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This week

MON 5 – SUN 11 NOV


FESTIVAL: Berkshire Christmas Festival, Newbury Showground, Sat 10 – Sun 11 Nov

It’s Christmaaaaaas…OK, not quite, but if the Berkshire Christmas Festival doesn’t get you in the spirit, I’m not sure what will.  There’s a circus, Santa, panto, Great British Bake Off 2017 star Julia Chernagorova, a Victorian Market featuring local food and drink producers and artisans, choirs, bell ringers and more more more. There’s even a Dog Show Christmas Pawty. It’s a one-stop festival of festive fun. Who needs the John Lewis Christmas ad, when you’ve got this. Tickets: £8; concessions £6, kids £4, Under 5s FREE.


EVENT: Chiveley Fireworks, Chievely Recreation Ground, Mon 5 Nov

Strap yourself to a Catherine Wheel, it’s your final call for Fireworks events. Mon 5 Nov: Chieveley Fireworks, Chieveley Recreation Ground – celebrating 50 years of lighting up the Berkshire sky, it’s guaranteed to be a goody. Plus Sat 10 Nov: Newbury’s biggie – the Lions Fireworks Spectacular at Newbury Racecourse will be going off like a rocket on Saturday night.


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

Meghan Merkle wedding dress andPrince Harry's military uniform on display in Windsor Castle

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.


ACTIVITY: Festive Floral Roadshow with Mig Kimpton, Corn Exchange Newbury, Tue 6 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.


ART: Stanley Spencer: Friends and Family, Stanley Spencer Gallery Cookham, Thu 8 Nov – Mar  2019

First self portrait of british artist Stanley Spencer and one of the last

Youth and experience” Self portraits of Berkshire-born Stanley Spencer

Not a loyalty scheme, but the latest exhibition at the brilliant Stanley Spencer Gallery on Cookham High Street. Although more famous for his local landscapes, his portraits are world class – in fact one on his first self portraits hangs in the Tate Britain. This new exhibition is an intimate snapshot of the artist’s private life, demonstrating his immense talent at capturing the mood and character of those closest to him.


SHOPPING: Donna Ida Denim Clinic, Jax Jeans Hungerford, Thu 8 Nov

Denim designer Donna Ida white blouse blue jeans in front of shop

Shopping for jeans can be as painful as root canal treatment. Not any more, denim queen Donna Ida will be running a VIP clinic at Jax Jeans in Hungerford, to help you into the perfect shape, size and fit. You’ll have a one to one personal consultation with Donna herself (possibly the loveliest, most glamorous woman on the planet) all helped along with a glass of bubbly. Plus owner and pro stylist Jax will be on hand to pull your whole look together. It’s fun event – 10am-5pm.


DANCE: 10, Corn Exchange Newbury,  Thu 8 Nov

Blurry image of two dance in a lift against a mental background – company Chameleon 10

Something a bit different… contemporary dance. If Strictly’s got you in the mood to see more, don’t miss the opportunity to the see the Company Chameleon’s inspiring new triple bill, 10. It’s athletic, emotive and the muscles will one rippling on stage. Dance critics have raved about it, so plie this way and book up.


Patterns Photographic Exhibition, Green Park Reading, Thu 8 – Mon 12 Nov 

Image: Tony Sellen

Gawd, I wish I could take a good pic. I guess that’s the difference between an iPhone snap and an expensive camera used by someone who knows what they are doing. Anyhoo, see how the pros do it at the Photographic Angle’s FREE exhibition called Patterns. The photographers have captured hidden geometry that surrounds us, including this image by Tony Sellen called Lines.


THEATRE: Birdsong, Progress Theatre Reading, Thu 8 – Sat 17 Nov

Birdsong Progress Theatre WW1 soldiers in trenches

A mesmerising story of love and courage, this stage version of Sebastian Faulks’s novel about the Great War is one of the first amateur productions to be given the nod since the original production hung up their uniforms. Adapted by Rachel Wagstaff, the show coincides with the centenary of Armistice in 1918 and Remembrance Sunday. In fact there’s a special performance at 4pm on 11 November 2018. Email for details. Don’t forget your tissues.


TALK: An Evening With Michael Parkinson, Cliveden House Hotel Taplow, Fri 9 Nov

black and white image of legendary broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson suit and tie laughing with hand to mouth

If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would choose? Parky would definitely be at mine (whether he liked it or not). The man is a legend with more showbiz miles on the clock than the Rolling Stones tour bus. He’s interviewed over 2000 of the most important cultural figures of our time and won awards for journalism, radio and broadcasting. So Cliveden’s evening with Sir Michael is a bit spesh. Quaff Champers. scoff canapés, listen to Sir Michael talk, followed by a delicious 3-course dinner in the Andre Garrett Restaurant. Tickets £150pp.


TALK: Ayesha Hazarika – Girl on Girl: The Fight for Feminism, South Street Arts Reading, Fri 9 Nov

Political pundit Ayesha Hazarika brown hair pink top navy background

Photo: Steve Ullathorne

‘Phew! After Weinstein and #MeToo, women of the world have finally united… Who cares about smashing the patriarchy when you can go full-on Prisoner: Cell-Block H? So, what happened to feminism? Is it too posh? Too white? When did Germaine Greer become Richard Littlejohn? Whose feminism is it anyway?’ Political pundit Ayesha Hazarika tackles the F word.


