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Book now! Plot your 2021 social comeback

There's light at the end of tunnel, so we've found 33 ways to give your social life CPR in 2021. Here's this year's hottest tickets in Berkshire.

Anyone remember the last time they went out out? Nah me neither. Lockdown is soul destroying but there’s a glimmer of light now that the vaccine is being rolled-out. Use your down time to plot your escape. There’s loads of top flight comedy, touring West End theatre, festivals and gigs and we’re here for it all. This is what we know so far.

COMEDY

The New Scummy Mummies Show, Corn Exchange Newbury, 24 Mar

Scummy-Mummies shiny pink unitards and feather boas

Comedians Helen Thorn and Ellie Gibson are bringing bonkers comedy show to the Corn Exchange in Newbury. Based on the UK’s number one kids and family podcast, the Scummy Mummies celebrate everything from drinking wine at teatime to hiding from the PTA (standard Muddy behaviour). Not to be missed.

Jimmy Carr – Terribly Funny, The Hexagon Reading, 5 Apr and 8 Nov

Jimmy Carr Terribly Funny smoking astronaut

Performing not once, but five times this year in Berks. Having political correctness at a comedy show is like having health and safety at a rodeo. Not for the easily offended, but definitely for anyone who loves the LOLs. Jimmy’s brand new stand-up show contains jokes about all kinds of terrible things. Terrible things that might have affected you or people you know and love. You’ve been warned.

Lucy Porter, South Street Arts Centre Reading, 3 Apr; Arlington Arts Centre Newbury, 24 Apr; Norden Farm Maidenhead, 12 Jun

Lucy Porter Be Prepared comedian wearing a brownie uniform

Dig out our Brownie uniform, Lucy Porter returns with her latest stand up show and we reckon your tea making badge may come in handy. Despite what Brown Owl told you, an emergency 10p for the phone box and a competent knot, cannot solve everything. Life’s slightly more complicated than that.

Jen Brister, South Street Arts Reading, 8 May

This show will sell out because there isn’t a Berkshire gig Jen Brister’s 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?

Russell Howard, The Hexagon Reading, 4 Jun

A man never too far from a TV camera is back on tour – and this time he’s going for world domination (lockdown fever bites back)! Following the critically acclaimed sold out arena leg of his tour Respite, Russell Howard returns with his biggest stand-up tour to date. Plenty of material to mull over during the pandemic so expect him to deal with everything from foreign policy to his fear of death.

Mo Gilligan – There’s Mo To Life, The Hexagon Reading, 21 Sep

Comedian MO GILLIGAN

The man of the Mo-ment (sorry), but seriously Mo Gilligan has been occupying hours of TV time over the past year. He a new judge on ITV’s The Masked Singer, appeared on the The Cube reboot and Celebrity Gogglebox, hosts his own show on Channel 4 and wants you in his eye line. It’s fair to say he’s trending. So go see one of the hottest new comedy talents on tour.

Chris Ramsey, The Hexagon Reading, 29 Oct

Chris-Ramsey-comedian

Chris Ramsay has finally scrubbed off the last of the fake tan and stopped finding glitter and sequins in every crevice. To celebrate, he’s shimmying off on tour for his biggest ever stand-up tour which includes stops in Reading in October.

Alan Carr – Not Again, Alan, The Hexagon Reading, 17-18 Nov

Alan Carr’s returns to the stage as part of his first stand up tour in five years. In that time he got married by Adele, became an accidental anarchist, a reluctant farmer and feared for his life at border control. Are you ready to activate your comedy release valve? Carr will cause a Mexican wave of belly laughter. Bring it on.

Jon Richardson – The Knitwit, The Hexagon Reading 11-12 Nov

Comedian Jon Richardson

A cardigan-wearing man moaning for two hours doesn’t sound like a hilarious comedy proposition (hey, if you want that, you can come round my house any night of the week and witness it for free). However, TV panel show stalwart and British Comedy Award nominee Jon Richardson’s gentle complaining about modern life is always entertaining – ‘where comedy meets knit picking in his new show The Knitwit..

ART/EXHIBITIONS

Exhibition: Wildlife Photographer of the Year, The Base Gallery, Greenham Common, 24 Feb – 25 Apr

c-Sergey-Gorshkov Wildlife Photographer

Wildlife photography requires patience, lightning reactions and a little bit of luck. But when they get the money shot… POW! the results are extraordinary. This year’s world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum, comes to The Base at Greenham Common. The competition receives over 49,000 entries from all over the world. This year’s award-winning images will embark on an international tour that will allow them to be seen by over a million people – and Newbury is the first stop.

Contemporary Art Fairs, Newbury Racecourse, 24-25 Apr and Windsor Racecourse 12-14 Nov

How cool is this? It makes a bold statement but perhaps not one for the kids’ bedrooms. Sculptor Steve Yeates’ fabulous figurative works has popped up at The Contemporary Art Fairs alongside more than 160 artists, printmakers, photographers, ceramicists and independent galleries from all over the UK and Europe. Have a mooch, chat to artists and, if you find something you love, prices start at just 40 quid.

