What’s on this week in Berkshire
It's less than three weeks to go, people! Don your sparkly jumper and get stuck in to these fab festive shows, concerts and lantern parades. Plus, Christmas-free culture, if you're more of a Grinch...
MUDDY’S PICK OF THE WEEK
Festival of Light, Newbury, 12 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 5pm.
Christmas Shopping Weekend, Next The Oracle Reading, 11-12 Dec
for beauty buffs – Next Beauty & Homes store in The Oracle Reading (yes, that Next) is hosting a Christmas Shopping Weekend on 11 – 12 Dec with 10% off in-store as well as goody bags for the first 100 customers who spend over £45 and discount at the RAWR beauty salon. Now that’s the kind of Christmas shopping we like!
Christmas Lunch at Ascot, Ascot Racecourse, 12 and 19 Dec
Cinders, you will go to the ball – and if there’s one place that knows how to put on a show for the big events it’s Ascot Racecourse. Get your glad rags on for a fun festive lunch with friends, family or work team. Delicious food, great atmosphere and all the tinsel, twinkly lights and bubbles to get you in the Christmas spirit.Adults £29.50 and Kids £15.
Beauty & The Beast, The Hexagon Theatre Reading, now – 3 Jan
CBeebies demigod, Justin Fletcher and award-winning Dame, Paul Morse return to the Reading stage as Billy and Nanny Pastry in the Covid postponed Beauty And The Beast. Join Lumière and his pottery pals for a spin round the Beast’s ballroom and enjoy the sizzling on stage chemistry between Justin and Paul. Oh no you won’t! Oh yes you… (sorry, I’ll stop).
Cinderella, South Hill Park Bracknell, now – 3 Jan 2022
You shall go to the ball… or failing that the panto. There’s a reason why families return year after year to South Hill Park in Bracknell – this production is pure panto joy. Expect all the cheesy one liners, toe tapping songs and a stunning set.
The Snow Queen, Rabble Theatre Reading, now – 24 Dec
For a show that’s light on cheese, book The Snow Queen – a new play, written by Anna Wheatley based on the original Hans Christian Andersen story. Set in mid-winter, two besties’ worlds are torn apart when one of them mysteriously disappears and the other is forced to set out on a treacherous journey across Scandinavia to find him. The Rabble Theatre has a fab reputation, so worth booking in.
Christmas At Windsor, Windsor Castle, now – 31 Jan
Something a little spesh at Windsor Castle. No, Meghan and Kate will not be scrapping on the steps of St George’s Chapel. The Queen’s home from home has been transformed for Christmas. See the State Apartments dressed with shimmering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and festive garlands. In the Waterloo Chamber, for the first time you’ll be able to the Queen and Princess Margaret’s panto costumes in the same spot they were originally performed 80 years ago.
Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest Ascot, now – 24 Dec
Good news, kids, Santa’s quit the North Pole, perpetual darkness and Northern Lights, to set up shop in the UK. 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 25th December. It’s a four-hour immersive experience so pack the Kendal Mint Cake.
Winter Wonderland, Hills Meadow Reading, now – 3 Jan 2022
It’s back! After a mini break, Reading’s Winter Wonderland will be popping up in Hills Meadow Car Park. Expect more festive fun than a Mariah Carey video. There’s an ice rink, fun fair, Aprés bar, Santa’s grotto, German sausage and lots and lots of mulled wine. It’s free to enter, but you can buy tickets now for Santa’s Grotto, Ice Skating and an unlimited ride pass.
Windsor On Ice, Alexandra Gardens Windsor, 20 Nov – 2 Jan
Windsor On Ice is back for the winter and whether you’re Olympic standard or a ‘cling on’ like me, they’re great for a family day out, or a fun slippy-slidey Christmas party. This year they’ll be putting up the big screen for super-cool pop up cinema, plus fun fair, food and bar. Sessions are for 45 mins. See you in A&E, I mean on the ice.
Legoland at Christmas, Legoland Windsor
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. There are Lego Make and Take activities a DUPLO puppet pantomime and Santa flying through the resort on his sleigh. Think of your children’s faces lighting up and the enormous gin you’ll need the you get home.
Kipper’s Snowy Day, Norden Farm Maidenhead, now – 30 Dec
Looking for a Christmas show that dials down the crazy? Norden Farm always put on an atmospheric, bookish production with puppets. This year, Kipper’s Snowy Day will be brought to life – a classic children’s tale nails the Christmas Eve excitement. It’s perfect for littles and SEND children.
Cinderella, Corn Exchange Newbury, now – 2 Jan
Can’t stand Z-list pantos? The Corn Exchange continues its policy of not bothering with the soap star brigade, with its in-house panto. Watch Cinderella outwit the wicked Step Mother and her Ugly Sisters to find her Prince Charming and generally have a rip-roaring time.
