What’s on in Berks this December
What a festive feast we have for you this month, with local events for party people, shoppers, foodies, festive fun-seekers, music lovers and sports fans in Berks.
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE MONTH
Christmas At Windsor, Windsor Castle, now – 31 Jan
Something a little spesh at Windsor Castle. No, Meghan and Kate will not be scrapping on the steps of St George’s Chapel. The Queen’s home from home has been transformed for Christmas. See the State Apartments dressed with shimmering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and festive garlands. In the Waterloo Chamber, for the first time you’ll be able to the Queen and Princess Margaret’s panto costumes in the same spot they were originally performed 80 years ago.
Victorian Christmas Fayre, Newbury, Berks 3-5 Dec
Dig out your crinolines, hat, furry muff, Newbury’s going back in time to create a Christmas Card pretty vision of the festive season. OK so you don’t have to go in fancy dress unless that’s how you roll. But expect 100+ retailers, stall holders, pubs, restaurants and entertainers to be channeling A Christmas Carol. This is a traditional Christmas market with all jingle bells on. Choirs, vintage carousel, mulled wine and the chance to smash through your gift list.
Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest Ascot, now – 24 Dec
Good news, kids, Santa’s quit the North Pole, perpetual darkness and Northern Lights, to set up shop in the UK. Anyhoo, they’ve only gone and set up shop in Berkshire. Journey through snowy enchanted forests, to Santa’s chalet, where he and his elves need a little assistance in preparing for the 25th December. It’s a four-hour immersive experience so pack the Kendal Mint Cake.
Winter Wonderland, Hills Meadow Reading, 13 Nov – 3 Jan 2022
It’s back! After a mini break, Reading’s Winter Wonderland will be popping up in Hills Meadow Car Park. Expect more festive fun than a Mariah Carey video. There’s an ice rink, fun fair, Aprés bar, Santa’s grotto, German sausage and lots and lots of mulled wine. It’s free to enter, but you can buy tickets now for Santa’s Grotto, Ice Skating and an unlimited ride pass.
Windsor On Ice, Alexandra Gardens Windsor, 20 Nov – 2 Jan
Windsor On Ice is back for the winter and whether you’re Olympic standard or a ‘cling on’ like me, they’re great for a family day out, or a fun slippy-slidey Christmas party. This year they’ll be putting up the big screen for super-cool pop up cinema, plus fun fair, food and bar. Sessions are for 45 mins. See you in A&E, I mean on the ice.
Legoland at Christmas, Legoland Windsor, from 27 Nov
Legoland is all twinkly lights and snow-dusted Christmas magic. Entry price for the Christmas season includes a visit to LEGO Santa in his magic grotto for kids who’ll receive a LEGO gift to take home. There are Lego Make and Take activities a DUPLO puppet pantomime and Santa flying through the resort on his sleigh. Think of your children’s faces lighting up and the enormous gin you’ll need the you get home.
Festival of Light, Newbury, 12 Dec
Ooh pretty lights. The annual lantern procession is fast becoming a community Crimbo tradition and the lanterns get more and more elaborate every year. It’s amazing what you can do with willow and paper when you know what your doing. Good job I’m not involved in the making. Wrap up warm, head to Northbrook Street for the Festival of Light and join the fun at 5pm. The last lantern making workshop at 101 Arts Creation Space in Greenham will take place on 5 Dec.
Wine Quiz Evening, Stanlake Park Wine Estate Twyford, 9 Dec
A general knowledge quiz with wine. How messy could this get? The stunning Stanlake Park Wine Estate will be putting your brain cells to the test. Grab your brainiac pals so they can do the heavy lifting while you tuck into the mulled wine. Pick up our Christmas wine while you are there. Another thing off the to-do list.
PANTOS & CHRISTMAS SHOWS
Beauty & The Beast, The Hexagon Theatre Reading, 4 Dec – 3 Jan
CBeebies demigod, Justin Fletcher and award-winning Dame, Paul Morse return to the Reading stage as Billy and Nanny Pastry in the Covid postponed Beauty And The Beast. Join Lumière and his pottery pals for a spin round the Beast’s ballroom and enjoy the sizzling on stage chemistry between Justin and Paul. Oh no you won’t! Oh yes you… (sorry, I’ll stop).
The Snow Queen, Rabble Theatre Reading, 3 – 24 Dec
For a show that’s light on cheese, book The Snow Queen – a new play, written by Anna Wheatley based on the original Hans Christian Andersen story. Set in mid-winter, two besties’ worlds are torn apart when one of them mysteriously disappears and the other is forced to set out on a treacherous journey across Scandinavia to find him. The Rabble Theatre has a fab reputation, so worth booking in.
