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This week

MOON 11 – SUN 17 NOV


COMEDY: Ed Byrne – If I’m Honest, The Hexagon Reading, Fri 15 Nov

Comedian Ed Byrne leather and hearling flight jacket glasses holding foliage

Ed Byrne is one of the most successful comedians performing in the UK, regularly appearing on TV and touring to sold-out theatres. Originally from Ireland, he now lives in Essex with his wife and two children, but comes to The Hexagon Reading with his new show If I’m Honest – when he’ll be taking along hard look at himself to work out if he has ANY traits that are worth passing on to his children.


TALK: Mig Kimpton – A Country Christmas Roadshow, South Hill Park Bracknell, Mon 11 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.


FILM: Mystify: Michael Hutchence, Corn Exchange Newbury, Tue 12 – Thu 14 Nov

Mystify-Michael Hutchence INXS frontman

Can you believe it has been 22 years since Rock God Michael Hutchence died? Oh how we lusted after him, usually stripped to the waist wearing toit trews. Now you can relive your teen fantasies with this extraordinary film that uses archive footage, Michael’s private home movies, delving beneath the public persona to reveal a sensitive and complex man.


THEATRE: The Nutcracker, Theatre Royal Windsor, Tue 12 – Sat 16 Nov

A sea of tutus, twinkly lights, sugar plum fairies… it can only be the Nurcracker – a 18thcentury prequel to Toy Story. This classic ballet is a must in the run up to Christmas. No need to schlep into London and weep at the ticket price, the Vienna Festival Ballet will be pirouetting into Windsor.


COMEDY: Ben Elton Live, The Hexagon Reading, Wed 13 Nov

Ben Elton Live 2019 comedian

Ben Elton was a thorn in Maggie Thatcher’s side, co-author of comedies The Young Ones and Blackadder, brought us the We Will Rock You musical and was a lover of a shiny suit. He defined the UK comedy scene of the 1980s and after a 15 year absence, he’s back with an all new stand-up show. Ben promises to try and make sense of a world which appears to have gone stark raving mad. Don’t miss this Work in Progress performance ahead of his UK tour.


TALK: Susie Dent – The Secret Life Of Words, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Tue 13 Nov

Susie Dent Secret Life of Words

Any Countdown fans out there? Susie Dent will be talking at Norden Farm about her funniest moments on the show as well as talking about all things weird and whacky when it comes to the words.


SHOPPING: Muddy + Bicester Village shopping & styling spectacular!, Bicester Village, Wed 14 Nov

We hate to use the C word just yet but here at Muddy this is the year when we’re finally getting organised with our Christmas shopping and planning. No more dashing around shops on 23 Dec, no sirree! With this in mind, we’ve concocted an amazing Christmas shopping and styling event with Bicester Village for Muddy readers. A ticket will include a talk from Muddy founder Hero Brown on how to buy the perfect gifts, a guide to tablescaping and bringing festive chic to your home by renowned interior designer/florist Willow Crossley (google her gorgeous Cotswolds pubs), expert styling advice from Muddy’s Kerry Potter, brunch/ afternoon tea  provided by Soho House, 10% discount for all participating Bicester Village stores throughout the day and a luxury goodie bag. Because self-gifting is a valid part of Christmas, right?!


THEATRE: The Prince & The Pauper, Watermill Theatre Bagnor, Thu 14 Nov – Sat 4 Jan 2019

Prince and the Pauper Watermioll Newbury illustration

The Watermill Theatre is renowned for its high quality bookish Christmas shows – and this year it’s The Prince & The Pauper. It’s a superb alternative if you’re not a fan of panto. So don’t expect a camp, thigh slapping prince. Funny, fearless and brilliant family entertainment, it’s always a treat at Chrimbo.


COMEDY: Griff Rhys Jones – All Over The Place, Corn Exchange Newbury, Thu 14 Nov

Griff Rhys Jones Norden Farm new material

The chance to to get up close and personal with Griff Rhys Jones – but not so close he’ll need a restraining order. Griff  is coming to the Corn Exchange Newbury, a smallish theatre perfect for comedy, with his brand new full-length stand-up show packed with wicked insights into the pains of celebrity, the vicissitudes of parenthood and encounters with the great, the good and the royal.


SHOPPING: Artisan Christmas Market, Field and Hawken Reading, Thu 14 Nov

Step away from the socks and scarves and buy Christmas gifts that are anything but ordinary. Eco-luxe home store Field & Hawken is bringing together a collective of artisans for a festive evening on Thu 14th Nov for a Christmas Market at their Reading showroom from 7.30pm. Check out Cucumber Wood Candles, Scarlet Page jewellery, Emma Benz Art, Toothbrush Fairy Company, Molly & Lola and there will be eco-friendly, sustainable gifts and decorations for sale from Field & Hawken.


MUSIC: Jools Holland 2019, The Hexagon Reading, Thu 14 Nov

Musician Jools Holland and His rhythm and blues orchestra with special guest marc almond

If New Year’s all about getting smashed and watching Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenany, then this might just prise you off the sofa before the end of year sit in. The legendary Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are touring the UK and hitting the Hexagon in Reading this November. Plus they’ve smuggled Eddi Reader onto the tour bus to belt out a few numbers too. Room for one more?


FAMILY FUN: Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest Ascot, Sat 16 Nov

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 25th December. It’s a four-hour immersive experience so pack the tramadol and Kendal Mint Cake.

