GET PLANNING HERE: BMAG Wedding Fair, Birmingham
Whether you're looking to say yes to the dress, size up a well-groomed suit or find flowers, this month Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery will bring together some of the Midlands’ top wedding experts to get brides and grooms set for the big day. The wedding fair will take place in the surroundings of Grade II-listed building Waterhall, where a range of handpicked local exhibitors will include leading bridal boutique June Peony Bridal Couture; Elegant Entertainment, who will serenade brides-to-be with live acoustic performances; Birmingham tailors Clements and Church; florist Bloom Collective; and photographers Wedding By Manos. The venue will be dressed by Trees by Design, House of Herlihy and Posh Walls, who will showcase everything from blossom trees to flower walls and a floral swing.
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, B3 3DH; 19th May
FIND YOUR NEW FAVOURITE BAND HERE: Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Cheltenham
With over 20,000 music-fans attending each year, Cheltenham has become one of the country’s best-loved jazz festivals. Featuring a mix of international jazz icons and up-and-coming artists has seen the event host some of the world’s greatest musicians: previous guests include Jamie Cullum, Hugh Laurie, Eartha Kitt and Van Morrison. The festival site in Montpellier Gardens is the perfect place to soak up the festival atmosphere. Featuring free outdoor music, top food and drink stalls and fun family activities, it’s a great place to head to over the bank holiday weekend. Highlights from this year’s programme include Gregory Porter, Jamie Cullum, James Morrison and Katie Melua.
Various venues across Cheltenham; 1st-6th May
BOOK A LAST-MINUTE STAY HERE: Daylesford Cottages, Cotswolds
If the nice weather’s getting you in the mood for a mini-break, may be suggest the five self-catering cottages over at Daylesford in the Cotswolds. Each cottage is a beautifully converted farmhouse. Four are just a few steps away from the famous organic farmshop and one is in the village of Daylesford itself. Just 90 minutes from London, all five cottages provide guests with the opportunity to reconnect with nature, retreat from the everyday stresses of urban life and experience the beauty of the Cotswold countryside. Plus, each cottage comes with a relaxing one-hour treatment in the Bamford Haybarn Spa for every adult. Guests can enhance their stay with further holistic treatments and classes, a course at the cookery school, a floristry or craft workshop or by dining in the farmshop restaurants or Daylesford’s sister pub, The Wild Rabbit, in the nearby village of Kingham.
Daylesford near Kingham, Gloucestershire, GL56 0YG
TREAT YOUR DOG HERE: Dogstival, Hampshire
Dogstival is a new boutique-style festival taking place in the New Forest. Set in Pylewell Park Estate, the event will be hosted by TV presenter Chris Packham, and promises to be a great day out for the whole family. As well as a dog-friendly beach, visitors can expect dog displays, delicious treats and expert talks. With the help of celebrity naturalist Packham, Dogstival also intends to help owners discover more about the mental and physical wellbeing of their furry friend, as well as developing a greater understanding of what it takes to be a responsible pet owner. Expect live music, a vintage fairground – complete with a ferris wheel offering views over the Isle of Wight – and, just for dogs, a canine cartoonist, photobooth and edible treasure hunt.
Pylewell Park, Lymington, Hampshire, SP41 5SJ; 18th-19th May
TRY A NEW BREW HERE: Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival, Edinburgh
Scotland’s largest celebration of craft beer returns to Edinburgh this May with a special foodie focus, top-class music acts and a huge selection of craft beers from some of the world’s most innovative brewers. Taking place at The Biscuit Factory, the Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival will welcome some of Edinburgh’s leading restaurants to serve up culinary treats, keeping beer lovers well-fed all weekend. It’s not all about beer though: this year’s festival will also play host to another impressive line-up of top-class performers, with DJ Yoda, Belle & Sebastian, Hip Hop Karaoke and Gentleman’s Dub Club among the confirmed acts ready to keep crowds entertained all weekend.
