The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Berkshire Edition

Bumper half term Muddy Guide

12 Oct 2016

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What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a monster? Is it a monster?! No, it’s October Half Term! Ok people, it’s nearly upon us, so time to hide the X-Box controls, pack some snacks and head for the hills (or the museum, or the theatre, or the trampoline park… you get the gist). I’ll continue to add to the guide over the next couple of weeks, so keep popping back for more inspiration. You’ve got stuff that’s on all week at the front end, and a day-by-day guide to the rear. Form an orderly queue, make your way through the list, and stay calm troops – we can DO THIS!

COOL STUFF THAT’S ON ALL WEEK

Kick things off by taking your little monsters to Legoland and get into the Halloween spirit with the annual Brick or Treat event (geddit?) with fun Halloween-themed spooktacular activities, plus over 55 rides, live shows and attractions 17-30 Oct.

A new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel, Dracula, is on all week at Progress Theatre 20-29 Oct.

Watersports fans can try a beginner’s watersports course at Bray Lake, Maidenhead, where kids can learn to sail, windsurf and paddle to RYA and BCU qualifications; 17-21 Oct and 24-28 Oct.

Buckleberry Farm Park is holding a Giant Pumpkin Hunt and Haunted House all week, 21-31 Oct, £1 entry in addition to farm park ticket price, plus daily face painting to ensure the kids look simply spooktastic!

Halloween Festival at Odds Farm Park, daily from 21-31 Oct. Enjoy super-fun Puppet Shows (4 times daily), listen to creepy Story Time (twice-daily) and get arty by making your very own spooky Arts and Crafts! Plus, enter the twice-daily Fancy Dress Competitions, meet the Halloween entertainers and Carve a Pumpkin to take home!

bluenudematisse-e1476427353891 Matisse Exhibition at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley, 15 Oct – 8 Jan 2017. One of the 20th Century’s most influential artists, the work of Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954) is celebrated for its extraordinary richness and luminosity of colour. Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, features 35 lithographic prints of the famous cut-outs, produced in the last four years of his life, including many of his iconic images, such as The Snail and the Blue Nudes.

A packed half term holiday programme and free tours all week at The Living Rainforest from Sat 22 – Sun 30 Oct. Explore the rainforest, and discover its wonders for yourself. Look out for free roaming lizards, birds and butterflies, plus monkeys, an armadillo (my son’s favourite when his school visited recently, he hasn’t stopped talking about ‘Henry the amazing armadillo’ since!) toucans, and much more.

Cliveden has a Halloween Trail from 22-30 Oct. Cost £3, suitable for ages 4-11, no need to book and children can dress up (in fact, it’s positively encouraged, hurrah!).

You can also start your witch and wizard training in the woods at Cliveden with Wands, Wizards and Witches in the Woods. Begin by choosing a wooden wand with the power you wish to possess and learn how to cast a spell. Continue on your spellbinding journey into the woods where you must collect natural things with which to brew your potion. Make sure you’re dressed in your best witch and wizard attire. This is a drop in session and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Ideal for children aged 4-11.

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Wonder Woods at Stonor Park just over the Berks/Oxon border has extended opening until end of Oct. It’s a fab woodland play park which pulls off the miracle of catering to children from 0 – 15. Younger kids have the usual sand, playhouse, seasaws and slides, but the larger, lumpier ones can throw their energy into climbing the Wonder Wood pile and twisty rope tangle, trying the wavy slide, tunnels and 50 metre zip wire. There’s the Visitor Centre next door too, if you want to facilitate your little darlings’ happiness from the warmth of the cafe (just saying).

Cobbs Play Barn is holding Bake & Play sessions from 22-30 Oct for £10 your little ones can bake cupcakes, then play in the barn whilst their cupcake creations cool off, then back they come to decorate them.

Windsor Castle’s The Big Draw is being held again this year daily 22-30 Oct from 11am-4pm. Local artists have been invited to come to the Moat Room, and share some of their techniques to help your children to create their own masterpieces to take away.

Jump In trampoline park in Slough will be celebrating Halloween throughout the whole of half term with Spookball games running every day at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.

