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CHRISTMAS: Santa Landing, Stubbings Nursery Maidenhead, Sat 1 Dec

helicopter wrapped in red wrapping paper and gold ribbon

Santa’s reindeer have officially retired and are planning on spending the Christmas break in Barbados propping up the bar with Simon Cowell and Rhianna. Panic not, thanks to a generous part exchange on the sleigh, the big man’s upgraded to a helicopter. On Saturday 1 December, he’ll be doing a trial run in his new chopper to Stubbings Nursery in Maidenhead – and you can be there to assess his flying skills. He’ll be joined by his favourite gal pals Elsa and Belle for a day of festive fun. Book up, it’s a guaranteed sell out.


THEATRE: The Fir  Tree, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 20 Nov – 30 Dec

Moon The Fir Trees live show puppets wearing red and white trousers and blue and white scarf

If you have young children the Norden Farm Christmas Show will give you all the warm and fuzzy feels of the festive season. This year, the Moomin Family will be heading to Maidenhead to tell the tale of The Fir Tree – an innocent take on Christmas featuring live puppetry and music – set in peaceful Moominvalley. Suitable for 3+. Keep yours eyes peeled for the review


ACTIVITY: Candle Making Workshop, Swan at Streatley, Tue 27 Nov

Literati and Light candles white glass jars on wooden shelf

We love a scented candle at Muddy but it’s become something of an addiction – a pricey one at that. SoI’m loving the sound of this brilliant candle-making workshop at The Swan at Streatley. Run by Justine the creative genius behind Newbury-based Literati and Light – all her luxury scented candles are inspired by books –you’ll learn to make a 240g soy and beeswax candle, choose your one of two scents and enjoy a reading from the books that inspired them. Book up, £35 per head.


TALK: Festive Floral Roadshow, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Thu 29 Nov

Floral designer Mig Kimpton wholding floral snow ball

A floral roadshow? Scratches head. But yes, the theatre of floral design is coming to a stage near you. Multi award-winning Mig Kimpton combines his theatrical past (he’s worked with Elton John, Ian McKellan, Kevin Spacey, to name drop a few) with his floral know-how (10 shiny Chelsea Flower Show gold medals). The live show will see Mig create from scratch some amazing festive designs for the home using fresh flowers and unusual materials.


CHRISTMAS: Dick Whittington & His Cat, South Hill Park Bracknell, Fri 30 Nov – Sun 6 Jan 2019

South Hill Park Dick Whittington and his Cat Bracknell

Like an X Factor finalist, Dick Whittington is everywhere this season seeking fame and fortune. Dick and his Cat will be taking to the gold plated streets of Bracknell battling with Simon Cowell, sorry King Rat, getting flirty with the groupies and belting a few toe-tapping tunes along the way. Always brilliantly staged, you’ll love the panto bants.


THEATRE: Dick Whittington, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – Sun 6 Jan 2019

Windsor panto Dick Whittington starring Mike Reid, Anita Harris, Marti Webb, Basil Brush

The fur’s gonna a fly with a cat and a fox in the house. It’s a flashback to the 80s with Basil Brush, DJ Mike Reid, martini Webb and Anita Harris standing in for Anne – The Governess while she down’s blended fish eyes and snacks on wiggly grubs. She’ll take up her role as Queen Rat from Tue 18 Dec.


SHOPPING: Christmas Market, Yattendon Estate Tree Barn, Sat 1 – Sun 2 Dec

Woman in blue hat hold baby christmas tree giant silver baubles

It’s real or no deal at Muddy Berks HQ: lush fresh pine smell, wearing all its accessories and looking as dehydrated as the rest of us by 25 December. You’ll find me at Yattendon Christmas Tree barn this weekend trying to control my excited kids in search of the perfect spruce. Father Christmas will taking your wish list, local businesses will be selling gifts, there are tree decs for sale, mulled wine and hot cider, hog roast and choirs getting us in mood for Crimbo. The Market will run over three weekends 1&2; 8&9 and 15&16 Dec, but you can pop in and buy your tree any time.


EVENT: Christmas Parade, The Oracle Riverside Reading, Sat 1 Dec (and every Saturday throughout December)

Garlands of Christmas lights sparkle in the night

Christmas klaxon! Saturday night in Reading’s gonna shine brighter than the Strictly Come Dancing glitter ball and Simon Cowell’s teeth combined. It’s the first ever Crimbo LED parade – and it’s going to huuuuge. A swarm of  LED stilt walking drummers and puppeteers will create  an extravaganza of melting ice, snowflakes and an Ice King that will make even the biggest Christmas Grinch feel immersed in the display.


