MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEK
DANCE: Russian State Ballet: Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, The Hexagon Reading, 21-22 Jan
Double bubble at The Hexagon this month as the Russian State performs not one but two ballets – Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. You’ll be transported from the impressive splendor of the Palace ballroom to the moon-lit lake where swans glide in perfect formation. Not to be missed.
THEATRE: The Cat & Canary, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 21 Jan
The Theatre Royal Windsor always kick off the new year with a thriller. It’s like a theatrical shock therapy to wake us from our Christmas coma. This year it’s The Cat & Canary and it stars the legendary cinematic blonde bombshell Britt Eckland. There are other actors but I can’t remember ant of their names, because quite frannkly we’re seeing this John Willard black comedy for Britt.
FILM: Downton Abbey The Movie, Hurley House Maidenhead, 21 Jan
Carson, be a doll and top up the Champers and pass the popcorn? While Lady Mary’s getting jiggy with the latest aristo upstairs, you cna settle in for a fancy film night at Hurley House Hotel for Downton Abbey The Movie. If you book in for dinner, you get complimentary tickets, alternatively there’s wine, a cheese box or popcorn on offer.
WORKSHOP: Learn the Art of Candle Making, West Berkshire Brewery Yattendon, 23 Jan
We love a scented candle at Muddy but it’s become something of an addiction – a pricey one at that. So a candle-making workshop sounds like a great idea. Run by Justine – the creative genius behind Newbury-based Literati and Light – you’ll learn to make a 240g soy and beeswax candle, with a scent inspired by literature.
THEATRE: Beyond the Barricade, Corn Exchange Newbury, 23 Jan
One for jazz handers, musical lovers and anyone who loves a catchy show tune, Beyond The Barricade is a toe-tapping celebration of the best of Broadway and the West End. The UK’s longest-running musical theatre concert tour features past principal performers from Les Mis.
WORKSHOP: Pastel Portraits, The Base Greenham Common, 23 Jan
Hankering to learn a new skill, pastel portraits might just float your boat. Join artist Mandy Monkcom for a step by step workshop on how to create a portrait with soft pastels and pastel pencils on toned paper. There’s a list of basic kit you’ll need to bring, but I’m thinking next year’s Christmas presents, sorted.
COMEDY: The Comedy Cellar, South Hill Park Bracknell, 24 Jan
The Comedy Cellar at South Hill Park launched the careers of many top comedians – Al Murray, Eddie Izzard, Greg Davies, Sarah Millican, Micky Flanagan, Katherine Ryan, Jack Whitehall and Russell Howard. The list is long. Now in its 32nd year, it’s the longest-running comedy club in the UK outside of London and continues to showcase the best new and established acts every Friday. Book up.
SHOPPING: Windsor Auctions Antiques and Collectables, Unit 18B Vansittart Estate Windsor, Sat 25 Jan
The High Street this is not, but there’s something satisfying about discovering a unique gem, built to last whether it be furniture, knick-knacks, art or jewellery. Windsor Auction’s monthly sale is a goodie and Celebrity Antique Road Trip are filming too. Get ready for your close up.
MUSIC: The Vinyl Frontier: Greatest Hits Album Championships, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 25 Jan
It’s the vinyl countdown: 8 contestants bring their fave Greatest Hits LP to battle it out to be crowned 2020 Vinyl Frontier Album Champion. The audience chooses the winner of each round. Come and have a go if you think you’re muso enough. Join host Jeff Lloyd for an evening of music, trivia and fun!
DANCE: Bolshoi Live: Giselle, UK cinema broadcast, 26 Jan
Pack away your faux fur, Moscow’s sub-zero temperatures are not coming to Berks, but the Bolshoi is. If you love culture, seeing the Russians perform at the Bolshoi Theatre should be on your bucket list. They’re broadcasting Giselle Live this month and you’ll get front row seats.
THEATRE: Circus of Horrors, The Hexagon Reading, 26 Jan
Warning! This show contains nuts. This is no PG family fun, Circus of Horrors – which began at the 1995 Glastonbury Festival – is the sort of show you’ll watch through your fingers and require a stiff drink in the interval. Expect nudity, fruity language, and freaky fun.
THEATRE: The Elvis Years: The Story of the King, Theatre Royal Windsor, 26 Jan
If you get all shook up by Elvis, then rifle through your knicker drawer for the smallest pants you own because the King is coming to Windsor (Don’t panic Her Maj is alive and well). The Elvis Years is a musical production telling the compelling story of Elvis Presley with nostalgic film footage, and over 12 costume changes. We’re in for the rhinestones.