ARTS: Contemporary Arts Fair, Windsor Racecourse, Fri 9 – Sun 11 Nov

Pure Evil print of Queen blue with red paint pouring out of one eye

Image: Pure Evil

If you’ve got blank walls and you’re looking for something cool, get yourself down to Windsor Racecourse for the 14th Contemporary Arts Fair for artwork that’s accessible and affordable. London’s Reem Gallery – an urban art gem – will be exhibiting for the first time this year showcasing the brilliant work of emerging artists alongside global household names.


DANCE: Beauty And The Beast, South Hill Park Bracknell, Sun 11 Nov

Ballet Theatre UK Beauty and the beast three dancers in last holding candelabras

If you’ve seen The Nutcracker a gazillion times (guilty as charged m’lud), why not try Beauty and The Beast. A stunning gothic production by Ballet Theatre UK is coming to South Hill Park in Bracknell. I think we all know the story by now, but I’m got Christmas party inspo right here and I’ll always be perfectly lit by carrying my own candelabra.


WALKS: Illuminated Woodland Walk, Basildon Park, now – 31 Jan 2019

illuminated woods Basildon park Berkshire

Image: Tony Sellen

Wrap up, wellies on and trudge through the woods to see the trees in all their glory – preferably before the  leaves get blown off. Now that we are spending most of our time in darkness, we might as well get something out of it. In this case, an enchanting woodland walk, twinkly lights and all the Winter wonderland magic that goes with it. No need to book.


ART: Approaching Thunder, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, now – 13 Jan

With Remembrance Sunday approaching, now’s a good time to visit the River & Rowing Museum to see their exhibition of 1940s prints and drawings by leading 20th Century British artists. With materials strictly rationed and a stagnant art market, artists including Edward Bawden, John Piper and Vanessa Bell turned to paper to record their experiences of life in wartime Britain.


FILM: The Grinch, UK cinema release, Fri 9 Nov

Christmas is coming – so are the family films… so grab the kids and a jumbo bucket of popcorn. Dodgy green face paint is no more as Dr Seuss’ The Grinch gets a remake, released on Nov 9, in 3D computer animation. The trailer, where we get a first glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch in the starring role, already has over 3million views on YouTube, no doubt a million from my kids – they’re desperate to see it.



SHOPPING: British Fashion Council Pop-up, Bicester Village, Thurs 1 – Sun 11 Nov

Calling all fashionistas! Hot foot it down to Bicester Village this week and you can discover a unique edit of some of the UK’s top emerging names and more established brands, as curated by The British Fashion Council (these guys organise London Fashion Week and promote British fashion around the world so they know what they’re doing). Big names in the pop-up boutique include Christopher Kane, Emilia Wickstead, Teatum Jones and Sharon Wauchob. Sharpened elbows at the ready as you attack those rails, Ladies.


THEATRE: Horrible Histories, Wycombe Swan, Tues 6 – Sat 10 Nov

Family favourite Horrible Histories is back on tour with shows Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians, bringing us mummy-making, tomb excavations and an Armada sailing into the audience. We grabbed a quick cuppa with co-director Neal Foster about what grisly goings-on we can expect. Read all about it here.


FILM: 2001: A  Space Odyssey, Science Museum, London, Thurs 1 Nov – Sat 24 Nov

To celebrate 50 years of the 1968 epic, you can head to the Science Museum’s IMAX cinema to watch Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece exploring our prehistoric past and the rise of man versus machine. Oscar winning director Christopher Nolan has created a new print from the original which will look stunning on the giant IMAX screen. Then follow the museum’s Kubrick trail to discover the rich collection of objects from the history of space travel.


CULTURE: Month of Sundays Festival, Royal Opera House, London, now – Sun 25 Nov

The Royal Opera House is opening itself up for a month of interactive fun. They’ll be live demos from technicians and craftspeople who work on the ROH productions, you can take guided tours and learn new moves in a dance class, sing tunes from opera classics and make something crafty to take home. The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera artists will be performing in the public areas and there’s a sound installation that explores the history of the Opera House.


ART: Whistler and Nature, Compton Verney, Warks, now – Sun 16 Dec 

James McNeill Whistler, Battersea Reach from Lindsey Houses © The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

Warwickshire’s Compton Verney is casting a new light on the work of the great late-Victorian master, James McNeill Whistler, in Whistler and Nature (Sat Oct 20 – Dec 16), curated in partnership with The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow. The exhibition, which includes 90 oil paintings, explores the artist’s revolutionary attitude towards the natural world.


THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Troilus and CressidaRST, Stratford-upon-Avon, now – Sat 17 Nov

Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, this is the company’s first gender-equal production of Shakespeare’s “most testosterone-fuelled” play. Set in a futuristic dystopian Troy, it will involve close collaboration with the virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie.



ART: Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain, London, now – Sun 24 Feb

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones ‘Love Among the Ruins’ 1870-1973 Private Collection

Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones was one of the most influential British talents of the 19th century and this exhibition will bring together 150 works including paintings, stained glass and tapestry in a major new retrospective. Rejecting the starched world of the Victorians, he looked to myths, legends and the Bible to create his otherworldly work. He wanted to bring beautiful design to everyone and along with his friend William Morris, pioneered the Arts and Crafts Movement.



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

Illustration of Santa hanging out of a helicopter

Incommiiiiiiing! Santa knows how to make an entrance and it doesn’t get bigger and better than a helicopter. Sleighs are so last century. This event will seriously blow your kids’ minds. Thrill seeking Santa handing out gifts, meet the reindeer (poor fellas have been redundant), carols, meet Princesses Belle and Elsa, biscuit decorating and more. Tickets £6.


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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