More than 50 things to do in Surrey in 2011

From a new entertainment venue for our county town to Guildford Cathedral celebrating its 50th anniversary, 2011 is an exciting year ahead for Surrey. Matthew Williams picks out a few of the highlights

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2011

With a new entertainment venue for our county town, the resurrection of one of Surrey’s most important art galleries and Guildford Cathedral celebrating its 50th anniversary, we can barely contain our excitement for the year ahead at Surrey Life magazine. Here, Matthew Williams picks out a few of the highlights

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In 1907, the celebrated garden designer Gertrude Jekyll donated her entire collection of objects relating to ‘Old Surrey’ to Surrey Archaeology Society. On February 15, 1911, a new gallery was opened at what is now Guildford Museum to house the items. They will be celebrating this centenary with a special exhibition in February. (See February's Surrey Life for more) Surrey Museums Month takes place in April, with a very special ‘history of Surrey in 50 objects’ project that was  inspired by the BBC’s national campaign this year. Fifty years ago, the Queen was at the consecration of Guildford Cathedral. Will she make the birthday celebrations in May? A royal is expected. In May, 400 years of the King James Bible will be celebrated across the world. At Hampton Court Palace, the occasion will be marked with a lecture by Lord Bragg. In the same month, members of St Katherine’s Church, Merstham, will spend three days and two nights reading the entire edition to raise restoration funds. At Guildford House Gallery, meanwhile, they’ll be paying homage to one of the King James translators and famed Guildfordian, George Abbot, from June.   Many famous (and a few infamous) figures are associated with the historic borough of Elmbridge and The Elmbridge Hundred trail will launch this summer to commemorate them. Something new for the summer in Weybridge, too, where visitors to Brooklands Museum should see the opening of Cobham Bus Museum at its new home. In September, the popular Heritage Open Days event is back, with the rare opportunity to see behind the scenes of some of Surrey’s most remarkable historic buildings.

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Musical bliss

Guildford International Music Festival

is back for its biannual stint in March, while the hills come alive to the sound of the Leith Hill Musical Festival in April; followed by Hampton Court Palace Festival and Wisley Music Festival in June, GuilFest in July and Weyfest in September. Are your ears still ringing? Guildford’s Vivace Chorus is gearing up for what promises to be a truly memorable performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall in May. They had to raise �53,000 for the venture. Meanwhile, Surrey Festival Choir celebrates its 50th anniversary with a concert at Guildford Cathedral in July. Late autumn should see the opening of Guildford’s new �26m entertainment venue run by HQ Theatres, who are promising a top line-up. ‘The Modfather’ put on a surprise charity concert in Woking in 2010 and will be returning to the town in 2011 – in photographic form at the very least. The Lightbox will host a special exhibition, Town Called Malice, Stanley Road Revisited: Photographs of Paul Weller, from July.

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Rural matters

Deerstalkers at the ready for The Blindley Heath Show, South Godstone; Cowpie Country Show, Betchworth; and Surrey County Show, Guildford; which all take place in May. Then there is the Cranleigh Show, Cranleigh; Edenbridge and Oxted Show, Lingfield; and Egham Royal Show, Egham; at either end of August. The only remaining traditional agricultural show within the M25 takes place at Chertsey, also in August. Following on from the highly successful, first ever Surrey Hills Wood Fair at Birtley House, Bramley, last year, there will be a re-run in October with the event extended to two days. The English National Sheepdog Trials will be hosted on the beautiful North Downs this year at Lower Boxhill Farm, Dorking, in August.

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Arts attack

Exhibitions in Guildford to look out for in February are the Community Foundation for Surrey’s A Celebration of Giving at Guildford Cathedral and a show at Otters Pool Studios, in Guildford, featuring the winner of the recent Guildford Calendar Competition.  As they begin to celebrate their fifth birthday, Guildford Shakespeare Company will be staging a production of Hamlet at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford, in February. Now in its third year, The Sculpture Garden at Birtley House, Bramley, is set to run throughout April and May.  We know, we know, Watts Gallery was at the top of the list last year. But what can we say; they want to get things right down in Compton. Largely due to economy-led delays, the eminent Victorian artist’s famous gallery is now due to re-open in late spring 2011, following an �11 million restoration project. Leatherhead Drama Festival takes place in May and it is hoped that Sir Michael Caine will once again be handing out the awards to the winners. Bookworms should keep an eye out for the Kingston Readers’ Festival in May; Guildford Book Festival in October; and the Richmond upon Thames Literature Festival in November. Meanwhile, Surrey Sculpture Society has announced a new venue for 2011: Guildford Cathedral, in June and July, to coincide with the cathedral’s 50th anniversary celebrations. They will also be at Denbies in April, Wisley in September and King Edward’s School’s VivArtis arts festival in Witley in October. Artists and craftspeople open their studio doors to the public through June for Surrey Artists Open Studios, offering demonstrations, workshops, artwork for sale, free prize draws and taster exhibitions. Following a recent fundraiser at the Rose Theatre, hosted by Matt Lucas, the third International Youth Arts Festival will be lighting up the whole of Kingston in July. Last but by no means least, the-ever popular Arts Alive festival will be returning to the Mole Valley in October. This year's winner of  Surrey Artist of the Year will be announced in October at the New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham.

