What’s on in August – updated!
No summer holiday booked? No problem. We've got heart-in-your-mouth acrobatics, every kind of theatre show, thumping music nights, and more right here in Berkshire this month.
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
Hamlet, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 25 Sep
Sir Ian McKellan is lighting up the Theatre Royal stage in Windsor in this electrifying production of Hamlet. At the age of 82, McKellen is the oldest Prince of Denmark the UK has ever seen. It is also a production that is age, colour and gender blind, with Francesca Annis, once McKellen’s Juliet, now cast as the ghost of Hamlet’s father and an Ophelia in the shape 20-something Alis Wyn Davies. Intriguing, non?
Stand-up comedy, The Old Court Windsor, 28 Aug
Looking for LOLs in one of Windsor’s coolest cultural hangouts? Of course you are. We have just the thing a night of stand up comedy at The Old Court in Windsor with regular Stuart Laws (BBC and Amazon Prime) and his gag guest Helen Bauer (The Stand Up Sketch Show, Celebability) – and there’s more to be announced!
Comedy Night, The Market House Reading, 18 Aug
An amazing stand-up comedy night, in a super-cool Reading venue. Featuring the best up and coming acts from the comedy circuit, grab your tickets (only £7 in advance, £9 on the door) pronto. It’s always a sell out so don’t hang about!
Circus Skills, Swan at Streatley, 25 Aug
Roll up roll up! If your kids are threatening to runaway to the circus, you might as well give them the skills to thrive (*joke). But a two hour circus skill workshop sounds fun. They’ll take flight on an aerial sling, master the art of the hula hoop and acrobatics. Suitable for all ages from 5 years+. From £30.
Pots In The Park, Victoria Park Newbury, 22 Aug
If you’re a dedicated follower of Channel 4’s Great Pottery Throw Down (it’s Bake Off for potters for the uninitiated). Well this is your chance to have a go, with the help of resident artist at The Base Cáit Gould (former GPTD star). Using air dry clay you will be able to take home your thrown pot at the end of a 30 minute session!
Planet Patrol Clean Up, Go With The Flo Wargrave, 18 Aug
Mess about on the river while clearing up the mess on the river. Join Go With The Flo’s Planet Patrol clean up on 18 Aug. Activities are completely free to join and no experience needed, just a dash of enthusiasm and a desire to make a difference while enjoying a great day out as well!
Medicine Festival, Wasing Park Aldermaston, 19 – 23 Aug
If the 18 months (or even just the kids summer holidays) have left you needing to reset, recharge and a dose of woo to see you through, then the Medicine Festival is for you. This wellbeing festival is a gathering to inspire authentic connection and regeneration for people and planet. Weekend tickets £180pp, Day tickets £80.
FOOD & DRINK
Festival of Food and Music, South Hill Park Bracknell, 29 – 30 Aug
Festival season is about to swing into action. Any excuse to squeeze into your Daisy Dukes and stagger around with a pear cider. South Hill Park is hosting a family-friendly Food and Music Festival and –it’s totally free to enter. No excuse not to go and sample the international street food, kids entertainment and chilled atmosphere in the beautiful grounds of South Hill Park.Sunshine’s been ordered, but I’d slap on the fake tan and grab your waterproofs just in case.
Blenheim Palace Food Festival, Woodstock, 20-22 Aug
A sizzling feast for all the senses: great food, great music, stunning location. Blenheim Palace Food Festival showcases the very best of produce from local and national stallholders, with something tempting for everyone. Festival entry is included with a Palace, Park and Gardens ticket.
Sparkle Bright Festival, Stonor Park Henley, 1 Aug – 2 Sep
If you’ve not visited Tumblestone Hollow at Stonor Park, head there this summer for its Sparkle Bright Festival. Throughout August, this magical adventure playground, designed for 4-12 year olds, brings to life its Legend of Tumblestone Hollow. The magical woodland characters have hung out the bunting for your little people this summer where they can to play in their flower-filled home and enjoy bubbles, storytelling and face paint style decorations. Plus there’s the brilliant Rumble Hut’s serving fresh pizza, coffee and gin. Tickets £7.50-£9.50; under 92cm go free.
Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday, Corn Exchange Newbury, 22 Aug
If you have little ones, you’ll be no stranger to CBeebies stars Sarah and Duck plus hangers on The Ribbon Sisters, The Shallots, Flamingo & John and Umbrella. The live show rolls into Newbury with a show full of puppetry, storytelling and music.
