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Yes you May! What’s on locally this month

Culture vultures, unite! We've got new exhibitions, comedy shows, thumping good theatre, garden snoops, and so much more happening across Berkshire this May.

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH

Everything (But The Girl), Corn Exchange Newbury, 5 May

The Qualies 2Faced Dance Company Newbury

2Faced Dance Company make a highly anticipated return this spring with an unforgettable triple bill of emotionally charged and lung-busting physicality, packed with raw energy and exceptional movement. Not to be missed.

OUT & ABOUT

Family Fun Day, Windsor Racecourse, Mon 2 May

big wheel lights up the night sky at a vintage fun fair

No need to bankrupt yourself over the bank holiday weekend keeping the rug rats entertained, Windsor Racecourse to the rescue. Its annual Family Fun Day is back with funfair rides, face painting, inflatables, pony rides and more – all free as a bean. Yup, they’ll cost nada. Grown ups have to pay to get in, but under 18s are FREE.

Royal Windsor Horse Show, Windsor Castle, 12-15 May

Royal Windsor Horse SHow 2022

Giddiup! The Royal Windsor Horse Show’s one of the hottest horsey events in the UK – and this year forms part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The royal family always make an appearance. Expect to see top flight show jumping, dressage, fun kids events, with a lots of pomp and ceremony from the Household Cavalry. It’s a fun, family affair, so trot on.

Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, Newbury Racecourse, Sat 14 May

Love a Ladies Day? Ooh it’s a fab excuse to get your gal pals together, have a few drinkies and a cheeky little flutter. Newbury Races is kicking off the summer of social fun at the Al Shaqab Lockinge Day – aka Ladies Day. This year’s event champion kickass women from the all female TV commentary team and the Panel of Pioneers, featuring Eve Muirhead, Hollie Doyle and Katie Zelem to Ibizan sax player Lovely Laura (pictured) bringing the after party vibe. Time to ditch the joggers.

Sound Beginnings: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sheepdrove Eco Centre Lambourn, 8 May

Midsummer Night's DReam classical music SheepdrOve Eco Centre

A special family-friendly performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with music from Weber and Mendelssohn. This comedy, based on Shakespeare’s play, will be brought to life with music and projected images while the story is told in a version suitable for all the family.

Let’s Rock The Moor, Marsh Meadow Cookham, 22 May

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 Wet Wet Wet, Squeeze, Sonique, Jason Donovan and more… why on why would you ever miss it?

Highclere Show, Highclere Castle, Sat 28 – Sun 29 May, Highclere, Newbury

Highclere Castle

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!

National Garden Scheme’s Open Gardens, throughout Berkshire, from May

A great opportunity to nose around gardens that rarely open. Get some inspiration for your summer planting, or just chose the ones that serve tea and cake. There are some belters in Berkshire this month, including Stubbings House in Maidenhead (7-8 May), Thurle Grange and Wynders in Streatley (both 14-15 May), 7 The Knapp in Reading (25 May) as well as Rockwood Farm House in Stockcross on 22 May.

Introduction to Wild Swimming, Swan At Streatley, 8 May

SWAN AT STREATLEY WILD SWIM MOTHER'S DAY

Squeeze your sun-starved skin into a cossie (or wetsuit) and doggy paddle in the River Thames. Wild Swimming is huge, with loads of mental and physical health benefits. Before you dip your toe into a river or lake, sign up for this Introduction to Wild Swim with Instructor, Jo. There will be a hot drink and use of the sauna and steam room to help you defrost. I reckon lunch at the Coppa Club with a bottle of bubbly is a must. They’re also running a Spring Foraging Workshop on 8 May and a Terrarium Workshop with Green and Wild on 22 May.

Gin Cocktail Masterclass, The Great House Sonning, 11 May

Berkshire Botanical Sloe Gin Cocktail SAVOY TANGO

A night that will leave you shaken and stirred. Muddy favourite Berkshire Botanical will be hosting a gin masterclass at the stunning Great House in Sonning. It will be a fun and creative evening exploring the art of making the perfect gin cocktail. Tom Mead will host the event, introducing you to different gins and how to create the perfect serve. Bottoms up.

