FREE GIN! Need I say more? Probably not, but I’ll throw a few more words at it anyway. Muddy award-winning gin makers Wessex Spirits have created a new rosehip infused gin called The Kennet & Avon, endorsed by the Canal Trust (50p from each bottle will help maintain our local waterways). The launch takes place at Rosebourne in Aldermaston, so head down there for your G&T fix. Bottom’s up!
It’s snowdrop time! Choose a dry-ish day and wander through drifts of snowdrops at Welford Park. Why Welford Park? It’s only got one the finest natural snowdrop woodlands in the chuffing country – four fabulous acres. Visit Wed-Sun (11am-4pm) until Sun 3 Mar. You can find more snowdrop walks here.
Roll up and race round Reading for A Circus of Screams – a three-hour Murder Mystery where you must find hidden evidence and catch a circus killer against the clock! The whole town becomes the set for this real-life whodunnit.Crack clues using their smartphones, converse with characters and find hidden evidence before the time runs out. Try not to kill each other in the process.
Blenheim Pavllion, Cliveden
Say goodbye to snowdrops and a big hello to daffodils that are springing up everywhere. New for 2019 Cliveden present their new programme The Gilded Gardens, inspired by the 24 carat gilded golden gates on the Sounding chamber and thousands of daffodils that grow across the estate- this year the gardening team have added a further 57 varieties to the existing 20 so there grounds really will be carpeted in canary, until Tues 30 April. Head to the Water Garden and Blenheim Pavilion for the best of ‘em.
THEATRE: A Super Happy Story About Feeling Super Sad, Corn Exchange Newbury, Sat 9 Mar
It’s a joyful, buoyant, gleeful, slightly silly, sugar-coated, unrelenting and completely super happy show! Except for the bits about depression. Written by Olivier award winner Jon Brittain (Rotterdam and Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho), this is a funny cabaret musical about depression, that explains, sings, and throws glitter about how it’s OK not to be OK.
BALLET: Giselle, Theatre Royal Windsor, Mon 4 – Sat 9 Mar
A sea of tulle and elegance will sweep onto the Windsor stage for Giselle – telling a tale ofinnocence, love, betrayal and the madness of heartbreak, performed by the Vienna Ballet Company. Traditionally staged, in a stunning old theatre, Giselle is the perfect way to discover classical ballet.
MAGIC: Pete Firman – Marvels, Corn Exchange Newbury, Fri 8 Feb
Prepare to drop your jaw during a fit of the giggles. Not an easy thing to do. But trust me, it’s comedy-magician Pete Firman’s speciality. You’ll have probably seen him on the telly, flinging playing cards all over studio – Tonight at the London Palladium, The John Bishop Show and The Sarah Millican Television Programme, for those who haven’t – all now’s your chance to experience his brilliant act live on stage!
FAMILY FUN: RPO Noisy Kids – Heroes and Villains, Hexagon Reading, Sat 9 Mar
Put on your superhero cape and crusade against dastardly villains in this unmissable family concert. A brilliant opportunity to show your kids that there’s more to music than Baby Shark, thanks to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Hear the Orchestra perform pieces that celebrate adventurers, daredevils and scoundrels. (Ages 5-11)
MUSIC: The Vinyl Frontier – ABC vs Tears For Fears, Sat 9 Mar
Let battle commence! Two of 80s pop’s finest groups go head to head showcasing their biggest-selling LPs. No it is not the decade that musical taste forgot, rude. This month’s Vinyl Frontier will pit ABC’s 1983 hit album The Lexicon of Love against Tears for Fears’ 1985 LP Songs From The Big Chair. Shout, shout, let it all out… but which one would you save from a car boot? For me, it’s Tears For Fears, all day long.
Royal Opera House, Cliveden House Hotel, Sun 10 Mar
Who needs a dramatic set design when you’ve got Cliveden House? It has to be the perfect setting for an classy evening of opera. It’s all very Pride & Prejudice as you gather for an intimate performance by the young international stars form the Jette Parker programme of Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House. Plus you get treated to Champagne and a three-course dinner. Dress code is black tie too. Tickets £160 per person.