There are hour long art & craft activities at Norden Farm in Maidenhead to keep the little ones entertained from Mon 24 to Fri 28 Oct at 10.15am. The crafts vary so they can create something new every day (and you’ll escape the glue, paint and glitter on your kitchen table, hurrah!). Suitable for ages 5+ years, £5 per child. The Farm is also running its popular storytelling sessions in the magical story den everyday at 1.15pm and 3.30pm. Suitable for children 3+, £2 per child.

DAY-BY-DAY GUIDE

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Sun 23

You haven’t lived life to the full until you’ve swung through the trees and Go Ape is offering 20% off per person on Sundays throughout October (23 & 29 Oct).

Mon 24

Rapunzel and the Tower of Doom at Arlington Arts Centre – Tangles? Split Ends? Frizzy? Flyaway? It’s hard enough having a bad hair day but pity poor Rapunzel spending her life in a tower with a wicked old witch using her captive’s locks as a step ladder! What sort of damage is that going to do to your hair? Theatre of Widdershins have taken this Grimm tale right back to its dark roots, teased out the tangles and styled it into a beautifully coiffured hair piece! This enchanting show promises plenty of body, volume and loads of highlights. Make an appointment to see the show today – because you’re worth it! Suitable for children aged 4+.

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Spend a week with Panto artist, Simon Jardine, to create the artwork that decorates the Corn Exchange auditorium in Newbury throughout the festive season. 24-28 Oct Panto Art Attack £150 for the week, 10am to 4pm.

Timothy Pope is looking through his telescope – but wait, is that a shark, in the park!? Join Timothy Pope (and his telescope!) in this fin-tastic (*sigh* I do try) family musical at Norden Farm, based on Nick Sharrat’s Shark in the Park book. Shows at 11.30am and 2pm, tickets £10, suitable for ages 2+.

Watersports fans can try a beginner’s watersports course at Bray Lake, Maidenhead, where kids can learn to sail, windsurf and paddle to RYA and BCU qualifications; 17-21 and 24-28 Oct.

Busy Buttons is holding a Half Term Camp 24 Oct – 4 Nov at Upton House School in Windsor for ages 3-14. Including a Halloween party, costume making, art, prop making, animation, filming, cooking, sports, team work and educational trips. £85 for the full week.

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Tues 25

Bucklebury Farm Park have a new Haunted Forest Lantern Trail (also 26 & 27 Oct) 4pm-6.30pm. Starting with some spooky facepainting and a Halloween quiz, then a craft session in their new woodland yurt to create your own magic Halloween lantern, followed by hot dogs for hungry Halloweeners, ending with the Lantern Trail journey to the woodland camp fire where there might be marshmallows ready for toasting, hot chocolate and sparklers! The evening ends with Lantern judging in Woody’s, a goody bag and a ride home on the Halloween Express. Suitable for children aged approx 4-10 years, £15 per child, booking essential.

Reading Climbing Centre is holding kids introductory sessions from 25-27 Oct. £84 for 3x 2hr sessions (2hrs per day). The course is instructor-led, for ages 8-17 and gives a really good basic introduction to climbing.

The ideal half term treat – Theatre Royal Windsor is doing a production of Annie – The Musical from 25-29 Oct.

Concertini presents Music for Flute and Harp at Norden Farm. These live music concerts for families are performed with children in mind, so pieces are kept short in the morning session and children can move around and interact with the music if they like. In the afternoon session children can chat to the musicians, ask questions and have a go at playing instruments. 11.30am session suitable for 0-5 years; 2pm session suitable for ages 5+. Tickets £10 (£8 for under 16s; free for babies under 18 months).

Weds 26

The Big Tree Climbing Company are back at Cliveden with their tree climbing, rope swing and zipwire experience for ages 6+, £18.50, booking necessary.

Spine Tingling – Help a Hedgehog! at Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust 26 & 27 Oct Wrap up and come to Woolley Firs for an alternative Halloween treat. Cost £4, ages 4-10, find out how to help your local hedgehogs and make a pine cone hedgehog to take home with you. Warm up with a hot drink after exploring our woodland. Children must be accompanied, booking essential.

Animal Rangers days at Heroes Farm, Maidenhead 25-28 Oct, £25 for ages 7-16, 10.30am to 3pm. Children can discover how to look after a range of animals for the day.

