What’s on this May half term? We know
Will the region's children be bored senseless, running circles around the kitchen table? Not on our watch! We've got festivals, Jubilee fun and outdoor adventures for teens and tots alike.
Head In the Clouds Festival, South Street Arts Reading, 27 May – 4 June
An exciting new festival for families and kids. Head In The Clouds, supported by Arts Council England, will feature work by several nationally acclaimed theatre companies. From musical comedy for new parents and their babies, to a family-friendly drag cabaret party, there’s dynamic and inclusive shows for all ages. Plus FREE taster sessions to sample South Street’s Youth Theatre for School Years 1-13. Grab your tickets here.
Sonning Festival, Sonning, 28 May – 5 June
Fancy messing about by the river? After a long absence, the Sonning Festival is back with nine days of events including some special Queen’s jubilee celebrations. The Sonning Regatta is the main event and there are races for all ages and paddling abilities, pond dipping, football and tennis for kids. Plus a posh picnic, a street party and more.
Reading Children’s Festival, Various locations, now – 5 Jun
Now in its 33rd year, Reading Children’s Festival is a fun packed few weeks of events and activities for children. There are free arts and crafts sessions, free boat rides, steel drum taster workshops and more, closing with the Jubilee Children’s Concert from the Trinity Concert Band on Sunday 5 June. Check out the full programme here.
Highclere Show, Highclere Castle, Sat 28 – Sun 29 May, Highclere, Newbury
Watch falconry displays, try your hand at shooting and get stuck in with other country pursuits at The Highclere Show at the gorgeous Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey). Expect family entertainment and live music from folk, jazz and blues performers. There’ll also be plenty of foodie highlights too, from street food to local produce – including Highclere’s very own gin!
Jubilee Jousting, Stonor Park Henley, 3-5 June
Fun that’s also “educational” — instant smug parenting. At Stonor Park’s Jubilee Jousting you and the kids will be whisked back to the days of chivalry and entertainingly dangerous sport. The knights throw in slapstick humour, encourage the audience to take sides and to boo and hiss aplenty, and there’s all sort of japes with swords and balls and chains. Oh, and a dress-up competition, judged by the real knights themselves, so the littlies should raid the fancy dress box for their finest knight, dragon, princess, royal regalia. See our full breakdown of the weekend here.
Water Fest, Forbury Gardens Reading, 4 June
WaterFest stretches from Reading’s Abbey Ruins, Forbury Gardens, Chestnut Walk and Riverside Walk. Expect a party atmosphere in Reading that day with entertainment, fun for the kids, waters activities, boats and craft stalls more more.
Festival of Food and Music, South Hill Park Bracknell, 3 June
Festival season is about to swing into action. Any excuse to squeeze into your Daisy Dukes and stagger around with a pear cider. South Hill Park is hosting a family-friendly Food and Music Festival (with a special Platinum Jubilee twist) and –it’s totally free to enter. So there’s no excuse not to go and sample the international street food, kids entertainment and chilled atmosphere in the beautiful grounds of South Hill Park. Sunshine’s been ordered, but take a Pac-A-Mac just in case.
Jubilee Party in the Park, Long Walk Windsor, 4-5 Jun
Pack your Coronation chicken sarnies, Victoria Sponge and lashing of fizz for a totally free event. Jubilee Party in the Park will take place down the Long Walk where there will be cars, music and sport from across the decades of Her Majesty’s reign. Bring your own picnic, find your spot or grab a bite to eat and make sure your Union Jack flag waving game is strong. On Sunday 5 June, is Big Lunch day in Windsor. The aim is to create the longest picnic table ever – one very long table running from Cambridge Gate, down the Long Walk towards the Copper Horse.
Jubilee Farm Festival, Bucklebury Farm, 2-5 June
Celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.at a four-day festival of fun at the Farm. From circus performers, musicians, arts and crafts, lots of delicious food and drinks. Not forgetting all the usual faves including tractor rides to feed the deer, play areas and more! Pre-Booking online is essential as spaces are limited for each day. Tickets Children £13.95, Adults £15.45.
