We love to be the bearers of good news, and today, May 17th, starts a much-anticipated week for businesses in Oxfordshire, as the latest stage in the lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions begins. This is not a complete list, and we'll update it with your business if you get in touch ([email protected]) but if you're planning a trip out, here is some inspiration!
While we're not going to attempt to list all the restaurants in Oxford (there are hundreds!) we are thrilled that those without access to outdoor space can open their doors once again. Use our restaurant finder if you're looking for a new cuisine to try but beware opening times may still be reduced, so we advise checking ahead (many will take pre-booking only, to manage social distancing numbers).
Our resident film buff has lovingly put together details of what to expect from the county's silver screens, which you can find here. Listings change regularly so head over to our events pages to find all the latest screening times in one place.
Performers will be treading the boards at theatres throughout Oxfordshire, with shows returning to stages with renewed gusto.
Oxford Playhouse's Together Again programme starts on 28th May with Blindness, an immersive sound installation from award-winning playwright Simon Stevens, featuring the voice of Juliet Stevenson. Other highlights include Ralph Fiennes in Four Quartets from 14th June, and Rhum & Clay's adaptation of The War of the Worlds which was well-received when it was last in Oxford.
The North Wall Arts Centre is back in action from 19th May with student production Half Baked, a new piece of comedy writing. The fun will continue with a varied line up of drama and comedy (from the likes of Simon Munnery and Ed Byrne), plus free exhibitions including the highly-anticipated Elaine Kazimierczuk: Re-Fresh.
Arts at the Old Fire Station will open up with Offbeat festival from 22nd June, in a hybrid selection of in-person, outdoor and online shows. In the meantime they're hosting several exciting online comedy, spoken word and music performances, which are available on demand.
Chipping Norton Theatre are going all-out to bring a festive atmosphere, offering not just socially-distanced live performances in their gorgeous Victorian auditorium, but also outdoor film screenings and other shows in collaboration with a number of Cotswold venues. It's all kicking off from 20th May.
Embracing the ethos of 'the show must go on', The Watermill Theatre have a whatever-the-weather outdoor run of The Hound of the Baskervilles (21st May-19th June) in their picturesque gardens, back by popular demand after a sell-out run in 2020. The critically-acclaimed Watermill Ensemble will take over from 24th June - 24th July, presenting an atmospheric open-air As You Like It.
Classes and courses have already resumed at the supremely child-friendly Pegasus Theatre, with Wild Boor Ideas' fabulous Play The World sessions returning from 11th June.
Kicking off with vaudeville cabaret Hundred Watt Club on 21st May, The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury boasts a jam-packed feast of comedy concerts and children's theatre, some of which will also be available as a live-stream to enable more people to join in.
Museums, galleries and attractions
Reopens 17th May, open daily 10am-5pm. Entry is free but booking is essential. The Rooftop restaurant will only be serving Afternoon Tea for the time being: available 12 noon - 5pm.
Opening Fri 21st May for the new exhibition, Samson Kambalu: New Liberia. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance. After the 21st, the gallery's hours will be 11am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday.
Just in time for International Dinosaur Day on May 18th, the museum is now open every day, 10am-5pm. Pre-booking is essential: tickets are released in weekly batches (Mon-Sun) every Friday, ten days in advance.
Open daily 10am-5pm from 17th May (last entry: 4.15pm). Pre-booking is essential: tickets are released in weekly batches (Mon-Sun) every Friday, ten days in advance.
The Exploration Zone will be opening its doors for weekly Family Days starting on 22nd May. Tickets are £6 per person or £20 for a family (4 people, must include 1 adult) - the maximum booking size is 6. Tickets grant 2 hours to try experiments in the Exploration Zone and access to the outdoor woodland area all day.
From 18th May, the museum will be open 12-5pm every Tuesday-Sunday. Book your free, timed ticket in advance to see Einstein's blackboard, a glass sculpture of a nanoparticle of the Oxford vaccine, and an outdoor museum in a van!
Both the Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum are now open, with some of the glasshouses at the former now available to visit too. Pre-book your 20-minute arrival slot: to accommodate social distancing, visitors are asked to stay no more than two hours.
From 20th May, the museum will be fully open Thursday-Monday, 10am-4pm, so you can enjoy the galleries, cafe, and shop. There's another chance to catch the popular Elmer and Friends exhibition (separate booking required), which has been extended to 21st June 2021.
Reopens on Friday 21st May. Through the rest of May they'll only be open at weekends (21st-23rd and 28th-31st) but from June visitors are welcome every day. Pre-booking is advised.
From 22nd May, visitors of all ages will be able to explore fictional destinations as varied as the Hundred Acre Wood, Narnia and Wonderland, all under one roof. From 1st June, they'll also be running a series of Stories From the Woodshed, their brand-new studio theatre space, plus a series of half term workshops.
The site is now open 9.30-5pm every day, with the indoor Palace spaces available to explore from 10am-4.15pm (last entry 3.45pm). Pre-booking is essential. The Palace's cafe's and restaurants are also open, and the miniature train is running!
The soft play centre will be open on Thursdays and Fridays, 9.30am-6.30pm, and Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-6.30pm. There will be closure periods for enhanced cleaning throughout the day.
Open daily 11am til late (and from 10am Saturdays and Sundays). To enable social distancing, they ask for pre-booking at peak times (on weekends).