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Awesome August! 50+ things to do locally

New month, new marvellous Muddy guide to the best of Berkshire. Family festivals, lashings of outdoor theatre, inflatables, wellbeing wanders and more. Get stuck in.

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH

DJ Judge Jules Newbury Racecourse
DJ Judge Jules at Newbury Racecourse

Picture the scene – a beautiful sunset, balmy 25 degrees, expensive gin & tonics and a cracking choon. Nope, not your typical night in San Antonio, it’s Newbury’s answer to Ibiza. Judge Jules and the 34-piece Ministry of Sound Classical orchestra will be banging out the dance anthems on 13 Aug at the BetVictor Hungerford Race Day after party. It’s a brilliant day of racing and raving.

FESTIVALS & MUSIC

Clean Bandit Ascot Racecourse
Clean Bandit at Ascot Racecourse

Ascot Races is not all hats and high society, oh no. In the summer the thunder of hooves is joined by the soundtrack of DJs and live music. The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup on Sat 6 Aug sees the world’s top jockeys compete in teams before Grammy Award winning Clean Bandit come on stage to rock the racecourse at 7:45pm. The multi-platinum selling The Hoosiers, Samm Henshaw and Marvin Humes will also perform. Tickets from £30. Under 18s free.

Arctic Monkeys Reading Festival
 Arctic Monkeys at Royal Albert Hall in aid of War Child UK. Image: Aaron Parsons Photography

If there’s one thing that’ll clear a field full of teenagers, it’s their parents living it up like it’s the noughties. The Arctic Monkeys will be headlining this year’s Reading Festival (26-28 Aug), alongside Dave and Rage Against The Machine, so expect more middle-aged festival fans than usual.

Also taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend is Alex James’s headliner festival, Big Feastival. The musical line-up has more big names than you can shake a wedge of cheese at (The Human League, Anne-Marie, Stereophonics, Sugababes, Jake Bugg, Basement Jaxx, Eurovision breakout star Sam Ryder and loads more), but it’s the food we’re going for. There are demonstrations from Michelin-starred chefs, an M&S Food Cookery School, a dining tent hosted by OxforDshire caterers Feast and so much street food you’ll need to wear stretchy pants. Head to Alex James’s farm in Kingham on 26-28 Aug to fill your boots.

ForestFestivalGiantLadyGreenwood BRACKNELL

Now for something a bit different, Bracknell’s Forest Festival sees the tree giants return to The Lexicon this summer (24 Aug-4 Sep) – and two new giants join the Forest Guardians team this year. It’s a largely free event, to get us outdoors and closer to nature. While you’re mooching around the shops meet the five giants, follow the Seedling Sprite Trail, there’s immersive theatrical journey into The Night Forest (£5pp), entertainers and a special The Lexicon Fifth Birthday Proms on Sat 3 Sep.

Wasing Estate Aldermaston Berkshire woodland tents sunset festivals retreats

Not all festivals are hedonistic with a hangover souvenir, the Medicine Festival at Wasing Estate in Aldermaston (18-21 Aug) is a place to reset and recharge, with a dose of woo to see you through. It’s a wellbeing festival promoting authentic connection and regeneration for people and the planet. Weekend tickets £247.22pp, Sunday tickets £84.47.

Practice your Victory Rolls and slick on the perfect red lip – it’s time to party like it’s 1940something. The Retro Festival is pitching up in Newbury Showground from 12-14 Aug for a three-day extravaganza, dedicated to all things vintage. Tickets from £10.50. Under 10s, free.

Classic Ibiza Windsor Racecourse

Another orchestral night of dance music, this time Classic Ibiza at Windsor Racecourse on 13 Aug. The Artful Dodger, Wideboys and DJ Luck & Mc Neat will be performing alongside a 32-piece orchestra. Expect a festival festival vibe with mingling entertainers, do dog out your Daisy Dukes cover yourself in glitter and enjoy.

