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Fabulously festive things to do this week

Christmas hits National Trusts, Santa heads to the races, pantos are go, Bruce Willis is back in his singlet and more mince pies than you physically consume. Onward

MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEK

Christmas Racing Weekend, Ascot Racecourse, 17-18 Dec

Ascot Racecourse christmas father and mother christmas arriving in sleigh

Giddee up to Ascot for the last race of 2021. Kick off Christmas with winter cocktails, mulled wine, brass bands, free mince pies and two days of dramatic Jumps racing. Just don’t blow your last minute xmas shopping budget on the horses. Come the 25th, your celebrations could be a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol.

Christmas At Windsor, Windsor Castle, now – 31 Jan

WINDSOR CASTLE CHRISTMAS panto costumes and panels

Something a little spesh at Windsor Castle. No, Meghan and Kate will not be scrapping on the steps of St George’s Chapel. The Queen’s home from home has been transformed for Christmas. See the State Apartments dressed with shimmering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and festive garlands. In the Waterloo Chamber, for the first time you’ll be able to the Queen and Princess Margaret’s panto costumes in the same spot they were originally performed 80 years ago.

FESTIVE FUN

Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest Ascot, now – 24 Dec

LAPLAND UK ELVES

Good news, kids, Santa’s quit the North Pole, perpetual darkness and Northern Lights, to set up shop in the UK. 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 Kendal Mint Cake.

Christmas Lunch at Ascot, Ascot Racecourse, 19 Dec

Cinders, you will go to the ball – and if there’s one place that knows how to put on a show for the big events it’s Ascot Racecourse. Get your glad rags on for a fun festive lunch with friends, family or work team. Delicious food, great atmosphere and all the tinsel, twinkly lights and bubbles to get you in the Christmas spirit.Adults £29.50 and Kids £15.

Friday Night Live, Fuzzy Bear Windsor, 18 Dec

Cocktails and comedy! It’s a match made in Christmas heaven. Fuzzy Bear plays house to four top flight comedians and you can dive into 60 minutes of bottomless Porn Star Martinis. What could possibly go wrong?

Winter Wonderland, Hills Meadow Reading, now – 3 Jan 2022

It’s back! After a mini break, Reading’s Winter Wonderland will be popping up in Hills Meadow Car Park. Expect 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. It’s free to enter, but you can buy tickets now for Santa’s Grotto, Ice Skating and an unlimited ride pass.

Windsor On Ice, Alexandra Gardens Windsor, now – 2 Jan

Windsor in Ice

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. This year they’ll be putting up the big screen for super-cool pop up cinema, plus fun fair, food and bar. Sessions are for 45 mins. See you in A&E, I mean on the ice.

Legoland at Christmas, Legoland Windsor, from 27 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. There are Lego Make and Take activities a DUPLO puppet pantomime and Santa flying through the resort on his sleigh. Think of your children’s faces lighting up and the enormous gin you’ll need the  you get home.

PANTOS & CHRISTMAS SHOWS

Beauty & The Beast, The Hexagon Theatre Reading, now – 3 Jan

Beauty and the Beast Hexagon Reading

CBeebies demigod, Justin Fletcher and award-winning Dame, Paul Morse return to the Reading stage as Billy and Nanny Pastry in the Covid postponed Beauty And The Beast. Join Lumière and his pottery pals for a spin round the Beast’s ballroom and enjoy the sizzling on stage chemistry between Justin and Paul. Oh no you won’t! Oh yes you… (sorry, I’ll stop).

The Snow Queen, Rabble Theatre Reading, nwo – 24 Dec

For a show that’s light on cheese, book The Snow Queen – a new play, written by Anna Wheatley based on the original Hans Christian Andersen story. Set in mid-winter, two besties’ worlds are torn apart when one of them mysteriously disappears and the other is forced to set out on a treacherous journey across Scandinavia to find him. The Rabble Theatre has a fab reputation, so worth booking in.

Kipper’s Snowy Day, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 30 Nov – 30 Dec

Looking for a Christmas show that dials down the crazy? Norden Farm always put on an atmospheric, bookish production with puppets. This year, Kipper’s Snowy Day will be brought to life – a classic children’s tale nails the Christmas Eve excitement. It’s perfect for littles and SEND children.

Cinderella, Corn Exchange Newbury, now – 2 Jan

CINDERELLA CORN EXCHANGE NEWBURY
Image: The Other Richard

Can’t stand Z-list pantos? The Corn Exchange continues its policy of not bothering with the soap star brigade, with its in-house panto. Watch Cinderella outwit the wicked Step Mother and her Ugly Sisters to find her Prince Charming and generally have a rip-roaring time.

Cinderella, South Hill Park Bracknell, now – 3 Jan 2022

You shall go to the ball… or failing that the panto. There’s a reason why families return year after year to South Hill Park in Bracknell. Expect all the cheesy one liners, toe tapping songs and a jaw-dropping set.

Jack And The Beanstalk, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 14 Jan

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK WINDSOR

Filed under ‘classic cheesefest’, this year the Theatre Royal’s panto is Jack And The Beanstalk. Windsor’s favourite comedy duo, Kevin Cruise and Steven Blakeley have been dusting off the panto patter and old pros Anita Harris and Basil Brush add a dash of nostalgia. It’s a great panto in a beautiful theatre. Booooom booooooom!