THEATRE: James Phelan: Trickster, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sat 1 Dec

If you love magic and pranks then you’re going wet your knickers when you hear James Phelan is performing in Windsor. He’s the nephew of the late Paul Daniels, has become an internet sensation and gained 200,000 social media followers in the last 12 months. His unique magical prank show is both jaw-dropping and laugh out loud funny. Oh and Simon Cowell’s been raving about him. Do you need any more reasons to go?.


WALKS: Mother Christmas Festive Trail. Cliveden National Trust Taplow, Sat 1 – Sun 23 Dec 

A charming Christmas trail round the grounds where kids need to help Mother Christmas with all sorts of tasks and challenges to make sure Father Christmas sets off on time on Christmas Eve. Open Sat and Sun 1, 2, 8, 9, and 16 Dec plus 20-24 Dec.


ACTIVITY: The Carnival of Animals – Lantern Making Workshop, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sat 1 – Sun 2 Dec

The Maidenhead lantern parade is a firm fave and a wonderful Christmas tradition. But don’t just admire the twinkly lovliness from afar, get involved. For the 10th year, Norden Farm will run its brilliant lantern making workshops so you can take part in the parade on Sat 8 Dec. Weave and mould willow ready for decoration – inspired by the animal world. It’s a jungle out there, get creative and light em up.


Lantern Making For The Brave, 101 Arts Creation Space Greenham Business Park Newbury, Sat 1 Dec

Oooh, sparkly lights! The annual Newbury lantern parade is a really special event. Rather than ooh and ahh on the sidelines, why not make a lantern and take part in the procession on Sun 16 Dec. Work with pros to create a traditional pyramid Lantern out of willow and paper, to carry in our Festival of Light! It takes between 1- 2 hours to make, then join the fun and light up!


TOUR: Christmas at Stonor, Stonor Park Henley, now – Sun 9 Dec

The historic house at Stonor Park has been decorated with the theme Star of Wonder for the festive season. Each room has been individually designed and transformed with lights and decorations in keeping with the family antiques and portraits, and holly, larch and mistletoe have been used from the park. New for this year, you can book a candlelit tour of the house where you can see many of the rooms by twinkling lights and candlelight. Drinks and dinner are also on offer in the Pantry in the Medieval Hall.


CHRISTMAS: The Princess and The Pantomime, Windsor Castle, Sat, 1 Dec

Something a little spesh at Windsor Castle, no less. The Queen and Princess Margaret famously staged their own pantos (possibly the poshest costumes ever) and now you can enjoy a theatrical retelling of Christmases past at Windsor Castle. including a pop-up panto in the Waterloo Chamber, exactly where The Queen performed wartime shows when a princess.


THEATRE: Guys & Dolls, Mill at Sonning, now – Sat 23 Feb 2019

Guys and Dolls Mill at Sonning woman in yellow dress held in the air.

Get your glad rags on because The Mill at Sonning are bringing New York to Berks with Guys & Dolls. Director Joseph Pitcher and Conductor Charles Ingles, who put on last year’s My Fair Lady, are back along with the promise of post-show piano tunes on Friday and Saturday evenings and cocktails from the Waterwheel Bar – music to my ears. First person to spy George wins Christmas at the Clooneys (joke, obvs). Ticket price also includes lunch/dinner.

Joyeaux Noel, Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Fri 1 Dec – Sat 6 Jan

Basildon Park is blinged out for festive fun. The family usually spent Crimbo in France, where they would party with Grace Kelly. Does it get more fabulous than that? Every 10th year they celebrated at Basildon Park. To mark the 40th anniversary of its donation to the National Trust, the house is being decorated to show Crimbo through the centuries. Crack open the Black Tower and pass the nuts, and introduce your kids to life before Netflix.


EXHIBITION: A Royal Wedding: Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Windsor Castle, now – 26 Jan 2019

Better late than never, but we’ve all been invited to Windsor Castle to get up close and personal with newlyweds Harry and Meghan. OK, so they won’t actually be there but a new exhibition will display Meghan’s Givenchy bridal gown designed by Artistic Director Clare Waight Keller is, her 5m veil embroidered with flora symbolising the 53 Commonwealth countries and the 1932 Queen Mary diamond and platinum tiara loaned to the Duchess by the Queen. It’s not all about the bride (even though we known it is really), Harry’s Blues and Royals frock designed by Dege & Skinner on Savile Row will also be standing to attention.


THEATRE: Jack & The Beanstalk, Corn Exchange Newbury, Fri 30 Nov – Sun 6 Jan 2019

Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, we smell lots of panto fun! Expect adventure, mayhem and and the return of the utterly brilliant Matthew Grace – aka Billy Bumpkin. He missed his train to Newbury last year, bless him, and spent the season riding the Circle Line. But he’s back and we couldn’t be more excited.


CHRISTMAS: Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest Ascot, now – Mon 24 Dec 

Lapland UK Elf in enchanted wood

Good news, kids, Santa’s quit the North Pole, perpetual darkness and Northern Lights, to set up shop in the UK. The big man heard post-Brexit Britain will be a tax haven. 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 25thDecember. It’s a four-hour immersive experience so pack the tramadol and Kendal Mint Cake.

Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest, Swinley Road, Ascot SL5 8BD


ACTIVITY: Windsor On Ice, Alexandra Gardens Windsor, now – Sun 6 Jan 2019

Woman wearing black leggings and white leather skates glide across the ice rink

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. There are two rinks here. The main one is under cover and there’s a smaller open-air rink. There’s also food and other attractions including an ice bar and grill. Sessions are for 45 mins. See you in A&E, I mean on the ice.



MUSIC: All Saints, O2 Academy, Oxford, Fri 30 Nov

Don’t they look like they mean business in their grey suits? Back with a vengeance, All Saints’ fifth album Testament has had fans and critics in raptures. The girls are embarking on a winter tour to feature the album plus all their hits and you can catch them in Oxford for one night only.


CHRISTMAS: Christmas Carnival, Waddesdon Manor, now until Wed 2 Jan

Using the amazing artworks in the Waddesdon collection for inspiration, the house and grounds are a feast for the senses this Christmas. The house is decorated beautifully, inspired by the Venetian carnival and 18th century fancy dress, and the manor is hosting its biggest Christmas fair ever with food and gifts on offer from charming wooden chalets (Sat 10 Nov – Sun 16 Dec). There’s also a light show by the Guildhall School, this year projected onto the stables, and featuring Waddesdon’s objects, gardens and architecture until Wed 2 Jan. Muddy went to the opening night – read our review here.


CHRISTMAS: Illuminated Christmas Lights Trail, Blenheim Palace, now until Sat 6 Jan

Blenheim’s Christmas light shows are pretty spectacular and this year’s trail has even more lasers, projections and thousands of pea-lights. There’s a new Field of Light, the scented Fire Garden, a Canopy of Light and Singing Trees. Santa and his elves will also be popping up along the way too. The house opens up this Sat decorated with the theme of Cinderella and the Christmas Market begins in the Great Court with rustic wooden chalets selling all sorts of festive gifts.


OPEN HOUSE: Mortimer House, Fitzrovia, London, Thurs 29 Nov – Sun 2 Dec

This cool and diverse 6 floored Art Deco venue is opening its doors to members and non-members to celebrate its first anniversary with a whole host of activities. A new type of members club, Mortimer House offers a place for people to create, work or relax and find that all elusive life/work balance. There are meeting rooms, event spaces, a living room, terrace, studio and gym so you can be in a meeting one minute, joining a yoga class the next and then moving onto a screening, workshop or cookery lesson. Activities this weekend include a Jingle Bell Rock workout, a flower crown workshop, ravioli cooking class, Vinyasa yoga class, film screening and games to entertain the kids. Check it out whilst you can.


ART: Tate Late, Tate Modern, London, Fri 30 Nov

Tate Modern stays open late tonight so you can enjoy the galleries for longer with music, workshops, screenings and talks laid on. You can join Sabrina Mahfouz at 7pm for her reading of How You Might Know Me, telling the stories of four women’s lives working in the UK sex industry. A Q&A and book signing follows.


CHRISTMAS: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, now until Sun 6 Jan

hyde park winter wonderland illuminated heater skelter and fairground ride London

Go big or go home when it comes to festive fun, London’s Winter Wonderland is huuuuge. Free to enter but once inside, prepare to sell a kidney. The costs can get out of control – particularly if you hit the glühwein a little too hard. What to expect? Winter markets, fairground rides and ice skating. Major attractions this year include the Magical Ice Kingdom Secret Forest, an immersive showcase of woodland animals and mythical creatures created from ice and snow; a Bavarian village offering an authentic Oktoberfest experience; karaoke cabins, ice sculpting workshops, the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club, immersive screenings of The Snowmanand plus Peter Pan on Ice.


CHRISTMAS: Kew Gardens, London, now until 5 Jan

Photo: RBG Kew

A spectacular winter trail with over a million twinkling lights and thousands of laser beams, Kew’s light show is awe-inspiring. You can be mesmerised by the Fire Garden, walk through the moonlit woods and check out the laser garden. Mulled wine, hot choc and spiced cider will help keep you warm and the kids can whizz round on vintage fairground rides whilst looking out for Santa and his elves.



THEATRE: Madagascar The Musical, Hexagon Reading, Jan 2019

Madagascar The Musical Reading Hexagon 2018 Matt Terry as Lion

You got to move it, move it… because X Factor 2016 winner Matt Terry takes on the role of Alex the Lion in the awesome Dreamworks musical adaptation of Madagascar, and it’s a guaranteed sell out. The animals are escaping the zoo and heading to the Hexagon Reading, follow the trail of destruction and book now. Tickets from £25.50 

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