresh from an award-winning run at Edinburgh Fringe, this fast-paced new production brings you the entire 144 episodes of the hit 90s TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as told through the eyes of the one person who knows it inside out… Spike. Funny, satirical and bursting with 90s pop-culture references. https://www.themillartscentre.co.uk/shows/buffy-revamped/
4) Michelle de Swarte, MOVED, Oxford Glee, Friday March 3. Star of the highly acclaimed Sky/HBO’s The Baby, and in Prime Video’s Backstage with Katherine Ryan, on this, her debut, stand-up tour, Michelle breaks down the highs and lows of burning your life to the ground and starting again when 40 is around the corner. https://www.glee.co.uk/performer/michelle-de-swarte/
5) Oxfordshire Mind Comedy Gala, Oxford Playhouse, January 14. Acts for the 2023 show include Rachel Parris, Abi Clarke, Chelsea Birkby, and Alex Farrow as MC and all the money raised goes to Oxfordshire Mind. https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/oxfordshire-mind-comedy-gala
6) Justin Moorhouse: Stretch and Think, The Mill, March 2. A brand new show that may contain yoga, getting older, Madonna, shoplifters, Labradoodles, middle-aged cyclists, The Menopause, running, hating football fans but loving football, not drinking, funerals, is Tapas a rip off?, Captain Tom, the environment, self-improvement, ruining a sexual position, electric car charging spots used by doggers, nursery graduation, horses, Stig look-a-likes, home cooked food in places that aren’t your own home, the gym. And he’s got a new suit. https://www.themillartscentre.co.uk/shows/justin-moorhouse/
7) DALISO CHAPONDA: APOCALYPSE NOT NOW, The Theatre Chipping Norton, March 3. It’s fair to say that 2020-2021 didn’t go to plan for the finalist of Britain’s Got Talent and star of BBC Radio 4’s Citizen of Nowhere but he performed online daily to millions of viewers, and this is your chance to see what this master of satire has been cooking up! https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/whats-on/daliso-chaponda-apocalypse-not-now
80 Rob Newman, Oxford Playhouse, January 29 – hugely talented, live on stage and fresh from for his BBC Radio 4 series Rob Newman On Air, he’s back with his usual esoteric slant, this time with a story of how dancing in step saved prehistoric humans and how new scientific discoveries may help us take the right steps to a life after oil. https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/rob-newman-live-on-stage
9) Matt Richardson’s Comedy Club, Didcot Cornerstone, February 23 and April 14. A monthly show where Matt introduces the best upcoming comedians before they headline their own shows. You can expect well known names like Zoe Lyons, Daniel Foxx, Darren Harriott and more.https://www.cornerstone-arts.org/whats/matt-richardsons-comedy-club-0
10) In PurSUEt, OFS, Wednesday February 15. Fleabag meets Miranda in this fierce, heartfelt comedy/drama. A passionate Sue Perkins superfan relays her adventures pursuing Sue. https://oldfirestation.org.uk/whats-on/in-pursuet/
11) The Shawshank Redemption, Oxford Playhouse, February 6-11. Starring Joe Absolom and Ben Onwukwe, Bill Kenwright’s acclaimed stage version of the nation’s favourite movie, examines friendship, injustice, friendship and hope behind the bars of a maximum-security facility. https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/the-shawshank-redemption
12) Mother Goose, New Theatre. Tue 7 March – Sat 11 March. Who puts on a panto on in March? Ian McKellen and John Bishop! Meet Mother Goose (McKellen) and her husband Vic (Bishop) running an Animal Sanctuary for waifs and strays and living a wholesome life inside an abandoned Debenhams. But when a magical goose comes a-knocking, will fame and fortune get the better of them?! Get ready for fairies with hefty vocal chords and puppets with tap dance qualifications. The ultimate theatrical feast for the whole family. http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/mother-goose/new-theatre-oxford
13) GULLIVER, The Theatre Chipping Norton, April 6. Gulliver, a traveller and pioneer, shipwrecked and lost at sea for nine years, has returned, but is he really the same man? Box Tale Soup adapts Swift’s incredible adventure with their trademark style, unique puppetry and original music. https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/whats-on/gulliver
14) Hold On Let Go, The Mill Banbury, February 15. A poignant, personal meditation on the gaps in our memories, it’s a show that bakes bread, dances on the kitchen table and wonders what is left when words are gone.