The Biscuit Factory, 4-6 Anderson Place, Edinburgh, EH6 5NP; 24th-25th May
FIND A NEW READ HERE: Hay Festival, Wales
This Welsh literary festival is one of our favourites. In the foothills of the Brecon Beacons, guests can peruse pop-up bookstores, watch acts such as The Waterboys and Ezra Furman and practice yoga. This year’s programme features over 600 writers and thinkers over 11 days, spanning award-winning fiction, non-fiction and poetry; science and tech; UK politics; global affairs; sustainability; children and families; plus, a vibrant line-up of late-night music, comedy and performance. There are also opportunities to attend creative writing workshops and listen to talks by the likes of Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson, Stephen Fry, Judith Kerr, Matt Haig and Jacqueline Wilson – what a line-up.
The Drill Hall, 25 Lion Street, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5AD; 22nd May-2nd June
DISCOVER THE BEST TEQUILA HERE: Margarita Rumble, Manchester
Margarita Rumble is a bottomless festival that pits top bars and mixologists against each other to find the UK’s best tequila cocktail. Located at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, the event will see 15 specially curated bars and restaurants and their top mixologists compete for the title. Guests can choose to join one of three two-hour sessions of free-flowing margaritas: each reveller will be given a token on arrival to put into the ballot box of their choice to vote for their favourite cocktail. Entertainment will be provided by DJs and dancing Day of the Dead skeletons, plus Jose Cuervo will be on hand to get you up to speed on all things tequila at one of its margarita masterclasses.
Victoria Warehouse, Trafford Wharf Road, Stretford, Manchester, M17 1AB; 5th May
COMBINE FOOD & MUSIC HERE: Pub In The Park, Various locations
Tom Kerridge’s annual food festival is back on the road this year – with double the amount of dates. Each of the eight weekends will play host to Tom’s two Michelin-starred pubs, The Hand & Flowers and The Coach, plus a selection of other top UK restaurants and Michelin-starred chefs, who will be serving their most popular dishes across the weekend. Every event will celebrate the very best food the country has to offer, combined with great live music, chef demonstrations, top quality shopping and family-friendly festivities. Music across the festivals will include Kaiser Chiefs, Gabrielle, Basement Jaxx, Jake Bugg and David Grey.
Marlow (17th-29th May), Leeds (31st May-2nd June), Knutsford (7th-9th June) Bath (21st-23rd June), Warwick (5th-7th July) Tunbridge Wells (12th-14th July), Chiswick (6th-9th September) and St Albans (13th-15th September).
BOOK THE LAST TICKETS FOR THIS: The Butterfly Lion, Cirencester
The award-winning Barn Theatre’s current production of The Butterfly Lion is drawing to a close. Written by acclaimed writer and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo (War Horse, Private Peaceful), The Butterfly Lion tells the story of young Albert Andrews and the unlikely friendship that he strikes up with the orphaned white lion cub he rescues one day from the African Veldt. It’s an epic tale that spans more than 70 years and takes us from rural Wiltshire to the plains of South Africa, and from the bleeding heart of war-torn France finally back to England and the safety of home. It’s a journey that begins with a solemn promise made by a boy never to forget his friend, a journey that will keep you on the edge of your seat until its startling conclusion.
The Barn Theatre, 5 Beeches Road, Cirencester, GL7 1BN; until 4th May
SEE LOADS OF UP-AND-COMING BANDS HERE: The Great Escape, Brighton
This Brighton musical festival is celebrating its 11th birthday this year. An event that dedicates itself to unsigned and up-and-coming bands from the UK and overseas, the weekend is always a great opportunity to discover your new favourite band. Back this year is its 2,000-capacity pavilion on the beach, which will host two stages, pop-up performances, food stalls and bars (fingers crossed for nice weather). Must-watch acts across the three days include Foals, Friendly Fires, Lewis Capaldi and Anna Calvi.
Various venues across Brighton; 9th-11th May
WATCH AN ACCLAIMED PRODUCTION HERE: West Side Story, Manchester
This Manchester production has won rave reviews since it opened last month. West Side Story marries stunning choreography to a matchless songbook – Maria, America, Somewhere, Tonight – as it translates Romeo & Juliet to 1950s Manhattan. It’s about the Jets and the Sharks, two rival gangs who make New York’s mean streets even meaner. But it’s also passionate, tender and deeply romantic. Reimagined for the round with new choreography by Aletta Collins and orchestrations from Bernstein specialist Jason Carr, Sarah Frankcom’s new production brings a whole new energy to a bona fide Broadway classic.
Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH; until 25th May
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