FESTIVAL: Countryfile Live, Blenheim Palace, Thu 2 – Sun 5 Aug Can’t get enough of Adam Henson and the Countryfile gang? Roll up, roll up, catch the show while you can at Blenheim Palace as the team showcase the best of the British countryside. Expect live arena shows where Matt Baker does a semi-naked trapeze act while John Craven tames the Fresian cows in top hat and fishnets. Apparently (and this bit is true) there’s also a National Trust theatre, waterside activities, off-road experiences, animal displays and 700 exhibitors. This year, they’re also throwing a BBC Countryfile Live Summer Party on the Saturday 6-9pm, headlined by country duo The Shires (a BBC Radio 2 fave. countryfilelive.com
FILM: Swimming With Men, Corn Exchange Newbury, Wed 1 – Thu 2 AugIf the cineplex blockbusters aren’t floating your boat, check out Swimming With Men starring Rob Brydon and Jane Horrocks. A mid-life crisis leads unlucky-in-love Eric (Rob Brydon) to the local pool where he plunges into the all-male synchronised swimming scene to win back wife Heather (Jane Horrocks). Sync or swim, it’s laugh-out-loud from the get go.
MUSIC: Classic Ibiza & Ministry of Sound, Windsor Racecourse, Fri 3 Aug Beautiful sunset, balmy 30 degrees, overpriced vodka & tonic and a cracking choon – nope, not your typical night in San Antonio, put your hands in the air for Windsor’s answer to the White Island. The Urban Soul Orchestra conducted by Stephen Hussey will banging out th Ibiza anthems, with live DJ and vocalists. Bare some flesh and party till dawn (*cough* I mean 10pm) – He Maj needs her beauty sleep.
MUSIC: Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Thurs 2 – Sun 5 Aug
Possibly the coolest local festival of them all, here there’s a heady mix of right-on hippiness (think yoga, skinny-dipping and hot tubs) combined with great music from the likes of Bastille, Nile Rodgers and Chic and Groove Armada. Plus The Flying Seagulls, Mortimer Nannies and The Artful Badgers Breakfast Boogie to keep the kids happy. Pricing: Child 0 – 5 years £5, Junior 6 – 12 years £35, Teen 13 – 17 years £115, Adults from £179 upwards, with all sorts of camping options to be had.
MUSIC: Battle Proms, Highclere Castle, Sat 4 Aug Who needs the Royal Albert Hall when you have Highclere Castle Battle Proms. Pack up the hampers and champers, drape yourself in a Union Jack and party in the park to the Land Of Hope And Glory, Jerusalem plus a Spitfire display to Elgar’s Nimrod, The Red Devils parachute team freewill demo and groundshaking live fire from over 200 cannons!. Call the Corn Exchange Box Office on 0845 5218 218 for tickets.
EVENT: A Vow To A Kill, St Laurence’s Church Reading, Sat 4 Aug
There are days when I would happily throttle Mr Muddy, but our wedding day wasn’t one of them. The team behind A Shot I the Saddle and A Dish To Die For are back with a new murder mystery treasure hunt. Grab your smartphone, solve the clues and play detective on the streets of Reading. The story brings are whole new meaning to tying the know. Brilliant event for tech obsessed teen and wannabe Miss Marples.
DAYS OUT: Summer of Fun, Legoland Windsor, now – Sun 2 Sep
This way to the beach… As the Lego figures wrestle with their Love Island style short shorts and high cut wedgie swimwear, your kids can go wild at Legoland Windsor’s first ever Beach Party with pop music, activities, challenges, sandy beach, splash safari and drench towers.
COMEDY: Comedy In The Bewery, Windsor & Eton Brewery, Sat 4 Aug Comedy + beer – what could possibly go wrong? Head to the factory floor of Windsor & Eton Brewery for a unique night of laughs and heckling as four up and coming circuit comics take to the stage. Jenna Younis, Jake Farrell, Andy Zappand Jo Coffey will be bringing the craft comedy, the brewery’s got the craft beers nailed, you just need to bring the laughs. Doors at 7pm Comedy starts at 8pm.