Platinum Jubilee Windsor Town Walk, Windsor Guildhall, 28 and 29 May 2022
Walk in the footsteps of the Queen on a very special Platinum Jubilee Walk. Windsor has always been Her Maj’s home. She grew up in Windsor Great Park at Royal Lodge, was an evacuee at Windsor Castle during WWII and the castle has been her official residence throughout her reign. More recently it has been a place of refuge during the global pandemic.
Jubilee Proms, The Lexicon, Bracknell, 1 June
Who needs the Royal Albert Hall when you have The Lexicon’s Jubilee Proms. Pack up the hampers and champers, drape yourself in a Union Jack and party in Bond Square to music by the D-Day Darlings, Chelsea Pensioner and BGT winner Colin Thackery and more.
A Right Royal Jubilee Party, Beale Park Lower Basildon,
Cuteness overload. Beale Park is hosting a four-day party to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, including Berkshire’s biggest ever teddy bears’ picnic. Bring a your best teddy, a picnic go wild at Beale Park with an inflatable slide, stilt walkers, bubbleologist and all the animals.
Platinum Jubilee Beacon Lighting and Fireworks, The Long Walk Windsor, 2 June
Light ’em up! The Windsor Beacon is one of over 2,022 being lit in the UK and the Commonwealth, and you’ll find at Cambridge Gate. The Mayor of the Royal Borough and Admiral Sir James Perowne, Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle will do the honours before the oohs and aahs of the firework display over the Castle.
The Jubilee Tribute Show, Abbey Ruins, Reading, 3 June
Reading’s Biggest Platinum Jubilee Celebration- and Queen is headlining. Not Her Maj, but a tribute act. Sound-a-likey acts joining Faux Freddies and pals include The Beatles, George Michael and Ed Sheeran. The Abbey Ruins will also be rocking with live DJs, entertainers and street food.
Lovely Jub(i)lee Come Together, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 4 June
A free outdoor extravaganza of music, dancing, market stalls, food and drink. There’s also free Kite Making Workshops from Community Kite Project. Spaces are limited and can be pre booked on the Norden Farm website here.
Jubilee Party in the Paddock, Holme Grange Craft Village Wokingham, 5 June
Picnic, Pimm and a party in the paddock. Holme Grange Craft Village will be firing up the barbie for a day of fun with the whole family. Free games, face painting, balloon modelling, bubble and snow machines. Plus, a sweet petting farm
STAGE AND SCREEN
Rock n roll on the riverside. The Swan at Streatley will be popping Rocketman on the movie reel on 2 June. A film about Sting… only joking, Elton John obviously, with Brit star Taron Egerton (above) donning the silly specs. Lush location, brilliant film and you can sing-a-long – no-one will hear you as you’ll all be wearing headphones. Drinks and snacks available. Bring a blanket to stay warm. Gates open at 7.45pm. Film starts as soon as it gets dark from 9.15pm, and finishes at 11.15pm.
80s Live, Corn Exchange Newbury, 27 May
Legwarmers? Check. Shimmer lipstick? Check. Puffball skirts and blue eye liner? Check. Check. Then you’re ready for a cheeseboard of girls who wanna have fun at 80s Live. The show includes hits such as Girls just Wanna have fun, Edge of Heaven, Tainted Love, Love Shack, Living on a Prayer, The Final Countdown, Don’t You Want Me Baby, Relax, Never Gonna Give You Up, It’s Raining Men, Rio and the list goes on.
Summer Screens, Abbey Ruins, Reading, 25-28 May
Dropped incongruously into the urban sprawl of Reading, you’ll find the Abbey Ruins, once Reading Abbey, which was founded by Henry I and later destroyed by Henry VIII. Today it’s a perfect picnic spot and a dramatic backdrop for outdoor theatre and cinema screenings. The films being shown are as iconic as the setting starting with Timothée Chalamet’s Dune (25 May) (suddenly sci-fi is appealing), West Side Story (27 May), and Encanto (28 May).
Mamma Mia!, The Club Mapledurham, 27 May
Here we go again! My, my, how can we resist you? Open Air cinema favourite Mamma Mia! makes it onto the movie reel in Mapledurham for one night only. Sing along for a feel good night of cinematic cheese.
