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This weekend

FRI 9 – SUN 11 NOV


FESTIVAL: Berkshire Christmas Festival, Newbury Showground, Sat 10 – Sun 11 Nov

It’s Christmaaaaaas…OK, not quite, but if the Berkshire Christmas Festival doesn’t get you in the spirit, I’m not sure what will.  There’s a circus, Santa, panto, Great British Bake Off 2017 star Julia Chernagorova, a Victorian Market featuring local food and drink producers and artisans, choirs, bell ringers and more more more. There’s even a Dog Show Christmas Pawty. It’s a one-stop festival of festive fun. Who needs the John Lewis Christmas ad, when you’ve got this. Tickets: £8; concessions £6, kids £4, Under 5s FREE.


EVENT: Lions Fireworks Display, Newbury Racecourse, Sat 10 Nov

Strap yourself to a Catherine Wheel, it’s your final call for Fireworks events. Going out with a bang, is Newbury’s biggie – the Lions Fireworks Spectacular at Newbury Racecourse. Don’t miss it out, its a goody.


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.


ART: Stanley Spencer: Friends and Family, Stanley Spencer Gallery Cookham, Thu 8 Nov – Mar  2019

First self portrait of british artist Stanley Spencer and one of the last

Youth and experience” Self portraits of Berkshire-born Stanley Spencer

Not a loyalty scheme, but the latest exhibition at the brilliant Stanley Spencer Gallery on Cookham High Street. Although more famous for his local landscapes, his portraits are world class – in fact one on his first self portraits hangs in the Tate Britain. This new exhibition is an intimate snapshot of the artist’s private life, demonstrating his immense talent at capturing the mood and character of those closest to him.


Patterns Photographic Exhibition, Green Park Reading, Thu 8 – Mon 12 Nov

Woman on bike amid curving lines Tony Sellen photograph called Lines

Image: Tony Sellen

Gawd, I wish I could take a good pic. I guess that’s the difference between an iPhone snap and an expensive camera used by someone who knows what they are doing. Anyhoo, see how the pros do it at the Photographic Angle’s FREE exhibition called Patterns. The photographers have captured hidden geometry that surrounds us, including this image by Tony Sellen called Lines.


TALK: An Evening With Michael Parkinson, Cliveden House Hotel Taplow, Fri 9 Nov

black and white image of legendary broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson suit and tie laughing with hand to mouth

If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would choose? Parky would definitely be at mine (whether he liked it or not). The man is a legend with more showbiz miles on the clock than the Rolling Stones tour bus. He’s interviewed over 2000 of the most important cultural figures of our time and won awards for journalism, radio and broadcasting. So Cliveden’s evening with Sir Michael is a bit spesh. Quaff Champers. scoff canapés, listen to Sir Michael talk, followed by a delicious 3-course dinner in the Andre Garrett Restaurant. Tickets £150pp.


TALK: Ayesha Hazarika – Girl on Girl: The Fight for Feminism, South Street Arts Reading, Fri 9 Nov

Political pundit Ayesha Hazarika brown hair pink top navy background

‘Phew! After Weinstein and #MeToo, women of the world have finally united… Who cares about smashing the patriarchy when you can go full-on Prisoner: Cell-Block H? So, what happened to feminism? Is it too posh? Too white? When did Germaine Greer become Richard Littlejohn? Whose feminism is it anyway?’ Political pundit Ayesha Hazarika tackles the F word.


ARTS: Contemporary Arts Fair, Windsor Racecourse, Fri 9 – Sun 11 Nov

Pure Evil print of Queen blue with red paint pouring out of one eye

Image: Pure Evil

If you’ve got blank walls and you’re looking for something cool, get yourself down to Windsor Racecourse for the 14th Contemporary Arts Fair for artwork that’s accessible and affordable. London’s Reem Gallery – an urban art gem – will be exhibiting for the first time this year showcasing the brilliant work of emerging artists alongside global household names.

DANCE: Beauty And The Beast, South Hill Park Bracknell, Sun 11 Nov

Ballet Theatre UK Beauty and the beast three dancers in last holding candelabras

If you’ve seen The Nutcracker a gazillion times (guilty as charged m’lud), why not try Beauty and The Beast. A stunning gothic production by Ballet Theatre UK is coming to South Hill Park in Bracknell. I think we all know the story by now, but I’m got Christmas party inspo right here and I’ll always be perfectly lit by carrying my own candelabra.


