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This week



XMAS: A Candlelit Christmas, Stonor, Henley, from 28 Nov 

Stonor opens its doors for Christmas for the fourth time, with this year’s theme being A Candlelit Christmas. The house will be decorated with holly, mistletoe, sweet scented pine and greenery grown by the Head Gardener, plus a 20ft Victorian decorated Christmas Tree in the Gothic Hall.


THEATRE: The Bear, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Tue 26 Nov – Sun 29 Dec

THe Bear Norden Farm Puppet of a polar bear theatrical version of Raymond Briggs story

From the author who had us ‘Walking in the air…’ and Aled Jones reaching pre-teen musical notes, Raymond Briggs brings us The Bear – the story of a little girl who befriends a mischievous polar bear. It’s got all the warm and fuzzies to be a festive classic.


MUSIC: Sing-A-Long Bohemian Rhapsody, Theatre Royal Windsor, Tue 26 Nov

Bohemian Rapsody Live Aid Scene Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in Twentieth Century Fox film

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

Haven’t seen Bohemian Rhapsody yet? Where have you been. The film has been played on repeat in our household and when the film’s not on Alexa’s instructed to play the soundtrack. If you fancy belting out the soundtrack while watching the film again, buckle up for Rami Malek’s portrayal of the strutting showman and belt out the hits at the same time.


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

Watermill The Prince and the Pauper_Watermill Theatre_Stacey Ghent and members of the cast_ Credit Pamela Raith Photography woman dancing and playing musical instrument

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.


PANTO: Aladdin, Theatre Royal Windsor, Fri 29 Nov – Sat 14 Jan

Filed under ‘classic cheesefest’, this year the Theatre Royal’s panto is Aladdin. Windsor’s favourite comedy duo, Kevin Cruise and Steven Blakeley are celebrating their 10th year in panto together at the Theatre Royal and fans of ’80s nostalgia will be thrilled to hear that Paul Nicholas, Marti Webb and Basil Brush are joining the cast. Booooom booooooom!


PANTO: Aladdin, South Hill Park Bracknell, Fri 30 Nov – Sat 4 Jan

Aladdin at South Hill Park Bracknell panto cast shot

Aladdin will be rubbing his lamp this year in Bracknell, while dame Brad Clapson is up to his neck in laundry (I hear you) as Widow Twankey. South Hill Park always put on a fun, a creatively staged show, so get on that magic carpet to the box office pronto..


MUSIC: Scouting For Girls, The Hexagon Reading, Tue 26 Nov

Scouting for girls – three band members

Also on our musical speed dial is the number is Scouting For Girls, who are currently touring their new album The Trouble With Boys and will be performing this month at The Hexagon in Reading.


FAMILY FUN: Mind Crafternoon, The Old Post Office Wargrave, Wed 27 Nov

mulit coloured Pom pom wreath

Support your local high street. That’s an order. Good time for a new pop up shop in Wargrave. The Old Post Office is the brainchild of a team of local businesswomen – all from the Berkshire area, backed by Mel Stack from Bray and run by Libby Spratley from Marlow. Grab a cuppa, browse or drop in for crafternoon sesh. This week your kids can make pom pom tree decorations from 4pm and the grown ups can have a go at crochet stars from 5.30pm, all in aid of Mind. To book contact Libby on 0773 9035937


LIVE BROADCAST: NT Life – Present Laughter, UK cinema broadcast, Fri 29 Nov 

Andrew Scott as Garry Essendine and Indira Varma as Liz Essendine in Present Laughter Old Vic

From hot priest to just hot. Andrew Scott plays self-obsessed comedy actor Garry in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, currently wowing audiences at the Old Vic. In a blur of people, wit, booze and charm he blusters and brags his way through life, batting off adoring fans and obsessed lovers. Sounds like the average week at the Muddy offices.


FAMILY FUN: Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest Ascot, from Sat 17 Nov

Lampland Uk Woman with large lollipop heald up to hger face

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 30 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.


