Salisbury Cathedral Renaissance Luxmuralis

Oxford Festival Of The Arts always offers a wonderfully ambitious, unique and diverse programme but this year it has excelled itself.

Whilst including a smorgasbord of music, speakers, history, plays, recitals, art, tours, comedy, film and dance, all incorporated into this years theme ‘People, Stories, Histories‘, there are also some brilliantly quirky acts coming to enrich the line up in 2023.

Running from 23 June to 16 July, the wonderfully eccentric acts and events that have caught our eye include:

  1. Caravaggio: Tableaux Vivants, University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Wednesday 12 July 4.30pm, 6.30pm, 8.30pm. Having never been seen in the UK before, this extraordinary group of performers are coming to Oxford from Italy specially to recreate 23 of Caravaggio’s best canvases using only their bodies and a few props. Watch the Baroque master’s art literally come to life punctuated by the music of Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi and Sibelius. Book here
Tableux Vivant Flagellazione

2) The Hunting of the Snark, Ultimate Picture Palace, Cowley Road, July 1, 6pm. This surreal and beautiful film of the famous nonsensensical poem by Lewis Carroll, in which a rag-bag steampunk crew land on an island to hunt for the enigmatic Snark will be followed by a Q&A with the director Simon DaVison and actor Corinne Furman following the screening. Book here


3) Secret Byrd: The Gesualdo Six and Fretwork, Abingdon Abbey Buildings, Thursday 29 June at 6pm and 9pm Witness this extraordinary theatrical concert, which celebrates the 400-year legacy of William Byrd, one of England’s finest composers as the a ward-winning British vocal ensemble Gesualdo Six collaborate with Fretwork in this immersive performance where soup and bread are passed and audiences rove freely among the costumed artists, illuminated by candlelight. A concert experience like never before. Book here

Secret Byrd

4) Luxmuralis, University Church of St Mary the Virgin, 23 June – 27 June, 9.30pm-11pm – This spectacular bespoke evening son-et-lumiere experience tells the story of the Renaissance world through the eyes of its artists and Masters. Immerse yourself in the greatest paintings and artworks of the time and explore – through light and sound – the wonder that revolutionised Europe in this historic church which will be awash with colour. Book here

Luxmuralis at Salisbury Cathedral

5) Bunker Cabaret – Hooligan Art Community (Ukraine,) OVADA, 5 July, 7 July, 8 July, 9 July at 8pm. Combining music, poetry, dance and film, this powerful exploration of love versus totalitarianism examines the personal conflicts of making art during a war. Women from Hooligan Art Community travelled to Germany to work with Mahogany Opera, while two men in Ukraine worked in a bomb-shelter in Kyiv, filming sketches and songs for new scenes which inspired Bunker Cabaret. Book here On July 8 a screening at The Ultimate Picture Palace presents two films created by Hooligan Art Community, with a
post-screening discussion. Book here

Bunker Cabaret

6) Adapting Anne(s), Magdalen College School, July 11, 4.30pm. Ros Ballaster helps you take a closer look at ‘queeriod dramas’ about two Annes of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century who left written records of their attachment to other women – Queen Anne in The Favourite and Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. Book here Book here

Ros Ballaster

Oxford Festival Of The Arts runs from 23 June to 16 July in venues all over Oxfordshire. Here’s what’s on