THEATRE

An Evening with Kevin and Joanne Clifton, The Hexagon Reading, 24 Feb

An evening with Kevin and Joanne Clifton

Everyone’s favourite sequined siblings – Kevin and Joanne Clifton. No longer gracing the Strictly ballroom but still catnip to the British public. An Evening with Kevin & Joanne Clifton is an intimate show produced for socially distanced audience. Get all the goss, gloss and grit from Grimsby to a career under the glitter ball. It’s not show business without singing and dancing so there’s plenty of that too.

Ben Fogle – Tales From The Wilderness, The Hexagon Reading, 9 Sep

Adventurer Ben Fogle on top of snow capped mountain

The serial adventurer (he’s climbed Everest, dodged pirates and walked to the South Pole) will be discussing his past expeditions and answering questions from the audience.

Remembering The Oscars, The Hexagon Reading, 24 Mar

Aljaz-Jeanette_Remembering the OScars The Hexagon Reading

Love your Strictly stars covered in sequins and dripping in sass, then Aljaz and Janette’s Remember The Oscars dance show (above) is going to be right up your red carpet. Whether you are Wishing On A Star, Swinging On A Star or merely dancing in the City of Stars, this incredible production will take you from Disney family favourites, through to the Golden Ages of Hollywood.

Alice In Wonderland – The Musical, South Hill Park Bracknell, 14-18 Apr

Alice in Wonderland SHP Mad hatter Alice and the rabbit at the tea party

Make mine a double gin and I’ll happily disappear down a rabbit hole into the trippy world of Alice in Wonderland. Your kids will love it for entirely different reasons. South Hill Park always put on a damn fine school holiday musical with spectacular staging. They’re a talented bunch. Book in or the Red Queen will be “frumious”.

We Will Rock You, The Hexagon Reading, 4-8 May

We Will Rock YOu stage show

If Bohemian Rhapsody, unleashed a Queen obsession that you’re struggling to shake off, We Will Rock You, should scratch that itch. This worldwide hit musical by Queen and Ben Elton returns to the UK and it’s rocking up in Reading, with 24 of Queen’s biggest hits delivered in a show that boasts the scale and spectacle that marked the bands’ legendary live performances.

Horrible Histories – Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians, Corn Exchange Newbury, 4-6 Jun

Travel back in time to Georgian and Victorian times with a live stage show by Horrible Histories The production promises to uncover centuries of grisly history – and is perfect for kids with a thirst for all things awful and amusing (so that’s all kids then!!).

The Commitments, The Hexagon Reading, 26-30 Oct

The Commitments UK Tour The Hexagon Reading

If you remember the 1991 film, you’re gonna be feeling ancient. The Commitments is 30 years old!! *Gulp*. Well at least you’ll know all the music when you take your seat for the musical. It was a rip-roaring West End hit and is about to hit the road once more on its UK tour. IA guaranteed feel-good night out, with 20 soul classics to belt out.

MUSIC

BoyzLife, The Hexagon Reading, 27 Mar

Boyzlife – featuring WestLife's Brian McFadden and Boyzone's Keith Duffy

It’s an Irish mash-up (apologies for the potato pun), but fans of boybands Westlife and Boyzone are in for a treat as the two become one for the first time ever, with a full-band production show which features Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy. Expect to hear top tunes from both bands. Cheesy yes, but you’ll know the words and if you take your own stool, you’ll be ready for the upstanding key change.

MUSIC: Olly Murs, Newbury Racecourse, 14 Aug

Olly Murs is making his way back to Berkshire – and our heart ‘s skipping a beat. Last at Newbury Racecourse in 2017, we’re hoping he’ll be wearing his tightest trews and given us a run down of all his greatest hits. This is a double shot of joy that we all need this year.

MUSIC: Summertime Live with Classic Ibiza, Royal Windsor Racecourse, 14 Aug

Classic Ibiza Windsor_1000x666

Picture the scene – a beautiful sunset, balmy 30 degrees, overpriced vodka & tonic and a cracking choon. Nope, not your typical night in San Antonio, it’s Windsor’s answer to the White Island. The Urban Soul Orchestra conducted will bebanging out the Ibiza anthems, with live DJ and vocalists. Bare some flesh and party till dawn (*cough* I mean 10pm) Her Maj needs her beauty sleep.

MUSIC: Jess Glynne – Live after Racing, Royal Windsor Racecourse, 28 Aug

I don’t know much about the gee-gees,, but partying in the paddock is something I can do. Get your glad rags on for a full day of racing then shuffle and sway to the stunning vocals of Jess Glynne – a Grammy-award-winning singer/songwriter taking to the stage at Royal Windsor Racecourse this summer.