For something completely different: Stonor in Henley is bringing a taste of the White Isle to its glorious grounds for Café Mambo In The Park, an Ibiza-style dance music set hosted by Radio 1 DJ and dance connoisseur Danny Howard. Grab your sequins and dancing shoes and book your ticket for 12 Aug. This is closely followed by the Stonor Park Proms on 14 Aug, with the sounds of London Gala Orchestra and the Spitfire MK XI punctuated by fireworks and flag-waving galore.

Wilderness

We’re barrelling towards peak festival season. Hop over the border for the big hitter Wilderness Festival, hitting Cornbury Park in Chipping Norton from 4-7 Aug. Headliners include Underworld, Jungle and Years & Years, as well as names like Laura Mvula and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Tickets are still available, so snap them up ASAP.

Ready the hairspray: Rewind Festival lands on Temple Island Meadows in Henley on 19-21 Aug with line-up worth of the 80s. Names include Holly Johnson, The Human League, Level 42, Midge Ure and Belinda Carlisle. Heaven really is a place on earth!

Henley Country Craft Show arrives at Stonor over the Bank Holiday weekend, 26-29 Aug – perfect if you’re looking for a day out to keep the family entertained (Fido included). This year there’ll be over 200 indie businesses there, as well as gourmet street food, a children’s fairground, workshops and the classic falconry display.

STAGE & SCREEN

While traditional theatre takes its summer break, open-air theatre is flavour of the month, with productions galore happening at historic locations in the county (aren’t we lucky?).

If you’re looking for a backdrop that atmospheric, dramatic and nails the period brief, the Reading’s Abbey Ruins – originally founded by Henry I in 1112– is it. This month, 60 Hour Shakespeare will perform a Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet double bill (14 Aug) featuring scenes in which Mercutio and Ophelia appear. A quirky twist for fans of the Bard and it’s all in aid of the homeless.

Shaw House, Newbury

Shaw House

Immersion Theatre is a multi-award-winning company taking a few productions outside this summer – and they’re making their annual pilgrimage to the historic Shaw House in Newbury. Let your hair down with the family for the fairytale favourite Rapunzel on 17 Aug (tickets from £9).

Savill Gardens, Windsor Great Park

Savill Garden Windsor

Savill Garden is one the prettiest theatrical backdrops for a romantic story or two people born on different sides of the tracks. Intrigued? First up Cinderella – glass slippers, footman and pumpkin coach all provided by The Queen (she’s all partied out) on 28 Aug. Then it’s Shakespearean favourite Romeo & Juliet (29 Aug). There’s also an Abba tribute band on 27 Aug, no drama (unless there’s a backstage bust up), but will be fun. You might want to take antihistamine, it’s gonna play havoc with your hay fever.

The Great House Sonning Outdoor Cinema

Cinema under the stars at The Great House in Sonning where they will be screening of the romantic rock ‘n’ roll comedy Yesterday on 26 Aug. Your ticket includes headphones, deckchair, a burger and sides and a glass of rosé. Beats the local multiplex hands down.

KIDS

Sunflowers PYO

If you’re looking for covert and creative ways to lose your kids for a five minutes over the school holidays, there’s always Maidenhead’s Maize Maze. It opens 13-29 August, book a slot and set your kids free. You can PYO sunflowers here too and there’s coffee and crafting if you fancy it. Tickets £8.50.

The Labyrinth Challenge Summer XL, Newbury Showground

World of Peter Rabbit Storytime Trail The Base Greenham

Hop to The Base Greenham for The World of Peter Rabbit Storytime Trail from 30 July-25 Sep. This is a magical walk-through experience aimed at under 7s who will be immersed into Peter’s world as they crawl under the garden gate, hide in a watering can and see their reflection in a mirror pool. Photo opps and crafting aplenty. OK, Under 1s go free. Under 16s £5. Adults £6.50. Alternatively you can check out the work of The Base’s resident artists without needing to splash the cash.