Wim Hof Method Fundamentals Workshop, The Good Life Hub Hampstead Norreys, 28 May

Wim hof method

This workshop is cooler than a polar bear’s paw… literally. Cold Therapy has a ton of health benefits: reduces stress, increased energy, better sleep, heightened focus and more more more. What do you have to do to achieve it? Embrace nature, the cold, commit and breathe. The Wim Hof Method gives you the tools for a happier healthier life. The ice bath is optional. Eek.

STAGE & SCREEN

Little Mix Live, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 14 May

LITTLE MIX LIVE Norden Farm

If you didn’t get your manicured mitts on a ticket to see Little Mix’s last tour, this is the next best things. The pop superstars will broadcast their final Confetti Tour concert live from London’s O2. Having sold over 50 million records worldwide, collected over 17 million Spotify listeners, received over 3 billion YouTube views and collated 12 billion streams. Jade, Perrie and Leigh-Anne could probably do with a rest. I’m exhausted just typing it.

The Screen Cinema, The Old Court Windsor, throughout May

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Ooh, a cinematic experience with an arthouse vibe, The Old Court in Windsor is the place to be. On the movie reel this month you can see Sing 2 (1 May).The Duke (3-6 May) – a true story comedy drama about a prisoner who steals a valuable painting; The Batman (13-15 May); The Bad Guys (15-29 May); Phantom of the Open starring Mark Rylance 20-21 May) and the third instalment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise – The Secrets of Dumbledore – opens on 29 May.

Opera: Mansfield Park, Englefield House Theale, 11 May

MANSFIELD PARK ENGLEFIELD HOUSE THEALE

If you’re going to see an opera, choose a setting that’s as dramatic as the performance. The Waterperry Opera presents an immersive Jane Austen operatic experience at Englefield House. Expect to be whisked away into the wonderful period world with Jonathan Dove’s beautiful and thrilling music and libretto by Alasdair Middleton.

Northern Ballet’s Merlin, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 12 May

Merlin Northern Ballet Norden Farm Maidenhead

Drew McOnie’s first full-length ballet, Merlin – and it’s a epic fantasy adventure for a family audience. Based on the story of the legendary wizard, expect a tale of warring kingdoms, spear-fighting, stage magic, a smoke-breathing dragon and a mighty, LED-studded Excalibur.

Our Man In Havana, The Watermill Theatre Bagnor, now – 21 May

Our Man In Havana

Roll out the red carpet slip into your mothballed gown for a World Premiere. Graham Greene’s Our Man In Havana will open at The Watermill Theatre in Bagnor. It’s a rollercoaster comedy full of colourful characters and uplifting Cuban inspired songs. This new musical is based on Graham Greene’s iconic novel that cleverly satirises the fine line between truth and lies. 

Giovanni Pernice, The Hexagon Reading, 12 May, Corn Exchange Newbury, 24 May

GIOVANNI PERNICE

Strictly Come Dancing fave Giovanni Pernice, sashays into Berkshire this month with his highly anticipated hit show THIS IS ME! The snake hipped showman is set to light up the stage, along with his cast of professional dancers, for another fabulous year of touring. Expect all of your favourite Ballroom and Latin dances and more.

80s Live, Corn Exchange Newbury, 27 May

80S LIVE

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.

Intoto Dance 2022, South Hill Park Bracknell, 17 May

INTOTO DANCE 2022

Intoto return to the stage with an evening of three diverse and newly commissioned dance works – from the electrifying award-winning choreography of Yukiko Masui and hypnotically playful physicality of Jamaal Burkmar (Extended Play), both beautifully complimented by the fluid and eclectic style of Liam Francis (LSC alumnas, ex Intoto member, Rambert).

