MON 3 – SUN 9 DEC
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEK
THEATRE: Pop Music, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Tue 4 Dec
An antidote to the Christmas cheesiest (or perhaps the warm in our case). A wedding. A free bar. Ten too many proseccos and an epic journey through 30 years of pop. Pop Music is like a Friday night flashback. Can the DJ save Kayla and G from becoming Dancing Queens, reliving their Teenage Dream, Staying Out for The Summer and Spicing Up Their Lives?
SHOPPING: Christmas Market, Yattendon Estate Tree Barn, Sat 1 – Sun 16 Dec
It’s real or no deal at Muddy Berks HQ: fresh pine smell, wearing all its accessories and looking as dehydrated as the rest of us by 25 December. I’ll be heading Yattendon Christmas Tree barn to get mine,s trying to control my excited kids in search of the perfect spruce. Father Christmas will taking your wish lits, 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 right up to Chistmas Eve.
DANCE: RB Live: The Nutcracker, live UK broadcast, Mon 3 Dec
A sea of tutus, twinkly lights, sugar plum fairies… it can only be the Nurcracker – a 18th century prequel to Toy Story. The Royal Ballet’s staging of this classic ballet is jawdropping. No need to schlep into London and weep at the ticket price RB Live on the big screen. Pass the popcorn, it’s a cracker.
PANTO: Aladdin, Hexagon Reading, Thu 6 Dec – Sun 6 Jan 2019
Mr TUUUUUUUUUMBBBBBLE! The irrepressible CBeebies demi-god Justin Fletcher may make you reach for the gin bottle but any small people in your charge will surely go insane in the membrane at the prospect of seeing him live on stage. He plays Aladdin in his 7th panto for The Hexagon alongside award-winning dame Paul Morse, man with joker strut than Beyonce.
CHRISTMAS: Christmas at Stonor, Stonor Park, Henley, now – Sun 9 Dec
Yeah, my fireplace looks just like this one. If you want to see a manor house beautifully decorated (and get a sense of how the other half live – the Stonor family are still in situ) then head to Stonor Park. The theme for this year is Star of Wonder and 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. They’ve also got a new augmented reality app this year so you can see Santa flying over the house and fairies flying round the Christmas tree. And that’s before you’ve got stuck into the mulled wine…
MUSIC: The Washboard Resonators, Fiery Things at The Hope Windsor, Thu 6 Dec
The Washboard Resonators are a duo that play foot-stomping blues, vaudeville, ragtime, hokum, skiffle, swing and folk like it was in the 1920s, 30s & 40s. Expect a show with upbeat songs, tap dancing and an array of instruments, including; washboard, resonator guitars, banjo, ukulele, snare drum, suitcase bass drum, spoons and their very own invention—the kazoosaphone.
SHOPPING: Chinti & Parker Pop Up, Royal Oak Yattendon, Fri 7 Dec
Tis the season to be cosy, so get knitted this Crimbo with Chinti & Parker. No need to schlep into London, Chinti & Parker is coming to you. Join founder Anna Singh and ex Vogue editor and founder of VCHSyle Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey at the Royal Oak Yattendon for a holiday trunk show. Ginnie (a gorgeous friend and one of those annoyin,g effortlessly stylish people) will be showcasing her faves, there’s exclusive discounts from 25%-50% and a light brekkie thrown in for free. Spoil yourself or tick another gift off the list.
The Royal Oak, The Square, Yattendon RG18 0UG 9am-11.45am
CHRISTMAS: Carnival of Animals, Town Hall Maidenhead, Sat 8 Dec
Kick off the weekend with a dash of festive razzle dazzle at Maidenhead’s annual Community Lantern Parade. It kicks off with live music and entertainment from Bombay Baja Brass Band outside Maidenhead Town Hall from 4.30pm. Tis totes FREE, so wrap up warm and enjoy this awesome Crimbo tradition.
EXHIBITION: A Splash of Colour, Forbury Place Reading, Sun 9 – Thu 13 Dec
Don’t let colour bring you out in hives. You don’t have to wear it to appreciate it. A much safer and enjoyable way of embracing the rainbow is art. A Splash of Colour is a touring photographic exhibition created by The Photographic Angle. This exhibition brings together a full spectrum of colour images from all aspects of our lives and it is a beauty. Stunning images from very talented artists. Pop along and see it. Rude not to when it’s free.
