Things to do in Surrey 2017 - more than 70 dates for your diary
- Credit: Archant
From literary celebrations and artistic anniversaries to expanding attractions and all your usual calendar favourites, there’s certainly no reason to be bored or stuck indoors this year in Surrey
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2017
(some dates may have changed since publication and it’s always best to double check with the venues first)
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1. An absolute must for petrolheads is Brooklands Museum’s hugely-popular New Year’s Day Gathering at their Weybridge base on Sunday January 1 – guaranteed to drive the motoring-mad around the bend.
2. Throw off the winter blues at RHS Garden Wisley’s Butterflies in the Glasshouse, which runs from Saturday January 14 to Sunday March 5. Take your camera and attempt to capture the more than 50 different butterfly species from the tropical world. They do a great afternoon tea there too!
3. A visit to Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking is like a mini-break at any time of the year, and from Monday January 23 to Sunday January 29 there’s the added bonus of finding the free Surrey Life Readers’ Photography Exhibition in all its splendour.
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4. To mark the 100th anniversary of artist John Minton’s birth, The Lightbox in Woking explores his work alongside that of his neo-romantic contemporaries, Michael Ayrton, John Craxton, John Piper, Graham Sutherland and Keith Vaughan, in a special exhibition from Saturday January 28 to Sunday March 26.
5. As featured in December’s Surrey Life magazine, January sees the servants’ quarters of Polesden Lacey at Great Bookham open to the public for the first time. As well as that – and loosely lined up for April – they’ll be celebrating 75 years since the property was gifted to the National Trust. At the time, it was thought this sumptuous house would be left to the Royal family!
6. Running from Saturday February 4 to Sunday March 5, the much-loved Orchids Festival at RBG Kew Gardens returns. Inspired by the vibrant colours, culture and magnificent plant life of India, this year’s festival will feature the usual giant floral displays as well as decorative rickshaws!
7. In spectacularly timely fashion, Guildford Shakespeare Company is bringing the Bard’s political thriller Julius Caesar to the Holy Trinity Church stage in Guildford, shifted to a contemporary context, from Saturday February 4 to Saturday February 25. We eagerly await President Trump’s tweeted theatre review...
8. Spinning yarns across Surrey’s craft town, the annual knitting festival, Unravel, returns to Farnham Maltings from Friday February 17 to Sunday February 19.
9. To mark the bicentenary of the birth of ‘England’s Michelangelo’, Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village will be launching a special programme of events on the great artist’s birthday, Thursday February 23. In addition, a book by gallery curator Dr Nicholas Tromans, The Art of GF Watts, will also be released.
10. A biannual celebration of everything musical, the Guildford International Music Festival returns from Friday February 24 to Sunday March 5.
11. A tradition started by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1931, originally marking the opening of the Dorking Halls, the Leith Hill Musical Festival’s performance of the St Matthew Passion on Sunday March 12 will be extra-special thanks to a newly-restored copy of the Bach St Matthew Passion.
12. For the fitness fanatics, the Surrey Half-Marathon is a closed-road running event between Guildford and Woking on Sunday March 12. Also look out for the Bacchus Marathon (with wine to drink on route – seriously!) at Denbies, Dorking, the Run Reigate Half-Marathon and Richmond Running Festival, all planned for this September, among others.
13. Shot at Shepperton Studios and in the woods of Winterfold near Cranleigh, the highly-anticipated new Disney production of Beauty and the Beast stars Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen. It is set to be released on Friday March 17.
14. The Stranglers will be back on the road again, presenting their Classic Collection to coincide with the planned re-release of the entire Stranglers studio album catalogue from the period 1977 to 1982. They will be playing G Live in Guildford on Tuesday March 21.
15. Following a successful first season, Hampton Court Palace’s Magic Garden – a play-garden for families – reopens in the spring. Populated by mysterious mythical beasts, with battlements to storm, towers to besiege and even a secret grotto to discover, the Magic Garden is a unique way for families to explore the palace’s past.
16. While The Sculpture Park in Churt is open all year, Ockley’s Hannah Peschar Sculpture Gallery reopens for its season on Saturday April 1. Both are true Surrey gems and well worth a visit – cameras at the ready!