FILM: Open Air Cinema, Stubbings Nursery Maidenhead, Fri 4 – Sat 5 Aug
PVC thigh high boots never looked so good. Ah the romance of prostitution and the mega rich. It’s Cinderella, if she’d spent a few months in a crack house. But you can’t beat Julia Robert and Richard Gere in this classic rom-com. Pretty Woman is popping up at Stubbings Nursery on Friday 4 August, followed by The Greatest Showman on Sat 5 Aug. If you can bear to hear the soundtrack one more time.
FILM: The Beatles: Yellow Submarine, Norden Farm, Wed 8 – Thu 9 Aug
This is basically a public service film for all those curious kids out there wondering if the drugs really do work. Spoiler alert! They certainly did back in 1968. The Yellow Submarine film – a pre-Pixar psychedelic tripfest – is going to mess with your mind 50 years after it was first screened. Paul, John, Ringo and George are out to save Pepperland, 80,000 leagues under the sea, from an army of blue Meanies intent on draining it of all colour and hope. Nuff said.
FAMILY FUN: ‘Tracing their Footsteps’ High Wire Walk, Blenheim Palace, Sat 11 – Sun 12 Aug
Great Scott! Blenheim Palace steps backs in time to when the famous high-wire walker Carlos Trower scaled great heights above the estate’s lake in 1886. The incredible Bullzini Family will attempt to recreate this historic moment (hope the chap in the picture has got his swimming shorts on) alongside performances from Victorian strong man acrobats, jugglers, stilt walkers and a scattering of vintage fairground rides.
FAMILY FUN: Kite Workshop, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 11 and 18 August Parent like your Mary Poppins and get involved in kite making. Should keep the mullets busy for a bit. The Community Kite Project is running a drop in workshop at Norden Farm so you and your kids can create a Patang Kite – the Indian Fighter Kite – or a classic Trapezoid Kite. Make it, decorate and fly it at the Kite Festival in Boyn Grove Park on Sunday 2 September. Workshops are also running Sat 11 and 18 Aug; plus Sat 1 Sep. Altogether now… Let’s go fly a kite, up to highest heights… Too much?
SPORT: Thames Punting Championships, Maidenhead Rowing Club Taplow, Sun 12 Aug
What happens when a gentle punt down the River Thames gets competitive? Well, armed with a long pole and narrow boat there is a high probability of someone getting wet. Load up on Cornettos and head to the riverbank to see enthusiastic punters giving it their all. Fun starts at 10am downstream from Brunel’s famous railway bridge.
Thigh slapping family fun! One of my favourite children’s books pops out of the page and into grounds of Shaw House in Newbury, thanks to Immersion Theatre’s energetic production of Peter Pan. Resistance is futile, it’s a funny, action packed musical adventure – you’ll be hooked (sorry, not sorry). Pack a picnic, it starts at 6pm so perfect timing for littlies. cornexchangenew.com
MUSIC: Rudimental at Ladies Day Newbury Racecourse, Sat 18 Aug Hot on the heels of Craig David’s sell out gig at Newbury Racecourse, comes Brit award-winners Rudimental. With the stonking hit These Days under their belt and collabs with Jess Glynne, James Arthur, Jess Glynne and UK rapper Macklemore, these Hackney boys plan to raise the, er, roof at the Party In the Paddock on Ladies Day. Bag yourselves tickets, or enter to win a pair, courtesy of Muddy, right here. newburyracecourse.co.uk
FESTIVAL: Rowbarge Summer Festival, Rowbarge Pub Woolhampton, Fri 17 – Sun 19 Aug Fancy loafing by the river, with beer, cider, prosecco and gin on tap, live music and an endless supply of BBQ food? Then charge towards The Rowbarge pub in Woolhampton. Its Summer Festival will have all the festival vibes but without the need for glitter, sequins and Daisy Dukes, unless that’s how you roll. bunningandprice.co.uk/rowbarge
EVENT: A Vow To A Kill, St Laurence’s Church Reading, Sat 4, 11 & 18 Aug There are days when I would happily throttle Mr Muddy, but our wedding day wasn’t one of them. The team behind A Shot I the Saddle and A Dish To Die For are back with a new murder mystery treasure hunt. Grab your smartphone, solve the clues and play detective on the streets of Reading. The story brings are whole new meaning to tying the know. Brilliant event for tech obsessed teen and wannabe Miss Marples. avowtoakill.com
THEATRE: Help! Get Me Out of This Musical, South Hill Park Bracknell, Fri 10 – Sun 12 Aug A teenagers worst nightmare? Apart from hanging out and having a conversation with their parents, having their life turned into a musical would be right up there. Help! Get Me Out Of This Musical is about a school bully who wakes to find his world has been turned into a song and dance theatrical nightmare. Strap yourselves in, Luke Sheppard’s (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾, Matilda) direction brings fast-paced, side-splitting comedy. Take your teen and how the what embarrassing really looks like. southhillpark.org.uk