15) Macbeth, Cornerstone, March 2. Flabbergast Theatre brings puppetry, clown, mask and physical theatre to the bard’s original text alongside exhilarating live music. This is Macbeth as you’ve never seen it before, a provocative and enjoyably accessible show.https://www.cornerstone-arts.org/whats/macbeth
16) The Ocean at the End of the Lane, New Theatre. June 20-24. This five-star spectacular from the producers of War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a thrilling adventure of fantasy, myth and friendship, taking audiences on an epic journey to a childhood once forgotten and the darkness that lurks at the very edge of it and an ocean–a place where everything is possible. http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane/new-theatre-oxford
17) Family Tree, North Wall, May 26-27. A beautifully poetic drama about race, health, the environment, and the incredible legacy of Henrietta Lacks, one of the most influential Black women of modern times. https://www.thenorthwall.com/whats-on/family-tree/
18) Noughts & Crosses, Oxford Playhouse. March 7-11. Pilot Theatre’s award-winning production of Malorie Blackman’s reimagining of Romeo & Juliet in a world where love between a Nought and a Cross is forbidden – a captivating drama of love, revolution and what it means to grow up in a divided society. https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/noughts-and-crosses
19) The Father by Florian Zeller, OFS, March 29 – April 2. Anthony Hopkins won an oscar for his portrayal of the main role in the film version. This hard hitting look at someone living with dementia and the effect that it has on their life, their family and carers comes with a post show Q&A session with expert panellists. http://OFS from March 29th to April 2nd 2023.
20) The Great Baldini: Magical Cabaret, Cornerstone Didcot, Sat 11 February. A joyously silly romp through magic. Think Tommy Cooper meets Blofeld! See this magical legend bring back the best of old school. https://www.cornerstone-arts.org/whats/great-baldini-magical-cabaret
21) SAP, North Wall, March 16-18. One of the best things at Edinburgh Fringe last year A contemporary thriller with ancient roots – this multilayered drama is full of intrigue and dark humour. 14+ :https://www.thenorthwall.com/whats-on/sap/
22) Frankenstein. Tuesday 31 January – Sunday 5 February. OFS. Experience the tragic tale of Victor Frankenstein as he risks his life, his family, and his sanity to reanimate the dead, and suffers the unthinkable consequences. This thrilling, fast paced play features Shelley’s exquisite language and ever pertinent themes of ambition, alienation, revenge, and family, as well as physical theatre underscored by live traditional sea shanties.
23) Shrek, New Theatre, Tuesday 19 Sep – Sun 24 September. Based on the Oscar winning DreamWorks film, the Broadway and West End smash hit Shrek the Musical is a fun filled and hilarious musical comedy with a cast of vibrant characters and a ‘shrek-tackular’ score. Join the adventure as Shrek and Donkey endeavour to complete their quest, finding unexpected friendships and surprising romance along the way – guaranteed fun for all ages and will have you laughing all the way home. http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/shrek-the-musical/new-theatre-oxford
24) Evita, Oxford Playhouse, January 23-28. The first time that Evita has been performed at a major Oxford venue by an amateur company, OXOPS present the meteoric rise of Argentina’s most infamous and divisive First Lady – Eva Peron from her childhood through to her marriage to future President Juan Peron. https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/evita
25) Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical, New Theatre, March 14- 18. Based on the true story of the chart-topping Cornish singing sensations and their hit 2019 movie which smashed box office recordsl. When a group of Cornish fishermen came together to sing the traditional working songs they’d sung for generations, nobody, least of all the fishermen, expected the story to end on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. They are spotted by a fish-out-of-water music manager on a trip from London, who must learn that there is more to life than selling your sole for fifteen minutes of fame. http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/fishermans-friends-the-musical/new-theatre-oxford
26) Annie, New Theatre, April 17-22. Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage, played by Craig Revel Horwood . Her luck soon changes when she’s chosen to spend a fairytale Christmas with famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Complete with unforgettable songs such as It’s The Hard-Knock Life, Easy Street, I Don’t Need Anything But You and Tomorrow. http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/annie/new-theatre-oxford
28) Giffords Circus‘ 2023 show Les Enfants du Paradis comes to Daylesford Organic Farm, Blenheim Palace and Barrington in Oxfordshire this summer and promises to be its ‘most lavish show yet! Taking inspiration from French Romanticism in the mid-19th Century, new acts include exciting 20-year-old aerialist Antony Cesar, actor and singer Michael Fletcher, illusionist Sergi Buka, high-speed roller-skating act The Skating Medini, Amanda Sandow’s beautiful liberty pony act, foot juggling and aerialist artistes Romy and Alex Michael, The Luna Girls aerial hoop duo and The Ethio-selam Troupe. http://www.giffordscircus.com
29) I Want My Hat Back Trilogy, North Wall. February 11 and The Theatre Chipping Norton March 24-26. One for families – this ingenious cardboard rendition of Jon Klaasen’s picture books was a lockdown YouTube sensation – now it’s going on tour, and coming to Oxford. Ages 3-6. https://www.thenorthwall.com/whats-on/i-want-my-hat-back-trilogy/ or https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/whats-on/i-want-my-hat-back-trilogy
