62 things to do locally this July
The social calendar's full and celebrating summer! From fun festivals to cutting-edge theatre and arty exhibitions, here's what's on in Berkshire this July.
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
FESTIVAL: Flackstock, Englefield House Theale, 25 July
Cover yourself in sequins for a night of music, comedy and dance at Flackstock, in memory of TV star Caroline Flack. Money raised will be split between four mental health charities – Choose Love, Mind, Samaritans and Charlie Waller Trust. Names confirmed include: Pixie Lott, Natalie Imbruglia, Fleur East, Professor Green, Louise Redknapp, Ashley Roberts, The Overtones, Sigma, James Haskell (DJ set), Dermot O’Leary, June Sarpong, Strictly stars Janette and Aljaž, Keith Lemon, Joel Dommett, Matt Richardson and Paddy McGuinness. Book here.
ART & EXHIBITIONS
Fancy an arty day out among flowers? From 30 July – 25 Sept, The Altered States Sculpture exhibition is displaying at Shaw House in a celebration of local art and artists. The artworks on show cover a range of scales and materials including stone, metal and ceramics, and will also be available to purchase if any catch your fancy.
Keeping the Platinum Jubilee celebrations simmering, The Queen’s Coronation Exhibition opens at Windsor Castle (7 July – 26 Sept). Don’t miss the chance to see the exquisite Norman Hartnell Coronation Dress and purple silk velvet Robe of Estate from that extraordinary event in 1953. It took 12 embroiderers, using 18 different types of gold thread, more than 3,500 hours to complete the work on the robe between March and May 1953.
Did you know that Newbury is home to the UK’s major centre for the development of outdoor arts and work for public spaces? If you love all the super-cool outdoor culture in Newbury (fire festival), giant puppets, death defying circus, dance and more. – or you’re just a bit nosey, head to 101 Outdoor Arts Open Day and take a peek behind the scenes on 5 July.
There’s still a chance to see the brilliant Eduardo Paolozzi: General Dynamic F.U.N exhibition at Muddy Award-winning art space The Base (until 24 July). Cast your eye over 50 pieces created by the pioneer of pop art, before it makes way for The World of Peter Rabbit Storytime Trail (30 July-25 Sept). This is a magical walk-through experience aimed at under 7s who will be immersed into Peter’s world as they crawl under the garden gate, hide in a watering can and see their reflection in a mirror pool. Photo opps and crafting aplenty.
Hop over the border to Oxfordshire, to see paintings by Winston Churchill and Paul Maze at Blenheim Palace (11 July – 13 Nov). Maze was a celebrated artist, one of the last great Post-Impressionists, and had a big influence on Churchill after the two men met in the trenches; their art is deeply rooted in the English countryside.
Another ongoing exhibition worth catching is Ruth Asawa: Citizen of the Universe at the Modern Art Oxford, all about the visionary American artist, educator and activist Ruth Asawa, who specialised in signature hanging sculptures in looped and tied wire, on until August.
Re-re-rewind, the crowd say Bo Selecta. Frock up, grab your besties hand enjoy a full day of racing at Newbury Racecourse. The legendary Craig David will rock the after party in the paddock on Sat 16 July. Then we chill on Sunday.
The retro revival continues with Boy George headlining a summer outdoor gig in the grounds of Englefield House in Theale on 23 July. Part of the Heritage Live series, Boy George and Culture Club will take to the stage at this impressive stately home in Theale supported by , Lulu, Kim Wilde and Gabrielle. Russell Watson performs the following night (24 July) for Last Night Of The Heritage Proms. Tickets from £61.90pp.
Some will argue, of course, that nothing compares to the spectacle of hearing Beethoven’s ‘Battle Symphony’ performed as he composed it. That is: with 193 live Napoleonic cannons providing a thunderous percussion… which you can genuinely experience at Highclere’s Battle Proms Concert, 30 July. If the cannons aren’t enough to convince you, there’s also a meticulously choreographed aerial display from the Red Devils, vintage vocals from ‘The Battle Proms Belles’ (think we should join?), an orchestral concert from The New English Concert Orchestra and fireworks finale. Pack that picnic, people!
Oh, and the 2022 season at Garsington Opera, near Watlington, continues until 31 July. You can enjoy Mozart’s Così fan tutte (2 June – 20 July), Dvořák’s Rusalka (18 June – 19 July), The Turn of the Screw (2-18 July), and a smaller run of Dalia (28-31 July). Should be suitably high-brow for you culture vultures.
Readipop (8-10 July) is a brilliant boutique music festival offering a laid-back vibe but with all the festival bells and whistles we love: music, street food, drinkies and fun stuff for the kids. This year’s line up includes hip hop legends Sugarhill Gang (with Melle Mel and Scorpio from Furious 5), British soul and trip hop pioneers Morcheeba and Mercury Music Prize winner Badly Drawn Boy. The three-day festival at Christchurch Meadows in Reading also features a ton of local talent, so you can say you saw them here first when they hit the big time. Weekend adult tickets £52.