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Green-fingered goodies

Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham

, is holding a tulip festival from the end of April, which will see 13,500 bulbs in bloom, laid out in a design created by resident gardener, Brian Addison. At Wisley, the eagerly awaited Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden opens in early summer and they will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the rock garden, which will include the opening of a new crevice garden. The Loseley Gardening Show once again provides inspirational ideas for the horticulturally inclined in June. There is also the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July and Wisley Flower Show in September, too. It will be the sixth year of the popular open gardens day event in Bookham in June, where private gardens will open to welcome visitors. Of course, the National Gardens Scheme provides further options throughout the year. The Claygate Flower & Village Show, Surrey’s biggest event of its kind, takes place in July and has been running for over 100 years.

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Sporting occasions

The jewel in Surrey’s polo season crown is the Cartier International at Guards Polo Club, Egham, in July. Prince Charles is a regular and next year sees the club commemorating the 100th anniversary of The Coronation Cup, which is the feature game of the day. The season itself kicks off in May and all the action, plus plenty of celeb spotting, can also be found at Hurtwood Park Polo Club, Ewhurst, and Ham Polo Club, Richmond. Surrey’s great sporting heritage will be celebrated through a series of re-enactments and exhibitions from Saturday April 9 to Wednesday May 18 in Our Sporting Life – line-up to be confirmed but baseball, cycling and cricket are high on the agenda. As well as the PGA at Wentworth in May, another rather special golfing highlight will be the Princess Alice Hospice 25th anniversary golf day hosted by John Inverdale in June at Burhill in Walton-on-Thames. Of course, another event that still brings Surrey to the world’s attention is the Epsom Derby in June, where the Queen is generally to be found casting her eye across the paddocks. The world’s tennis-lovers once again descend on Wimbledon in June for The Championships... and strawberries, cream and champagne.

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For the foodies

There’s plenty for foodies to look forward to already this new year; as well as a new bakery at Surbiton’s The French Table restaurant from January, The Parrot in Forest Green has launched a new butcher’s hall and county grocer, and Burhill Golf Club will be opening a new restaurant. See more on page 140.  In Farnham, Squires Kitchen’s annual cake decorating, chocolate and sugarcraft exhibition, which attracts enthusiasts from around the world, celebrates its 25th anniversary in March. With the relocation of the Surrey Hills Brewery to Denbies, grape and grain tours should be set to commence at Easter. Perhaps time to call a cab for that one…  The popularity of food festivals continues to grow with Haslemere and Croydon food festivals tantalising the tastebuds in September and Farnham Feast of Food in October. Surrey Farm and Food Week brings with it a host of tasty farm walks and food fairs in September, too.

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Something a little different

The Marsden March, a 14-mile walk taking place in March next year between Chelsea and Sutton, is the latest fundraising event for The Royal Marsden Hospital and is supported by Match of the Day host Gary Lineker. Wildlife artist David Shepherd, whose charitable foundation is based in Cranleigh, celebrates his 80th birthday in May with a black tie dinner at the Natural History Museum hosted by Sir Michael Parkinson. The multi-million pound Hindhead Tunnel, which will form part of a new stretch of the A3 linking London and Portsmouth under the Devil’s Punch Bowl, is set to open in the summer, if not before. Throughout the warmer months, Guildford Summer Festival acts as an umbrella for a huge range of events around our county town, from Surrey County Cricket Club’s annual venture to play a league fixture here to the ever-popular Walkfest via charity raft races. Held at the home of Top Gear, Dunsfold Park near Cranleigh, Wings and Wheels is a huge celebration of motoring and aviation heritage, taking place in August, and features the best of the RAF and Brooklands Museum in Weybridge. One of the quirkiest events in the calendar, Oxted Pram Race runs in July with locals dressing up to charge around the streets of the east Surrey town with homemade ‘prams’ – it’s all for charity. Possibly competing with the above in the strangeness stakes, the Big Yellow Duck Race in June features 2ft-long, yellow ducks making their way down the River Wey in Guildford for Surrey Care Trust. Okay, both of the above actually pale into insignificance alongside Surbiton Ski Sunday in October. Strap ice to your feet and race against the clock and other competitors down a hill. These charity fundraisers know no bounds.

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