MUSIC: Alistair McGowan – Introduction to Classical Piano, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sat 11 Aug Best known for voicing a who’s who of stars and, er, politicians, Alistair McGowan is the human equivalent of a mockingbird. But after a YouTube tutorial binegathon (joke), he has mastered Chopsticks at the age of 49, released a debut album and is now touring a new show which brings together all of his talents. Expect lots of piano action, a bit about each piece of music, the composer and an impression or two thrown in for good measure. norden.farm
FAMILY FUN: Reading Dragon Boat Festival, Thames Valley Park Nature Reserve Reading, Sun 19 Aug Fancy paddling a boat to the beat of a drum? Enter your crew (max 20 people) and race your Chinese style dragon boat with a drummer at the helm at this popular spot in Thames Valley Park Nature Reserve. No previous experience is needed so be prepared to get wet. Or you assume the position of spectator, hot the bar, BBQ and scream if your wanna go faster on the fun fair rides. readingdragonboatfestival.co.uk
FESTIVAL: Reading Festival 2018, Richfield Avenue Reading, Fri 25 Aug
Are you ready to rock? Music fans will be swarming into the Richfield Avenue site to see headliners Kings of Leon, Dua Lipa and Fall Out Boy at Reading Festival. Plus a strong of comedians like Harry Hill, Seann Walsh and Lee Nelson. There will be mosh pits, warm beer, overpriced dirty burgers and the likelihood of being struck by a bottle of wee is pretty high. Music and mayhem guaranteed. readingfestival.com
OUTDOOR THEATRE: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Savill Garden Windsor, Sun 26 Aug Savill Garden is probably the prettiest backdrops to a Sherlock Holmes crime caper ever, no gritty London back streets or black moorland to be found here. Intrigued? Indeed, my dear Watson. Well stick this in your pipe and smoke it, because the world’s greatest detective will be lurking in the flowerbeds as he tries to must solve the mystery of Dr Watson’s wife’s disappearance and face his mortal enemy. You might want to take antihistamine, it’s gonna play havoc with your hay fever. windsorgreatpark.co.uk
KIDS: The Maidenhead Beach, Norden Farm Maidenhead, now – Sun 2 Sep
This way to the beach. And no it doesn’t involve a motorway queue, windbreaker or an umbrella. Norden Farm’s sandpit of fun is open for business. Head to Maidenhead with the kids. They can enjoy this laid back tropical Goan paradise, fun activities, an indoor sensory space while you say kick back at the Beachside cafe. It’s totes freeee and open from 10am-4pm.
AUGUST’S TOP MOVIE RELEASES
Ant-Man and The Wasp, from 3 Aug
The newest marvel blockbuster and the first in the franchise to name a female character in its headline, sees Scott Lang struggling to balance being both a Super Hero and a father (it’s not that hard Scott – us mothers do it every day!). A new mission finds the Ant Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past. I’m sure it’s cooler than it sounds.
Christopher Robin, from 17 Aug
The nation’s favourite bear is back! From the creators of the 2017 smash-hit The Beauty & The Beast and starring (eye-candy alert!) Ewan McGregor, Disney’s latest live action adventure sees Winnie and the gang leave the Hundred Acre Wood to help a grown-up Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside. Pack some tissues because it’s bound to be a tear-jerker.
The Meg, from 10 Aug
Have you watched Jaws recently? It’s laughable how scared we used to get by such terrible 80s graphics. But that is definitely not the case with new $150 million horror The Meg. After escaping an attack by a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor played by Vin Diesel – because no action film is complete without the him – must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible.
EVENT: Circus Sampler, Somerset House, London, now – Tues 7 Aug
More circus celebrations with a free exhibition Circus Originals opening on 25 July plus live circus events. Dance artists Far From The Norm perform Union Black that combines humour, hip hop and circus using Chinese poles and tight-wire. Between performances, you can watch international record-breaking hula hooper extraordinaire, Marawa. She’s joined by her team of hoop performers, The Majorettes, and they’ll teach you to hula hoop after the show.