At the end of the month (23-24 July), Marvellous pops up at Dinton Pasture Country Park in Hurst will host a crowd-pleasing festival of tribute acts playing homage to the greats. This family friendly festival has been rocking the country park for nearly two decades. Taking to the stage in 2022 are: UK Foo Fighters, The Jam’d, Definitely Mightbe, Queen tribute act Flash, Wild Boys and more.
Don’t forget your red trousers and Champagne for the genteel Henley Festival, 6-10 July, celebrating its 40 year anniversary (kudos!) with an extra special do. The line-up promises knockout performances from Tom Jones, Craig David, and The Script. See you there!
Meanwhile, between the 8-10 July it’s all happening at The Great Tew Park with Cornbury Music Festival, the civilised festival that prides itself on being quintessentially English; think country fair with a rock’n’roll twist. Headliners this year include James Blunt, Bryan Adams, and Jools Holland. Oh, and Muddy Stilettos — make sure you stop by and say hello to us!
Around the same time is “The Godfather of the small festival scene”, Truck Festival in Steventon, running 22-24 July. Headlining this year are Sam Fender, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Kooks, and Kasabian among others.
Treehouse Festival of Music and Arts returns to Uffington for its sixth year on 29-31 July. One of the UK’s most sustainable festivals (and aiming to be the first certified B Corp festival by next year), it offers a line-up of music, art, workshops, and experiences. It’s cool stuff, see the line-up here.
OTHER FUN STUFF
Straw boaters on, eyes on the lunch box (sarnies or Lycra bulges… they’re not mutually exclusive). Watch Royal Henley Regatta from the riverbank and wrap up another successful week of drinking Champagne on repeat while watching the pros break a sweat.
Woof! If you love dogs, get yourself down to the Windsor Championship Dog Show (1-3 July). It’s basically a bijou, free version of Crufts, where you’ll see the best in show. Siiiiiit! Heal… yeah you’re good to go.
Dining with period drama at Cliveden House. Pull up a chair for Spirited Affair (11 July) – an immersive fine dining experience based on Cliveden’s rich and colourful history. It will be an intimate and exclusive supper filled with wonder, intrigue and surprises, in keeping with Cliveden’s legendary spirit of both pleasure and power.
Dig out your dungarees from the depths of your wardrobe and reach for that scrunchie for a 90s Revival Race Night at Windsor Racecourse on 11 July. Hear the thunder of hooves and 90s music all night long. If you’ve got the horse racing bit between your teeth, don’t miss Ascot Racecourse‘s prestigious King George Diamond Weekend on 22 July.
Festival season is in full swing. Hungerford Summer Festival (1-10 July) is a cultural melting pot with exhibitions, music, walks, talks and activities for all ages. A smidge down the river on 3 July is the Newbury Waterways Festival. Head to Victoria Park, the river will be jam packed with boats, there will be stalls, entertainment and the famous duck race at the end of the day.
Even the grumpiest teen will surely be won-over by the magical sights at the Berkshire Balloon and Action Extravaganza on 29 July at Newbury Showground. Witness awesome hot air balloons, death defying demos, crazy stunts, a fairground and fireworks finale. Gates open at 1pm.
Not just a sport for royalty, aristos and the Hollywood A list, if you love your sport to be high energy on horseback, this is day for you. The Royal Salute Coronation Cup takes place at the Guards Polo Club in Windsor on 29 July. Expectan action-packed day of top flight matches and of course that Pretty Woman moment of ‘Stomping the Divots’!
In the mood to try something new, the stonking riverside hotel The Swan At Streatley is your go to. They are running an Introduction to Wild Swimming on 10 July. Find out where to swim, safety advice and learn. about the health benefits. Alternatively, you’re want to stay on dry land, have a go at Aerial Yoga on 31 July. A combination of acrobatics and yoga moves.
STAGE & SCREEN
Raise your glasses, this is the last chance to see Mark evans’ gloriously daft adaptation of Bleak Expectations – the story that Charles Dickens might have written after drinking too much gin. And, crucially, had lived for another 152 years! It’s on at The Watermill Theatre in Bagnor until 2 July.
Like your Shakespeare with a side order or quirky? Head to the beer garden of the Vansittart Arms in Windsor for Taming of the Shrew (28 July). It’s laidback, fun four-person performance with a contemporary twist to enjoyed with a glass of your fave tipple.
If you’re looking for a backdrop that atmospheric, dramatic and nails the period brief, the Reading’s Abbey Ruins – originally founded by Henry I in 1112– is it. Outdoor theatre has been performed here since extensive conservation work completed. This year, Progress Theatre’s open-air production takes a break from Shakespeare with a new, faithful, and fast-paced adaptation for the Charles Dickens’ classic Great Expectations (20-30 July).
