Rosie Holt

As Oxford Festival of The Arts kicks off this week, here are the first unmissable events to book now!

THE HOBBIT – Catch this world premiere written by Alex Thomas and John Mann, based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in London in 1940, during the height of the Blitz, a boy and his grandfather take refuge in an air-raid shelter, bringing him face to face with unimaginable dangers. As the story unfolds, the world of rubble and bombed-out houses becomes the magical land of Middle-Earth. Performed by Magdalen College School. Oxford Playhouse from Thursday 29 June to Saturday 1 July.

The Hobbit

Sir Willard White – one of the best-loved and most versatile opera stars – as dazzling when performing Songbook standards as he is on the stages of the world’s greatest opera houses, performs in this iconic Oxford venue together with the inimitable Brodsky Quartet.  A performance featuring highlights from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess to the iconic My Way.  Wednesday, June 28, 7.30pm, Sheldonian Theatre

Willard White

Nightlight – James Gemmill has worked on Skyfall, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the latest BBC Drama Great Expectations, to name but a few. He creates large art works for the cinematic world, including recreating sections of the Louvre for The Da Vinci Code; the theatrical set of the film Anna Karenina and reproductions for The Last Vermeer; and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The Oxfordshire-based artist’s exhibition at New College is a preview of a larger project Gemmill is working on, using Oxford architecture at night as his inspiration. Sunday, June 25, 10.30am – 5pm, Antechapel, New College Chapel.

James Gemmill

Carey Young: Appearance – These curator led tours help explain and expand on Carey Young’s exploration of the relations between women, the camera and systems of power in three video installations including new film Appearance examining 15 judges working in England and Wales. Alongside the films, a selection of Young’s new and existing text and photographic works feature sites including prisons, legal borders and imaginary space, connecting law, architecture, language and the body. Friday, June 23, 5.30pm & 7pm, Modern Art Oxford.

Carey Young 6. Still from Palais de Justice

Secret Byrd – a unique, theatrical, immersive and interactive performance with award-winning British vocal ensemble, Gesualdo Six and viol consort Fretwork to celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Byrd – one of the world’s finest Renaissance composers. Audiences rove freely among the costumed artists feeling the original hand-made part-books, all illuminated by candlelight. A concert experience like never before; held in the extraordinary historic buildings of Abingdon Abbey, dissolved by Henry VIII, in the hall visited by him and Queen Katherine of Aragon.  Thursday, June 29, 6pm & 9pm – with pre-post performance talk at 7.30pm, Abingdon Abbey Buildings

Secret Byrd Crypt

The Instruments of Time and Truth, Oxford’s world-class early music ensemble, overseen by the highly-respected conductor Edward Higginbottom, with virtuoso violinist Bojan Čičić. This is an exciting opportunity to experience Paris’ 18th century Concert Spirituel – one of the first public concert series in existence. The programme will culminate in Mozart’s aptly-named Paris Symphony, and one of Chevalier de Saint-Georges‘ violin concertos. Fans of BBC period dramas would have seen this extraordinary musician and composer in Marie AntoinetteWednesday, July 5, 7.30pm, Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester-on-Thames

Instruments of Time and Truth

Luxmuralis – A spectacular fully-curated son-et-lumière evening experience which brings the story of the Renaissance world to life, as seen through the eyes of the artists and Masters of the time. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the full experience in this historic church which will be awash with colour and sound, particularly after sundown, so the later the better, really. 23 June – 27 June. Entries at: 9.30pm, 10pm, 10.30pm, 11pm. University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford

Luxmuralis at Salisbury Cathedral

Rosie Holt: The Woman’s Hour – The social media sensation and Chortle Award winner debuts an hour of comedy based on her smash-hit satirical videos, as seen millions of times online. July 1, Festival Marquee, Magdalen College School.

Rosie Holt live

Oxford Festival of the Arts 2023 ‘People. Stories. Histories‘ runs from its Festival Hub and Marquee base at Magdalen College School Rose Garden, and partner venues across Oxford. from 23 June to 16 July. READ OUR GUIDE TO THE MORE UNUSUAL EVENTS HERE