17. Surrey wine is on the up-and-up and, as well as at the vineyards and thriving independent wine shops, you’ll also be able to get a taste for the grape at wine festivals at Farnham Maltings in April, Guildford Cathedral in May and Dorking Halls in September. Cheers!
18. At JBSki in Chertsey, their floating obstacle course has proven so popular that they are doubling its size when they reopen again in April. Later in the year, they’ll be hosting the child-friendly Beachfront Family Festival and the 18-30s pleasing Transitions Beach Festival.
19. Meanwhile, confirmed Surrey Sculpture Society events include Birtley House, Bramley, from the end of April until June, RHS Garden Wisley near Woking in August and September and the Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington, in November. Their members will also be appearing at AppArt at Prior’s Field School, Godalming, in April.
20. Hop growing is back with a bang in the fields around Farnham and discerning beer-lovers know that the town’s Beerex is the place to be from Thursday April 27 to Saturday April 29. There are also major beer festivals in Oxted, Redhill, Woking and Guildford during the year.
21. Including the crowning of the champion jump-jockey for the season, the Bet365 Jump Finale takes place at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher on Saturday April 29. They will also be hosting their popular An Evening at the Races events throughout the summer, including Olly Murs in August.
22. Leith Hill Place was the childhood home of one of England’s greatest composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams, thanks to his grandparents, Josiah Wedgwood III and Caroline (née Darwin) moving there in 1847. When the National Trust property opens again at the end of April, not only is the plan to open all year-round but it will also feature a brand-new exhibition of ceramics from the Wedgwood family collection.
23. It’s hard to move for the mouth-watering aromas of food festivals these days. Things kick off in Surbiton from Monday May 6 to Tuesday May 21. Then there’s Eat Food Fest in Reigate, which has been upped to two days, in July; the twice Surrey Life award-winning Woking Food & Drink Festival, as well as those in the towns of Farnham and Haslemere, in September.
24. The University of Surrey’s Royal Charter was signed on September 9, 1966, establishing them in Guildford from their original roots in Battersea, London. As a year of celebration comes to a close, they will be hosting a Festival of Wonder at their campus on Saturday May 13.
25. Englishman Chris Wood won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last year. Who will take the crown at the Virginia Water golf club from Thursday May 25?
26. Bringing the country to the heart of town at Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey County Show takes place on Monday May 29. Elsewhere, there’s Cowpie in Lingfield and Blindley Heath in South Godstone (usually in May); Cranleigh (in July); and Edenbridge & Oxted, Egham and Chertsey (all in August).
27. With the beautiful 48 acres of the Birtley Estate in Bramley as their gallery, work by some of the county’s top artists is represented by the Surrey Hills Sculpture Garden, which takes place from Monday May 29 to Saturday June 3.
28. The umbrella festival for events as diverse as Walkfest, the Town Centre Cycle Race and The Electric Theatre Summer Film Festival, Guildford Summer Festival takes place from the start of June until the end of August, promising something for everyone.
29. Anyone who has seen Netflix’s The Crown will have noted the numerous references to the Queen’s favourite horse race, the Derby at Epsom. Taking place on Friday June 2 and Saturday June 3 this year, the Investec Derby Festival is always a spectacular occasion.
30. For a chance to go behind the scenes with some of Surrey’s most creative residents, pencil in a visit to Surrey Artists Open Studios where more than 300 artists are expected to open their doors from Saturday June 3 to Sunday June 18.
31. Rick Astley, Bryan Ferry and Jools Holland have already been confirmed among the line-up for this year’s Hampton Court Palace Music Festival, which takes over the spectacular Tudor Courtyard and gardens of the historic attraction through the month.
32. Ten days of music, film and the arts are set for the heart of Surrey Heath, as the Camberley International Festival takes place from Wednesday June 7 to Saturday June 17. One of the founders from Wales’ famous Green Man festival – who has since moved to Surrey – is involved too.
33. Discover Surrey’s ‘Little Provence’ with a visit to Mayfield Lavender near Banstead. Flowering season is from around June to September and, while picnics are no longer allowed because of people failing to clear up, this year will see the introduction of a new Mayfield Lavender Experience Package, which includes an afternoon tea and tour.
