Friday, 29 August 2014

AI WEIWEI AT BLENHEIM PALACE 1 October – 14 December 2014

Blenheim Art Foundation is delighted to announce the most extensive UK exhibition to date by celebrated Chinese artist and social activist Ai Weiwei. Opening at Blenheim Palace on 1 October as the inaugural and launch exhibition of the Blenheim Art Foundation, the exhibition will showcase more than 50 artworks by Ai Weiwei produced over the last 30 years. Featuring early photography dating to Ai’s time spent in New York in the 1980s through to new site-specific works conceived in China especially for the Palace, the show will give visitors the opportunity to experience first-hand the breadth of the artist’s practice, taking place throughout Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its grounds.

AI WEIWEI AT BLENHEIM PALACE 1 October – 14 December 2014
Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace is the first major contemporary art exhibition to be presented in a building that dates back to 1704 and was famously the birth place of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill in 1874. Inviting a new experience of Blenheim Palace by integrating artworks throughout the richly furnished palace rooms, as well as in the park and Formal Gardens, the exhibition will showcase the work of an artist known for his decisive breaking of tradition and will invite visitors to consider the artist’s particular vision, which questions what it is that we call ‘contemporary’.

A globally-recognised social activist, Ai Weiwei has not been able to leave China since 2011 when his passport was confiscated by Chinese authorities. The exhibition at Blenheim Palace is therefore realised through a close collaboration between the artist and the Blenheim Art Foundation team who have worked together with 3D plans and models of the site and grounds. New works realised for the Palace will include ‘Soft Ground (Great Hall)’, a site-specific carpet measuring 4510cm by 200cm displayed in the Great Hall; alongside hand-painted porcelain plates with ‘freedom flower’ details in the China Ante Room and ‘Sunflower Seed Stools’, also crafted in porcelain.

Seminal artworks on display will include ‘Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold’ (2010), Ai Weiwei’s reinterpretation of the legendary bronze zodiac head statues that once surrounded the fountain-clock at Emperor Yuanming Yuan’s Beijing imperial retreat and ‘He Xie’ (2010), featuring 2300 small porcelain crabs presented in the Red Drawing Room. The show will feature 55 photographs by Ai Weiwei documenting his time spent in New York 1983-1993 alongside ‘Marble Surveillance Camera’ (2010), a poignant reminder of Ai’s current situation; ‘Slanted Table’ (1997), a reconfigured Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) table; and ‘Map of China’, (2009) formed from wood reclaimed from temples also dating to the Qing Dynasty.

As the inaugural exhibition of the Blenheim Art Foundation, Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace marks a new programme of contemporary art, which will see exhibitions presented at the palace by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists. It is founded by Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, whose family have resided at Blenheim Palace since it was built in the early 18th century, and whose father the 11th Duke of Marlborough is the current owner. A dedicated collector of contemporary art, Lord Edward has long held the ambition to launch a contemporary art programme at Blenheim Palace. He realises Blenheim Art Foundation with newly appointed Director, Michael Frahm.

Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, Founder, Blenheim Art Foundation, said:  “The launch of the Blenheim Art Foundation is a very exciting moment for Blenheim Palace. We are delighted to be able to host an artist of the calibre and eminence of Ai Weiwei at Blenheim and hope that our new programme of contemporary art, beginning with this exhibition, will challenge and inspire our visitors.”

Michael Frahm, Director, Blenheim Art Foundation, said: “This exhibition presents an extensive view of the artist's diverse practice spanning more than three decades from the early 1980s in New York to modern day Beijing, where he is today confined to the borders of China. Ai Weiwei's way of approaching the world challenges the status quo and he continues to raise critical questions on social, cultural and political issues. It has been a true pleasure working with Ai Weiwei, turning our vision into reality, and it is a great privilege for us to launch Blenheim Art Foundation with one of the most important living artists.”

About Ai Weiwei
Born in 1957 in Beijing, Ai Weiwei is one of the most influential cultural figures of the 21st century. A prolific artist and social activist, based in Beijing, he has been a vocal critic of democracy and human rights in China. Ai was arrested in 2011 and held for 81 days without charge, sparking global protest. His passport was confiscated and he is currently detained in China where he lives and works in restricted conditions. 

