What’s on locally this May half term
Not sure what to do with the kids this half term? Look no further. From adventure games and circuses to exhibitions, we know what’s on in Berkshire for the school holidays.
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+.
Learn to Skate Camps, Ozone Rink, Wokingham
Ice, ice baby! Don’t fight the weather, embrace it. Pack the kids off to Wokingham’s brand new 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.
Outdoor Adventure Games, Newbury Racecourse and Donnington Castle
Will you make it to the winners’ enclosure? Newbury Racecourse has partnered with The Escape Games Company to launch a new immersive outdoor adventure game. Set in the woodland on the racecourse grounds, you and your mates will need to solve puzzles, dodge booby traps and use a tablet to find and scan evidence as you hunt down the mischievous jockey attempting to sabotage the race season. Prices from £14pp in a family group.
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.! From £20. Booking essential.
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.
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
Reopening just in time for the Easter break, 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.
Re-Load Lazer Clay Shooting, Reading
Mention laser tag or fairground target shooting and cue much eye rolling – they’re waaaaay to old for that. Re-Load is funky shooting range where you practice hitting targets without using live ammunition – good for hand eye co-ordination 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.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition, The Base Greenham, now – 13 Jun
Wildlife photography requires patience, lightning reactions and a little bit of luck. But when they get the money shot… POW! The results are extraordinary. This year’s world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum, comes to The Base at Greenham Common. The competition receives over 49,000 entries from all over the world. This year’s award-winning images will embark on an international tour that will allow them to be seen by over a million people – and Newbury is the first stop.
Altered States sculpture exhibition, Shaw House Newbury, 29 May – 27 Jun
Practice your arty-farty face and waft around The Orangery Lawn at Shaw House in Newbury. The postponed Altered States Sculpture exhibition opens this month and gives you the chance to discover artworks by top Uk sculptors in this lovely historic setting. Everything’s for sale so, if you find something you love, you can batter the credit card. Just make sure it’ll fit in the car boot.
Van Gogh Alive, Kensington Palace London, from 4 Jun
Well worth whizzing into London for! Kensington Gardens will be lit up with Van Gogh Alive, a multi-sensory experience that’s been touring the world and has seen 65 cities so far. Expect a feast for all the senses: 3D painting recreations, a sunflower room, sounds, smells, and light shows. Tickets are £24.
David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Royal Academy of Art London, from 23 May
A David Hockney exhibition never disappoints and this one is particularly poignant. The Arrival of Spring (from £19) will display the over 100 optimistic works Hockney did on the unfolding of spring during the height of the pandemic, all done on his iPad.
Alice in Wonderland, South Hill Park Bracknell, 2-6 Jun
Make mine a double gin and I’ll happily disappear down a rabbit hole into the trippy world of Alice in Wonderland. Your kids will love it for entirely different reasons. South Hill Park always put on a damn fine school holiday musical with spectacular staging. They’re a talented bunch. Book in or the Red Queen will be “frumious”. Tickets £22pp. Family tickets (up to 6 people max 2 adults) £15pp.
Gifford’s Circus, Blenheim Palace Woodstock, 3-7 Jun
Roll up, roll up, Gifford’s Circus is coming to town! From the imagination of the brilliant late Nell Gifford, the trope’s brand new show The Hooley will feature Celtic dance, fairies, pixies, trolls and a whole host of magical creatures alongside Gifford stalwart (and my all time favourite clown) Tweedy. Adult tickets £15, Kids £10.
On Track, The Hexagon Reading, 28-29 May
On yer bike and get back to theatre. No seriously, get ready to ride. On Track is a new play drawing on true stories and using RedCape’s trademark blend of comedy and visual, physical theatre. The audience follow Kit’s journey of discovery through the history of women’s cycling. Riding at night, disguised as men, these cycling pioneers powered over Victorian ideals of the genteel, house-bound woman and opened up new worlds.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Watermill Theatre Bagnor, 21 May-19 Jun
The stunning Watermill Theatre in Bagnor usually puts on an immersive performance amongst its flora and fauna – and now they’ve got the green light to put on a show, they’re pulling their spooky retelling of Sherlock Holmes’ The Hound of the Baskervilles out of the bago. Support the arts, book a table and get your culture fix. It’s elementary, dear Muddy readers, elementary.
