EVENT: Reading Pride, Napier Road Reading, Sat 1 Sep
It is the 50th anniversary since homosexuality was partially decriminalised in England and Wales, so join the LGBT community and celebrate love in an explosion of colour and glitter. The Pride Parade will weave its way through Reading before finishing at the Pride site off Napier Road for the ultimate party with Tara McDonald – she’s collaborated with David Guetta, Snoop Dogg and Todd Terry – headlining on the main stage.
DOGS: Fest of Chihuahaus Mexico Fiesta, Windsor Racecourse, Sat 1 Sep
THEATRE: Rain Man, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – Sat 1 Sept
Rain Man is 30 years old! God that makes me feel old, but it is and for the first time ever it has been produced for theatre starring Gavin & Stacey’s Mathew Horne and Downton Abbey‘s Ed Spellers. Horne takes on the Dustin Hoffman role, playing autistic numbers genius Raymond. While Speleers is the Tom Cruise of this production as slippery salesman Charlie. Be the first to see at Theatre Royal Windsor before it tours the UK.
MUSIC: The Big Berkshire Beach Gig, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sat 1 Sep
Say goodbye to summer with the sand between your toes, wearing a sweater, probably a raincoat and a party at Norden Farm. The Big Berkshire Beach Gig is back with 5 local bands, plus 3 acoustic acts while you relax in a hammock Norden Farm’s Goan inspired beach. Load up an cocktails and you won’t even notice the drop in temperature.
TOUR: Conquer the Tower, Windsor Castle, until 30 Sep
To the tower! On this occasion you’ll keep your head. The iconic Round Tower dominates the Windsor skyline, and now you can take the 200 steps (wheeze… one too many ice creams this summer) to check out the epic view from the top. While the Queen’s holidaying in Balmoral, poke around her gaff and see St George’s Chapel, Long Walk, Windsor Great Park and the London skyline.
FOOD: Chilli Festival, Waddesdon Manor, Bucks, Sat 1 – Sun 2 Sep
Spice up your life with this festival held in the grounds of Waddesdon Manor. There are 65 local exhibitors who promise to give your tastebuds a workout, with chilli sauces, jams, beer and chocolate. If it all gets too much, you can cool your tongue at the frozen yogurt stand. Not to worry if your kids haven’t yet reached a level of spice sophistication, just settle them down at the crafts table or the face-painting. From 10am-5pm.
FAMILY FUN: Kite Festival, Boyn Grove Park Maidenhead, Sun 2 Sep
Find your inner Mary Poppins and go fly a kite at Boyn Grove Park for the first ever Community Kite Festival (1pm-4pm). It’s free (good job as we’re all broke by now) and join in the kit flying fun on the hill. You can join a kit making workshop at Norden Farm on Sat 1 Sep, or bring a shop bought kite. The pros will be there to provide the wow, plus there’s pizza and beer.
DAYS OUT: Salon Privé, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon until Sat 1 Sep, followed by Classic and Supercar Show on Sun 2 Sep
Blenheim has gone car mad. Pull out your posh frock for this fancy-schmancy garden party on the south lawn at Blenheim Palace. Supercars, hypercars (say, what?) and classic cars will be parked up for your perusal, alongside a luxury retail village and top notch nosh. Friday is Boodles Ladies Day (where you can ogle the jewellery) and the Sat sees a tribute to 70 years of Porsche. If you just want to see the cars without all the VIP extras, you can head to Blenheim on the Sunday where you can stroke the bonnets and watch the Pirelli Prestige & Performance Competition in the Great Court, featuring 80 sensational motors dating from 1976 to current day, with a Winner’s Parade later in the afternoon. Get your motor running, baby!
THEATRE: Fame The Musical, Hexagon Reading, Mon 3 – Sat 8 Sep
Fight your way into your leg warmers and leotards, and leap off your bed because Fame… I’m going to live forever, er, too much? Anyhoo, Fame The Musical based on the 80s TV series is coming to Reading! Featuring the Oscar-winning title song and a cast of outstanding dancers, singers, musicians and rappers as they transform from star struck pupils to superstars. Stars Mica Paris and Jorgie Porter.