Kipper’s Snowy Day, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 30 Nov – 30 Dec
Looking for a Christmas show that dials down the crazy? Norden Farm always put on an atmospheric, bookish production with puppets. This year, Kipper’s Snowy Day will be brought to life – a classic children’s tale nails the Christmas Eve excitement. It’s perfect for littles and SEND children.
Cinderella, Corn Exchange Newbury, now – 2 Jan
Can’t stand Z-list pantos? The Corn Exchange continues its policy of not bothering with the soap star brigade, with its in-house panto. Watch Cinderella outwit the wicked Step Mother and her Ugly Sisters to find her Prince Charming and generally have a rip-roaring time.
Cinderella, South Hill Park Bracknell, now – 3 Jan 2022
You shall go to the ball… or failing that the panto. There’s a reason why families return year after year to South Hill Park in Bracknell. Expect all the cheesy one liners, toe tapping songs and a jaw-dropping set.
Jack And The Beanstalk, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 14 Jan
Filed under ‘classic cheesefest’, this year the Theatre Royal’s panto is Jack And The Beanstalk. Windsor’s favourite comedy duo, Kevin Cruise and Steven Blakeley have been dusting off the panto patter and old pros Anita Harris and Basil Brush add a dash of nostalgia. It’s a great panto in a beautiful theatre. Booooom booooooom!
The Jungle Book, Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – 31 Dec
Be the king of the swingers (not like that, this is a family show), a jungle VIP at The Watermill’s bookish Christmas production of The Jungle Book. This is a wild and captivating musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale full of warmth, laughter and wonder.
Twilight Trail Biscuit Town, Abbey Quarter Reading, 4 – 31 Dec
Is it even Christmas without the flicker of candlelight or a megawatt display to ooh and ahh? Reading’s Twilight Trail is back – a magical festive wander through a sea of sparkles and illuminations in the iconic Abbey Quarter. This year the trail features a light installation that celebrates Reading’s biscuit-making past, interactive elements and the Abbey Ruins come alive with sound and light. It’s basically Reading’s answer to Studio 54 – there’s even a bar. Tickets (adults £8, kids £6) must be booked in advance. Under 2s are free.
Windsor Great Park Illuminated, Windsor, Berks, now – 9 Jan
Christmas is coming and Windsor Great Park’s inaugural illuminated trail is the one to book. The trail, produced by guys behind Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, will feature a field of lights that will extend more than 1,400 sqm, fountains of projected flowers and holograms of woodland creatures. Prepare to be dazzled. Open from 4.30pm-10pm. Tickets: Adults £21.45, Child, £13.20 and Family £74.80.
The Illuminated Garden at West Green House, near Hartley Wintney, Hook, now – 30 Dec
Gigantic shimmering flowers, glowing fairies and a forest of illuminated red tulips – the famous Opera Garden at West Green House in North Hampshire undergoes it’s stunning annual winter transformation from late November. Look out for lit water lilies floating on lakes, bridges turned into tunnels of lights and classical follies twinkling in the darkness. Beautiful.
Christmas at Highclere, Highclere Castle Newbury, 7-9 and 20-21 Dec
At the beginning of December you can spend Christmas at Downton, I mean Highclere. Frock up, we’re off to impress Lord and Lady Carnavon for a festive snoop and gift shopping. As we all start to down tools for the holidays, you can head back to Highclere for a special performance of A Christmas Carol (20-21 Dec). Drink Champagne in the Library, before the performance by Gerald Dickens, Great-Great Grandson of Charles Dickens.
Lights & Liminality, Basildon Park Pangbourne, now – 5 Jan
Basildon Park is blinged out for festive fun. This year, the house has a nature theme inside and out with lots of sensory surprises. The Dining Room has been transformed into an indoor terrarium, walks are lit by fairy lights and the smell of dried oranges and cinnamon will fill the house. So crack open the Black Tower, pass the nuts, and introduce your kids to life before Netflix. Basildon Park is also running after dark candlelit tours on the 3 and 10 Dec.
Percy the Park Keeper Winter Wander Trail, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – 23 Dec
A fun Christmas trail around the grounds where kids need to help Percy The Park Keeper. You’ll have the help of Percy’s animal friends who will accompany you around the Cliveden estate, noticing what’s around in winter and how to look after animals and habitats. Follow clues and a note from Percy to find lost items and get the tasks done.
STAGE & SCREEN
Encore – Anything Goes, Corn Exchange Newbury, 2 Dec
Filmed live at the Barbican in London, this major new 5-star production of the classic musical comedy features an all-star cast led by renowned Broadway royalty Sutton Foster reprising her Tony Award-winning performance as Reno Sweeney, alongside three-time Olivier Award and Tony Award winner Robert Lindsay (My Family), Evening Standard Theatre Award winner Felicity Kendal (The Good Life) and beloved West End Legend Gary Wilmot (Chicago).
