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Your ultimate autumn cultural planner

Bye bye summer *sniff*. Don't despair, fast forward to autumn and discover what's on with Muddy's ultimate planner of unmissable events in Berkshire.

Cliveden Literary Festival, Cliveden House Hotel Taplow, 23 – 24 Oct

Cliveden Literary Festival

Politics, scandal and intelligent literary chat – kept civilised with an abundance of bubbles. Not a Boris  Johnson house party but the Cliveden Literary Festival. Speaking at this year’s event are: comedian David Baddiel, Women’s Hour’s inquisitor in chief Emma Barnett, author Kate Mosse, Michael Gove MP, author Olivette Otele, former political columnist Barbara Amiel, my journo pal Camilla Tominey who broke the story that Harry and Meghan were dating and many more. With the sumptuous hotel as the backdrop, this promises to be a fabulous affair. Tickets from £110.

Paul Zerdin: Hands Free, Corn Exchange Newbury, 23 Sep

Paul Zerdin Fab Four

Ventriloquist and America’s Got Talent winner Paul Zerdin is finally back on tour with his team of puppets – Baby Sam, Old Man Albert and newbie Roger the Bodyguard. Paul is very funny bloke, who uses puppets, cool tech (created by the Star Wars guys) comedy and magic, to create a show that’ll leave your howling. You can read my interview with him here. He talks about dressing up as Maggie Thatcher, weird fan mail and his beef with Barney the Dinosaur.

Sir Ian McKellan’s Hamlet and The Cherry Orchard, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 13 Nov

Sir Ian McKellan has been lighting up the Theatre Royal stage in Windsor in an electrifying production of Hamlet. Once that run ends, he comes straight back to star in Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard. At the age of 82, McKellen is the oldest Prince of Denmark the UK has ever seen. It is also a production that is age, colour and gender blind. The Cherry Orchard will be staged in a new format, including a limited number of on-stage seats. Intriguing, non?

Jimmy Carr – Terribly Funny, The Hexagon Reading, 29 Sep and 13 Nov

Jimmy Carr Terribly Funny smoking astronaut

Jimmy Carr is performing not once, but twice in Reading this autumn. Having political correctness at a comedy show is like having health and safety at a rodeo. Not for the easily offended, but definitely for anyone who loves the LOLs. Jimmy’s brand new stand-up show contains jokes about all kinds of terrible things. Terrible things that might have affected you or people you know and love. You’ve been warned.

Windsor Festival, The Old Court Windsor and other location, 17 Sep – 3 Oct

Alexandra Shulman Vogue Clothes and other things that matter book

Windsor Festival is pulling out all the stops in 2021 with a series of cultural events over two weeks. Expect talks, music and walks, including a literary tea with former British Vogue editor and author Alexandra Shulman at Coworth Park (20 Sep), Giles Brandreth will be talking about his old mate Prince Philip (25 Sep) and get all the No10 goss from Theresa May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell (28 Sep). Music more your bag? Don’t miss soul band Mission Impossible at The Old Court (17 Sep) or House of Music: Raising the Kanneh-Masons – a conversation and performance (19 Sep) about seven brothers and sisters – all of them classically trained musicians and from a state comprehensive in Nottingham. Their mum will talk about raising musicians in a Britain divided by class and race. The two of her children will perform.

The Little Prince, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 27-30 Oct

Image: Protein/ Jane Hobson

Luca Silvestrini is a talented comic choreographer who has taken Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic tale and turned it into charming, ingenius portable production. With a cast of just four dancers (who work their socks off) discover how the Little Prince leaves behind his own tiny asteroid and journeys through the universe, coming face to face with the baffling world of grown-ups! Mixing speech, dance and song this is great show for kids and adults alike.

Let’s Rock The Moor, Marsh Meadow Cookham, 2 Oct

Stage and lighting Rock The Moor retro festival cookham berkshire

Blue mascara? Check. Yellow eyeshadow? Check. Hair backcombed to the max? Check. (and that’s just the boys). Then you’re ready to hit the 80s love fest that is Let’s Rock the Moor in Cookham. This year’s line up includes Tony Hadley, Kim Wilde, Toyah, Howard Jones, The Undertones, ABC, Sonia, Chesney Hawkes, UB40 and more. It’s the soundtrack to every 80s school disco… why on why would you ever miss it?

Chris Ramsey, The Hexagon Reading, 8 Oct


Chris Ramsay has finally scrubbed off the last of the fake tan and stopped finding glitter and sequins in every crevice. To celebrate, he’s shimmying off on tour for his biggest ever stand-up tour which includes stops in Reading in October.