FESTIVAL: Reading on Thames Festival, various locations Reading, The 6 – Sun 16 Sep
It’s baaaack! Reading on Thames Festival made quite a splash last year when it launched on Reading’s cultural scene – and this year it hopes to be even b better. Using Reading’s rivers as a backdrop, you can enjoy theatre, music, cultural walks, film, writing, debate and exhibitions inspired by the local H2O. We can’t wait to see and Cirque Bijou (see above) fresh from London Lumiere and their unique mix of traditional circus skills and modern technology.
EVENT: The Lexicon 1st Birthday, The Lexicon Bracknell, Fri 7 – Sun 9 Sep
Can you believe The Lexicon is a year old? It still looks fresh-out-of-the-box fabulous and more and more shops and restaurants are moving in. But this weekend it’s all about cake. Head to Bracknell for a three day festival of fun, where 1,000 cupcakes will be given away each day, get papped in the camper van photo booth, be entertained by stilt walkers, magicians, musicians, a roller skating birthday cake and there’s £1,000 worth of gift vouchers up for grabs. Off you go.
FOOD & DRINK: Festival of Food & Wine, Ascot Racecourse, Fri 7 – Sat 8 Sep
Definitely safer to watch GBBO, Masterchef and the Food Channel from the sofa, but it’s more fun to mine sweep the samples at a food and wine festival. Ascot’s Festival of Food & Wine will feature 40 stalls showcasing their booze and bites, plus enter the Gastronome Theatre for talks and demos from the likes of legandary chef Aldo Zilli, Matt Worswick and Claire Clarke. Plus there’s a full day of flat racing. Giddy up, race you to the bar.
SPORT: RBC Soapbox Challenge, Englefield Estate, Sat 8 Sep
It’s Berkshire’s answer to the Wacky Race as challengers make and race their mad speed machines – all in the name of charity. And you are NEVER too old to hurtle down a hill as fast as you can. Channel you inner Penelope Pitstop, put your engineering and driving skills to the test and let gravity do the rest. Alternatively, watch from the sidelines and enjoy all the race day action.
FMAILY FUN: Tractor Ted Little Farm Live, Stonor Park Henley, Sun 9 Sept
If your nippers’ love Tractor Ted and bouncy castles then 3 Sept is their lucky day. Head to Stonor Park, Henley, and let the them enjoy some end-of-the-summer-hols steam. They can hang out with animals, take a Tractor Ted driving test and try a bout of welly wanging. Which sounds rude to us but we’re sure it’s good wholesome fun.
TOUR: 1940s Guided Bus Tour , Clock Tower Newbury, Sat 8 Sep – Sun 9 Sep
Ding ding, all aboaaaaaaard! Who needs Marty McFly’s Delorean to go back in time when you can hop onto this 1940s Bedford OB bus and visit two historic local attractions. Historian Roger Day will be your conductor, as you bumble along to Littlecote House to explore the Kennet Valley at War Trust’s WW2 museum, including the Aldbourne stable, which once served as a billet for paratroopers from E Company 506th PIR, the famous ‘Band of Brothers’. You’ll then go on to Membury Airfield and inspect the remains of a US WW2 WACO glider crate. Slick on a red lip, seamed stockings and tuck into your packed lunch at 10am.
Greenham Cold War Experience, Greenham Control Tower, Sat 8 – Sun 16 Sep
After a ton of Heritage Lottery Funding and hard work, the Greenham Control Tower has had a makeover not seen since Sharon Osborne revealed her last facelift. The Grade II listed building will now be open as a visitor attraction celebrating its historical and environmental importance. Rather than a aimless mooch, immerse yourself in the drama with this Cold War experience. Journey back to the 1980s (Hell yes. Wham! on the Sony Walkman) and experience the Greenham Common Decontamination Suite, Control Tower and Peace Camp in an immersive theatre event. The three scenes are linked by a walk across the Common and a Q&A. ‘You have been contaminated. Follow the red arrows on the floor.’ Resist the urge to chain yourself to the fence.
COMEDY: Reginald D Hunter: Stand Up By Royal Appointment, Theatre Royal Windsor, Mon 10 Sep
If you haven’t come across Reginald D Hunter, where have you been? A regular on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, he is laugh-until-you cry funny, achingly cool and a real go-for-broke comedian. Like all funnymen, he loves to ruffle feathers with his honest jibes and is known for dropping the ‘N’ bomb… a lot. Go and see the great man from Georgia. Book up. It will be a sell out.