WEDDINGS: Bride: The Wedding Show, Ascot Racecourse, Sat 10 – Sun 11 Mar
Getting hitched? Before you disappear down a Pinterest/ Instagram bridal rabbit hole, get yourself down to Bride: The Wedding Show at Ascot Racecourse and meet all the beautiful people who can make your big day dreams a reality. The first 100 brides through the doors each day will get a goody bag packed full of treats and favours to take home. Tickets are £5 each or £15 for a group of four in advance.
THEATRE: A Song At Twilight, Theatre Royal Windsor, Mon 11 – Sat 16 Mar
If there was ever a person who was born to act it would be Simon Callow – he oozes acting through ever pore whether he’s taking people out in a kilt on the Four Weddings dance floor or performing Shakespeare the man is a legend. So it’s pretty exciting that he’ll be in the Berkshire ‘hood starring opposite Jane Asher in Noel Coward’s A Song At Twilight. .
FAMILY FUN: Legoland Opens, Legoland Windsor, Fri 15 Mar
OMG. Protect your credit card, it’s gonna get a hammering. Legoland reopens with a celebration of the Lego Movie 2 (and a ton of new merch to go with, no doubt). Plus there’s new attractions including ‘The Haunted House Monster Party’ – its most spook-tabular ride EVER (opens Sat 13 Apr). Watch out for the gift shop at the end – it’s a killer. legoland.co.uk
WORKSHOP: Beginners floristry, Cliveden, Wed 20 & Wed 27 Mar
Learn how to make the best of your bunch at this three hour floristry workshop at the National Trust’s Cliveden. You’ll be taught how to choose the best flowers, arrangement and those all important conditioning tips to keep them alive (I’ve never been so good at that part).
FILM: Banff Mountain Film Festival, Hexagon Reading, Thu 21 Mar
The latest and best films touring around the UK courtesy of the world’s most prestigious mountain film festival. On 21 March at The Hexagon Reading there are 5 short films. My favourite? Ice & Palm by German pals Jochen Mesle and Max Kroneck who documented their raucous bikepacking journey across the Alps, summiting mountains and skiing iconic lines along the way until they reached the sea. Amazing stuff.
MUSIC: Wannabe! The Spice Girls Show, Hexagon Reading, Sat 23 Mar
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want… to catch The Spice Girls Show and all the Girl Power belters when it stops off in Reading this month. Join Ginger, Posh, Baby, Scary and Sporty Spice for the biggest 90s party in town (costumes are encouraged). If you haven’t snagged a ticket to see the real deal this summer, this will hit the zig-a-zig-ahhhhhhh spot.
MUSIC: Norman Jay MBE, Clayton’s Marlow, Sat 23 Mar
Ahhh, now this one takes me back to good times! Worth commando crawling over the boarder to see the co-founder of pirate radio KISS FM and the legendary Good Times Sound System when he pops up at Clayton’s Marlow with his vinyl collection and hat in tow.
DANCE: Storm, South Hill Park Bracknell, Wed 27 Mar
If you’re missing BBC1’s The Greatest Dancer. No? I was probably the one viewer, but I’m quite partial to a contemporary dance number, and Storm is set to be a cracker. Performed by one of Europe’s most in demand dance companies, sit back an get swept up in a whirlwind of lightning fast, athleticism as acrobatics, break-dancing and martial arts fuse together.
COMEDY: Adam Kay 2019 – This Is Going To Hurt, Hexagon Reading, Thu 28 – Fri 29 Mar
After sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016, 2017 and 2018, Adam Kay’s bestselling book is now being turned into a BBC Series. His hilarious and sometimes stomach-churning observations on his time as a junior doctor are certainly causing a stir and you can catch him for yourself at the The Hexagon Reading.