Looking for us to pull a gem out of our hat? Look no further than The Greatest Magician – a magician who blew up the BBC Switchboard after correctly predicting the Lottery numbers – at Norden Farm in Maidenhead on 23 July. Then head to The Old Court in Windsor on 30 July and be wowed by a world class magician and mind control artist who wooed Angelina Jolie and the Queen. Chris Dugdale managed to fool the greatest minds in the Pentagon and now it’s your turn.
It’s outdoor cinema season so grab your deckchairs and don;t forget a blanket – we don’t live in the Med. Luna Cinema at Ascot Racecourse, arguably, the big daddy of outdoor cinemas, opens for four night of fabulous feel-good films under the stars. Choose from No Time To Die (14 Jul), West Side Story (15 Jul), Grease (16 Jul) and The Goonies (17 Jul). There will be the usual fab food and drink stalls and trucks, but you can take a picnic. If you love a toe tapping sing-a-long, Cobbs Farm in Hungerford will be showing Mamma Mia on 23 July and Dinton Pastures Country Park in Hurst has in The Greatest Showman (30 July).
She wowed us in Killing Eve, now Jodie Cromer make her theatre debut in Prima Facie at the National Theatre. It sold out in minutes, but stop your sulking you can watch it live in cinemas on 21 July. Find a venue near you here, but the Reading Biscuit Factory, Norden Farm, South Hill Park are great places to watch it..
Shaw House gets in on the outdoor theatre fun with an evening performance of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing on 23 July, followed by a ‘delightfully daft’ retelling of family favourite Rapunzel on 17 Aug.
Ready to laugh out loud? Throughout July see a host of comedy talent at South Hill Park in Bracknell as they test their comedy nuggets on Berkshire audiences before Edinburgh next month. Markus Birdman’s The Bearable Heaviness of Nearly Not Being and Tiff Stevenson: Sexy Brain is on 1 July, followed by Hal Cruttenden and Finlay Christie (8 July), Ian Stone and Glenn Moore (15 July), wrapping up with Lucy Porter and Elliot Steel (22 July).
At the The Hexagon Reading, meanwhile, you can catch Sarah Millican on 6 July. If you like more bang for your buck, head to Norden Farm in Maidenhead for a comedy double bill (6 July) as Matt Winning and Sara Barron preview their Edinburgh shows.
No warm ups at the Corn Exchange in Newbury (16 July), Omid Djalili is back with his new show. After experimenting with a Zoom gig where he got muted by 639 people and a Drive-in gig where Omid witnessed an audience member get out his car, attach a hose pipe to his exhaust and feed it through the window; the multi-award-winning comedian is hoping for a better reaction IRL.
All kids want to step inside their favourite picture book, so live theatre often sees their eye practically popping out of their heads. Minds blown. Julia Donaldson’s classic The Gruffalo is on at South Hill Park in Bracknell on 13-14 July, then Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came To Tea arrives at The Hexagon Reading on 16-17 July. Grab a ticket, they’ll sell fast. Suitable for 3+.
History lessons have never been so funny – because all the nasty bit have been left in. Horrible Histories: Terrible Tudors takes to the stage at the Corn Exchange in Newbury on 2 July. Discover the fate of Henry’s headless wives and his punch up with the Pope. Meet Bloody Mary and see Ed fall dead in his bed. Survive the Spanish Armada as they launch their attack!
Roll up, roll up for Circus Week at Norden Farm in Maidenhead from 26 July. Great for kids ages 7-13, this is A four day workshop that will teach them to walk on stilts, ride a unicycle, walk the tightrope and perform on a trapeze!
Fire, explosions and plenty of bangs – kids go nuts for dramatic science. Don’t miss Ministry of Science: Science Saved The World at the Corn Exchange in Newbury on 30 July. Then pray they don’t try it at home.
Giddy up to Ascot Racecourse for its Family Fun Day on 9 July. At full day of racing and the kids can go wild on the zipline, surf simulator, Olly Murrs and Taylor Swift tribute acts will be rocking the racecourse. It’s an everybody wins kinda day out and we are here for it.
Sack the digital nanny and get the kids outdoors. Basildon Park has a Fantastic Flowers Children’s Trail on until 17 July. Where you can waft among the flowerbeds admiring the view and keep the kids entertained at the same time. Then from 29 July your Bear Grylls wannabes can take part in Den Building Workshops to learnt the art of creating outdoor shelters.
Then it’s time to don your sombreros: Gifford’s Circus (below) is coming to Stonor Park from 14-18 July with their Mexican-themed show, so buy some candy floss and settle in for acrobats, jugglers, horses, musicians, dancers, and more.
From 14 July, that great summer staple the Millets Maize Maze at Millets Farm, near Abingdon reopens. The theme this year is transport, so kids can work their way through a great games pack of quizzes and puzzles to solve, all about the history of transport. As well as the maze, there will be trampolines, tractor rides, pedal go-karts (for adults, too!), crazy golf, and more. Sounds like a dead cert day-out to us.