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What’s on this week in Berkshire

Fun incoming in the Berkshire 'hood. We've got cool comedy, epic exhibitions and a BGT star's new magic show that'll blow your mind. Out. You. Go.

THEATRE: Ben Hart – 2 Metre Magic, Corn Exchange Newbury, Thu 22 Oct

Ben-Hart-2-Metre-Magic-Corn Ex New

Remember Ben Hart the rather quirky but attractive magician from BGT? Well he’s coming to Berkshire to perform his most intimate magic show yet in an evening of ‘close-up magic’. A rare chance to witness up-close Ben’s acclaimed sleight-of-hand, set against a backdrop of hilarIous patter.

THEATRE: Lone Flyer, The Watermill Theatre Newbury, Wed 21 Oct – Sat 21 Nov

Inside the watermill theatre Newbury

The Watermill Theatre’s indoor season is off to a flying start – quite literrally, with Lone Flyer. Another socially-distant one-actor production, this time starring Amy Johnson as the first woman to fly solo from England to Oz. But the outbreak of war changed everything.

COMEDY: Mark Watson – How You Can Almost Win, Norden Farm, Thu 22 Oct

Comedian Mark Watson Norden farm

In 2017, Mark Watson – a man prone to considerable anxiety, with multiple phobias and a history of piss-poor self-esteem – was asked to go on Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls. To say it wasn’t his bag, is an understatement. Mark enjoys safety, comfort, food and not being scared and miserable. But the experience changed the shambolic comedian for the better, and now he’s written a sort of motivational talk with jokes. Join the socially distant audience or online.

KIDS: Hallowellyeen, Wellington Country Park Riseley, Sat 24 – Sat 31 Oct

halloween Wellington Country Park girl with pumpkin

A week of spooktacular fun for the kids at Wellington Country Park from 24 – 31 October – Storytime, monster’s mischief and magic shows, a creepy craft room, scary face painting, a haunted Halloween train ride, pumpkin carving and much more! Book em up. 

COMEDY: Jen Brister – Under Privilege, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sat 24 Oct

comedian Jen Brister wearing yellow sat under a yellow flower hoop

This show will sell out (largely because of the socially distant seating plan) but to be fair there isn’t a Berkshire gig Jen Brister’s (above) done in recent years that hasn’t. She describes herself as a stand-up comedian, writer, actor, d***head, and it’s that kind of self-deprecating humour, we love. Her show Under Privilege takes an irreverent look at the often controversial subject of ‘privilege’. Who has it? Who doesn’t? And why does no one like to admit they have any?

FAMILY FUN: Halloween Trail, Beale Park Pangbourne, Sat 24 Oct – Sun 1 Nov

Head to Beale Park like a bat out of her for its Halloween Trail. Just look for the clues that will be dotted around the Park, ooh and ah at the many different animals and join in the spooky fun. Kids get in for free if they come dressed to scare (with a fee paying adult).

ART: Exhibition on Screen – Frida Kahlo, Corn Exchange Newbury, Sun 25 Oct

The-Two-Fridas-Corn Ex New
Image credit: The Two Fridas, 1939, Frida Kahlo, Museo de Arte Moderno, Photo © Bridgeman Images

Coronavirus has enabled us to view art and exhibitions virtually. No matter where they are in the world. Making use of the latest technology, take an in-depth look at key works of Frida Kahlo throughout her career. She was an extraordinary woman who should be remembered for more than her brows and floral crowns. Discover her art, and uncover the truth behind her often turbulent life.

EXHIBITION: Quentin Blake and John Yoeman – 50 Years of Children’s Books, The Base Greenham, now – Sun 6 Dec

QUENTIN BLAKE JOHN YEOMAN exhibition The Base Newbury

Just like wine and cheese, Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl trip off the tongue. But a new exhibition at The Base in Greenham Common reveals Quentin Blake’s longest collaboration was in fact with the author John Yeoman. House of Illustration’s 50 Years of Children’s Books exhibition is the first to celebrate this partnership. It features the original drawings for A Drink of Water, and 10 other projects – from picture books and short novels.

PYO Pumpkin, Cobbs Farm Shop Hungerford, now – Sat 31 Oct

Cobbs Farm PYO pumpkin

Slime and seeds – pumpkin carving is a nightmare, but it definitely keeps the kids busy for a bit. Head to Cobbs Farm and pick your own pumpkin (pay for it)  Check in at the new bus café, you have one hour to find your perfect pumpkin. Then head home for creative carving, or paint it (much easier0 Entry is £3.50 per child!