Labyrinthe Inflatable Obstacle Course XL Newbury Berkshire

Think your kids are up for the challenge? The biggest and best inflatable obstacle course will put them to the test. The Labyrinth Challenge Summer XL is the family event of the summer, and it’s coming to the Newbury Showground on the 20-21 Aug! 1000ft of bouncy fun to negotiate – LOLs guaranteed. Tickets £20.

First things first – you’ll want to check out our Summer Holiday Guide if you haven’t already, as it’s full to the brim with kid-friendly events happening this month, like Tumblestone Hollow’s Sparkle Bright Summer in Henley (above), running until 4 Sep. If you’ve ticked that off your list, here are a couple more local offerings just for you…

OUTDOORS

Frogmore House Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018, photographer Philip Craven_Fotor
Frogmore House Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018. Photographer Philip Craven

Frogmore House Open Days are back. Better known as a party palace for Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception, this Royal Windsor residence is oozing with history. Built in 1680, it became a royal residence in 1792 when Queen Charlotte moved in. The interiors are a homage to her passion for botany and the 18th-century flower artist Mary Moser was commissioned to paint murals in the house. The gardens were also extensively landscaped to feature winding lakes, wooded mounds, glades, walks and bridges. It takes a bit of planning to visit though. There are two charity days (30 Aug and 1 Sep) for individuals to visit and pre-booked groups of 15 can view throughout August.

Basildon Park National Trust Berkshire natural landscape

Need some time out from your house wreckers? Basildon Park is running a Silent Space session every Friday throughout the summer from 10am-12pm. Simply follow the blue walking route to a clearing of rare orchids, then sit and relax for a moment, and listen to the birds singing. Drink in the view, the peace and you’ll be ready for re-entry. They are also running Family Yoga on 9, 16 and 23 Aug

ALDER RIDGE VINEYARD HUNGERFORD BERKSHIRE

Sunshine and sparkling wine – a match made in Muddy heaven. To celebrate our brilliant local wine producers why not waft around Alder Ridge Vineyard – Berkshire’s answer to the Champagne region – for a tour and tasting. Next dates are 6 and 20 Aug.

SWAN AT STREATLEY WILD SWIM MOTHER'S DAY

In the mood to try something new, the stonking riverside hotel The Swan At Streatley is your go to. They are running an Introduction to Wild Swimming on 14 Aug. Find out where to swim, safety advice and learn. about the health benefits.

Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club
Image: The Royal Berkshire Polo Club

A horsey family-friendly Polo Festival set in the stunning grounds of ‘The Berkshire’ (aka The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club) on 14 Aug. Not just a sport for royalty, rock stars and the Hollywood A list, this day out includes two action-packed polo matches, live music, Kids’ Zone, fully-stocked Polo Bar, food and of course that Pretty Woman moment of ‘Stomping the Divots’!

St Timothee Pinkneys Gree

The National Garden Scheme sees over 3,500 private gardens in England and Wales open for charity – adults pay but children go free. This is brilliant for two reasons: firstly, you can indulge in a bit of real-life garden porn (begone Right Move), and you can pick up clever border design ideas while sending a few quid (normally around £5) to highly worthy charities such as MacMillan. We’re keen to pop along to Wembury in Maidenhead (2 Aug, 6 Sep), St Timothee in Pinkneys Green (4 Aug, pictured), King’s Copse House in Bradfield Gate (7 Aug), The Old Rectory in Burghfield (17 Aug) in Berkshire.

Family Fun Day Windsor Races

A day out and everyone wins – especially if you’ve got some top tips. Trot along to Windsor Racecourse’s Family Fun Day on 7 Aug to listen to thunder of hooves and the joyful squeals of your children having a good time (rare, I know). Free entry for the kids and free entertainment, with face painting, an inflatable fun fair, pony rides and more to enjoy.

Beale Wildlife Park bear

Fancy something wilder? Beale Wildlife Park, near Pangbourne, is a guaranteed hit with kids who love all things furry, creepy and crawly. It has the little fellas – meerkats, lemurs and reptiles – as well as the big guns, including lynx, zebras, alpacas and bears. Don’t miss the Safari Summer weekends (27-29 Aug) when there will be balloon modelling, face painting, bubble performer and more.