WALKS: Illuminated Woodland Walk, Basildon Park, now – 31 Jan 2019

illuminated woods Basildon park Berkshire

Wrap up, wellies on and trudge through the woods to see the trees in all their glory – preferably before the  leaves get blown off. Now that we are spending most of our time in darkness, we might as well get something out of it. In this case, an enchanting woodland walk, twinkly lights and all the Winter wonderland magic that goes with it. No need to book.


ART: Approaching Thunder, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, now – 13 Jan

River and Rowing Museum John Minton, ‘St. Florent, Corsica’, 1947, (Wakefield Permanent Art Collection). Photograph: Diane Feather

John Minton, ‘St. Florent, Corsica’, 1947, (Wakefield Permanent Art Collection). Photograph: Diane Feather

With Remembrance Sunday approaching, now’s a good time to visit the River & Rowing Museum to see their exhibition of 1940s prints and drawings by leading 20th Century British artists. With materials strictly rationed and a stagnant art market, artists including Edward Bawden, John Piper and Vanessa Bell turned to paper to record their experiences of life in wartime


FILM: The Grinch, UK cinema release, Fri 9 Nov

The Grinch face played by benedict Cumberbatch

Christmas is coming – so are the family films… so grab the kids and a jumbo bucket of popcorn. Dodgy green face paint is no more as Dr Seuss’ The Grinch gets a remake, released on Nov 9, in 3D computer animation. The trailer, where we get a first glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch in the starring role, already has over 3million views on YouTube, no doubt a million from my kids – they’re desperate to see it.



THEATRE: Horrible Histories, Wycombe Swan, Tues 6 – Sat 10 Nov

Family favourite Horrible Histories is back on tour with shows Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians, bringing us mummy-making, tomb excavations and an Armada sailing into the audience. We grabbed a quick cuppa with co-director Neal Foster about what grisly goings-on we can expect. Read all about it here.


CULTURE: Bacterial World, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, now – 28 May 2019

It might not seem the most interesting subject but the excellent Museum of Natural History has pulled out all the stops to excite visitors about their new Bacterial World exhibition by installing a giant (92 feet long) inflatable E.coli bacterium, hanging from the ceiling. The sculpture by Luke Jerram is just one of the exhibits aiming to educate people about the oldest form of life on earth. Bacteria are remarkable organisms and scientists are convinced they will help us tackle environmental problems so we really should learn to love ’em.


CULTURE: Month of Sundays Festival, Royal Opera House, London, now – Sun 25 Nov

The Royal Opera House is opening itself up for a month of interactive fun. They’ll be live demos from technicians and craftspeople who work on the ROH productions, you can take guided tours and learn new moves in a dance class, sing tunes from opera classics and make something crafty to take home. The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera artists will be performing in the public areas and there’s a sound installation that explores the history of the Opera House.


ART: Whistler and Nature, Compton Verney, Warks, now – Sun 16 Dec 

James McNeill Whistler, Battersea Reach from Lindsey Houses © The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

Warwickshire’s Compton Verney is casting a new light on the work of the great late-Victorian master, James McNeill Whistler, in Whistler and Nature (Sat Oct 20 – Dec 16), curated in partnership with The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow. The exhibition, which includes 90 oil paintings, explores the artist’s revolutionary attitude towards the natural


THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Troilus and CressidaRST, Stratford-upon-Avon, now  Sat 17 Nov

Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, this is the company’s first gender-equal production of Shakespeare’s “most testosterone-fuelled” play. Set in a futuristic dystopian Troy, it will involve close collaboration with the virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie.



ART: Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain, London, now – Sun 24 Feb

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones ‘Love Among the Ruins’ 1870-1973 Private Collection

Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones was one of the most influential British talents of the 19th century and this exhibition will bring together 150 works including paintings, stained glass and tapestry in a major new retrospective. Rejecting the starched world of the Victorians, he looked to myths, legends and the Bible to create his otherworldly work. He wanted to bring beautiful design to everyone and along with his friend William Morris, pioneered the Arts and Crafts



EVENT: Santa Landing, Stubbings Nursery Maidenhead, Sat 1 Dec

Illustration of Santa hanging out of a helicopter

Incommiiiiiiing! Santa knows how to make an entrance and it doesn’t get bigger and better than a helicopter. Sleighs are so last century. This event will seriously blow your kids’ minds. Thrill seeking Santa handing out gifts, meet the reindeer (poor fellas have been redundant), carols, meet Princesses Belle and Elsa, biscuit decorating and more. Tickets £6.


THEATRE: Madagascar The Musical, Hexagon Reading, Jan 2019

Madagascar The Musical Reading Hexagon 2018 Matt Terry as Lion

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 

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