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What’s in – your guide to lockdown fun

Staying in this week? OMG me too! Step this way for my curated guide to the best streams, theatre, shows, festivals and kids activities to ramp up the fun.


Don your best festival garb (glitter, wellies and a drink in each hand) for Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2020which is going ahead as a virtual event. Pop stars, including Sam Smith and the Jonas Brothers (above), will be performing from their homes and home studios (ideal for all you nosey parkers out there), plus you can watch past performances on BBC iPlayer. Other acts announced include HAIM, Ellie Goulding, Mabel, Naill Horan, Rita Ora and Armand Van Helden (22 – 24 May). 

Meanwhile, pop rock band The 1975 are finally dropping their new album, Notes on a Conditional Formthis week after postponing the release date. With a whopping 22 tracks on the album, it’s perfect fodder for rocking out during your unlimited exercise sessions (22 May). 

If pop’s not your cup of tea, London Symphony Orchestrais streaming concerts from it’s archives every Thurs (7.30pm) and Sun (7pm) on its YouTube channel. This week you can hear the sweet sounds of Shostakovich Symphony No 6 followed by Steve Reich Quartet and Sextet. 

And finally, clever clogs like Lambert Jackson Productions and the Theatre Café are live-streaming to keep you entertained and their West End performers in work. Their Leave a Light On program is a series of music shows streamed live from The Theatre Café for a small fee. This week’s line up inlaces Six the Musical star Jarnéia Richard-Noel. Full line up here


Always wanted to go to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show? Well now you can – for free (kind of)! The massive garden show is going online for the first time ever this year with behind the scenes tours of the country’s best flower nurseries, plus advice from top garden designers to help you jazz up your own back yard. There’ll also be daily interactive Q&As and, for kids, a School Gardening Club (18 – 23 May). 

LOCAL OPTION: Family festival fave Elderflower Fields would have been happening this weekend. But never fear, intrepid campers. The festival is still scheduled to go ahead in September, and in the mean time the team are bringing us Elderflower Fields At Home! Sign up for weekly activities and this weekend it’s the famous Big Picnic – at home. Here’s an Elderflower Cordial recipe to kick you off.


Want to watch a National Theatre production for free? Er, yeah! Over on the theatre’s YouTube channel this week you can see The Barbershop Chronicles. Directed by Olivier award-winning director Bijan Sheibani, the play is set across a single day in barber shops across the world. The show is available to watch until 21 May. 

If you’re a fan of Macbeth you’re spoiled for choice – you’ve got two options this week starting with the Dutch National Opera’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. The performance is sung in Russian, but there’s the option to add English subtitles. 

And then, over on the Globe Theatre’s YouTube channel you can watch a 90 minute performance of the Scottish play created especially for young people 11+. The show’s promising violence, blood, balloons and confetti (a slightly odd mix, if you ask me) so should be a hit with teens, plus it’s a great way to sprinkle a little culture into their lockdown schedules. 

Swan Lake

For ballet buffs, Matthew Bourne has made four of his award-winning productions available to watch online for the first time ever. You can rent any of the shows (take your pick from Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, The Car Man) for £5.99. Alternatively you can buy the show for £9.99 to watch on repeat. 

LOCAL OPTION: Chichester Festival Theatre continues to stream David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang, and will soon add Beauty and the Beast to its online options. If you’ve enjoyed either, or both, why not donate to say thank you?

TV& Film

The Great British Bake Off meets Gardener’s World in The Big Flower Fight, coming to Netflix this week (18 May). Ten pairs of florists, garden designers and sculptors compete to create the brightest and boldest flower creations. Sticking with the floral theme, you can also watch coverage on this year’s digital Chelsea Flower Show throughout the week on the BBC on new programme Your Chelsea Flower Show

For your weekend watching, head over to Netflix where you can find new crime comedyThe Lovebirds (22 May). Looks like a goodie to offer some much needed light relief. And then, hop over to Amazon Prime video where you can stream Oscar-winning Rocketman, an epic musical about the life of Elton John, starring Taron Egerton. If you haven’t seen it already (erm, where have you been?), it’s a must see and is available from 22 May.


If CBeebies is just not cutting it, take part in Play At Home Fest, a weekender of family fun, organised by renowned child psychologist Dr.Amanda Gummer. The line up includes comedy from Shappi Khorsandi and The Giggle Doctors, plus dance classes, workshops and more (23 – 24 May). 

Check out online creative hub, the Isolation Creation Club. The platform was started by sisters Polly and Hetty (aged nine and six), after they created a colouring book and distributed it to local kids in their neighbourhood – sweet! You can download the book online, plus other scribble-worthy activities. 

LOCAL OPTION: Get the Lego out and join Brighton Bricks for a virtual Lego Mosaic challenge, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. Tag and share the kids’ creations (and your own, big kids can join in too) with #brightonbricksbuild.

Museums & Galleries

The Science Museum may be closed but it’s using the power of, erm, science to bring the exhibitions to you with virtual toursonline games and fun kids activities. The collection is also available to view online, with over 325,000 objects and items, many pf which you can view virtually in 3D

If Renaissance, Baroque and Impressionism is more your bag, then head straight for the The National Gallery‘s website. The gallery has teamed up with Google Street view to create a virtual tour of the exhibition rooms (watch out for people caught nose picking on camera). And then the Tate Modern is offering a virtual tour of the new Andy Warhol exhibition(above) complete with a commentary from curators Gregor Muir and Fiontán Moran.

LOCAL OPTION: Hastings Contemporary in East Sussex wins the award for the most creative way to tackle lockdown with real-time tours around the gallery using a super-techy telepresence robot that patrols the exhibitions. And then, over at cool contemporary gallery Kettle’s Yardin Cambs, you can see snapshots of the exhibitions taken by webcam of the museum. 

Find more ideas here

Arts & CultureCultureThings to Do

2 comments on “What’s in – your guide to lockdown fun”

  • Anne-Marie May 20, 2020

    For lockdown giggles … also check out Brighton’s very own Spymonkey (through their Facebook page) they are offering a different show from their back catalogue for free each week!

  • edinchief May 24, 2020

    Thanks Anne-Marie 🙂


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