The Gingerbread Man, Corn Exchange Newbury, 28-29 May
Imagine being born in an oven and the first person you meet wants to dunk you in his tea! See the adventure of the deliciously smelling Gingerbread Man who finds his feet fast and sets off on the journey of a lifetime! Bring the family and meet the bravest biscuit of all time! Or have a snooze. No judgement.
Exhibition On Screen: Pissarro, Reading Biscuit Factory and Corn Exchange Newbury, 29 May
Without Camille Pissarro, there is no Impressionist movement. He is rightfully known as the father of Impressionism. It was a dramatic path that Pissarro followed, and throughout it all he wrote extensively to his family. It is through these intimate and revealing letters that this gripping film reveals Pissarro’s life and work. Using the rich Pissarro archive at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum in the first major retrospective in over 40 years, this film explores and highlights the enthralling and hugely important biography and output of an incredible artist.
The Circus Sonas Family Show, South Hill Park Bracknell, 1 June
Father and son, Martin and Logy, take the traditional circus double act and give it a unique and modern twist. You’ll gasp, shout, jeer and laugh at the top class circus stunts from the two best beards in the business. Ages 5yrs+
Gifford’s Circus, Blenheim Palace Woodstock, 2-6 Jun
Roll up, roll up, Gifford’s Circus is coming to town! From the imagination of the brilliant late Nell Gifford, the trope’s new show ¡Carpa! has a Mexican vibe, featuring Mexican performers alongside Gifford stalwart (and my all time favourite clown) Tweedy. Adult tickets from £20, Kids from £10.
Old Macdonald and the Three Pigs Plus, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 4 June
Featuring a 5 m wide book with 2m pop ups, bright colourful pages and lots of silly animal props. Old McDonald and the Three Pigs Plus weaves the well known story of the Three Pigs with the easy to learn rhyme Old McDonald Had A Farm. A fun, interactive show, for ages 4-7.
Inflatable obstacle courses, various locations
Caversham Lakes – a brand new venue in the centre of Reading for all your adrenaline-fuelled fun – inflatable aqua obstacle course, paddleboarding, kayaking and open water swimming are all on the agenda. Plus a more chilled family beach for sunny days with a gin in a tin. Go wet and wild, from £15.
Lagoona Aqua Park – On the outskirts of Reading is another aqua park with water obstacle course, paddle boarding and the handy new addition of a land-based course for those who are not keen on H2O. Set on a 25-acre lake just off J11 of the M4, Lagoona Aqua Park, is suitable for ages 8+.
Liquid Leisure – Europe’s largest inflatable obstacle course and home to the first Ninja Warrior UK Aqua Park, Liquid Leisure in Datchet, has long been the place to slide, bounce, jump, climb and get dumped into the water. They’ve also added an Aqua Jungle and a junior course for ages 4+.
Multi-water sports, Bray Lake, Maidenhead
Make a splash. Bray Lake Watersports offer a number of courses for kids during the school holidays. Suitable for ages 8-15, they can do multi-sports, windsurfing, paddlesports, dinghy sailing and windsurfing – over a week or daily £85 per day or £350 for the week. Book em in.
Wild Paddle, Newbury
Test your sense of adventure and your balance on a SUP tour of the Kennet & Avon Canal. Wild Paddle Berkshire is sightseeing with a difference. The difference being you’re on a paddle board and there’s a risk of getting wet.. Run by Lara and her expert team, the tours set off from both Newbury and Kintbury locks and are perfect for beginners through to advanced. It’s a unique and tranquil way to see this beautiful part of Berks and Lara’s a dab hand at keeping her groups dry and having fun.
Go With the Flo Paddleboarding, Wargrave
Wetsuit up and wobble on the water in Wargrave. Go With The Flo Paddleboarding, run by Nick Judd, offer family paddles, night adventures, SUP pilates, group and 1:1 lessons. Having tried this sport, the bit where you look elegant is hard to achieve. But OMG I’ve never laughed so much. From £50.