Circus of Horrors, The Hexagon Reading, 1 Jun
Circus of Horrors was the first act of its kind to make it to the Britain’s Got Talent finals and the first circus to appear in a West End Theatre for 100 years. Basically if Quentin Tarantino directed Cirque du Soleil it might look a it like this. There are Sword Swallowers, Fire Eaters, Cross Bow and Knife Throwing Ultra Vixens, Death Defying Aerialists, A Guinness World Record holding diva swinging solely from her hair. You get the picture. Grimly compelling.
Hop to it! Cinema is back, baby, and Peter Rabbit 2 – The Runaway is seeing ticket sales soar. Norden Farm in Maidenhead is screening the sequel during half term – a place where you’ll get quality coffee and snacks rather than a bucket of fizzy pop. Brace yourself for lots of questions as to why the rabbits where tops but no pants. Makes no sense. But perhaps not one to copy on World Book Day. Adult tickets £8, Under 16s £6, Family and Friends (4 people) £24.
The Lost Colour, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 4 Jun
A brilliant outdoor event in search of the pinkiest pink on the planet! My kinda gig. Painter and amateur alchemist, Malcolm Brushell, will be cracking rocks, mashing vegetables, and even bottling and fermenting his own cow’s wee. He’s created every colour imaginable…except for that rascally elusive pink, but he won’t give up! A colourful explosion of puppetry, music and comedy.
Concertini with Papa Truck, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 5 Jun
A concert for kids that grown ups enjoy just as much (if not more). Concertini is a MuddyAward-winner, that brings music to the mini masses. This half term they’re bring a a toe-tapping 45 minutes of American Bluegrass with a distinctly British twist. Online streaming tickets are also available.
Horrible Histories Live: Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians, Corn Exchange Newbury, 4-6 Jun
Travel back in time to Georgian and Victorian times with a live stage show by Horrible Histories The production promises to uncover centuries of grisly history – and is perfect for kids with a thirst for all things awful and amusing (so that’s all kids then!!). Adults £16, Kids £14, Family ticket £56.
Bucklebury Farm Park, 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
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 – and Half Term is Outdoor Explorers’ Week. Enter the Zoolab and meet the animals, meet Ray and his birds of prey, the pop-up play village is back plus all the usual favourites – 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.
Legoland Mythica Opens, Legoland Windsor, from 29 May
You have to hand it to Legoland for continuing to come up with ways to sell the Lego dream to under-10s in ever-inventive new ways. This year’s newest attraction is Mythica – a brand new world in a parallel universe. There’s three new rides where LEGO creatures come to life – think dragons, unicorns and a flying lion… It doesn’t open until 29 May, so in the meantime, you’ll have to make do with Ninjago World, DUPLO Dino Coaster, Haunted House Monster Pasty, Lego Miniland (which took three years to complete) and all the other favourites.
Medieval Jousting Tournament, Blenheim Palace Woodstock, 29-31 May
Fun and educational – instant smug parenting. Don’t miss the Jousting Tournament at Blenheim Palace on 29-31 May, where The Knights of Middle England will whisk you back to the days of chivalry and entertainingly dangerous sport
Windsor Castle, Windsor
The Queen’s home from home, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Inside, you can see a collection of WWII pantomime pictures, painted as backdrop for the shows Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret performed to raise funds for troops at the front (they’re usually covered by portraits), or outside you can take a family tour of the Castle’s secret gardens nestled below the round tower. Adult tickets £23.50, child £13.50, under 5s go FREE.
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. Alternatively, head to Merryfield Farm in Bradfield.
Fingers on buzzers! Slots sell like hotcakes for National Trust trips these days, but if you’re lucky enough to get tickets here are some of my local favourites: Basildon Park, West Berks with its timeless landscaped gardens and woodland walks; Cliveden, on the Berks/Bucks border, where the gardens and woodland estate are open; picturesque Greys Court, nr Henley or hop over the Hants border and roam the grounds of Tudor powerhouse The Vyne. Ashdown, the National Trust’s under the radar Dutch-style country near Lambourn.
Multi-water sports, Bray Lake, Maidenhead
You may think Easter’s a bit brrr for watersports, but that’s what wet suits and hot chocolate are for. 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.
