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Yes you May! What’s on locally this month

Feel the spring sun on your skin, and get out and about this month! From dazzling shows to super-cool festivals, here’s the lowdown on what’s coming up across Notts & Derbyshire


Bearded Theory Spring Gathering, Catton Hall, 26-29 May

This award-winning, family-friendly festival is set in the stunning grounds of Catton Hall, right on the borders of South Derbyshire, the West Midlands and Staffordshire. With some huge names on the bill this year, including Placebo, Patti Smith, The Flaming Lips and Frank Turner, this really is a festival for your whole squad. 

The Children’s Village is packed with exciting, creative classes, and oodles of activities for little ones to get stuck into, while in the Rogues Hideout, teens can build a band, learn to drop beats and mix tracks, and get messy with freestyle graffiti. For the foodies, there’s a focus on local produce with loads of indie pop-ups and five bars to choose from. 

Don’t forget, this year’s theme is ‘We Can Be Heroes’ – fancy dress challenge, accepted.


On to comedy now, and there are some big hitters out and about this month. 

Partridge fans rejoice! Coogan is bringing his infamous alter ego to the Motorpoint Arena Nottingham with an all-new show on 6 and 7 May. STRATAGEM promises a ‘manifesto for the way we can move forward, a roadmap to a better tomorrow, an ABC for the way to be.’ We’re cringing already.

For a two-night comedy double bill, head to Nottingham Theatre Royal on 12 May to catch Jack Dee hitting the boards, and Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire on 13 May for Ed Byrne’s observational humour. 

To end the month, the Joan Rivers of drag, Bianca Del Rio brings her devilishly wicked  ‘Unsanitized’ show to Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall on 30 May.


As we pray for a glorious summer, Derbyshire and Notts are bringing their festival A-game this month. Hipster-cool street food market Bustler is hosting both the national Sausage and Cider Fest on 7 May, and Gin and Rum festival on 21 May – the latter has over 120 different variations of tipple on offer(!).

Towards the end of the month, it’s the return of the much-loved Derby Book Festival from 20-28 May. There are 70 events on the programme, from author Q&As to readings to literary walks, taking place over nine days. A few Muddy picks for you: catch comedian-cum-author Isy Suttie on 21 May and Esme Young (of The Great British Sewing Bee) on 24 May, both at the QUAD. 

Finally on 29 May, Dot to Dot Festival takes over Nottingham with a jam-packed line up of fresh indie bands and local artists. Venues across the city, from the mainstage at Rock City to the intimate Jamcafe, are taking part so you can really make a day of it.


Motionhouse’s ‘Nobody’

Head to Nottingham Theatre Royal on 7 May for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Evening of Music and Dance. Hand-picked by the ridiculously talented Carlos Acosta, you’ll be treated to a selection of much-loved classics and some debut works. As an introduction to ballet, the BRB also has a family session at 2:30pm – designed around little ones, it’s packed with games and pocket-sized performances. In both performances, the BRB is joined by the 60-strong Royal Ballet Sinfonia.

Over at Nottingham Playhouse on 26 May, catch some visual magic with Motionhouse’s Nobody (above) – a mesmerising performance that combines dance and circus skills with digital projections and shape-shifting sets. This one is bound to be stunning. 

For Strictly fans, Giovanni Pernice will light up Newark Palace Theatre on 27 May with his show ‘This Is Me’ that pays homage to the music and moves that have inspired his career. Expect a cast of incredible dancers, an epic soundtrack and a healthy dollop of Italian charm.

One for a big night out, Dreamgirls is back at Nottingham Theatre Royal from 17-28 May, and packed with songs you’ll be humming for weeks. And just for grown-ups, The Gilded Merkin Burlesque & Cabaret returns to Nottingham’s Glee Club on 29 May


First up, we love an activity where you get something as well as the kids! Head to Derby Museum over the weekend of 7 and 8 May and get stuck in with a rucksack-making workshop. Learn to cut, sew and zip, and end up with your own stylish waxed-cotton number. 

If you fancy a family show, Zog and the Flying Doctors is on at Derby Theatre on 11 and 12 May – perfect for ages from 3+ but it’s so delightfully silly, we’re sure bigger kids will have a giggle too (above)

On 21 and 22 May, everybody’s favourite Peppa Pig is back at Buxton Opera House with her BEST DAY EVER! Packed with songs, games and silliness, you can pick up a family ticket for £65.50. 

This one will be magical. As part of Derby Book Festival, join Alice and her Wonderland friends and venture down the rabbit hole at Pickford’s House on 28 May. With lots of themed activities and for less than £4 a child, this is perfect for some budget-friendly fun. 


Picture This… a night with the legendary Blondie! Debs is taking to the stage at Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on 5 May supported by Johnny Marr and Against The Odds.

If indie is more your thing, The Wedding Present are currently on the 30th Anniversary Tour for their album SEAMONSTERS, and they’re heading to The Venue, Derby on 5 May

For a night of big band entertainment, pop to Buxton Opera House on 18 May for Jools Holland and his 19-piece Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Jools is joined by his original musical partner, the drummer Gilson Lavis, and special guest Eddi Reader of Fairground Attraction. 

Next, the delightful Kate Rusby is bringing her soulful folky lilt to Newark Palace Theatre on 20 May with a set that covers two decades of her incredible career. 

Peak Cavern

Then over in the Hope Valley, combine a stomp round the peaks with a gig in the Devil’s Arse… Fairport Convention are bringing their rock-folk charm to The Peak Cavern on 21 May

And finally, for an alternative date night, settle in to the gorgeous surroundings of Derby Cathedral on 28 May for a night of Mozart and Vivaldi by candlelight, performed by the spectacular Piccadilly Sinfonietta. Swoon!


credit: Frances Milburn

Breathe in… Breathe out. If you’re in need of a bit of R&R this May, Thornbridge Hall is hosting a mindful movement and meditation class on 6 and 7 May. For a full day of bliss, pick up the package or join mindfulness teacher Paulo Karat  for just the morning or afternoon session. 


For your arty gang, make a long weekend of a trip to Belper and catch the brilliant Belper Arts Trail (above). Running from 1-2 May, the lineup includes live music, indie creators and sellers, and an excellent Children’s Book Festival. 

Nottingham Contemporary is gearing up for a summer of incredible art, kicking off with two exhibitions that open on 7 May. ‘Assemble + Schools of Tomorrow: The Place We Imagine’ has been three years in the making. Working with local children, Assemble (the multi-disciplinary collective) has taken their vision and ideas along with inspiration from the legendary Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi to create large-scale sculptures designed for PLAY!

Life on the CAPS’ is the most recent work from New York-based multimedia artist Meriem Bennani (above). Shown for the first time in the UK, follow Bennani’s acclaimed eight-channel video installation ‘Party on the CAPS’ which captures the life of refugees and immigrants on a fictional island – thought-provoking and playful, you’ll be talking about this one for weeks. 


One that families and history buffs won’t want to miss, Wollaton Hall has the first real Tyrannosaurus rex to be displayed in England for over a century, and the accompanying exhibition is packed with immersive facts and epic stories. The exhibition formally opened on 21 April but time slots are filling up fast, so don’t miss out. 

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