IKEA READING SUMMER ACTIVITiES

Whether you’re there for the meatballs, or just trying to pick up frames, candles or flatpack, Ikea and kids don’t often mix… until now. The Swedish furniture giant is putting on loads of creative free activities at its Reading store this summer. Enter the Young Designer competition, every Saturday there’s Face Painting and Balloon ModellingMake Your Own Kite (4 and 11 Aug), Decorate Your Dream House (now – 14 Aug), Messy Modelling (now – 10 Aug) a Jungle Quest and more.

MUD AND GUTS WORKSHOP BUCKLEBURY FARM

It’s two for one at Bucklebury Farm, feed the animals, let the kids run wild and you can book them in for a Mud & Guts workshop on 3 & 4 Aug and get them shelter building, fire-lighting and campfire skills, tracking & basic foraging as well as plenty of games & quizzes. Persil Bio on standby.

Inflatable obstacle course wellington country park reading

Sack the digital nanny and head outdoors to the biggest outdoor play in Berkshire. Wellington Country Park Is 350 glorious acres of fresh air and freedom. Keep your eye out for the Summer of Fun weekend (21-22 Aug) and Big Bouncy Castles (28-30 Aug). That’s all on top of the regular activities – the swashbuckling pirates ship, the HMS Duke of Wellington, adventure play area, splash zone, miniature railway, animal farm, mini golf and dinosaurs roaming (ok not roaming) the grounds. If that doesn’t tire them out, reading the list of activities should do it.

ARTY FARTY

If you’re a sucker for a grand design, don’t miss Architecture a photographic exhibition at Green Park, Reading, (3-7 Aug). Precise feats of symmetrical planning, strikingly simple designs, abstract elements… the wide-ranging collection stands as a love-letter to human design, throughout the centuries. It’s being shown in a business park on the outskirts of Reading, which also has a café and variety of eateries for when all that culture vulturing works up an appetite. 

ALTERed States sculpture exhibition shaw house newbury

Fancy an arty day out among flowers? Now – 25 Sep, The Altered States Sculpture exhibition is displaying at Shaw House in a celebration of local art and artists – and it’s totes FREE toe ter. The artworks on show cover a range of scales and materials including stone, metal and ceramics, and will also be available to purchase if any catch your fancy.

CORONATION EXHIBITION WINDSOR CASTLE
Image: Royal Collection Trust

Keeping the Platinum Jubilee celebrations simmering, The Queen’s Coronation Exhibition opens at Windsor Castle (7 July – 26 Sept). Don’t miss the chance to see the exquisite Norman Hartnell Coronation Dress and purple silk velvet Robe of Estate from that extraordinary event in 1953. It took 12 embroiderers, using 18 different types of gold thread, more than 3,500 hours to complete the work on the robe between March and May 1953.  

CHALKFEST NEWBURY

Chalkfest is back in 2022 – an opportunity to get creative and pretty the pavements of Newbury (and save your own floors). This free event (8 Aug, 10am-4pm) is lead by City Arts. You’ll be allocated a space on Market Place for you to go wild with your chalks. All ages welcome and there’s the opportunity to enter to get competitive for £1.

MERL Care

There is no time like the present. Top of our list for a mosey around is the MERL in Reading. Loads of kids of activities including Biscuit 200 exhibition and a focus on Care – including the climate crisis, guarding green space, the future of farming and food security.

For something a bit more sophisticated, check out the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham. Its current exhibition, Delight in Natures, looks at the nature and the Cookham landscape influenced Spencer’s work (under 16s go free with an adult).

Blenheim Palace is worth commando crawling over the border for a visit and The International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition (until 21 Aug) could be just the kick up the bum you need to go. Many of the images are displayed outdoors in the Blenheim Palace gardens, a lovely celebration of the natural world within a beautiful setting. Set your inevitable garden envy to one side and appreciate the pretty pictures. 

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