FOOD: Adam Byatt, Hind’s Head Bray, Wed 12 Sep
The Hind’s Head’s Guest Chef supper clubs have been a massive hit. But are you trousers roomy enough for another round? Chef Adam Byatt – the genius behind London’s Michelin star Trinity restaurant (held for 12 years, no less) – will be bringing his imaginative British cooking to Berkshire. Enjoy eight courses, £80 per person. Call the Hind’s Head on 01628 626151 to book.
KIDS: The Snail & the Whale, Corn Exchange Newbury, Fri 14 – Sun 16 Sep
An absolute bedtime reading fave in our house. A snail with an itchy foot who wants to see the world. In the theatre show, the story is seen through the eyes of a young girl and her seafaring dad (bit of artistic licence, but we’ll allow it). Don’t miss the chance to see this Julia Donaldson children’s classic brought to life by the brilliant Tall Stories theatre group. They’re Olivier Award nominated, dontcha know. If you loved The Gruffalo, you’ll love this.
KIDS: Peppa’s pig Adventure, Hexagon Reading Sat 15 – Sun 16 Sep
Whoever invented Peppa Pig is getting very wealthy. As one of the many branches of Peppa branding, you can join everyone’s favourite cochon for a camping trip to the woods with her school friends, including Pedro Pony, Suzy Sheep and Gerald Giraffe. Games, laughter, live music and just a hint of Tramadol.
SPORT: Blenheim Palace Horse Trials, Thurs 13 – Sun 16 Sep
Tally-ho! The 28th annual Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials return this week, a three day event over four days (maths isn’t my strong point but um?) featuring dressage, cross country and show-jumping. It’s very horsey as you can imagine – the trade stands are rammed with tweed, leather boots and strange equine fashion, but you get great views of the competition (nearly so close you can touch in some instances), and it’s a slickly run event in stunning surrounds. Displays, demonstrations, children’s activities, shopping, food, bars and entertainment. Horsey heaven.
ART: Cookham & Maidenhead Arts Trail, Tue 11 – Sun 23 Sep
Always wondered what artist’s do all day? Now’s your chance to find out. Join the Cookham and Maidenhead Arts Trail and 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 the amazing figurative artist, Harriet Brittaine, swing by and see her work in the Nicholson Centre. Head over to Cookham and mooch around the Stanley Spencer Gallery, then grab a bite at the Bel & The Dragon.
SHOPPING: The Great Antique & Vintage Car Boot Fair, Stonor Park, Sun 16 Sep
I’m not sure how Stonor Park polices what qualifies as vintage and antique but this sounds like the kind of event where you could find a real bargain or two. Tickets are £7 between 9am and 10am and only £3 from 10am onwards, so if you’re serious about snaffling that masterpiece, get there early! Otherwise meander around until 4pm at your leisure.
THEATRE: Trial By Laughter, Watermill Theatre Newbury, The 20 Sep – Sat 27 Oct
Following on from the record-breaking play The Wipers Times (if you missed it, it’s on at the Oxford Playhouse 3-8 Sep), Ian Hislop and Nick Newman are back at the Watermill Theatre to premiere a new play. This true and extraordinary story is about the trial of William Hone – a forgotten hero of free speech, he was charged with ‘impious blasphemy and seditious libel’. The only crime he had committed was to be funny. Worse than that he was funny by parodying religious texts. And worst of all, he was funny about the despotic government and the debauched monarchy. I enjoy Ian Hislop’s razor-sharp wit so it’s bound to be a fun evening an it’s got a whiff of Private Eye…
FESTIVAL: Windsor Fringe Festival, various Windsor locations, Fri 21 – ? Oct
If you like your arts fresh out of the box, head to Windsor Fringe Festival – the second oldest fringe in the UK after Edinburgh. Expect an eclectic programme of comedy, music, drama, DJs, arts, gin tasting and more, plus the world reknowned International Windsor Fringe Award for New Drama Writing, sponsored by the legendary Kenneth Branagh.
THEATRE: The Baina Trampa Fritz Fallen, Shaw House Newbury, Fri 21 – Sat 22 Sep
Join us for this strange, beautiful and highly entertaining slice of performance. Ruthless and cheeky rascals Le G. Bistaki will thrill us with their wacky rituals, surreal video projections, passionate tango, gleaming white suits, a ton of corn and fiery fights. It’s like a Young Farmer Convention after a a night win the ciders. Maybe not. But this this bonkers postmodern promenade performance is like something straight out of a crazy French dream. See it to believe it.