34. The National Trust is celebrating a year of Charlotte, the tragic Regency-era princess who was heir to the throne and who lived and loved at Claremont, near Esher. While this Valentine’s Day, you could follow the lovers’ walk around the landscape garden that was Princess Charlotte and Leopold’s wedding present, there will be talks, guided walks, teas and trails pencilled in for June.
35. Surrey’s rock royalty – and music (and polo!) aficionados – will be descending on Hurtwood Park Polo Club in Ewhurst, which is owned by Faces drummer Kenney Jones, for Rock ‘n’ Horsepower. They will also be hosting the Festival of Surrey this summer.
36. The Brooklands Double Twelve Motorsport Festival promises to be extra-special this year, as on day one of the spectacular event, they will be celebrating 110 years since the official opening of the track on June 17, 1907.
37. Taking place in aid of The Children’s Trust in Tadworth, The Supercar Event speeds back into Dunsfold Park near Cranleigh on Saturday June 24 and Sunday June 25.
38. Rather unbelievably, it’s 20 years since the release of JK Rowling’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but it was June 30, 1997, when the world-conquering books first saw the light of day. Our county gets a mention, of course, with the Dursleys infamously living in Little Whinging, Surrey, but many of the films have been shot around this part of the world.
39. We’re taking liberties here as no organised events that we know of as yet, but as 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of globally-loved author Jane Austen and she made Box Hill rather famous by depicting it in a picnic scene... well, summer plus picnic equals a win to us.
40. One of England’s most elegant 18th century landscape gardens, Painshill’s restoration in Cobham has been an ongoing labour of love. Now, one of their most treasured follies, The Temple of Bacchus, is set to be completed in July 2017.
41. The Guildford Fringe will be cracking open the bubbly for their fifth birthday, with more events than ever before. Their month will kick off with The Big Free Fringe Weekend, where all of the events will be free to attend. Expect everything from theatre, comedy and burlesque to art exhibitions, poetry, music, dance and lots more.
42. The world’s largest flower show, the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show preview beds in on Monday July 3 before the main event blooms between Tuesday July 4 and Sunday July 9. Always a highlight in the Surrey calendar, watch this space for more details coming soon.
43. Bringing colourful performance and vibrant arts to Kingston town centre, the ninth International Youth Arts Festival promises a feast for the senses from Friday July 7 to Sunday July 16.
44. Held at Loseley Park in 2016, the OneLive music festival, hosted by Noel Fitzpatrick (aka The Supervet), will take place at Stoke Park, Guildford, on Saturday July 8 with the line-up still to be confirmed.
45. The National Trust’s The Big Camp event, where you get the chance to spend a night under the stars at an NT site, looks set to be a little different this year – but there are still expected to be a few Surrey destinations playing campsite for the night.
46. As villages go, Ripley already has an awful lot going for it (from top-end cafés, restaurants and pubs to bustling boutiques and pristine countryside) but they also have the Ripley Event every summer – a perfect celebration of village life.
47. An intriguing one from RHS Garden Wisley, if a little vague at this point, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five are set to go on a garden adventure from Saturday July 22 to Sunday September 3.
48. For the first time in the event’s history, the professional Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic will also be a UCI World Tour race, which means it will have the highest ranking in the world cycling calendar. Expect even better riders and teams. Of course, there will also be amateurs hitting the course too to raise money for charity. It all takes place over the weekend of Friday July 28 to Sunday July 30.
49. Probably Surrey’s most established and prominent camping music festival these days, Weyfest turns the peaceful countryside of Tilford into a mini-Glastonbury from Friday August 18 to Sunday August 20.
50. Things don’t get much more adrenaline packed than watching the Wings and Wheels planes and motors swoop around Dunsfold Park’s skies and track near Cranleigh. Engines will be gunned on Saturday August 26 and Sunday August 27.
51. The BBC Good Food Festival is expected to return to Hampton Court Palace towards the end of the month and usually brings with it a host of star names and interesting foodie products to try. Later in the year, they also host the BBC Good Food Festive Fayre for the Christmas markets.