EVENT: Spring Family Race Day, Ascot Racecourse, Sun 31 Mar
Racecourses are generally kid-free zones – probably due to all-day bubbles and focus on the horses, but the Spring Family Raceday is a fab day with loooooads to entertain the rugrats –the legendary Lamb National, den building, cooking demos with James Wood, a petting zoo, free pony rides and more. Oh and there’s some actual jump racing too, Under 18s go FREE and the under 12s get a free nosebag in Bandstand Kitchen. Winning on Mother’s Day.
SHOPPING: Newbury Artisan Market, Northbrook St Newbury, Sun 31 Mar
Hmm the smell of fresh bread and sizzling street food is enough to get me out of bed for a Sunday market, but the Newbury Artisan Market is much more. Think quality produce, original art, designer crafts, all mixed in with family activities, music and more… From 10am to 4pm, get up and mooch and grab yourself something unique from Berkshire’s finest.
WORKSHOP: Free Yoga, LuluLemon, Bicester Village, Sun 3 & Sun 10 Mar
The upmarket Canadian fitness brand (a fave among chic NYC yoga bunnies) is putting on two early morning sessions with local instructors in their Bicester Village store. A few mats will be provided, but BYO if you’ve got one knocking around. If mornings aren’t your thing (guilty!) the brand are also hosting an evening to celebrate International Women’s Day, Thurs 7 Mar, in the Athletes Centre, Osney Mead with a fitness class followed by a talk and Prosecco.
HOME: Henley House and Garden Show, Market Place, Sat 2 – Sun 3 Mar
This show has been running since 2015 and was started by a Henley local interior designer with the idea of bringing together businesses and designers in the area – I think I may have had my own little media stand at this event back in 2012, it’s definitely ringing a bell! This year there’ll be around 64 exhibitors in the marquee on Market Place as well as inside the town hall and around Henley centre selling all sorts from furniture and gifts to garden designers, makers, advisors and initiatives that run business workshops all from local businesses.
EXHIBITION: An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & the Thames, River & Rowing Museum, until Sun 14 July
I have great memories of taking my family to William Morris’s house in Gloucestershire and having them all sit outside glumly for an hour proclaiming it the most boring thing ever while I drooled over the textiles and furniture. Ah, happy days! Anyway, this exhibition focuses on how the Thames influenced Morris’ work. He had a rural retreat in Oxfordshire, where he loved to boat and fish, ergo the influence of the river in his textiles and designs. Pieces have been collated from the V&A, The William Morris Gallery and the British Library to make this exhibition possible and it also delves into Morris personal life and his politics.
EXHIBITION: Abstract Allies, Zuleika Gallery, London, until Fri 29 Mar
Curated by former BBC Radio News journo and hardcore art collector, Tim Sayer MBE, and the gallery’s director Lizzie Collins, this colourful exhibits showcases art, sculptures and ceramics from abstract artists including Liz West (you can also check out her installation over the border in Herts at St Albans Museum & Gallery until Tues 19 Mar), Lucie Rie and Howard Hodgkin. On Tues 12 Mar, there’ll also be a gallery talk with Tim and reception, booking essential (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ART: The Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park London, Thu 7 – Sun 10 Mar
What to do if you’re art mad but can’t afford to splurge? The Affordable Art Fair is back this month to tempt you with work from over 100 galleries, including former Muddy Award winning best gallery Carina Haslam (go check out the Great Missenden-based gallery at E5 and Craig Mooney’s work, featured above). Tickets £10-15, and children are freeeeee.
EVENT: Orchid Festival, Kew Gardens, London, now – 11 March
Things are going totally tropical this month at London’s gorgeous Kew Gardens. Their annual orchid festival takes in Insta-friendly displays of the vibrant Thai blooms, Thai street food and musical performances, workshops on how to grow these notoriously tricky flowers and Thai afternoon tea at The Botanical restaurant. King prawn, lemongrass and coriander tartlet followed by Thai sticky coconut cream rice with mango salsa? Yes please.