Reading Museum, Reading 

Reading Museum Silchester Gallery glass displays deer head stair case

Reading Museum is a treasure trove of taxidermy and preserved beetles and butterflies. Reading Museum, with its full size Victorian copy of the Bayeux Tapestry, has more than its fair share of stuffed animals, art and biscuits. There’s also lots of activities from a Big Draw animal and mummified fish demos to a Victorian schoolroom experience and Frankenstein paper bag creatures.

Basildon Park, Lower Basildon

Kids playing in Autumn leaves at Basildon Park

The National Trust is always a life saver when it comes to half term and Basildon Park has a good offering this year with a free autumn nature trail around the grounds and quirky scarecrow display in the walled garden.

EXHIBITION: HRH Princess Beatrice Wedding Dress, Windsor Castle, Thu 24 Sep – Sun 22 Nov

princess-beatrice-WEDDING GOWN ON display

No fuss, no pomp or ceremony, on the 17 Jul 2020 Princess Beatrice quietly married Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi at Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor wearing her ‘something borrowed’ vintage Norman Hartnell borrowed from Granny. It helps she’s the Queen. Now we get to see this masterclass in craftsmanship up close now that it is on display at Windsor Castle. The queen famously wore this gown to the premiere of Lawrence Arabia at the Oden Leicester Square in 1962. It was nothing short of perfection.

KIDS: Brick or Treat, Legoland Windsor, now – Sun 8 Nov

Lifesize Lego Halloween figures dracula orange lego brick with lashes and witches hat and frankenstein

I’ve run out of jokes about Brick or Treat – that’s how long this Legoland event has been running! But there’s some new bits to sink your teeth into: The Haunted Lighthouse Halloween Show, Scarecrow joins the spooky Brick or Treat crew, plus 55 ‘spooktacular’ rides, live shows and attractions.

FILM: White Riot, Corn Exchange Newbury, now – Wed 21 Oct

White-Riot-Corn Ex New

Rubika Shah’s award-winning and energising film charts a vital national protest movement. Rock Against Racism (RAR) was formed in 1976, prompted by ‘music’s biggest colonialist’ Eric Clapton and his support of racist MP Enoch Powell. White Riot blends fresh interviews with queasy archive footage to recreate a hostile environment of anti-immigrant hysteria and National Front marches. Tough but important viewing.


ART: START Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, 21-25 Oct

Hey Queenie, nice nose ring! This cool, contemporary art fair, which takes pieces from London’s top galleries, will go ahead this year with social distancing measures and an exceptional line up of artists including  Lincoln Townley,  Erika Navas and Nat Bowen. In addition to START Art Fair, Korean Eye’s 2020 exhibition Creativity and Daydream will be on show having travelled from The State Hermitage in St Petersburg after a six-month stay, featuring a wealth of emerging and established talent from South Korea. 

Halloween at Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, 24 Oct – 1 Nov 

Waddesdon Manor halloween afternoon tea

The National Trust site is piling on the activities for autumn half term including a ghostly trail around the grounds, pumpkin carving in The Stables and – our personal favourite – a spooky-themed Halloween afternoon tea (how cute is that little ghost meringue?!). Booking essential. 

IF Oxford Science & Ideas Festival, online, now – 17 Nov 

giant gold earth Oxford science fest

The city’s annual science and tech fest is taking everything online this year with loads of digital events across half term for kids including storytelling and coding workshops.

Fright Night Fearstival, Thorpe Park, Surrey, now – Sun 1 Nov

Thorpe Park Fright Night

A dead cert hit with adrenaline junkie teens, it’s the 19th annual Fright Night at Thorpe Park. Expect thrilling rollercoaster rides, spooks, ghouls and social distancing. Recommended for ages 13+.

EXHIBITION: Among The Trees, The Hayward Gallery, Southbank, until 31 Oct

Among the trees Hayward Gallery

From Colombian rainforests and remote Japanese islands to olive orchards in Israel and a 9,550-year-old spruce in Sweden, this mixed media exhibition explores trees relationship to humans, featuring work from 37 international artists. You’re right on the Southbank so plenty of foodie options to head to after your culture fix.

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