DAY OUT: The Magic of Christmas, Chobham Adventure Farm Chobham, Sat 30 Nov – Tues 24 Dec

This immersive 2.5 hour experience will transport your family to a magical place where they’ll learn how to become an official elf helper and get an official elf name, meet real live reindeer, help Mrs Claus decorate gingerbread men, make a teddy bear and finally get their hands on the golden key and meet Father Christmas himself.


ACTIVITIES: Windsor On Ice, Alexandra Gardens Windsor, now – Sun 5 Jan

Ice skates in front of red cupbaord

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.


FAMILY FUN: 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.


WORKSHOPS: Lantern Making Workshops, 101 Arts Creation Space Greenham Business Park Newbury, Sat 30 Nov – Sun 8 Dec

Octopus The Carnival of Animals lantern parade

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 15 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!


KIDS: Legoland at Christmas, Legoland Windsor, from Sat 30 Nov

Lego brick father christmas throwing a snow ball in avenue of christmas trees

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. Make a Lego decoration and scavenger hunt with the elves. Think of your children’s faces lighting up and the enormous gin you’ll need the  you get home.


HERITAGE: National Lottery open day, various venues, 23 – 29 Nov

Cliveden House Hotel gilded gates to the newly renovated sounding chamber

If you’re not a member of the NT, this is the month you can blow raspberries at everyone who’s bought an annual pass – to celebrate the National Lottery’s 25th birthday, you can enter some of the venues for free if you bring along a National Lottery ticket (plus, if you actually win the lottery you’ll be able to buy one, so it’s kind of like house hunting). Participating venues include Cliveden in Maidenhead and Basildon Park in Lower Basildon (23 – 29 Nov), Greys Court, nr Henley (23 – 29 Nov), Hughenden Manor (23 – 29 Nov) in High Wycombe and Waddesdon Manor, nr Aylesbury (27 – 29 Nov). 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  from 16 Nov).


COMEDY: Enter The Dragons, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Fri 29 Nov

Enter the Dragons two female comedians in bed wearing haats and big coats

Enter the Dragons is a hilarious, surreal odyssey through the challenges of growing older, which explodes myths about beauty, sex and femininity. Expect fantastical characters, ridiculous puppetry, extreme wigs and delightfully dark humour. Sixty minutes of laugh-out-loud joy.


SHOPPING: The Christmas Fair, Ascot Racecourse, Thu 28 Nov – Sat 1 Dec

christmas present wrapping

Giddee up to Ascot and nail your Crimbo shopping in one go. Loads of indie pop ups offering seasonal goodies not available on the high street. a staggering 150 pop-up boutiques selling gifts, homewares, toys, Xmas decs, fashion, stocking fillers, foodie treats and more. Shop hit the bubbles and relax. Well it is Christmas.


EVENT: Gentlemen’s Day, Newbury Racecourse, Fri 29 Nov

Newbury Races silhouette of horses

Grab your flat cap, three piece suit and give it some serious swagger. Newbury Racecourse’s first ever Gentleman’s Day and one gorgeous guy will be trotting into the winner’s enclosure having been crowned  ‘best dressed’. There’s Christmas drinkies galore and top jump racing. Just watch out for Storm Sebastien.



EVENT: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, Thu 21 Nov – Sun 5 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 a new 70m observation wheel, Magical Ice Kingdom’s A Christmas Carol, Paddington on Ice, a Bavarian village offering an authentic Oktoberfest experience; karaoke cabins, ice sculpting workshops, the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club and more.


XMAS: Illuminated Light Trail, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, 22 Nov – 1 Jan

Blenheim is kicking off festivities this week with its annual Illuminated Light Trail – over 100,000 for the Tunnel of Light, a Laser Garden, scented Fire Garden and light finale on the Water Terrace and front of the Palace set to music. For kids there’ll be a Victorian-style fairground and Santa.


XMAS: Christmas at Waddesdon, Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, until 5 Jan

Love a festive display? Waddesdon has started 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.



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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