EVENT: London Design Week, Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, Sun 10 – Fri 15 Mar
There’s a couple of interior shows popping up in London this month if you’re thinking of sprucing up your gaff. First up is London Design Week at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, Sun 10 – Fri 15 Mar, with 120 showrooms and over of 600 luxury brands- the biggest of its kind in Europe. Later in the month the whopper Ideal Home Show rocks up at Olympia London, Fri 22 Mar – Sun 7 April, with hundreds of free talks, 600 companies and the latest tech. This year the theme is Best of British so expect loads of UK companies. Does anyone else feel a splurge coming on
FESTIVAL: Women of the World, Southbank, London, Fri 8 – Sat 9 Mar
Girl power! Women of the World fest returns for it’s ninth year with a fabulous line up of debate, discussion, performance and activism all celebrating female achievement. Highlights this year include conversations with Angela Davis, Fri 8, and renowned journo and activist Naomi Klein, Sat 9.
THEATRE: Dracula, The London Library, London, Fri 1 – Sat 9 Mar
Oxford’s quirkiest theatre company, Creation Theatre (I once saw them clad in spandex and gallivant round the Westgate for a production of Brave New World) are setting up shop (well, stage) in London for a new, two man production of Dracula that they first staged (from memory) at Blackwell’s in Oxford. Creation’s USP is all about finding weird and wacky places to perform – this production in The London Library, where Bram Stoker wrote his Gothic novel, hits the jugular.
RACING: Cheltenham Gold Cup, Tues 12 – Fri 15 Mar
There’s no stopping Cheltenham races (not even that nasty Equine Flue scare) with four days of betting and booze. The fun kicks off with Champion’s Day on Tues and it’s good news for gin lovers as the Gin and Jazz Lounge returns with cocktails and music everyday until 7pm.
MUSIC: KT Tunstall, Derngate Theatre, Northants, Tues 12 Mar
Winning Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall performs as part of her European and US tour just over the border at Derngate Theatre, just half an hour north of MK. The BRIT Award winner’s hit songs include The Black Horse and the Cherry Tree and Suddenly I See, which was used in the opening credits of The Devil Wears Prada – if Miranda Priestly approves, so do I.
EXHIBITION: Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain, London, Wed 27 Mar – Tues 27 Aug
This new major exhibition will be the first to explore the artist’s relationship with Britain and the literature, art and culture that inspired his work. Over 45 works by the artist from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône 1888 from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the rarely loaned Sunflowers 1888 from the National Gallery, London. There’ll also be work by British artist who were influenced by Van Gogh’s work including Francis Bacon ad David Bomberg.
EXHIBITION: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, until Sun 14 July
Tickets are selling like hotcakes for this! The V&A is showing the largest House of Dior exhibition ever staged in the UK, tracing the history of Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who succeeded him. The exhibition is based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and there’s a new section exploring Dior’s fascination with British culture. A highlight is the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, on loan from the Museum of London.
High School Musical, South Hill Park Bracknell, Wed 17 – Mon 22 Apr
The first High School Musical film came out 13 years ago… THIRTEEN YEARS!!! It means two things 1) we’re all really old and 2) if your children were born in the 2000s, some of you may not have seen it. Guilty as charged, but I’ve also only seen one of the original Star Wars movies. Anyway High School Musical is coming to South Hill Park Bracknell and in the creative hands of director Mark Hooper (Madagascar, Suessical), it’s set to be a corker. Book now Wildcats.
The Little Welly, Henley, Sat 8 – Sun 9 Jun
Have the hose and a hot wash on stand by, this is gonna get messy. Like break your washing machine, kinda messy. Bigger, better and muddier than ever, the UK’s biggest children’s obstacle course returns for the sixth year to the Culden Faw Estate in Henley. Throw your mud-seeking minis (4+) and they’re parents (sorry about that) at the 30 obstacles – including The Big Slide, Tyre Mangle, mud and water pits, Spider’s Web and bouncing round the foam pit. Away from the race’s there’s Laser Tag, circus skill workshops, pony rides, den building and bungee trampolining and more.