FRI 27 – SUN 29 JULY
Reading Fringe Festival, various locations, Fri 24 – Wed 29 Jul
No need to schlep to Edinburgh for the Fringe, some of the finest comedy shows are being performed in Reading now. A huge choice of acts, with loads of cool stuff for grown ups and kids to see. I’m liking the sound of Ice Music on Fri 27 Jul by Norwegian percussionist Terje Isungset and Eddie Summers – Rock Fuel, a surreal and relentlessly foolish brand of comedy capturing audiences imaginations with mini-explosions of chaotic banter on Sat 28 Jul. Grab your chance to see our up and coming comic stars without the ridiculous price tag (many performances are just £8). Bargain! You can read Muddy’s picks of the programme here.
The International Day, Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, Sat 28 Jul
Rub shoulders with royalty, rock stars and the Hollywood A list at polo’s fancy pants International Day (formerly the Cartier International) held for the first time ever at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club in Winkfield. Polo is actually a fun spectators sport with a large dollop of social fun thrown in for good measure. Once the competitive bit is over, swap chukkas for Chinawhites and party into the small hours. You may need the stamina of a polo pony. Dressage champ Charlotte Dujardin will also perform on the day. Tickets from £25.
DRINKIES: Friday night pop up bar, Douai Pavillion Woolhampton, throughout July
Picture the scene: balmy summer evenings, unspoilt countryside, kids happily playing games without the need for you to referee the perpetual bickering, while you enjoy a blissful Friday night sundowner. This utopia is a reality at the Summer Pop Up Bar at Douai Pavillion in Woolhampton. Running every Friday night from 6pm, it’s a great place for the whole family to let off steam. Winner!
THEATRE: Little Baby Bum, Hexagon Reading, Fri 27 – Sun 29 Jul
If you’ve got littlies, the chances the digital nanny will have stumbled across Little Big Bum. For the rest of us, it’s a YouTube channel with animated characters singing nursery rhymes with more subscribers than Zoella and Coldplay – 16million people, since you’re asking, with more than 15 billion views. It’s catnip to little kids and now it’s coming live to a theatre near you. Book up, pass the tramadol and polish your parental halo.
KIDS: The Maidenhead Beach, Norden Farm Maidenhead, now – Sun 2 Sep
This way to the beach. And no it doesn’t involve a motorway queue, windbreaker or an umbrella. Norden Farm’s sandpit of fun is open for business. Head to Maidenhead with the kids. They can enjoy this laid back tropical Goan paradise, fun activities, an indoor sensory space while you say kick back at the Beachside cafe. It’s totes freeee and open from 10am-4pm.
FILM: Luna Cinema at Stonor Park, Fri 27 – Sun 29 Jul
On Fri 27 Jul, Moulin Rouge can-cans into Stonor Park ‘come what may’ (yes, I have the soundtrack), followed by Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone on Sat 28 July and ending with the classic of all time Casablanca. Hot food and a full bar will be provided but you’re welcome to bring a picnic if you can be bothered (er, nope).
FILM: Open Air Cinema, Wellington Country Park Riseley, Fri 27 – Sat 28 Jul
I think I am the only person on the planet not to have seen The Greatest Showman. If you want a soundtrack free zone, head to my house. But if you and your kids want to see this all singing all dancing Hugh Jackman-Zac Efron musical fest just one more time, then head to Wellington Country Park, near Reading. Feel the need for speed? Top Gun is being shown on the Saturday night. Did someone say Pimms and popcorn?
South East Roller Marathon, Dorney Lake Eton, Sun 29 July
Dust off your old school skates and feel the breeze in your hair at the South East Roller Marathon Launch event at Dorney Lake this weekend. My first proper skates were blue suede with a rainbow motif and bright yellow wheels. They were the best present EVER. This is a pre-ticket only event. So get our skates on and buy a ticket. The fun starts from 11am-5pm. Remember your knee and elbow pads, I’m guessing it’s been a while.