FILM: Ocean Film Festival World Tour, Hexagon Reading, Fri 21 Sep
Calling all ocean lovers! The annual Ocean Film Festival, by the team behind the Banff Film Festival UK Tour, this collection of short films celebrates divers, paddlers, surfers and oceanographers who live for the sea’s salt spray. You’ll be wowed by the mind-blowing marine life; exhilarated by the power of the waves, and inspired by the characters who dedicate their lives to answering the call of the ocean. One Breath – a film about champion free-diving husband and wife Eusebio and Christina. Self-taught photographers, they travel the world capturing the sensations of the ocean on one breath alone, with breathtaking results (see above).
THEATRE: BULLISH, South Street Arts Reading, Sat 22 Sep
Fancy something a bit off piste? You got it! How about BULLISH. The premiered to a sell-out London run headlining ‘Come As You Are’ festival, the first festival celebrating trans, non-binary and gender-queer theatre. BULLISH pits ancient mythology against modern gender navigation to furiously disrupt, traverse and rewrite the rulebook. Stepping into the ring with a gender fierce ensemble of hopers and renegades, It’s a story about packing, passing, and gambling your way out of the labyrinth. Told you it was different.
The Great British Gin Festival, Windsor Racecourse, Sat 22 Sep
Drinking boots on, peeps, the UK’s biggest Fin Festival Tour is coming to Royal Windsor Racecourse. A whopping 100 different gin from around the world will be available to taste (rude not to), a bevvy of Tom Cruises will be juggling bottles to create the coolest cocktails, plus talks and presentations for producers and industry experts. Get your gang together and make yours a double. Taaaaaaxi!
An Audience with Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, The 25 Sep
Want to meet the writing talents behind Private Eye, Spitting Image, Harry Enfield and Chums, The Wipers Timers, to name a few? Now’s your chance. Spend the afternoon with Ian Hislop and Nick Newman as they give an insight into the lives and careers, approach to writing and how they created Trial By Laughter at this special fundraising event. Tickets £25… it includes tea and cake. Just saying.
Tassels: An Evening of Burlesque, Corn Exchange Newbury, The 27 Sep
Naughty has never been so nice. The fabulous burlesque dancers Tassels will be heading to the Corner Exchange Newbury with a glittering evening of good old fashioned saucy entertainment. With a bevy of glamourous stars, speciality variety artists and fabulous costumes, this dazzling new show is the perfect blend of danger and delight. Leave your inhibitions at the door and experience a burlesque extravaganza.
THEATRE: Graham Norton in Conversation, Old Town Hall, Wycombe Swan, Fri 28 Sep
Plugging his second novel The Keeper (his debut Holding was a Sunday Times bestseller), Graham pops up in High Wycombe to talk about his book – a tale of secrets and ill-fated loves – followed by a Q&A. Let’s face it, the opportunity to ask Graham some nosey questions is the draw rather than the free signed copy of his book but we’ll humour you, Graham.
Cliveden Literary Festival, Cliveden House, Sat 29 – Sun 30 Sep
For a small festival, this sure punches above its weight. Famous names this year include historian Kate Williams, actress Ruth Wilson, broadcaster June Sarpong, author Professor Simon Schama, MP Priti Patel, psychologist Tanya Byron and barrister/former PM wife Cherie Blair. With the sumptuous hotel as the backdrop, this promises to be a fabulous affair.
Forbidden Nights: Sexy Circus Tour, Hexagon Reading, Sat 29 Sep
This brings a whole new meaning to the Big Top, because Forbidden Nights is where circus gets sexy (their line not mine). Who knew? Not one for the kids as although the clown count maybe high, the moves are anything but PG. Brace yourself for the ultimate strip tease from a cast of acrobats, aerial artists, fire acts and circus performers. Steer clear of the front row, there’s a high risk of baby oil in your eye.
SEPTEMBER’S TOP MOVIE RELEASES
Puzzle – Fri 7 Sep
Based on the Argentinian film Rompecabeza, by Natalia Smirnoff, this graceful drama stars Kelly Macdonald as Agnes, a wife and mother whose humdrum existence transforms when she discovers she’s really good at puzzles. Her passion for puzzling takes her to New York where she meets a champion puzzler and her life changes forever. It may sound like a strange premise but it’s rare for this kind of midlife crisis story to centre on a woman and Kelly McDonald (above) really shines.
