The weekend is almost upon us. And you may not have any plans aside from sitting in your underpants on the sofa watching Olympians do strenuous stuff (nothing wrong with that, obviously). But here’s a round up of brilliant things to do just in case you feel a sudden urge to leave the house.
1 Beatrix Potter’s London, V&A Museum until 28th April 2017
Did you spend your childhood wishing that a washerwoman hedgehog would appear in your garden and talk to you? If you did, it’s probably down to Beatrix Potter. The iconic children’s author and illustrator spent hours studying and sketching in the V&A, finding inspiration for her treasured stories. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth, the V&A brings together images, letters, original drawings and her earliest published works in this lovely exhibition.
2 The BFG Dream Jar Trail, Various locations until 31st August 2016
2016 marks the centenary of another magical storyteller. To celebrate Roald Dahl’s birthday – and the release of Stephen Spielberg’s The BFG – London’s streets have been transformed with giant dream jars. Each of them are filled with the nocturnal imaginings of celebrities – from Sophie Dahl and Quentin Blake to Stephen Hawking and Mark Rylance. Follow the trail, which takes in the capital’s famous landmarks, to help the friendly giant find his missing jars. Once you’ve found some, you can download the Dream Jar Trail certificate and wear it on your fridge with pride. Splendiferous.
3 Swallows and Amazons, Nationwide from 19th August
Arthur Ransome’s classic tale gets a makeover as it comes to the big screen. Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, the film stars Rafe Spall, Kelly Macdonald and Harry Enfield. The charming adaptation stays largely faithful to its roots, whilst injecting a new strand of action in the form of Russian secret agents. Swallows and Amazons is a paean to the innocence and excitement of childhood adventures and the great outdoors. So if you’re not actually sailing a dinghy around the Lake District, this really is the next best thing.
4 William Eggleston Portraits, National Portrait Gallery until 23rd October 2016
The photograph on the front cover of this exhibition’s accompanying book epitomises all that makes an Eggleston portrait unique. A picture of a teenage boy pushing some shopping trolleys outside a supermarket, it’s at once mundane and mesmerising. Like much of the legendary photographer’s work, its subject is a resident of his hometown of Memphis, and while it captures a snapshot of a moment in time, the story seems to carry on outside the frame. Saturated in a gorgeous orange glow, it’s a magnificent example of the ‘dye transfer’ technique that Eggleston favoured for its intensity. This isn’t a large exhibition but it’s certainly a must-see for photography fans.
5 Groundhog Day, The Old Vic until 17th September 2016
In 1992, screenwriter Danny Rubin wrote the script for Groundhog Day in a week. Fast forward over 20 years and – not only has the film’s title entered the global lexicon – Rubin has uncorked the creative magic once again. He’s teamed up with genius composer and lyricist, Tim Minchin, to create a musical based on the original film. American actor Andy Karl plays the grumpy weatherman who finds himself stuck in a perpetual time loop, when he’s dispatched to the small town of Punxsutawney to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebrations. After a limited 10-week run at The Old Vic, the musical will be heading to Broadway.
6 The Hive, Kew Gardens, until end of 2017
If you hadn’t heard, the honey bee is under threat. Inspired by scientific research into their health, The Hive is an award-winning installation that tells the story of the honey bee – and shows the importance of pollination to the planet. Designed by UK based artist, Wolfgang Butress, it’s the star attraction of Kew Gardens this summer. A wildflower meadow leads the way to the 17-metre high hive, which is made from thousands of pieces of aluminium creating a lattice effect, and is fitted with hundreds of LED lights that glow and fade – powered by the real-time activity of a nearby beehive. Educational and beautiful.