The Gingerbread Man, Corn Exchange Newbury, 28-29 May

THE GINGERBREAD MAN NEWBURY

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.

COMEDY

The Guilty Feminist, The Hexagon Reading, Sun 8 May

Deborah the guilty feminist

Less of a podcast and more of a global phenomenon, The Guilty Feminist, is part comedy, part deep-dive discussion and part activism. Hosted by Deborah Frances-White and featuring a different array of world class guests each night.

Patrick Monahan, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 26 May

Multi-award-winning comedian and Edinburgh Fringe favourite Patrick Monahan returns on tour with a brand new stand up show – Started from the Bottom, Now l’m Here – which is a platter of smart and funny observations on a new found, middle class lifestyle with ski holidays, through the prism of poor, immigrant, living-in-a-caravan roots.

Comedy Cellar in the Wilde, South Hill Park Bracknell, 26 May

The Comedy Cellar at South Hill Park launched the careers of many top comedians – Al Murray, Eddie Izzard, Greg Davies, Sarah Millican, Micky Flanagan, Katherine Ryan, Jack Whitehall, and Russell Howard. The list is long. It’s the longest-running comedy club in the UK outside of London and continues to showcase the best new and established acts.

EXHIBITIONS & ART

Insight: Open Studios, The Base Greenham, 7-29 May

gail-davis-OPEN STUDIOS

Amazing art in open studios and private spaces across West Berkshire and North Hampshire throughout May and totally free! Simply go to the Open Studios website, find an artist and pop along for a nose. The main exhibition is INSIGHT at The Base Greenham where over 100 artists will show their pieces. My faves include Gail Davis’ paintings, the digital art by Mark Bijak and the work of textile artist Sarah Moorcroft (she’s worked for everyone from Monsoon to Missoni).

Mucial Mural, Kennet Centre Newbury, 8 May

Musical Mural Kennet Centre Newbury

Arm yourself with a paint brush and make your mark on the walls of the Kennet Centre in Newbury. This is a chance for you to get involved with painting a mural, based on a musical-themed image. This community project, will be led by local artist Isabel Carmona who will be on-hand to help the day’s creative process and direct the painting performance.

Discover In Nature, Stanley Spencer Gallery Cookham, now – 30 Oct

Delight in Nature Stanley Spencer Gallery

A new exhibition from the stunning Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham. Discover in Nature charts the influence the natural world had on Spencer’s artistic development, from his very early years to the end of his life. When he was going through a troubled divorce, he complained that his landscapes and still-lifes were mere ‘pot boilers’ (easily saleable works that helped him survive financially). This exhibition reveals however, that his study of nature was not only a meditative tonic, but also informed his figurative work.

Matthew One Man: Rebirth Retrospective, Prime Studios Windsor, 7-8 May

Mathew one man The Universe

Rebirth Retrospective is an exhibition of Matthew One Man’s unique and imaginative illustrations, animations, story books and 3D cut-outs. He is presenting work created exclusively during lockdown, mixing surrealism and pointillism to picture a society that encapsulates every era and culture.

Cookham Festival, various locations, 6-22 May

Brass Funkeys Cookham Festival Concertini

Established in 1967 The Cookham Festival is back celebrating the spoken word, music and the visual arts. Over 40 events take place over the festival fortnight, including the awesome Brass Funkeys Concertini concert (7 May), An Evening with Michael Parkinson (6 May), rugby legend Will Greenwood and Ben Fennell talk about what it takes to world class (13 May), plus loads of stuff to get involved in: creative writing workshops, pet painting and more.

Exhibition on screen: Pissarro, South Hill Park Bracknell, 24 May and Corn Exchange Newbury, 29 May

Exhibition on Screen Pissarro

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.

NATIONAL TRUSTS

Ashdown House Lambourn National trust
Image: Sue HIcks/ National Trust

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 VyneAshdown, the National Trust’s under the radar Dutch-style country near Lambourn above), has woodland you can explore. The house is currently closed for essential maintenance.

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