Recent and current solo exhibitions include Evidence, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; Ai WeiWei in the Chapel at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Ai Weiwei: According to What?, PĂ©rez Art Museum Miami; Ai Weiwei. Resistance and Tradition, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville, Spain; German Pavilion, Biennale de Venezia, Italy. With Herzog & de Meuron, Ai Weiwei was architect for the National Stadium of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. @Large Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz will open on Alcatraz Island on 27 September 2014.

About Blenheim Art Foundation
Blenheim Art Foundation launches on 1 October and will establish a new programme of contemporary art at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Offering visitors a unique opportunity to experience contemporary art in the historic setting of the palace and its celebrated grounds, the not-for-profit foundation aims to give the greatest number of people access to the most innovative contemporary artists working today.

About Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace was a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation to the 1st Duke of Marlborough for his great victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704. Designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site in 1987, Blenheim Palace carries a unique aura of history and achievement. The Palace is also home to the 11th Duke of Marlborough and his family, and is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Blenheim Palace Festival of Transport

The Blenheim Palace Festival of Transport is gearing up, galvanising the glorious grounds and getting set for the 8th annual weekend celebration.
Festival of Transport

Perfect for families, auto aficionados and festival fans the Festival of Transport is a hullabaloo of hot rods, vintage classics, exhibitions, trade stands, competitions and history.

Sunday 24th August will feature the Classic Car Show and Monday 25th August will include not only the Classic Cars but also motorcycles, Minis and VW's, Customs, Hot Rods and Americans, Kit and Sports Cars.

The bank holiday bonanza this year includes vehicle judging lead by former BBC radio presenter Les Clayton. Les, whose apprenticeship at Triumph and subsequent 17 years of specialist commentary will get all the family excited about the vehicular spectacle. Expect plenty to see and do around the grounds.

Event organisers Classic Shows have been running auctions and specialist car shows for almost 30 years and know exactly what gets the ‘petrol head’ in all of us hot under the bonnet. The show will have exhibitors, trade stalls and plenty of knowledgeable amateurs and motoring professionals offering a wealth of information, history and tonics about specialist vehicles.

From young to old the Festival of Transport is a true celebration of motoring history and achievement with plenty of exciting things to see, hear and do to keep all the family entertained.

Festival of Transport: 24th – 25th August
Park & Gardens ticket required: Adult £13.50 / Child £6.60 (Age 5-16) /Concession £10.20 / Family £36.00 (2 Adults & 2 Children)
INFO LINE:     0800 849 6500       

Chatsworth Country Fair Serves Up Best Ever Foodie Line Up

A mouthwatering line up of the UK's top chefs, bakers and food suppliers is being served up at Chatsworth Country Fair this year on August 29, 30 and 31.

Set to be the biggest and best foodie offering in its 34 year history, the AGA Rangemaster Cookery Theatre situated in the heart of the Fine Food Village has got a tasty selection of  live demonstrations from top celebrity chefs and the best of the region's chefs sharing top tips and delicious recipes for visitors to try at home.

Double Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, one of the most popular and down-to-earth characters on the food scene, is serving up three demonstrations on Friday 29 August at 11am; 2.20pm and 3.45pm. In a real coup for the fair, it will also be the very first place to get hold of a signed copy of his brand new book 'Best Ever Dishes', featuring more than 100 of his favourite recipes. Published by Bloomsbury on August 28, the book is being released ahead of his next BBC2 series of the same name airing in the autumn.

Queen of baking Mary Berry CBE is back for a return visit to the fair this year, with two demonstrations on Saturday at 11am and 3.30pm. The doyenne of family cooking specialising in Aga cookery, cakes and desserts, is a familiar face on our TV screens with the successful The Great British Bake Off pulling in peak viewing figures of 7.8 million. With so many fans, Mary is sure to be a huge draw at the fair once again. She will also be signing copies of her latest book.