Wellington Country Park, Riseley
Sack the digital nanny and head outdoors to the biggest outdoor play in Berkshire. Wellington Country Park Is 350 glorious acres of fresh air and freedom. Keep your eye out for the Summer of Fun weekend (21-22 Aug) and Big Bouncy Castles (28-30 Aug). That’s all on top of the regular activities – the swashbuckling pirates ship, the HMS Duke of Wellington, adventure play area, splash zone, miniature railway, animal farm, mini golf and dinosaurs roaming (ok not roaming) the grounds. If that doesn’t tire them out, reading the list of activities should do it.
Just So, The Watermill, Bagnor, now – 4 Sep
As usual, there’s loads of treats on at The Watermill Theatre. This bijou theatre takes it outside during the summer – making the most of the gardens and the theatre’s stunning riverside location. Don’t miss the grand garden finale – a semi-staged concert performance of Just So (now – 4 Sep) – showcasing five of Rudyard Kipling’s stories.
The Three Musketeers, The Triangle Field Car Park Hungerford, 27-28 Aug
Culture in a car park, you say? We’re in. New Era Theatre will be performing an outdoor performance of The Three Musketeers – and if it rains the show will go on. So waterproof up laydee. It’s a fun, swashbuckling show with some fairly unconvincing French accents. Sounds right up our street. Tickets £10. All for one and one for all. Suitable for 12+.
Ladies Day feat Jess Glynne – Live after Racing, Royal Windsor Racecourse, 28 Aug
I don’t know much about the gee-gees, but partying in the paddock is something I can do. Get your glad rags on for a full day of racing then shuffle and sway to the stunning vocals of Jess Glynne – a Grammy-award-winning singer/songwriter taking to the stage on 28 Aug at Royal Windsor Racecourse this summer. Book you spot.
Reading Festival, Reading, 27-29 Aug
If there’s one thing that’ll clear a field full of teenagers, it’s their parents living it up like it’s 1996. Reading Festival has confirmed it will ahead on 27-29 Aug with Liam Gallagher is headlining alongside Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Post Malone and more. Expect more middle-aged, parka-wearing Brit Poppers than usual.
Fi-Fest, Maidenhead, 29 Aug
Fi Fest has announced it will go ahead on 29 Aug and tickets are available now, from £25pp. The headliners are from our musical youth with The Lightening Seeds, The South (part of The Beautiful South) and Toploader. It’s a glorious 90s throwback with a kids zone to keep the whole family entertained Channel Kate Moss festival fashion and out you go.
REW!ND Festival, Henley, 20-22 Aug
Henley’s REW!ND at Temple Island Meadows is steaming ahead for this August (20-22 Aug to be precise). The headliners are an 80s pop queen’s dream: Billy Ocean, Wet Wet Wet, Jimmy Somerville, Nik Kershaw, Soul II Soul … What are you waiting for? Dig out your polka dot scrunchy, pull on some day-glo bangles and get booking.
The Big Feastival, near Kingham, 27-29 Aug
Another posh nosh extravaganza, and an unbeatable excuse to eat yourself silly. Hosted on the farm of cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James, The Big Feastival promises top notch chefs, family fun and chart-topping artists: good food, and great music. The line-up this year includes DJ Sigala, Rag’n’Bone Man, Zara Larsson, and Tom Walker plus others. Adult day tickets from £82.
Dinton Pastures Country Park, Wokingham, 27 – 28 Aug
Bit of a festival vibe at this one, with music, street food and drink stands at Dinton Pastures Country Park, but the added bonus of a an outdoor cinema to entertain. Coming up on the movie reel: 10 Things I Hate About You and Mean Girls (both 27 Aug) and Grease (28 Aug).
Summer Screens, Abbey Ruins, Reading, 20-22 Aug
Once again the big screen is going up at the Abbey Ruins for a summer of cinematic greats. Book in to see In The Heights (20 Aug) from the team behind Hamilton; The Dark Knight starring Heath Ledger as the Joker (21 Aug) and An American Werewolf In London (22 Aug). A selection of cinema drinks and snacks will be available. Doors open at 7.30pm, film starts at 9pm.
Summer Screens, Shaw House Newbury, 26-27 Aug
Shaw House is a swoony Grade I listed manor house just outside Newbury that’ll be laying on not one but two musical movies this summer. So take your pick: The rabble-rousing Hollywood epic, Les Miserables (26 Aug) starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. Orrrrrr frothy feel-good high school romance, Grease (27 Aug). Definitely one for summer niiiiiiiiights. Doors open at 6.30pm, film starts 8.15pm.