Camp Beaumont, various Berkshire locations, 1-4 Jun
We’ve all spent enough time together to last a lifetime, so free your fed-up offspring and book them in at a Beaumont Camp. They will run this May/June half term at Leighton Park School in Reading, St George’s Windsor, The Holt School in Wokingham and St John’s Beaumont, Old Windsor, offering 30 activities per age group from various sports, CSI investigations and talent shows to arty fun, DJing and coding. It’s £55 per day / £220 per week. The days run from 8.30am-5.30, with the ability to pay a little extra to extend the hours from 8am-6pm.
Wildlife Photography Course, The Base Greenham, 22 May – 12 Jun
If you’re snap happy capturing wildlife on your phone or camera, but it’s not a patch on the pros, this is the course for you. The Base always throws in a workshop alongside its exhibitions to fan the flames of creativity. This wildlife photography course is the next step for wannabe Wildlife Photographer of the Year snappers. You never know, with a bit of expert guidance, your image could feature in next year’s best in show.
A brand new Easter drama and film course for kids, offering everything from animation and circus skills to drama and screen make up. If you’re raising the next aspiring Emma Corrin or Rége-Jean Page or just have a child who wants to be creative and have fun, the Junior Film and Drama Company could be just the ticket. Price from £85.
Where do kids get the energy, sometimes it feel like I’m raising a Duracell bunny. The Little Gym to the rescue. The brilliant team will take your 3-12 year olds off your hands, send them on exciting missions around the gym – running, rolling, swinging. Think Lara Croft or Indiana Jones without the jeopardy and with more story time, crafting and snacks. It’s all super Covid safe without compromising on the fun.
Kitchen Capers, Wokingham and Maidenhead
A two-hour workshop in which the kids will cook three Easter dishes, decorate their own aprons and get a swag bag of goodies to take home too. Suitable for 5-12 year olds.
Reading FC Soccer School, various locations
Can you kick it? Yes you can. Once again Reading FC is running its ridiculous popular Soccer Schools. All age groups are catered with three, four and five day courses running at Madjeski Stadium 4G pitch; The Dome in Reading, Henwick Playing Fields in Thatcham and Emmbrook School in Wokingham book up really quickly. From £55.
Tennis Camps, 1-4 Jun
Game set and match, learn a new sport or improve your technique and co-ordination, but more importantly have lots of FUN!! Windsor Tennis Club offer half day sessions, £35; or £150 for the week. Camps are also running at Wokingham Tennis Club and Crowthorne Tennis Club.
Sound Detectives at The Winchester Science Centre. Sat 22 May+
Let’s face it, science is much more fun when its accompanied by the odd explosion or two. Once again, the Winchester Science Centre has pulled it out of the bag with a new, free live science show. In the immersive experience, kids will discover how sound is created in nature, complete with dry ice cannon experiment. BOOM!
Thorpe Park, Chertsey
This theme park is catnip to thrill-seeking teens with the Saw – The Ride, Nemesis and The Walk Dead rides upping the fear factor. New for spring 2021 is the Black Mirror Labyrinth – a twisted, sensory-defying maze that puts you at the core of the Black Mirror universe and it wants to keep you there. Gulp. Tickets from £35.
Marvellous Machines, Banbury Museum, now – 9 Jun
Step back into the quirky and ingenious world of pre-electric tech: Banbury Museum is showing its Marvellous Machines exhibition until 9 June. This is a fascinating exploration of wacky gadgets and contraptions from the days before electricity. Examples of what’s on show include a nose-shaper, clockwork burglar alarms, a wrist-mounted 1920s predecessor to the Satnav, and (above) a pointless but strangely captivating automaton of a man eating spaghetti in the bath. (Dunno about you, but we’re instantly sold.)
For wild animals that aren’t of your own creation, head to Longleat for the zoo’s drive-through safari. It’s ideal for social distancing (just watch out for the monkeys – they have been known to steal sandwiches) and is guaranteed to captivate the kids for an afternoon thanks to the tigers, rhinos, zebras and lions. Booking essential.
Warwick Castle, Warks
Warwick Castle and the Knight’s Village is back with some serious chain-mailage. It’s al fresco only for the time being but there’s plenty to see and do, including an exciting new 3D interactive trail starring Zog the lovable dragon – brand new for 2021. Tickets from £17.