Cool Yule! 20 fun things to do this week
No more bah humbug! Crank up Mariah, grab a mince pie and plan a week of festive fun. We've got pantos, a nose at the Royal decs, Christmas fairs and more.
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEK
Christmas At Windsor, Windsor Castle, now – 31 Jan
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.
Beauty & The Beast, The Hexagon Theatre Reading, 4 Dec – 3 Jan
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).
Victorian Christmas Fayre, Newbury, Berks 3-5 Dec
Dig out your crinolines, hat, furry muff, Newbury’s going back in time to create a Christmas Card pretty vision of the festive season. OK so you don’t have to go in fancy dress unless that’s how you roll. But expect 100+ retailers, stall holders, pubs, restaurants and entertainers to be channeling A Christmas Carol. This is a traditional Christmas market with all jingle bells on. Choirs, vintage carousel, mulled wine and the chance to smash through your gift list.
Twilight Trail Biscuit Town, Abbey Quarter Reading, 4 – 31 Dec
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.
Lights & Liminality, Basildon Park Pangbourne, now – 5 Jan
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.
The Snow Queen, Rabble Theatre Reading, 3 – 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.
Percy the Park Keeper Winter Wander Trail, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – 23 Dec
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.
Christmas Fair, Shaw House Newbury, 5 Dec
If you’re craftier than Kirsty Allsopp at Christmas, but lack the skill or inclination to pull it off, then head to the Shaw House gift fair. More than 60 amazing elves will be selling unique, homemade gifts that can’t be found on the high street.
The Jungle Book, Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – 31 Dec
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.
Windsor Auctions Antiques and Collectables, Unit 18B Vansittart Estate Windsor, 1-12 Dec
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 a regular stop off on Celebrity Antique Road Trip.
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
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
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 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.
Windsor Great Park Illuminated, Windsor, Berks, 18 Nov – 9 Jan
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.
Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest Ascot, 14 Nov
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.
Winter Wonderland, Hills Meadow Reading, 13 Nov – 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, 20 Nov – 2 Jan
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
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.