52. It’s 25 years and counting for Wisley Flower Show, a six-day floral extravaganza at RHS Garden Wisley near Woking, running this year from Tuesday September 5 to Sunday September 10.
53. The opening of the new Heritage Lottery Fund supported Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed exhibitions at Brooklands Museum is set to see Weybridge’s star attraction add yet another new valve or two to its already powerful engine.
54. Another event for the motor-mad is the Shere Hill Climb, which some have described as “quintessentially English”. Expect plenty of beautiful cars to browse and some hair-raising action up Staple Lane near the picturesque village of Shere.
55. Always hugely intriguing, Heritage Open Days (HODs) offers the chance to really get beneath Surrey’s skin and behind usually-locked doors from Thursday September 7 to Sunday September 10. With the chance to explore everything from normally-closed-to-the-public ancient cottages to sprawling, majestic architecture such as Royal Holloway in Egham, this is a must in the annual calendar.
56. One for the arts and crafts minded, Kirstie Allsopp’s The Handmade Fair brings a whole host of experts to The Green at Hampton Court Palace from Friday September 15 to Sunday September 17.
57. The Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards has continually added to its menu since it started back in 2013 and now in its fifth year will again be celebrating the very best of our county’s food and drink scene.
58. The festival that marks Surrey’s unique position as the nation’s most wooded county, Surrey Hills Wood Fair brings everything from chainsaw sculptors to tree climbing to the beautiful grounds of Birtley House, near the village of Bramley, on Saturday September 30 and Sunday October 1.
59. Believe it or not but it’s been 30 years since the Great Storm made its dramatic way through Surrey. Memories are still fresh from the 1987 carnage and there’s sure to be many tales to tell for the anniversary.
60. The next best thing to The Antiques Roadshow, The Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair brings around 35 specialist exhibitors from across the UK to Sandown Park racecourse in Esher from Friday October 6 to Sunday October 8.
61. Things are set to get crafty again at Farnham Maltings in October, as their Festival of Crafts provides a fitting centrepiece for the area’s overflowing creativity.
62. Hotly-contested every year, the Surrey Artist of the Year exhibition at the New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham sees a number of the county’s top artists go head-to-head before the overall winner is chosen.
63. Turning the page of the latest best-sellers for nearly 30 years, Guildford Book Festival is set to return this October with an exciting new line-up. Elsewhere in Surrey, Runnymede Literary Festival is confirmed for March.
64. It’s elementary my dear Watson that it’s the 130th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was published in magazines from October 1887. While its London locations are famous tourist attractions, the author drew inspiration from living in the Hindhead area. The film adaptions also visited the likes of Bourne Wood near Farnham and Richmond Park.
65. How do you possibly make Hampton Court Palace more spectacular? That was probably the question they asked themselves before introducing ice skating to the grounds, but it’s become a glistening festive ‘must’ these days.
66. You know it’s nearly Christmas when the pantos are chortling their way into town, the lights are switched on and Surrey’s attractions begin to make the most of the darkness. Illuminated trails usually takes place at Painshill in Cobham, Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village in Compton, RHS Garden Wisley near Woking and RBG Kew near Richmond. Watch this space…
67. Running (well, er, rambling…) for more than 25 years, the Ramblers’ Festival of Winter Walks offers an added incentive to explore Surrey’s great outdoors in December and January – make sure to keep a copy of our top winter pub suggestions to take with you!
68. See the nativity brought to life at the Wintershall Estate nearly Bramley, where a show has marked the celebration for nearly 30 years. It takes place in an outside barn, complete with shepherds and sheep, donkeys and the three wise men on horseback.
69. Always one of the hottest music tickets around – in fact, locals queue around the block to get their hands on them – former Manfred Mann star Paul Jones hosts a charity concert at Cranleigh Arts Centre every December. Previous years have featured the likes of Paul Weller, Van Morrison and Eric Clapton.
70. On Boxing Day, the 32Red Winter Festival featuring the Grade 1 King George VI Chase brings high-speed racing thrills to the track at Sunbury-on-Thames’ Kempton Park Racecourse.
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