30) Pinocchio, The Mill. Monday April 3, The Mill Banbury. Puppetry, shadows, illusion and especially composed music combine to create a show with something for all ages; it’s inventive, visually and verbally witty with a big heart. Under 14’s. https://www.themillartscentre.co.uk/shows/pinocchio-2023/
31) The King of Nothing: A Puppet Musical, The Mill Banbury, February 18. An anarchic re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s Emperor’s New Clothes, in which the characters (and the audience) discover that people can be made to believe ANYTHING. With songs, puppetry, slapstick and more, the two Swindlers (or should we call them “actors”?) will weave their cunning magic. Age 5-11 years https://www.themillartscentre.co.uk/shows/king-of-nothing/
32) Snail and the Whale, The Mill. August 11-13 Join an adventurous young girl and her seafaring father as they reimagine the story of a tiny snail’s incredible trip around the world, inspired by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s much-loved picture book. A heart-warming adventure for everyone aged 4+ https://www.themillartscentre.co.uk/shows/snail-whale/
33) Ballet Black, Oxford Playhouse. April 25-26. A double bill of new and original work by award-winning choreographers, Will Tuckett and Mthuthuzeli November. https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/ballet-black-pioneers
34) Blue Ghost DotDotDot Dance, Didcot Cornerstone, March 24. A visual, dynamic and luminous contemporary flamenco dance show that leads us into the light and dark of our natural world through the beauty of the Blue Ghost Firefly. https://www.cornerstone-arts.org/whats/blue-ghost-dotdotdot-dance
35) The Princess and the Frog, The Mill, February 16 This beautiful, classical ballet will charm audiences young and old. An original score, gorgeous costumes and crystal-clear story-telling draw you into the magical world of ballet and make it accessible to all.
A lovely production and a heart-warming tale with the theme of friendship at its core. https://www.themillartscentre.co.uk/shows/princess-frog-2023/
36) Rambert School: Platform. OFS, Thursday January 26. Join the next generation of artists from renowned dance school Rambert for a performance like no other. Featuring the very best new talent in ballet and contemporary dance for a show full of energy, flair and style.https://oldfirestation.org.uk/whats-on/rambert-school-platform/
37) UNKNOWNREALMS: Double Bill, The Mill Banbury, March 8. More than just dance – a double bill with gravity and the pulse of a new generation… Performed against a backdrop of stunning scenography and dynamic multidimensional soundscapes by Andy Garbi and Yvan Talbot, two contrasting works examine the past and present as six dancers rise from the ashes with powerful explosive dance in an all-embracing, multi layered production that celebrates sheer mortality, perseverance and hope overcoming adversity. https://www.themillartscentre.co.uk/shows/unknownrealms/
38) Fairport Convention, Oxford Playhouse. February 5. Entertaining music lovers for over half a century, their passion for performance hasn’t changed. This tour is a mix of favourites and some surprises from albums old and new. The band features founding member Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Ric Sanders and Chris Leslie with former member Dave Mattacks joining on drums. https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/events/fairport-convention
39) Choir!Choir!Choir!’s epic 80’s singalong!, New Theatre, March 28. From Prince, Madonnaand George Michael to Bon Jovi, and Whitney the 80s had it covered when it came to EPIC pop hits. And now, it’s time for YOU and Choir!Choir!Choir! to take a journey through the 80’s as they lead and YOU SING! Each audience is taught harmonies and sings songs they love, together. There are no auditions – show up and they’ll have you singing in harmony in no time! https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/choir-choir-choir/new-theatre-oxford/
40) Hack-Poets Guild, North Wall, March 24. Three of the UK’s foremost folk musicians delve into the Bodleian archives to reimagine “broadside ballads” for the 21st century: https://www.thenorthwall.com/whats-on/hack-poets-guild/
41) An Evening Without Kate Bush, The Mill Banbury. Thursday March 9 or The Theatre Chipping Norton February 25. Howl with the Hounds of Love and dance on the moors with Wuthering Heights! Whether you’ve been a fan for decades or recently joined the shoal via the ‘Stranger Things’ phenomenon, release your inner Bush at this joyful, unique and mind-blowing show. Sarah-Louise Young and Russell Lucas pay glorious homage to the music, fans, and mythology of one of the most influential voices in British music. https://www.themillartscentre.co.uk/shows/kate-bush/ or https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/whats-on/an-evening-without-kate-bush
42) LOOKING FOR ME FRIEND: THE MUSIC OF VICTORIA WOOD, Chippy Theatre, Feb 9 – Celebrating the music of the late comedy genius and national treasure Victoria Wood, a nostalgic tribute filled with love, laughter and fabulous memories for Victoria Wood fans. https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/whats-on/looking-for-me-friend-the-music-of-victoria-wood
43) Gigspanner Big Band, Cornerstone, Friday February 24. A collaboration of the biggest names in the folk music scene: Peter Knight (from Steeleye Span) and John Spiers (from Bellowhead) join together to bring a night of inspiring music with their combined deep knowledge of folk traditions whilst pushing its boundaries. https://www.cornerstone-arts.org/whats/gigspanner-big-band
44) The Oxford Sinfonia, Grand Spectacular Concert with Jennifer Pike. The Sheldonian, January 28. Renowned for her “dazzling interpretative flair and exemplary technique” violinist Jennifer Pike has taken the musical world by storm with her unique artistry and compelling insight into music from the Baroque to the present day. In demand as soloist and recitalist all over the world, she is known as an artist of exceptional integrity and depth.