The Jungle Book, Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – 31 Dec

JUNGLE BOOK WATERMILL

Be the king of the swingers (not like that, this is a family show), a jungle VIP at The Watermill’s bookish Christmas production of The Jungle Book. This is a wild and captivating musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale full of warmth, laughter and wonder.

LIGHT TRAILS

Twilight Trail Biscuit Town, Abbey Quarter Reading, 4 – 31 Dec

READING TWILIGHT TRAIL

Is it even Christmas without the flicker of candlelight or a megawatt display to ooh and ahh? Reading’s Twilight Trail is back – a magical festive wander through a sea of sparkles and illuminations in the iconic Abbey Quarter. This year the trail features a light installation that celebrates Reading’s biscuit-making past, interactive elements and the Abbey Ruins come alive with sound and light. It’s basically Reading’s answer to Studio 54 – there’s even a bar. Tickets (adults £8, kids £6) must be booked in advance. Under 2s are free.

Windsor Great Park Illuminated, Windsor, Berks, now – 9 Jan

WINDSOR GREAT PARK ILLUMINATED

Christmas is coming and Windsor Great Park’s inaugural illuminated trail is the one to book. The trail, produced by guys behind Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, will feature a field of lights that will extend more than 1,400 sqm, fountains of projected flowers and holograms of woodland creatures. Prepare to be dazzled. Open from 4.30pm-10pm. Tickets: Adults £21.45, Child, £13.20 and Family £74.80.

The Illuminated Garden at West Green House, near Hartley Wintney, Hook, now – 30 Dec

Gigantic shimmering flowers, glowing fairies and a forest of illuminated red tulips – the famous Opera Garden at West Green House in North Hampshire undergoes it’s stunning annual winter transformation from late November. Look out for lit water lilies floating on lakes, bridges turned into tunnels of lights and classical follies twinkling in the darkness. Beautiful.

HERITAGE

Lights & Liminality, Basildon Park Pangbourne, now – 5 Jan

Basildon-Park-Winter-Walks

Basildon Park is blinged out for festive fun. This year, the house has a nature theme inside and out with lots of sensory surprises. The Dining Room has been transformed into an indoor terrarium, walks are lit by fairy lights and the smell of dried oranges and cinnamon will fill the house. So crack open the Black Tower, pass the nuts, and introduce your kids to life before Netflix. Basildon Park is also running after dark candlelit tours on the 3 and 10 Dec.

Percy the Park Keeper Winter Wander Trail, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – 23 Dec 

CLIVEDEN SOUTH PARTERRE WINTER

A fun Christmas trail around the grounds where kids need to help Percy The Park Keeper. You’ll have the help of Percy’s animal friends who will accompany you around the Cliveden estate, noticing what’s around in winter and how to look after animals and habitats.  Follow clues and a note from Percy to find lost items and get the tasks done.

STAGE & SCREEN

A Christmas Carol, Corn Exchange Newbury, 13-16 Dec; South Hill Park Bracknell, 19 Dec

A production for these crazy Covid times as we ponder Christmases past, present and future. Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is a classic, but this cinematic re-telling is set in a paper theatre. The audience enters the imagination of one of the children and quickly, the cardboard stage transforms to reveal a magical world containing real dancers and stylised sets.In a daring twist of format, characters are portrayed by dancers and voiced by an eclectic cast of the world’s most recognisable actors.

Die Hard, Reading Biscuit Factory, 13 and 15 Dec

die-hard-1988-FOX

The 80s called, they want their Christmas film back. Well tough luck, ‘cos Bruce Willis is back on the big screen at super-cool indie cinema the Reading Biscuit Factory as detective John McClane taking on a criminal gang with nothing but a black vest, a gun and a sprig of mistletoe.

Later in the week, the Reading Biscuit Factory will be screening probably the best Christmas film EVER – Elf, on 18 and 19 Dec.

Elf at the Brewery, West Berkshire Brewery Taproom Yattendon, 13 Dec

Will Ferrell elf

My favourite Christmas movie ever and its being shown at Mr Muddy’s favourite place ever! Its film night at the West Berkshire Brewery Taproom and there will be beer, pizza, burgers and popcorn on tap. It’s basically my perfect night out or in. If Elf, starring Will Ferrell who’s trying to put the ho ho ho into the holidays, doesn’t get you and the family into the festive spirit The Grinch is being shown on 20 Dec.

CAROLS CONCERTS & MUSIC

Silent disco santa with retro ghetto blaster star sunglasses and santa suit

Carols Under The Clock Tower, Christ Church Reading, 15 Dec

Oh come all ye faithful, is it even Christmas if you’re not belting out a round of Silent Night with the promise of mulled wine at the end. I think not. Join the congregation at Christ Church and get all the festive fuzzies as we countdown to the big day.

The Vinyl Frontier: Your Favourite v My Favourite, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 17 Dec

VINYL RECORDS

What’s your musical poison? If you think you have the best taste for a cracking tune, prove it at Vinyl Frontier Your Favourite v My Favoutite. Seven challengers will choose a song from a category of their choosing and challenge host Jeff to a battle of taste with the audience deciding your fate..

Gospel Carol Service, Reading Minster Church, 17 Dec

Hallelujah! Carols with the a double shot of gospel energy. Reading Community Gospel Choir – crowned BBC gospel choir of the year – you can belt out the Crimbo hits and an enjoy alternative telling of the Nativity story. There will be mulled wine, mince pies and baklava. #justsaying. In aid of Reading Refugee Support Group.

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