MUSIC: Rick Astley, Newbury Racecourse, 18 Sep

Rick Astley

The thing about Rick Astley, when he says he’s doing a gig, he’s ‘never gone give you up, never gonna let you down’. His Party In The Paddock at Newbury Racecourse had to be postponed for obvious reasons, but Rick’s back with bells on. He’ll be performing on 18 Sep, and never disappoints. Book up.

FESTIVALS

Rise & Shine Retreat, Wasing Park Aldermaston, 28-31 May

Wasing Estate Aldermaston Berkshire woodland tents sunset festivals retreats

Coming out of lockdown feels like the opening episode of Lost. A weekend of wellbeing to hit the reset button and recharge could just the antidote to the pandemic. If you love a bit of woo woo magic, this could be right up your street. Set in the ancient woodland of Wasing Estate, tap into the power of nature and off you go.

Pub in the Park, Higginson Park Marlow, 14-16 May

Pub in the park Tom Kerridge Giant PITP letters

Tom Kerridge has Marlow residents eating out of the palm of his hand (not literally, that would be disgusting). Pub In the Park is back with bells on. The food and music festival will see performances from the likes of Basement Jaxx, Marc Almond, Craig David, Lightning Seeds and Heather Small, alongside the UK’s sizzling stars of the kitchen.

Let’s Rock The Moor, Marsh Meadow Cookham, 22 May

Stage and lighting Rock The Moor retro festival cookham berkshire

Blue mascara? Check. Yellow eyeshadow? Check. Hair backcombed to the max? Check. (and that’s just the boys). Then you’re ready to hit the 80s love fest that is Let’s Rock the Moor in Cookham. This year’s line up includes Tony Hadley, Kim Wilde, Toyah, Howard Jones, The Undertones, ABC and UB40… why on why would you ever miss it?

RunFestRun, Great Windsor Park, 28-30 May

RunFestRun is Chris Evans’s baby – a man who loves to run and party (just not at the same time). He started the event to bottle the end-of-race endorphins and pour it all into a weekend of celebration. We love the sound of the 3K Sunset Shuffle, but there’s also a family fun run and a 2.5K family road race, as well as more traditional 5K/10K and Half Marathons for the keen. Your reward? Join the kids rave, silent disco and live music while sinking your gnashers into a gourmet burger and drinking a G&T.

FESTIVAL: Countryfile Live, Great Windsor Park, 20-23 Aug

BBC Countryfile Live Blenheim Palace presenters sat on hay bales

The BBC’s rural rock stars have been camping out at Blenheim Palace for the last couple of years, but the Duke of Marlborough’s been trumped by the Queen as Countryfile Live will now pop up at Windsor Great Park. There will be food, a funfair, wildlife, talks and the Craven Arms is back. See you at the bar for a pear cider.

Reading Festival, Richfield Ave Reading, 27-29 Aug

If there’s one thing that’ll clear a field full of teenagers, it’s their parents living it up like it’s 1996. Reading Festival has announced that Liam Gallagher is headlining this year’s festival in August, so expect more middle-aged, parka-wearing Britpoppers than usual.

Great British Food Festival, Englefield House Theale, TBC

The beautiful grounds at Englefield House will be groaning with food and drink stalls for Berkshire’s Great British Food Festival. Two days of foodie fun with baking and barbecue stages, amazing food producers as far as the eye can see, chef demos and more. No date has been fixed but the organisers are keen to make this happen in 2021.

Cliveden Literary Festival, Cliveden House Taplow, 23-24 Oct

Cliveden House Hotel Taplow Maidenhead Berkshire Italianate mansion 376 acres Profumo affair Andre Garrett restaurant Meghan Markle

Politics, scandal and intelligent literary chat – kept civilised with an abundance of bubbles. Not a Boris  Johnson house party but the Cliveden Literary Festival. Nothing has been announced yet but Famous names from previous years include historian Chris Evans, Helen Fielding, Brett Easton Ellis, broadcaster Emma Maitlis, Professor Brian Cox, Jacob Ress Mogg and many more. With the sumptuous hotel as the backdrop, this promises to be a fabulous affair.

SOCIAL SCENERY

SPORT: Royal Ascot, Ascot Racecourse, 15-19 Jun

ascot_style_guide_2020_village_Enclosure woman in pink pleaated dress and maroon twisted hat

Ah, the familiar sound of hooves rumbling across Ascot Racecourse, and that’a just the women in the heels they’ve not worn for over a year. We are keeping our fingers crossed that Royal Ascot will be open to the public this year. So grab your hat, keep the hemlines long, the fake tan light and enjoy a day of celeb spotting and apparently there are few horses running too. It’s the perfect place to people watch, just don’t overdo the bubbles for fear of making it on the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame.

Royal Henley Regatta, Henley, 29 Jun – 4 Jul

Straw boaters on, eyes on the lunch box (sarnies or Lycra bulges… they’re not mutually exclusive) and watch the rowing brawn from the riverbank. There’s over 200 races to watch the smoking–hot rowers and enjoy your Champagne picnic.

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