45) OSJ’s Mozart Requiem, SJE Arts, Oxford, April 8. Celebrate Easter with an evening of Mozart’s most sacred music, including his magnificent oratorio, performed by renowned soloists and backed by the full forces of the Orchestra of St. John’s and the OSJ Voices. They are joined by award-winning sisters Fiona and Jean Kelly, who will perform Mozart’s divine Concerto for Flute and Harp, the only piece he wrote for the harp. https://www.osj.org.uk/osjevent/mozart-requiem-7pm-at-sje-arts-oxford/
46) Maki Sekiya in Homage To George Crumb, SJE Arts Oxford, 5 February. The famous pianist honours the innovative American composer on the first anniversary of his death in this solo recital. https://sje-arts.org/event/maki-sekiya-10th-sje-arts-international-piano-series/
47) Oxford Literary Festival March 25-April 2. More than 200 events over 10 days including a programme for young people. Speakers include: Colm Tóibín, Greta Scacchi, Jeremy Bowen, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Paterson Joseph, Robin Stevens, Mick Herron and Al Murray. https://oxfordliteraryfestival.org
48) Truck, July 21-23, Hill Farm, Steventon. Like a mini Glastonbury this is where to catch new bands and sells out every year. Tickets already on sale. https://truckfestival.com/truck-festival-2023-on-sale/
49) Big Feastival, Kingham. August 25-27. Don’t want to miss it? Although the line-up is yet to be announced, it’s always a brilliant weekend of food, music and fun. https://thebigfeastival.com
50) Nocturne, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, June 14-18 – More names are yet to be announced but with Lionel Richie and Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics already announced it looks like a stellar few days. https://www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/events/nocturne/
51) Thame Food Festival, September 30/October With a myriad of demonstrations from some of the country’s leading chefs and bakers, priority tickets are now available. All children under 12 years are free. https://thamefoodfestival.co.uk
52) Kite, June 9-11. Kirtlington Park. Oxfordshire’s newest and perhaps most eclectic and cultured festival kicks off again with the likes of Suede, Marina Hyde, The Breakup Monologues With Rosie Wilby and Shazia Mirza. https://kitefestival.co.uk/line-up/
53) Labyrinth: Knossos, Myth & Reality, Ashmolean from February 10. According to legend, an elaborate labyrinth was built at Knossos on the island of Crete to hold a ferocious Minotaur. The palace of Knossos, discovered and excavated over 100 years ago, was the centre of a Bronze Age civilisation of people we now call the Minoans, named after the legendary King Minos. This will be the first UK exhibition to focus on Knossos and will include over 100 objects which have never left Crete and Greece before, alongside discoveries from the Ashmolean’s Sir Arthur Evans Archive.
54) These Things Matter: Empire, Exploitation and Everyday Racism until 19 February, Blackwell Hall, Weston Library. Explores the devastating and long-term impacts of the British Empire by showing how everyday communications, such as maps, letters and even a deliberately edited version of the Holy Bible, helped to maintain the slave trade, by manipulating millions of people and justifying the value of trading African bodies. The exhibition features items from the Bodleian’s colonial artefacts collections, which sit alongside contemporary artists’ responses to them.
55) Who Listens and Learns, Modern Art Oxford – a tale of magic, artificial intelligence and our quest for human connection by the writer, artist, and musician, Johanna Hedva. https://www.modernartoxford.org.uk/whats-on/johanna-hedva-who-listens-learns
56) Carey Young: Appearance. Modern Art Oxford: 25 March – 2 July. Concentrates on female identity depicting women working in law and industry, considering perceptions of systemic power, gender and justice. From a video installation, Appearance, to a slow-motion portrait of female judges, along with The Vision Machine, Young’s inventive exploration of female identity through photography and cinema, and Palais de Justice (2017), a fantasy court or legal system run by women. Plus compelling text and photographic works connecting law, power and visual culture. https://www.modernartoxford.org.uk/whats-on/carey-young