Shaw House is holding a Halloween Family Day on the 26 Oct – make a bat mask out of a variety of craft materials ready for you to go trick and treating and then do the spooky Halloween-themed house trail £2 from 10am to 3.30pm, 4-11 yrs olds but older and younger ones welcome, no need to book just drop in.

No doubt a favourite picture book in many a household, Mill at Sonning is holding a magical storytelling session in the theatre at 10:30am on Wednesday morning of Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom, followed by colouring-in and dressing-up in the bar. Entry is £3.50 per child (payable on the door) which includes a healthy snack and drink.

Norwich Puppet Theatre presents The Tinderbox at Norden Farm. Based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen in which a roguish soldier acquires a magic tinderbox. It gives him the power to summon three extraordinary dogs to do his bidding. Join the soldier on a remarkable roller coaster adventure from rags to riches and back again! With rod puppets, shadow puppets, humanettes, glove puppets and animation. Suitable for ages 4+ years. Shows at 11.30am and 2pm, tickets £10.

Thurs 27

Don’t miss Mr Toad’s Halloween Spooktacular at The River & Rowing Museum. Make your own witch or wizard’s hat, spin a spider’s web and get crafty with pumpkin bunting. Enjoy spooky storytelling, and find out about Haunted Henley. Follow the bat trail through the galleries and claim a tasty prize. There’s frightening face painting, £1 per child and if your children (or you, why not?) come in fancy dress, the best outfits win a prize. Free with admission, 10.30am to 4pm.

Make an African mask out of a variety of craft materials at West Berks Museum as part of Black History Month, cost £2, drop-in (no need to book) from 10am to 3.30pm, 4-11 yrs olds but older & younger ones welcome. Or if you fancy a more Halloween-themed activity you can make a monster out of a variety of craft materials.

Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger comes to South Hill Park this half term. Celebrating the 100th year since his birth in 2016, this performance pays homage to an unappreciated classic. Following the adventures of Lucy as she collides with nasty teachers and people who hunt animals for sport, this is one magic trick you haven’t seen before! 12 noon and 4pm showings daily from Thurs 27 to Sat 29 Oct.

Next Steps: Dance Intensive at Norden Farm, Thurs 27 to Fri 28 Oct 10am to 4pm. Experience being an A-Troupe dancer in a real dance studio for two jam packed days! Suitable for ages 9 to 12 years. No audition necessary. Children will work with a professional dancer to develop technique in class, learn routines and create their own choreography. £75 for the 2-day course.

Fri 28

Held in heated marquees on the lawns of historic Mapledurham House, the Festive Gift Fair, Fri 28 – Sun 30 Oct, has fab gifts for all the family and lots of interiors stuff too. It promises a festive atmosphere, entertainment, morning coffee, lunches and afternoon teas, Father Christmas and plenty of free parking.

Jump In trampoline park in Slough will be celebrating Halloween throughout the whole of half term with Spookball games running every day at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.  Fright Night Teen Night on Fri 28, 8-10pm, tickets £10… dare to be scared!

Debbie at Creation Station, Maidenhead is holding a special Halloween-themed arty crafty day. £8.50 per child (siblings £5) 10.30-11.30am. Take home all the things you make. Places are limited and must be booked in advance, so contact debbiehollingsworth@thecreationstation.co.uk or call 01628 436 436 to book your place.

Sat 29

Family Halloween Party at Jump In trampoline park from 6-8pm, with a Halloween disco, best fancy dress competition, win a 10 Jump Pass, apple bobbing, face painting and more! Tickets just £10 per child or jumper.

Museum of Reading, author Julia Jarman talks about The Time Travelling Cat and the Roman Eagle, a novel inspried by Clleva Atrebatum, the Roman town of Silchester, and artefacts found there, now in Reading Museum.

Halloween Themed Clay animation class at South Hill Park, Bracknell £65; Art Factory Workshop £18 Ages 4-11.

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Sun 30

Meet the Halloween Owls at the Feathers & Fur Falconry Centre from 10am to 4pm with owl crafts, owl quizzes, meet the owls, owl facts & much more!

You haven’t lived life to the full until you’ve swung through the trees and Go Ape is offering 20% off per person on Sundays throughout October (23 & 30 Oct).

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Berkshire Edition