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


WORKSHOP: The Carnival of Animals – Lantern Making Workshop, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sat 16 Nov

The Maidenhead lantern parade (Sat 7 dec) is a firm fave and a wonderful Christmas tradition. But don’t just admire the twinkly lovliness from afar, get involved. Once again Norden Farm will run its brilliant lantern making workshops so you can take part with your own illuminated animal creation. It’s a jungle out there, get creative and light em up.


ACTIVITY: Windsor On Ice, Alexandra Gardens Windsor, Sat 16 Nov – Sun 5 Jan

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.


COMEDY: Jack Dee – Off The Telly, Corn Exchange Newbury, Sat 16 Nov

Jack dee comedian

Comedy’s Mr Misery, Jack Dee is on the roud with his grumpy old man tour. It’s hard to tell if that’s just how he is or part of the comedy act, or just the way he is. But at the age of, ahem, 58, it’s fit him like a glove. o.


CHRISTMAS: Winter Wonderland, Forbury Garden Reading, Sat 16 – Sun 5 Jan

It’s back! After a mini break, Reading’s Winter Wonderland is popping up at Forbury Gardens with 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.


SHOPPING: Windsor Christmas Fair, Windsor Racecourse, Sat 16 – Sun 17 Nov

christmas present wrapping

Did someone say samples? Cue a Muddy stampede. Christmas foodie and drinkie delights with lots of tasters to get you in the mood. There’s also gifts galore.


SHOPPING: Douai Pavillion Christmas Market  

Christmas red bauble and pine cone hanging from fir wreath on door of chalet in snow

Save yourself the airfare to Europe and body swerve the crowds at Winchester Cathedral, there’s a Christmas market in West Berkshire. The Douai Pavillion – in the stunning location of Upper Woolhampton – will be turned into a festive marketplace with gifts galore, food hampers, Xmas trees and more. Grab yourself a mulled wine, pop a mince pie in your mouth and sit yourself on Santa’s knee (yes, there’s a grotto), its going to be a cracker. Free entry.


EXHIBITION: En Vogue, Basildon Park Lower Basildon, now – Mon 18 Nov

Strike a pose there’s nothing to it and saunter up to Basildon Park for a fabulous fashion exhibition. Lady Iliffe graced the glossy pages of Vogue in 1966, with the mansion as the backdrop to Henry Clarke’s stylish portraits. Bringing that shoot to life, you can rifle through her wardrobe and drool over the Dior, Valentino and Chanel. If you missed out on the V&A’s Dior exhibition, this will scratch that fashion itch.


LAST CHANCE: The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Book Artists, The Base Greenham Common, now – Sun 17 Nov


Fancy a literary trip down memory lane? Immerse yourself in the nostalgic world of Ladybird Books told through original artwork, books and objects. We all had them, and bring back the same childhood fuzzies as Space Invader crisps and Willow The Wisp. Explore an unparalleled collection of books, original artwork and artefacts, dating back to the WW2, at The Base.



MUSIC: Professor Green, O2 Academy, Oxford, Sat 16 Nov

Professor Green is getting the UK up to date with his Matters of the Heart tour and is playing in Oxford this week. Honestly, not really my scene, but you’ll definitely gain some cool creds from teens by knowing who he is.


CHRISTMAS: Christmas at Waddesdon, Waddesdon Manor, from 16 Nov

Waddesdon Christmas Market and illuminations colourfully lit period house trees with fairy lights and illuminated christmas trees

Love a festive display? Waddesdon is starting it’s Christmas season pretty early this year with the Manor decked out with festive accessories and a light trail around the Aviary combining light, sound colour and movement. There’ll also be two light shows performed on the facade of the Manor.


SKATE: Ice skating, Millets Farm, Abingdon, from Sat 16 Nov

Millets Farm’s sweet covered ice rink returns for another year – all ages are covered with skates that strap onto shoes with twin blades for smaller children, plus push along seals (I think I might need one of those too).


INTERIORS: Country Living Christmas Fair, Business Design Centre, London, Wed 13 – Sun 17 Nov

It’s Christmaaaaas! Well, not just yet, but head London’s Business Design Centre this month and you’ll find heaps of festive stalls from hundreds of British designers, makers, food artisans and crafters. As well as shopping there’ll also be live workshops and talks, plus Prue Leith will be chatting to Country Living’s Editor about all things food at Christmas time on Wed 13.



Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane work is the subject of a new V&A exhibition (until 8 March). Tilda Swinton (below), Björk and, er, Sir David Attenborough are among his subjects and he’s also created 10 new works for the show.

Meanwhile this autumn’s big-hitter is William Blake at Tate Britain, below, (until 2 Feb 2020). The visionary painter and poet’s work will be imaginatively displayed – some of it blown up to enormous scale using digital technology, other works in an immersive room that recreates the space in which Blake first showed his art in 1809.

Elsewhere Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican (4 Oct – 19 Jan) is probably the nearest I’ll get to clubbing this autumn. It’s such a cool concept – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s, including the Berlin cabaret scene in Weimar Germany and Harlem’s jazz clubs and lifesize recreations of some of the hotspots.

Then there’s a major retrospective of 88-year-old Bridget Riley‘s life’s work at the Hayward Gallery (23 Oct – 26 Jan), taking in her famous monochrome, makes-your-eyes-go-funny Op Art paintings from the 1960s among its 70 year career span.

And finally, playing “spot the Angel Of The North” as we drive up the A1 to Newcastle is a family ritual in our house (Geordie in-laws, you see), so I’ve got a soft spot for Antony Gormley’s striking sculpture. His new show at the Royal Academy (until 3 Dec) is billed as his most ambitious in a decade and involves six tonnes of steel mesh, eight km of coiled tubing and a gallery flooded with clay and sea water.

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