Lynn Chadwick, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – Oct 2018
If you loved the Benar Venet sculptures at Cliveden last year, then the new installation of English sculpture and artist Lynn Chadwick’s awesome abstract metal works inspired by the human form and natural world. His big, bold sculptural pieces are doted around the grounds. Take a stroll, admire and then pop into Cliveden House for afternoon tea or lunch at the Astor Grill. nationaltrust.org.uk/cliveden
THEATRE: Brian Blessed directs Unexpected Guest, Mill at Sonning, now – Sat 28 Jul
BOOM! The man with the biggest voice in show business is back in Berks. National treasure Brian Blessed in the director’s chair at The Mill at Sonning, following on from his successes with A Spider’s Web and The Hollow. And who better than Flash Gordon to take on Agatha Christie’s classic whodunnit, An Unexpected Guest? Brian has been peddling his acting wares for 60 years and knew and worked with Christie, so you know this will be a corker. And remember, your ticket price also includes a two-course meal.
EVENT: Lunar Eclipse Canoe Tour, Dinton Pastures Wokingham, Fri 27 July
Madness or magic? You decide. Here’s your chance to to see this month’s longest lunar eclipse and blood moon on a guided tour of the lake at Dinton Pastures. It’s suitable for ages 4+, everyone has to join in paddling and you get to see the earth eclipse the moon. For some people the idea of being on a lake in the dark with your kids is a recipe for disaster, but it’s the school hols and probably worth the late night.
FILM: Swimming With Men, Corn Exchange Newbury, Fri 27 Jul – Thu 2 Aug
If the cineplex blockbusters aren’t floating your boat, check out Swimming With Men starring Rob Brydon and Jane Horrocks. A mid-life crisis leads unlucky-in-love Eric (Rob Brydon) to the local pool where he plunges into the all-male synchronised swimming scene to win back wife Heather (Jane Horrocks). Sync or swim, it’s laugh-out-loud from the get go.
ART: Nick Schlee: Drawn to Ridgeway, Donnington Priory Newbury, until 31 Jul
Need a culture fix? Avoid that overheated London bound train like the plague. An awesome exhibition of local artist Nick Schlee’s drawings has just opened at Mallett Showrooms, Donnington Priory near Newbury. Drawn To the Ridgeway is a curated collection of Nick’s landscape sketches, created on the spot as he puts oil pastel to paper during one his many strolls along this famous ancient trail. It’s on until Tues 31 July
EVENT: Circus Sampler, Somerset House, London, Wed 25 Jul – Tues 7 Aug
More circus celebrations with a free exhibition Circus Originals opening on 25 July plus live circus events. Dance artists Far From The Norm perform Union Black that combines humour, hip hop and circus using Chinese poles and tight-wire. Between performances, you can watch international record-breaking hula hooper extraordinaire, Marawa. She’s joined by her team of hoop performers, The Majorettes, and they’ll teach you to hula hoop after the show.
THEATRE: Kids Week in August, various London locations
Sound and Sourcery at The Vaults, London – 3 July – 30 Sept: Immersive music concert experience inspired by Disney’s Fantasy. Under Waterloo station, collect your headphones at the door and step inside the tunnels. Dance with a funky hippo, walk in a prehistoric wasteland, seek out the fairies in a magic forest and sneak into the Sorcerer’s lair. Also Hip Hop Hippo Dance Workshop on selected dates. Suitable for 8 +
Star Seekers, National Theatre, London – 8 Aug – 1 sept – help the star seekers save their space station in this interactive 50 minute show for 3 – 8 year olds.
42nd Street, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane – free tickets to this musical extravaganza on selected dates in August.
Pressure, Ambassador’s Theatre, London – free tickets to this funny and tense play about the D-Day landings. Suitable for older kids.
EVENT: Countryfile Live, Blenheim Palace, Thurs 2 – Sun 5 Aug
Can’t get enough of Adam Henson and the Countryfile gang? Roll up, roll up, catch the show while you can at Blenheim Palace as the team showcase the best of the British countryside. Expect live arena shows where Matt Baker does a semi-naked trapeze act while John Craven tames the Fresian cows in top hat and fishnets. Apparently (and this bit is true) there’s also a National Trust theatre, waterside activities, off-road experiences, animal displays and 700 exhibitors. This year, they are also throwing a BBC Countryfile Live Summer Party on the Saturday 6-9pm, headlined by country duo The Shires (a BBC Radio 2 favourite) and supported by Newton Faulkner and Ferris & Sylvester.
THEATRE: True West, Vaudeville Theatre, London, from Fri 23 Nov
Booking is now open for the West End Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard’s ferociously funny, modern classic, True West. Directed by Matthew Dunster, an Olivier-nominated director, playwright, actor and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe, and starring Kit Harington (of Game of Thrones fame) and Johnny Flynn (Genius) as warring brothers, this sure sounds like a goodie.