The Thinking Drinkers Pub Quiz, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 4 Dec
The Thinking Drinkers return with a brand-new show, where these award-winning drinks experts host history’s greatest ever pub quiz packed with loads of funny, fascinating facts and five free discerning drinks for every audience member. Cheers. You’ll learn a lot, laugh a lot and, don’t forget, you get five free drinks.
ROH Live: The Nutcracker, South Hill Park Bracknell and Corn Exchange Newbury, 9 Dec
There’s nothing like a sea of tutus, twinkly lights, sugar plum fairies to lift the spirits… it can only be the Nutcracker – an 18th century prequel to Toy Story. The Royal Ballet’s staging of this classic ballet is jaw-dropping. Peter Wright’s reworked production is available to watch live without leaving the county. Pass the popcorn, it’s a cracker.
Elf at the Brewery, West Berkshire Brewery Taproom Yattendon, 13 & 20 Dec
My favourite Christmas movie ever and its being shown at Mr Muddy’s favourite place ever! Its film night at the West Berkshire Brewery Taproom and there will be beer, pizza, burgers and popcorn on tap. It’s basically my perfect night out or in. If Elf, starring Will Ferrell who’s trying to put the ho ho ho into the holidays, doesn’t get you and the family into the festive spirit The Grinch is being shown on 20 Dec.
Drive in Cinema, Windsor Racecourse, December
Fancy a festive film night? Well pull up to the bumper, baby, for Berkshire’s brilliant drive in cinema. All the Christmas family faves are on the movie reel: Gremlins, The Holiday, Home Alone, Elf, .Polar Express, Love Actually and more. Yes it’s a cheesefest, but if you can’t load up sentimental schmaltz at Christmas when can you? There’s food, drink, snacks and you don’t even have to get out of the car.
CAROLS CONCERTS & MUSIC
Christmas Carol Concert, Reading Minster, 11 Dec
Get yourself in the Christmas spirit without having to wait for King’s College Cambridge on Christmas Eve! There will be familiar carols and some others that may be less so, sung by Reading Pheonix Choir – and anyone who wants to join in.
Martin Kemp’s Back To The 80s Party, Sub89 Reading, 21 Dec
Martin Kemp is 24kt GOLD, so don’t miss his floor-filling DJ set. Setting a course for the untouchable Eighties, where discos were dominated by pop’s finest pedigree, from Duran Duran to Chaka Khan, George Michael to Michael Jackson, Spandau Ballet and beyond; Martin Kemp’s Back To The 80s will take you on a whistlestop tour through all of the era’s most electrifying pop moments… and back again. Heaven.
Guilty Pleasures, Market Yard Printhouse Reading, 10 Dec
Pop kids, throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care and let those anthems course through your veins. Guilty Pleasures is the UK’s best pop night, a club where the spirit of Umbrella-era Rihanna downs shots with Whitney Houston, while Dua Lipa doesn’t stop moving to the funky funky beat with S Club 7 and Lady GaGa loses it over the fact that Backstreet’s back, all right? I’m not sure a night out gets more fun than this.
Christmas with the Queen’s Six, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 23 Dec
You can’t beat a good carol concert (unless Ma Muddy is belting out Silent Night, she can’t sing a note, bless her), but when you have the The Queen’s Six (half of the Lay Clerks of St George’s Chapel) carolling all the Xmas feels are guaranteed.
NYE Tunes, The Old Court Windsor, 31 Dec
Hear The Drummer Get Wicked! NYE does not get better than this. Chad Jackson– former resident DJ at Manchester’s Hacienda Club, World DJ Mixing Champion, dance pioneer and music icon – will be raising the roof at The Old Court Windsor to say tata 2021 and let’s be ‘avin you 2022.
Family Race Day, Newbury Racecourse, 29 Dec
That tricky period between Christmas and New Year when you’re sick of the sight of cheese and Quality Street. Pull yourself out of that TV coma, stat. Book tickets to Newbury Racecourse’s family race day – the MansionBet Challow Hurdle Day to give it it’s proper name – on 29 Dec. Fresh air, fun and rumour has it there are some special guests ready to meet your little ones. Tickets from £20. Under 18s FREE.
Christmas Racing Weekend, Ascot Racecourse, 17-18 Dec
Giddee up to Ascot for the last race of 2021. Kick off Christmas with winter cocktails, mulled wine, brass bands, free mince pies and two days of dramatic Jumps racing. Just don’t blow your last minute xmas shopping budget on the horses. Come the 25th, your celebrations could be a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol.
Victorian Extravaganza, Hungerford town centre, 10 Dec
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose… Ahhh, life before Netflix, online shopping and Alexa belting out the carols. Step back in time at Hungerford’s annual Victorian Extravaganza with Helter Skelter, Big Wheel, stalls, side shows, fireworks, jugglers, stilt walkers and mulled wine.