On Sunday, Lesley Waters will be sharing her cookery skills at 11am and 3.30pm . Well known for her regular television appearances on Ready, Steady Cook, Great Food Live and This Morning, Lesley also runs a successful cookery school in Dorset and has written nearly 20 cookery books. With her talented and engaging style, Lesley will be a popular draw at the fair. Her simple, modern style creates dishes that are easy to recreate with stunning results.

Appearing on all three days, there will be a little of something you fancy for everyone. For fish lovers, Jose Souto, one of the UK's leading Game chefs, will be demonstrating 'Fish Made Easy' and talking about sustainable seafoods. Derbyshire born Alan Coxon will be back once again to demonstrate at his favourite UK show. Other names familiar on the local scene include Joe Hunt, head chef of the social enterprise cookery school, Tideswell School of Food, who will be sharing his passion for cooking; Amelia Horne, founder of Derby's Jack Rabbits food hall and deli and Adam Smith, head chef of the Devonshire Arms in North Yorkshire, singled out by the legendary Michel Roux Senior as a talented young chef to watch.

Next to the Cookery theatre, visitors will be able to grab afternoon tea in the Vintage Tea Room. Once again, the Fine Food Village will be offering a delicious selection of gourmet delights to sample and take home. Cheeses and chocolates, breads, oils and sauces jostle for attention with cured meats and spicy snacks. There are plenty of drinks to try with English Wines, craft distilled spirits and natural apple juices among those available. Now firmly established as a highlight in the culinary calendar, competition to take a stand at the fair is fierce resulting in a delicious treat for the thousands of visitors due to descend on the Derbyshire parkland.

Gates open at 9am each day with a closing ceremony at 6.30pm. The box office is open for advance tickets. Advance tickets are available from £18 while children under 14 get in free. For more information and ticketing options, including a 10 percent discount for online booking, visit

The Chatsworth Country Fair can also be found at

Chatsworth house and garden are open throughout (normal admission applies). The farmyard & adventure playground are closed during the Fair.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Supercar Showdown - Bank Holiday Monday 25th August - National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

Supercar Showdown

Supercar Showdown
With just over a week to go, Beaulieu’s 2014 Supercar Showdown is gearing up for an action packed show on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 August, when this popular event, now in its eighth year, will be welcoming the stallions of the supercar stable into the National Motor Museum’s picturesque parkland for a day of full-throttle motoring action.
Two hundred high-performance supercars are booked in for the event including a Lamborghini Aventador, Alfa Romeo 8C, Ferrari 458 Speciale, Jaguar XJ220 S, McLaren 12C and a Bugatti Veyron. A number of car clubs and dealerships will also be in attendance, including the Ford UK Heritage collection, with their Ford Supervan, Porsche Club GB, Westover Group, Morgan Motor Co. Meridien Group and the Aston Martin and Lamborghini Owners’ Clubs.

Watch as these incredible cars are put through their paces on the Demonstration Run, which revs into action twice during the day, at 12 noon and 2.30pm, to entertain the crowds. The Run is the most popular feature of the event, giving visitors a fantastic view of these stunning supercars thundering through the picturesque parklands surrounding the National Motor Museum. This year the cars will start underneath the iconic Dunlop Bridge, generously provided for the show by Dunlop UK.

Visitors will be able to vote for their favourite supercar in the People’s Choice Award. Following the second Demonstration Run in the afternoon, the top seven supercars will take part in a cavalcade through the grounds to Palace House for the presentation ceremony, with the winner and two runners-up each receiving a Beaulieu Trophy and pack of Autoglym car cleaning products.

Snap-happy visitors are invited to enter the Supercar Showdown photography competition for the chance to win a family ticket to Beaulieu’s Fireworks Spectacular on 1November. Visit for more information.

Supercar Showdown event tickets include entry to the whole Beaulieu attraction, featuring the National Motor Museum with two exciting new displays, the newly updated World of Top Gear and On Screen Cars exhibitions, Beaulieu Abbey and Palace House and gardens.

Advance tickets, available until the 24 August are £13 adult, £9 child and £37.50 for a family. Those visitors purchasing tickets on the day of the event will pay standard Beaulieu attraction admission rates.