OUTDOORS: Winter Walk, National Trust Cliveden, throughout 2020
If you’ve been cooped up for days at the relis or nursing a monumental NYE hangover, pop some pills get some fresh air at Cliveden. There’s s stonking 375 acres of gardens, woodland and riverside walks to explore. Plus the hotel is on hand for a coffee or hair of the dog.
OUTDOORS: Winter Walk, Basildon Park Lower Basildon
West Berkshire’s National Trust belter is a great place for walkies, with stride outs that are gentle for the hungover to challenging stomps for the smugly sober and overeager. If you’d like to pick the brains of the pros, join the Park’s ranger on 13 Jan for a Tree ID stroll and play nature’s answer to spot the difference.
BOOK NOW: The Tempest, South Hill Park Bracknell, 4-9 Feb
Nothing like a wet, miserable night to give you the willies before a couple of hours watching Shakespeare’s famous last play, The Tempest. This fantastical adaptation reunites director Joe Malyan with award-winning set designer Victoria Spearing who have the ability to make magic happen on the stage.
BOOK NOW: Steve McQueen, Tate Modern, London, 13 Feb – 11 May
I love this shot! This solo exhibition of London-born artist and director of Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen’s portfolio features 14 major works spanning his extensive career in film, photography and sculpture and is the first major UK exhibition since he received the Turner Prize in 1999. So, yeah, it’s a pretty big deal! The display will cover the last 25 years of McQueen’s career including personal and intimate works such as his early film on a Super 8 camera and this awesome aerial depiction of the Statue of Liberty above. The show also coincides with McQueen’s latest artwork Year 3, on show at Tate Britain until 3 May.
ART: London Art Fair, Islington, London, 21-26 Jan
Calling modern art lovers! Get ye over to Islington for this massive art fair offering everything from prints and editions through to major works by internationally renowned artists. There are talks, tours, screenings and curated spaces, plus Photo50, the annual exhibition of contemporary photography and Art Projects, featuring large-scale installations, solo shows and group displays.
CULTURE: Restoration and conservation tours, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, until 9 Feb
Every year the conservation team at the World Heritage Site conduct a six-week deep clean of the palace to keep it ship-shape, with every part of the Blenheim Palace collection meticulously cleaned and maintained using both modern and traditional methods. If you fancy taking a look at the process then you can book onto a tour to see the team in action and pick up some A+ cleaning tips (eat your heart out Mrs Hinch!).
DAYS OUT: Lightopia Festival London, Chiswick House, 22 Jan – 1 Mar
January can be a bit bleak so flick the switch and let there be light. Lightopia is coming to Chiswick House for its annual illuminations and the show is expected to be bigger, better, and uses more light bulbs than ever before.No one will be able to make a cuppa in West London but it’ll be oh so worth it.
LAST CHANCE: Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Watford, now – 27 Jan
Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas! The festive makeover sees Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors can touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.
THEATRE: Cirque Du Soleil, Royal Albert Hall London, 12 Jan – 1 Mar
Cirque du Soleil returns to London’s Royal Albert Hall, bringing their dazzling luminous spectacle, LUZIA to Europe for the first time. You’ll be transported to an imaginary Mexico, where light quenches the spirit and rain soothes the soul. Always a wow production that the whole family will love.
Mama Mia! A brand new (and, quite frankly, must-see) exhibition is coming to The O2, London this month – ABBA: Super Troupers is a journey through the Swedish band’s career and will feature personal items and artefacts never seen before in the UK (now – 21 Aug 2020).
Another newbie is Tutankhamun – Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at the Saatchi Gallery. One of the biggest cultural events in the winter calendar, the exhibit features 150+ original artefacts found in the Pharaoh’s tomb that was unearthed in 1922.
Other exhibitions worth a snoop are Vogue fashion and portrait photographer Tim Walker‘s enchanting, fantastical, frankly insane collection of work at the V&A (until 8 March); William Blake at Tate Britain, with the visionary painter and poets work blown up to enormous scale using digital technology (until 2 Feb 2020); Into the Night: Cabarets & Clubs in Modern Art at the Barbican – a history of cabarets, clubs, dancefloors and party spaces that inspired artists from the 1880s to the 1960s (4 Oct – 19 Jan).