The House With Clocks In Its Walls – Fri 21 Sep
Based on the gothic horror children’s novel by John Bellairs, orphan Lewis goes to live with his mysterious uncle who turns out to be a mediocre warlock, living next door to a good witch. The previous owners of the house were plotting to destroy the world and had hidden a clock in its walls eternally ticking towards alignment and ultimately annihilation. This family magical adventure stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett and sounds like just the ticket as the nights draw in.
The Wife – Fri 28 Sep
Superbly acted by Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, this intimate look inside a marriage is based on the book by Meg Wolitzer. Joan and Joe Castleman have been together for 40 years but when Joe wins the Nobel Prize for literature, the award exacerbates strains in the marriage. Interestingly, this is less a portrait of a marriage and more about the compromises a mid 20th century creative woman felt she had to make in order to survive.
THEATRE: Pinter at The Pinter, London, 6 Sep – 23 Feb 2019
Never before have all twenty of Pinter’s short plays been performed together in one season. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Pinter’s death, this gathering of stellar actors (many of whom worked with Pinter) looks like a humdinger. Famous names include Martin Freeman, Jane Horrocks, Tamsin Greig, David Suchet, Sir Anthony Sher, Mark Rylance, John Simm, Penelope Wilton and – alright, love – Danny Dyer! And if that’s not enough, they’ll even be some surprise guest stars. This is gonna be big, people, so get booking. Bonus: one act plays mean you’ll still have some evening left for dinner and drinkies in the Big Smoke
THEATRE: Sylvia the Musical, The Old Vic, London, Mon 3 – Sat 22 Sep
Nowadays it seems that any topic can be given the musical theatre treatment and this time, one hundred years after the first women in Britain were granted the vote, it’s Sylvia Pankhurst’s turn. This modern musical combines dance, hip hop, soul and funk to shed new light on her remarkable story and how her passion for equality tore her family apart. Go sister!
ART: Aftermath, Tate Britain, London, Mon 10 – Sun 23 Sep
A short but fascinating, haunting and moving exhibition on how artists reacted to the aftermath of World War One, recording its scars but also looking to the future and the birth of new movements such as dadaism and surrealism.
THEATRE: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, now until 22 Sep
Fiona Laird, who has worked with some of the biggest names in British theatre from Benedict Cumberbatch to Dame Judi Dench, not only directs but has composed the music for this new fun-filled RSC production, which has something of a TOWIE feel to it (yes, really). It’s a glam suburban comedy about wealthy wives and over-inflated egos, with a strong female cast including Katy Brittain, Beth Cordingly, Karen Fishwick (Juliet in the RSC’s current Romeo & Juliet), Rebecca Lacey, Sakuntala Ramanee, Ishia Bennison and Charlotte Josephine. The performance on Sep 12 will be broadcast live in cinemas nationwide.
ARTS & CRAFTS: The Handmade Fair, Hampton Court, Fri 14 – Sun 16 Sep
I can’t even sew labels onto school clothes so this kind of event is way out of my comfort zone. However, you may be au fait with a with needle and thread, sewing machine, knitters and fabric scissors, in which case fill your boots at this slick annual offering from Kirstie Allsopp. There’s the chance to try something new in the interactive workshops – from calligraphy to wirework, machine sewing to screen printing – with experts in their fields such as Annie Sloan. Since no respecting event is complete without food these days, the expert cooks from Olive Magazine will be on hand to let you in on the latest foodie trends plus there will be plenty of stalls to buy arts, crafts, materials for crafting and bespoke products.
DESIGN: London Design Festival, various London locations, Sat 15 – Sun 23 Sep
Celebrating London as a powerhouse of design, loads of events are on offer across the capital including workshops, demonstrations and launches. As always, the V&A will be at the forefront with show-stopping installations and across the city, there are 5 major trade shows, the commercial pillars of the festival, where you can meet designers, buyers, sellers and manufacturers and discover new products and design trends.
FASHION: London Fashion Week and Festival, Fri 14 – Sun 23 Sep
If your invitations to the main catwalk shows got lost in the post (yours too, eh?), mere mortals can buy tickets to the London Fashion Week Festival with designer and trend shows on the catwalk, talks with various industry figures such as ex-fashion ed turned interiors blogger Erica Davies, and pop-up shopping with over 150 top British and international brands. Totter along in your Jimmy Choos (or Zara sales bargain in my case) and return home looking absolutely fabulous, dahling.