FAMILY FUN: Dragon Slyer, Warwick Castle, various dates in Aug
Looking for something to entertain kids aged 8+? This is Warwick Castle’s first night-time experience telling the tale of 10th century warrior Guy as he battles monsters and dragons in a bid to gain a knighthood and win the heart of his one true love Princess Felice, daughter of the Earl of Warwick. It’s an explosive epic tale depicted over the course of an evening using live action, animation, equestrian acrobatics, fire and pyrotechnics. Boom! There’s also the regular birds of prey demos, the mighty trebuchet, archery and ramparts to rampage for day time fun.
FOOD & DRINK: The Big Feastival, Alex James’ Farm nr Kingham, Fri 24 – Sun 26 Aug
This posh nosh extravaganza from cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James hosts top chefs including Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc, Pierre Koffmann, Ashley Palmer Watts, and music from Professor Green, Clean Bandit, Paloma Faith, Basement Jaxx, James Arthur and Tom Odell. There’s various camping options with glamping bolt-ons and lots of fun for the kiddos too, including appearances by Paddington, Peppa Pig & George and Justin Fletcher (Mr Tuuuumbleee) plus a creche for under 5s provided by Nipperbout.
CULTURE: Disney in the West End Summer Pop-Up, Convent Garden, 31 July – 26 Aug
If you’ve got a child with mini jazz hands, they will go nuts for this free pop-up experience in London’s Covent Garden. See the masks, costumes and puppets from The Lion King and step inside Aladdin’s cave to get a photo with the legendary lamp. There will also be events taking place each day, including a Mac make-up demonstration, a puppetry display, plus singing and dancing workshops.
ART: Scoop: A Wonderful Ice Cream World, The British Museum of Food, London, until 30 Sep
Finally! A valid excuse to stuff my face. The British Museum of Food returns with its first major exhibition Scoop: A Wonderful Ice Cream World. Dedicated entirely to the frozen treat, explore memorabilia from the world’s largest collection of ice cream paraphernalia, discover the neuroscience behind it and try scoops of bygone eras, from daffodil to all-day-breakfast flavour (hmm). Other highlights include ice cream-flavoured weather (vanilla fog!) and a glow-in-the-dark concoction that you can eat in a futuristic luminescent cave. Pass the ladle, I’m going in…
FAMILY FUN: Zip Now London, Archbishops Park, Lambeth, until 9 Sep
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope it’s a human torpedo whizzing down a 738ft wire, 100ft (9 double decker buses!) above Archbishop’s Park at 50mph. Beats the tube any day of the week. What we’ll do to avoid our faces been wedged in someone’s sweaty armpit. Get yourself down to South Bank, climb to the top the tower and wheeeeeeee. Suitable from 8+
THEATRE: Kids Week, various London locations, throughout August
This August, children aged 16 or under can get FREE theatre tickets to selected performances across London (when accompanied by a paying adult). There is a huuuge selection of shows to choose from including Sound and Sourcery at The Vaults, an immersive music concert experience inspired by Disney’s Fantasy. Under Waterloo station, collect your headphones at the door and step inside the tunnels where you will dance with a funky hippo, walk in a prehistoric wasteland, seek out the fairies in a magic forest and sneak into the Sorcerer’s lair. Over at the National Theatre, the Star Seekers need help saving their space station in this interactive 50 minute show for 3 – 8 year olds. Or for older kids, Pressure at the Ambassador’s Theatre is a funny and tense play about the D-Day landings.
FILM: Film4 Summer screen, Somerset House, London, Thurs 9 – Weds 22 Aug
If you can make it into London, head for the popular Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House. Featuring a mixture of premiers, old classics and recent hits, the venue’s fountain courtyard is a corker of a setting on a balmy summers evening in the capital. Highlights include the opening night premiere of The Wife introduced by Glen Close, Call Me By My Name on 20 Aug and Selma on 21 Aug.
ART: All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life, Tate Britain, London, until 27 Aug
This fascinating exhibition All Too Human celebrates the painters in Britain who have tried to capture human figures, their relationships and surroundings, in paint. With works by Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon(including 3 of his works which have not been shown in Britain for decades) amongst others, the intimate representations of reality make for a powerful experience. Catch it while you can.