Go Ape, Bracknell
Aaaaarraaaagh! Tarzan incoming. Time to get high on life at Go Ape Bracknell – a forest adventure for all ages that will test your balance, bravery and dignity. There’s a 1hr Junior Tree Top Adventure (suitable for kids 1m+) with wobbly bridges, intricate crossings and a zip wire finale… Fancy something more challenging, tackle the 2-3hr High Ropes Course (ages 10+ and 1.4m+ tall), that takes you 30m off the ground to endure high speed zips, swings and crossings that’ll make your knees knock. Adrenaline junkies will love it.!
I’m not sure Roger Moore would approve of this amphibious motor, but then you won’t get many passengers in his water bound Lotus Esprit. Good job we have the Duck bus to whizz around the historic streets of Windsor for dunking into the river. Rain or shine, this is fun history lesson/ sightseeing adventure. Tickets £21.
Learn to Skate Camps, Ozone Rink, Bracknell
Ice, ice baby! Pack the kids off to Bracknell’s state-of-the-art ice rink Ozone and let them slip and slide all day long. Ozone‘s running learn to skate and learn to play ice hockey camps for all ages. Boot them out and set them on the path to Olympic glory.
Re-Load Lazer Clay Shooting, Reading
Mention laser tag or fairground target shooting and cue much eye rolling – they’re waaaaay too old for that. Re-Load is funky shooting range where you practice hitting targets without using live ammunition – good for hand eye coordination and gets them away from Fortnight for a few hours. The laser clay guns used fire harmless infra-red beams. No loud bangs, no recoil bruising, eco-friendly and and cheaper than traditional shooting. £60 for 1hr for up to six people.
Bucklebury Farm, Bucklebury
You are going to be overdosing on cuteness at Bucklebury Farm Park. Who can resist the lure of newborn furry friends – and they don’t get much cuter than Anglo Nubian goat kids and new deer calves.
Tumblestone Hollow, Stonor Park, nr Henley
As magical as Hogwarts but it comes with very necessary coffee for the spectators (in the form of the cafe at the visitor’s centre), Tumblestone Hollow is on the edge of woodland in Stonor Park and inspired by the stone circle found in the estate grounds. The wooden playground, designed for 4 to 12-year-olds, has high level walkways, climbing nets, look-out decks and bridges, all connected to a gnarled central tower. And if it couldn’t get any more magical, it comes with its own fairytale book, The Legend of Tumblestone Hollow. Pe-book online, From £9 (kids under 92cm free).
If your kids are sick of walks, a walk, picnic and play with an alpaca may just entice them off the sofa. How can you say no to that face?! The Walk & Picnic costs £38 (two people per booking), Picnic & Play with the alpacas – £65 (up to six people). Various times / dates available at Mortimer Alpacas. You can also book private sessions for groups / birthdays.
Wellington Country Park, Riseley
Head outdoors to the biggest outdoor play in Berkshire. Wellington Country Park is 350 glorious acres of fresh air and freedom – and Half Term is a jubilee special, obvs. In addition to the usual faves – HMS Duke of Wellington, adventure play area, splash zone, miniature railway, animal farm, mini golf and dinosaurs roaming (ok not roaming) the grounds – there’s a Jubilee inspired arts and crafts, and an art competition.
This is your moment to get your kids to eat their five a day (and pimp up your Champers, obvs). Pick your own season kicks off in time for half term. Gray’s Farm, nr Wokingham offers 24 different crops to get your mitts from traditional soft fruits to veggies. Over in Cookham, raspberries, strawberries and red cherries are grown for your picking pleasure at Lower Mount Farm.
Fresh air and a mindful meander around the some of Berkshire’s beautiful estates. Head to Basildon Park, West Berks for its timeless landscaped gardens and woodland walks; Cliveden, on the Berks/Bucks border, is grand, glam and the gardens and woodland estate are a treat. Or hop over the border to Greys Court, nr Henley or Hants to roam the grounds of Tudor powerhouse The Vyne. Ashdown, the National Trust’s under the radar Dutch-style country near Lambourn also well worth a visit. .
Considering a day trip this half term? Check out our bang up-to-date insider guides to some of the best places to visit in the UK
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