Game Plan – Board Games Rediscovered, The Base Greenham Common, now – 5 Sep
Ah, remember when gaming required more than one player and came out of a box? Take a screen break and head to The Base’s new exhibition – Game Plan – Board Games Rediscovered – on load from London’s V&A. It’s not a look and don’t touch exhibition, there’s plenty on display that you can try out and a nice reminder how much fun (and competitive) getting friends and family round a game can be.
Prince Philip: A Celebration, Windsor Castle, Windsor
The Queen’s home from home, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Inside, A portrait of The Duke of Edinburgh by Ralph Heimans is the centrepiece of a new 120-piece exhibition at Windsor Castle celebrating his life. Prince Philip: A Celebration has been curated by the Royal Collection Trust and features items marking key moments during his official duties for the Queen. From the coronation robe and coronet he wore during the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and his personal desk to a giant grasshopper wine cooler, it’s a moving tribute to the UK’s longest serving consort. Adult tickets £23.50, child £13.50, under 5s go FREE.
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, hop over the Hants border and roam the grounds of Tudor powerhouse The Vyne. Or seek out Ashdown (above), the National Trust’s under the radar Dutch-style country near Lambourn.
OOPS! TOO LATE
Tea, Cake, Create – Macrame Plant Holders, MADEBy Tamalia at Creativ.Spaces Caversham, 14 Aug
It a killer creative combo: Tea! Cake! Art! Join the brilliant Tamalia at her cool studio Creativ.Spaces in Caversham for a quirky traditional afternoon tea while tying yourself in knots to create a beautiful macrame plant holder. to take home with you. £49pp, 3pm-5.30pm.
Learn to DJ with Lewis Norton, Hogan Music Newbury, 11-13 Aug
Hey Mr DJ put a record on… If you’re looking to Fabric to the shires, then this intensive three-day course, you teach you the necessary skills to perform your first DJ set. The course will cover the basics of DJing including how to set up you kit, beat matching and beat juggling and basic effects. The course fee (£299) comes with your own set of Pioneer DJ DDJ200 Controller, worth £139, to set you on your way as a DJ. Students will need their own laptop and have administrative right to be able to install software.
Crazy Golf & Cocktails, The Dolphin Newbury, 13-15 Aug
Tee off with a tipple. The Dolphin in Newbury challenges you to 18 holes of Crazy Golf and Cocktails in the car park (13-15 Aug). Just turn up, book in at the Clubhouse, grab a bite to eat and bevvy before competition time. From £10pp inc a cocktail, Kids £4 (before 6pm).
Henley Royal Regatta, 11-15 Aug
It’s a festival of sorts, and the best-known regatta in the world. Henley Regatta is back for five days of summer sporting frenzy and frightfully refined eating and drinking. Get yourself a fancy floppy hat, dig out the heels, and watch those boats go. Online ticket sale has now closed, but (insider tip!), if you hire out a boat, as long as you keep moving, you can watch the races from a prime spot on the river itself.
Polo Festival 2021, Royal Country of Berkshire Polo Club Warfield, 15 Aug
A horsey family festival set in the stunning grounds of ‘The Berkshire’. Not just a sport for royalty, rock stars and the Hollywood A list, this day out includes two action-packed polo matches, live music, Kids’ Zone, fully-stocked Polo Bar, food and of course that Pretty Woman moment of ‘Stomping the Divots’!
The Comedy of Errors and Midsummer Night’s Dream, South Hill Park, Bracknell, 14 – 16 Aug
South Hill Park Arts Centre is a hidden Berkshire gem – a grand design with stunning gardens and an amphitheatre for a summer season of outdoor theatre. The brilliantly bonkers Scoot Theatre Company is putting on afternoon and evening performances of The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To wrap things up (and play chicken with the weather) a group of young actors will take to the outdoor stage in Godspell (20-22 Aug). Don’t forget to pack a brolly, pac-a-mac and a blanket.
Gary in Punderland, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 6 Aug
One of the most sought after joke writers in the country and longstanding Mock the Week special guest, Gary Delaney has been through the laughing glass and he’s ready to bring you a new show with hit after hit of the kind of one-liners only a master could craft. Get ready to dive into a rabbit hole of the best jokes in the world – Gary is back! This event will be streamed online, if you can’t drag yourself off the sofa.
Jenny Eclair – Work in Progress, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 14 Aug
Having hit 60 (but still a year younger than Madonna), Jenny Eclair AKA ‘The Face of Vagisan’ confronts a new decade of decrepitude. What will her 60s hold for this 1960’s babe and is it a legal requirement to buy Nordic walking poles? Be the first to experience Jenny’s new material in this raw ‘work in progress’ show.