THEATRE: The Fir Tree, Norden Farm Maidenhead, now – Sun 30 Dec
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+… and here’s the review.
SHOPPING: Christmas Fairt, Highclere Castle, Wed 5 – Thu 6 Dec
Christmas at Downton, I mean Highclere. Frock up we’re off to impress Lord and Lady Carnavon at their annual Christmas Fair. Carols in the Saloon, enormous tree, handpicked gifts to buy in the State Rooms. You can expect the same at Muddy Berks HQ. It’s grandeur all the way, baby. It’s all In aid of charidee – Thames Valley Air Ambulance and St Michaels & All Angels Church, Highclere – and if you throw a few quid in the bucket you check our the gallery and the bedrooms. Oh the temptation to dive onto the divan.
CHRISTMAS: Dick Whittington & His Cat, South Hill Park Bracknell, now – Sun 6 Jan 2019
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 out 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
The fur’s gonna a fly with fox in the house. It’s a flashback to the 80s with Basil Brush, DJ Mike Read, Marti Webb and Anita Harris standing in for Governess Anne Hegarty while she’ downing blended fish eyes and snacking on witchety grubs. She’ll take up her role as Queen Rat from Tue 18 Dec. Read my review here.
EVENT: Christmas Parade, The Oracle Riverside Reading, Saturdays throughout Dec
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.
WALKS: Mother Christmas Festive Trail, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – 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.
DAYS OUT: Christmas at Legoland, Windsor, throughout Dec
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.
THEATRE: Guys & Dolls, Mill at Sonning, now – Sat 23 Feb 2019
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.
DAYS OUT: Christmas at Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, now – Sun 6 Jan 2019
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, 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, now – 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
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
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.
CHRISTMAS: Christmas Carnival, Waddesdon Manor, now – 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 – 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.
CHRISTMAS: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park London, now – Sun 6 Jan 2019
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 Snowman and plus Peter Pan on Ice.
CHRISTMAS: Kew Gardens, London, now – Sat 5 Jan
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.
Winterville, Clapham Common London, now – Sun 23 Dec
If you’re in Sarf London over Christmas, Winterville on Clapham Common’s is well worth a look. There’s everything from an outdoor Ice Rink to a fairground, roller disco, plonk golf and free kids’ entertainment, but there’s lots more unusual stuff than at your standard Christmas Fair. We’re particularly loving the sound of the Spiegeltent, where you’ll find cabaret, bingo, kids raves and, er, Mexican wrestling.
KIDS: Santa Sleepovers, Warwick Castle, throughout December
LIVE SCREENINGS: Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House, London, Mon 3 Dec – 7 Jan
See a live screening of The Nutcracker, followed by 20 screenings of great operas and ballets with memorable casts as the Linbury Theatre (within the ROH) becomes a cinema for 5 weeks. ROH staff and well-known artists will introduce the screenings and on selected weekend matinees, children 5 -15 go free. Opera highlights include La bohème, La Traviata and Otello. Undoubtably, one of the ballet highlights will be Darcey Bussell introducing the screening of Sylvia, starring herself, and offering her unique insights into the role.
THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, The Old Vic, London, Wed 5 Dec – Sat 19 Jan 2019
The smash hit of Dickens’ classic adapted by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and directed by Matthew Warchus returns to the Old Vic and this time Stephen Tompkinson stars as Ebenezer Scrooge. This big-hearted and warm production’s unique staging immerses the audience in the story and there’s music, mince pies and much merriment for a fab festive night out.
HISTFEST, London, Fri 7 – Sun 9 Dec
A brand new festival taking place in London with talks, workshops, panel discussions and live performances to entertain and educate. Award winning historian and broadcaster, Betthany Hughes, is the keynote speaker, talking about Istanbul, plus other celeb historians include Kate Williams on Mary, Queen of Scots, and Janina Ramirez on Beowulf.
KIDS: Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, Watford, now – Sun 27 Jan
Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas! The festive makeover will see 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 will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.
THEATRE: Madagascar The Musical, Hexagon Reading, Jan 2019
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