Hockney and Hollywood, The Base Greenham, 22 Oct – 28 Nov

Hockney and Hollywood at The Base Greenham 1000x666

Hockney in Berkshire? Oh yes he is. The works of Britain’s most famous living artist will go on display at The Base in Greenham – and we’re giddy. The legendary David Hockney’s major photomontage Hockney and Hollywood exhibition will open at on 22 October to 28 November 2021. It features an extraordinary life-sized nude photographic study of Theresa Russell, commissioned by film director Nicolas Roeg for the film Insignificance. It starred his then wife Theresa Russell as Marilyn Monroe. Tickets £8 (£7 concs, £5 schools/students, under-16s free).

Rick Astley, Newbury Racecourse, 18 Sep

Rick Astley

The thing about Rick Astley, when he says he’s doing a gig, he’s ‘never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down’. His Party In The Paddock at Newbury Racecourse had to be postponed for obvious reasons, but Rick’s back with bells on. He’ll be performing after a full day of flat racing on 18 September, and never disappoints. Book up. Tickets from £40.50.

ART: Cookham and Maidenhead Arts Trail, various locations, 11 – 12 Sep

Inge Du Plessis blue sky person peeping into shot wearing bowler hat
Image: Inge Du Plessis

Always wondered what artist’s do all day? Now’s your chance to find out. The Covid safe Cookham and Maidenhead Arts Trail is on and gives you the opportunity to have a nose around the studios of the talented creatives working in the area and even buy, it you like. I’m loving the work of figurative painter and Sky Arts Portrait Artist Of The Year finalist Inge Du Plessis (above), the ceramic sculptures of Caroline Gatfield and the work of Michael Restrick.

Pub in the Park, Higginson Park Marlow, 16-19 Sep

Pub in the park Tom Kerridge Giant PITP letters

Tom Kerridge has Marlow residents eating out of the palm of his hand (not literally, that would be disgusting). Pub In the Park is back with bells on. The food and music festival will see performances from the likes of Ronan Keating, Basement Jaxx, Beverley Knight, Craig David, Jack Savoretti and Heather Small, alongside the UK’s sizzling stars of the kitchen, including Berkshire’s very own Chef Dom Chapman of The Beehive White Waltham. Tickets from £37.28.

The Kite Festival, Boyn Grove Park Maidenhead, 1 Sep

Multi coloured kite flying in blue sky with ribbon tail

Find your inner Mary Poppins and go fly a kite at Boyn Grove Park for Norden Farm’s awesome Community Kite Festival (1pm-4pm). It’s free (good job as we’re all broke by now) and join in the kite flying fun on the hill. There’s live music, street food and beer – essential for getting your kite airborne – and the pros will be there to provide the wow.

Henley Literature Festival, various locations, 2 – 10 Oct

Image: Grace Dent Guardian food critic, author and star of podcast Comfort Eating

We love a literature festival at Muddy, so are pleased to hear that Henley Lit Fest is back with a bang. Speakers this year include I’m A Celeb Queen of the Castle Giovanna Fletcher, Guardian food critic Grace Dent (above), wedding dress designer Jenny Packham, comedians Rob Beckett, Ruby Wax, Mel Giedroyc and Tom Allen. Plus Cecelia Ahern, Michael Morpurgo and a gaggle of politicians and journalists. Tickets sell like hot cakes. but if you can’t get an IRL seat, following the success of last year’s online festival, they’re also streaming the events this year as well.

Contemporary Art Fairs, Windsor Racecourse, 12-14 Nov

How cool is this? It makes a bold statement but perhaps not one for the kids’ bedrooms. Sculptor Steve Yeates’ fabulous figurative works has popped up at The Contemporary Art Fairs alongside more than 160 artists, printmakers, photographers, ceramicists and independent galleries from all over the UK and Europe. Have a mooch, chat to artists when the fair opens at Windsor Racecourse in November. Prices start at just 40 quid.

Lapland UK, Ascot, 13 Nov – 3 Jan

Lampland Uk Woman with large lollipop heald up to hger face

Is it too early to start celebrating Christmas? We bypassed summer and went straight to autumn this year, so why not. The big man’s had his Covid vaccine and is setting up shop in Ascot for another year. Lapland UK is an immersive experience that sprinkles magic all over Christmas. Journey through snowy enchanted forests, to Santa’s chalet, where he and his elves need a little assistance in preparing for the 24 Dec. Tickets from £69pp for the Lapland UK experience (13 Nov – 24 Dec 2021) and the Elflet’s Christmas celebration (26 Dec 2021 – 3 Jan 2022). It’s a four-hour experience so pack the Kendal Mint Cake.

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