Yogabeats Rave, Lutmans Haven Knowl Hill, 14 Aug
A yoga rave? The mind boggles, but if anyone can pull it off it’s David Sye – singer and son of legendary 60s entertainer Frankie Vaughan and a cousin of Amy Winehouse. Over the years, Sye has used yoga to work with kids on drugs, kids in gangs and people living in war zones. Come rave and tap into your own natural high. Tickets £65.
Wild by Motionhouse, Shaw House Newbury, 8 Aug
Jeepers, if you’re nerves can handle it, Motionhouse will be bringing their daring dance-circus production WILD to Newbury this summer. Perched up high on metal poles – aka the urban jungle – the performers move through a forest of poles. Expect jaws to be dropped and eyes on stalks for this one.
KIDS The Bag That Went BOO!, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 12-13 Aug
Comedy, clowning around and puppetry. The Garlic Theatre Company will performThe Bag That Went BOO! at Norden Farm this summer. It’s a slightly bonkerS story about a little red bag that jumps out of a brown paper bag before heading off on a fantastical journey of paper bag proportions. What/ No clue, but if you have a child aged 3-8, they’ll love it.
The Jungle Book and Mr Stink, Shaw House, Newbury, 9 and 15 Aug
Immersion Theatre is a multi-award-winning company taking a few productions outside this summer – and they’re making a couple of stops at the historic Shaw House in Newbury. The Jungle Book on 9 Aug (tickets from £8) and David Walliams’ Mr Stink on 15 Aug. Book now.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Watermill On The Road, East Garston Village Hall, 10 – 11 Aug
The Watermill’s al fresco production of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles was such a massive success, it’s now going on tour. Catch this brilliant show at East Garston Village Hall 10-11 Aug.
Olly Murs Live at Party in the Paddock, Newbury Racecourse, 14 Aug
Olly Murs is making his way back to Berkshire – and our heart ‘s skipping a beat. Last at Newbury Racecourse in 2017, we’re hoping he’ll be wearing his tightest trews and given us a run down of all his greatest hits on 14 Aug. This is a double shot of joy that we all need this year.
Smoke & Fire Festival, West Berkshire Brewery Yattendon, 14 Aug
The team behind the UK’s largest BBQ festival are coming to West Berkshire Brewery on 14 August with a mini version of their award winning Smoke & Fire event. Expect slow-cooked smoky food, cooked from their converted Chevy, and live cooking demos from the pit master and beer. Tickets £35 inc lunch and a pint/ soft drink.
Summertime Live with Classic Ibiza, Royal Windsor Racecourse, 14 Aug
Picture the scene – a beautiful sunset, balmy 30 degrees and a cracking choon. Nope, not your typical night in San Antonio, it’s Windsor’s answer to the White Isle. The Urban Soul Orchestra conducted will be banging out the Ibiza anthems on 14 Aug, with live DJ and vocalists. Bare some flesh and party till dawn (*cough* I mean 10pm) Her Maj needs her beauty sleep.
Café Mambo Ibiza, Stonor Park Henley, 13 Aug
We’re loving Stonor Park’s reinvention this year, with so many new, exciting ventures. Here’s one that’s coming left field – Café Mambo Ibiza on 13 Aug brings together a star-studded line up of DJs to put on an evening of Ibiza classics and dance anthems in the beautiful South Oxfordshire countryside. Then catch ‘King of boogie woogie’ Jools Holland & his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at Stonor Park, 14 Aug.
Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, 6-8 Aug
The most revered of the Oxfordshire festivals, Wilderness returns this summer for a four-day boutique experience. There will be music (line-up TBC, but names have been big in the past), long-table banquets, woodland parties, theatre, film, dance, and a pop up spa (well, we are in Oxfordshire). It’s generally a heady mix of right-on hippiness (yoga, skinny-dipping, hot hubs) and top-tier music. Tickets are now sold out, but you can still book camping arrangements if you’re lucky enough to have got your hands on one.
Retro Festival, Newbury Showground, 13-15 Aug
There’s also the return of Retro Festival (13-15 Aug), a vintage fest held at Newbury Showground. It has everything from the Spitfire Cabaret, music from Ministry of Mod and northern soul band The Signatures, plus the wall of death, motorcycle stunt show, fun fair and much much more.
Need more ideas? Check out 10 free things to do in Berkshire this summer, and stuff to do locally for kids of all ages.