Puppet Barge, riverside festivals and World War One Centenary celebrations, there’s so much going on in Richmond this summer holidays, so prepare to be busy! Will Gore picks out five of the best ways to spend August in Richmond

1 Puppet Barge
For nearly 30 years, the Puppet Barge has been a familiar summer sight on the banks of the Thames in Richmond. The 55-seater floating theatre, moored a short walk from Richmond Bridge, is an enchanting and unique place for theatre lovers of all ages to visit, with marionette puppetry (puppets on strings) a speciality of the barge.

This August, the Puppet Barge’s programme includes productions of The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse (26 July-9 August, ages 3-8), A Child’s Garden of Verse (13-31 August, ages 3 and up) and Sir Gawain the Green Knight (from August 31, suitable for young people and adults).

Gren Middleton, who runs the barge with Juliet Rogers, says, ‘Although the journey from our usual home in Little Venice to Richmond, with such a large barge, is fraught with difficulties, the task is very rewarding. We have a regular audience waiting for us every year in Richmond of both adults and children. The peaceful location by the river near Terrace Gardens and the buzz of the theatregoers make for a joyful time for audiences and the barge company every summer.’

2 Riverside festivals
It’s not just the Puppet Barge that will have Richmond riverside buzzing throughout August, thanks to the return of the On the Edge world music festival. Running on 16 and 17 August, this free festival will feature live performances by African, Creole, Moroccan, Latin and Reggae bands. Dancing shoes are compulsory…

Another riverside event for August is Duck Pond Market, which offers locally-made arts and crafts, homewares and vintage clothing (23-24 and 30-31 August).

3 World War One Centenary
This year the World War One centenary commemorations are underway up and down the country, and Richmond is hosting a number of themed events, including the Kew Gardens At War programme at the Royal Botanic Gardens and a new exhibition at Twickenham’s Orleans House Gallery.

The Kew Gardens commemoration starts with Plants, People and Products of War (until 31 August), an exhibition showcasing a selection of artefacts, photographs and letters from Kew’s library, art collection and archives, economic botany and herbarium collections – each providing a unique insight into Kew’s involvement in the First World War. These include the personal stories of former employees, weird and wonderful plant materials used in the war effort and a look at the rise of women gardeners at Kew after the male gardeners left for the battlefield. James Wearn, project manager of Kew Gardens at War, says: ‘We are thrilled to present the start of Kew’s commemorations of World War I, which will run through to 2018. This notable and significant series of exhibitions and events starts with Plants, People and Products of War and this summer there will also be a beautiful planting display of medicinal plants (including opium and field poppies) decorating several areas within the gardens.’

The exhibition at Orleans House Gallery, In their Footsteps: Richmond’s First World War, which runs from 2 August to 16 November, will feature a selection of objects, artworks, creative writing and photographic recreations of narrative events, reflecting the impact of the Great War on the borough of Richmond. These pieces have been created and curated by a group of young people with photographer Othello De Souza Hartley.

4 Outdoor movies
Alfresco cinemas have become increasingly popular in recent summers and one of the capital’s most spectacular is undoubtedly the big screen at Hampton Court Palace. This August you can have the time of your life with Dirty Dancing (9 August) or play it again with Casablanca (10 August).

5 Championship Football
Richmond’s local professional football club, Brentford FC, are about to start life in the Championship after winning promotion. More than 5,000 season tickets have been sold so Griffin Park should be rocking on 9 August when Charlton Athletic arrive for the opening game of the season.

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