The event opens to the public from 10am – make sure you get there early enough to find yourself a good viewing spot for the Demonstration Run!

For more information, visit or tweet @Beaulieu_Hants using #supercarshowdown

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Simply Classics and Sports Car - Sunday 24th August - Beaulieu

Beaulieu Simply Classics & Sports Car

Beaulieu Simply Classics & Sports Car
Sunday 24th August 2014

Beaulieu’s popular Simply Classics event, now in its fourth year, has rebranded to Simply Classics & Sports Car for 2014, as the rally has now expanded to include sports cars. Taking place on Sunday 24th August, this event is open to all owners of pre-1989 classic vehicles and sports cars of all ages, with participants invited to drive their vehicle to Beaulieu and display it in the beautiful parkland surrounding the National Motor Museum.
This event provides classic and sports car owners with the perfect opportunity to take a drive through the picturesque New Forest and join the display, meet other like-minded enthusiasts and enjoy a day out at the Beaulieu attraction.

British sports car manufacturer, MG, is this year celebrating its 90th anniversary and will be the featured marque at Simply Classics & Sports Car. In a special display area at the event, MGs of all ages will be on show from early VAs and TAs to the ever popular MGB and Midget, as well as modern classics such as the MGF and MG TF, plus the current MG3 and MG6 models, with displays from regional MG clubs and individual owners as well as a number of trade stands.

During the afternoon there will be a parade of some of the best examples of the MG marque. Beaulieu’s visitors will be asked to vote for their favourite MG, as well as their favourite overall vehicle on display, in the People’s Choice Awards. In an afternoon presentation ceremony, the owners of the winning vehicles for both the People’s Choice and the People’s Choice MG awards will each be presented with a Beaulieu Trophy.

For those participating in the event with a sports car or pre-1989 classic, ticket prices are Adult £10 and Child £5. Event tickets include entry to the whole Beaulieu attraction, featuring the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Beaulieu Abbey and Palace House and gardens.

Tickets can be purchased on the day or in advance online at or on telephone line 01590 612888.

All other visitors to the event should enter via the Main Entrance Hall at normal Beaulieu attraction admission prices.

Entry into the Beaulieu parkland with your sports car or pre-1989 classic is from 9.30am when catering will be available. The event opens to the public at 10am.

Visit for more information or telephone 01590 612345.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Blenheim Palace Sportive and Family Cycling Day

Cycling at Blenheim Palace
Families and serious cyclists alike are invited to enjoy a once a year opportunity on 17th August to cycle around the picturesque Parkland of Blenheim Palace, a World Heritage site. Bring your bicycles (and helmets) and cycle around the spectacular Lake and over the Grand Bridge, take in the scenery and fresh air, stop for a picnic and make it a day to remember.

This year will also include a fantastic competitive element for more serious cyclists, with the Blenheim Palace sportive making a return for 2014. Riders of the sportive will have the choice of a 100 mile or 60 mile route. Both routes featuring a series of rolling climbs, but will suit a wide range of riders.

The sportive event will also feature way marked routes, electronic timing, on-course marshals, mechanical support, feed stations and event photographer. Pre-registration and payment is required for the Sportive and can be done at

Visitors participating in the family cycle option can go at their own leisure and there is no age restriction for children to participate in the family cycling day. It is a wonderful way to get active over the summer holidays.

Families can finish off their day in Blenheim Palace’s Pleasure gardens, which are specifically designed for all the family to relax and spend time together. The Pleasure Garden Deli will running their outdoor BBQ and children can also explore the permanent outdoor exhibitions including the Butterfly House, Marlborough Maze and Adventure Play Area.

WHAT:    Blenheim Palace Sportive and Family Cycling
WHEN:    17th August
WHY VISIT:    A once a year opportunity for families and keen cyclists to explore the picturesque parkland on bikes.
ADMISSION:    Park & Gardens ticket required: Adult £13.50 / Child £6.60 (Age 5-16) /
Concession £10.20 / Family £36.00 (2 Adults & 2 Children)
WEBSITE: for more information
INFO LINE:    0800 849 6500