FRI 14 – SUN 16 DEC
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEKEND
CHRISTMAS: Festival of Light, Northbrook St Newbury, Sun 16 Dec
Ooh pretty lights. The annual lantern procession is fast becoming a community Crimbo tradition and the lanterns get more and more elaborate every year. It’s amazing what you can do with willow and paper when you know what your doing. Good job I’m not involved in the making. Wrap up warm, head to Northbrook Street for the Festival of Light and join the fun at 4.30pm. Don’t miss out, it’s a bit spesh.
THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, South Street Arts Reading, now – Sun 30 Dec
It’s the first time South Street Arts in Reading have done a festive long-run production – and it’s a modern take on A Christmas Carol by there award-winning Reading Between The Lines Theatre Company. Set in the annual Office Christmas Party, boss Evelyn remains in a perennially bad mood. Her employees are unbearably cheerful, and no quantity of yule log can shake her from her penny-pinching miserdom. To top it off, over-enthusiastic intern Crystal has adapted ‘A Christmas Carol’ into a play for the party entertainment, but forgotten to cast someone as Scrooge…
CHRISTMAS: The Princess and The Pantomime, Windsor Castle, now – Sun 9 Dec
Something a little spesh at Windsor Castle. No, Meghan and Kate will not be scrapping on the steps of St George’s Chapel. Instead you’ll be whisked back to a time when the Queen and Princess Margaret famously staged their own pantos (possibly in the poshest costumes ever). Enjoy a theatrical retelling of Christmases past, including a pop-up panto in the Waterloo Chamber, exactly where The Queen and her sister performed wartime shows..
SHOPPING: Christmas Market, Yattendon Estate Tree Barn, Sat 15 – 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.
PANTO: Aladdin, Hexagon Reading, now – 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…
CHRISTMAS: Victorian Extravaganza, Hungerford town centre Fri 14 Dec
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose… Ahhh, life before Netflix, online shopping and Alexa belting out the carols. Step back in time at Hungerford’s annual Victorian Extravaganza with Helter Skelter, Big Wheel, stalls, side shows, fireworks, jugglers, stilt walkers and mulled wine.
COMEDY: Stephen K Amos: Bouquets and Brickbats, Fri 14 – Sat 15 Dec
Brexit. Trump: things have been looking bleak. Comic maestro Stephen K Amos might not be able to provide bread to the hungry masses, but no one else is going to put on a better circus. Leave your problems behind and who knows? Maybe the world will seem just a little bit brighter.
MUSIC: The Vinyl Frontier: Your Best of The Musicals, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sat 15 Dec
Eleven volunteers play their favourite track from their favourite musical. One will be crowned King or Queen of the stage! Join host Jeff Lloyd for a sociable evening of music, trivia and chat.
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.
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 when 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
FAMILY: Winterville, Clapham Common London, until 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.
FAMILY: Santa Sleepovers, Warwick Castle, throughout December