Jack And The Beanstalk, Theatre Royal Windsor, now – 14 Jan
Filed under ‘classic cheesefest’, this year the Theatre Royal’s panto is Jack And The Beanstalk. Windsor’s favourite comedy duo, Kevin Cruise and Steven Blakeley have been dusting off the panto patter and old pros Anita Harris and Basil Brush add a dash of nostalgia. It’s a great panto in a beautiful theatre. Booooom booooooom!
The Jungle Book, Watermill Theatre Newbury, now – 31 Dec
Be the king of the swingers (not like that, this is a family show), a jungle VIP at The Watermill’s bookish Christmas production of The Jungle Book. This is a wild and captivating musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale full of warmth, laughter and wonder.
Twilight Trail Biscuit Town, Abbey Quarter Reading, now – 31 Dec
Is it even Christmas without the flicker of candlelight or a megawatt display to ooh and ahh? Reading’s Twilight Trail is back – a magical festive wander through a sea of sparkles and illuminations in the iconic Abbey Quarter. This year the trail features a light installation that celebrates Reading’s biscuit-making past, interactive elements and the Abbey Ruins come alive with sound and light. It’s basically Reading’s answer to Studio 54 – there’s even a bar. Tickets (adults £8, kids £6) must be booked in advance. Under 2s are free.
Windsor Great Park Illuminated, Windsor, now – 9 Jan
Christmas is coming and Windsor Great Park’s inaugural illuminated trail is the one to book. The trail, produced by guys behind Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, will feature a field of lights that will extend more than 1,400 sqm, fountains of projected flowers and holograms of woodland creatures. Prepare to be dazzled. Open from 4.30pm-10pm. Tickets: Adults £21.45, Child, £13.20 and Family £74.80.
The Illuminated Garden at West Green House, near Hartley Wintney, Hook, now – 30 Dec
Gigantic shimmering flowers, glowing fairies and a forest of illuminated red tulips – the famous Opera Garden at West Green House in North Hampshire undergoes it’s stunning annual winter transformation from late November. Look out for lit water lilies floating on lakes, bridges turned into tunnels of lights and classical follies twinkling in the darkness. Beautiful.
Lights & Liminality, Basildon Park Pangbourne, now – 5 Jan
Basildon Park is blinged out for festive fun. This year, the house has a nature theme inside and out with lots of sensory surprises. The Dining Room has been transformed into an indoor terrarium, walks are lit by fairy lights and the smell of dried oranges and cinnamon will fill the house. So crack open the Black Tower, pass the nuts, and introduce your kids to life before Netflix. Basildon Park is also running after dark candlelit tours on the 3 and 10 Dec.
Percy the Park Keeper Winter Wander Trail, Cliveden National Trust Taplow, now – 23 Dec
A fun Christmas trail around the grounds where kids need to help Percy The Park Keeper. You’ll have the help of Percy’s animal friends who will accompany you around the Cliveden estate, noticing what’s around in winter and how to look after animals and habitats. Follow clues and a note from Percy to find lost items and get the tasks done.
OOPS! MISSED IT
Wine Quiz Evening, Stanlake Park Wine Estate Twyford, 9 Dec
A general knowledge quiz with wine. How messy could this get? The stunning Stanlake Park Wine Estate will be putting your brain cells to the test. Grab your brainiac pals so they can do the heavy lifting while you tuck into the mulled wine. Pick up our Christmas wine while you are there. Another thing off the to-do list.
Christmas at Highclere, Highclere Castle Newbury, 7-9 Dec
At the beginning of December you can spend Christmas at Downton, I mean Highclere. Frock up, we’re off to impress Lord and Lady Carnavon for a festive snoop and gift shopping. As we all start to down tools for the holidays, you can head back to Highclere for a special performance of A Christmas Carol (20-21 Dec). Drink Champagne in the Library, before the performance by Gerald Dickens, Great-Great Grandson of Charles Dickens.
Aidan Goatley: 12 Films of Christmas, The Old Court Windsor, 10 Dec
Deck the halls and grab the popcorn as comedian Aidan Goatley shouts “action” on a brand-new show of cinematic based niceness that will warm your heart, no matter the weather. Join Aidan as he tells us how he came to choose the ’12 Films of Christmas’ that have helped shape his love of the festive season.
Bounce and Bubbles, The Swan At Streatley, 9 Dec
Jump, for my love! No Hugh Grant Dad dancing in Love Actually but the opportunity to hop on to one of the hottest fitness routines right now. ((Bounce)) are taking the fitness world by storm with their low impact, high cardio classes on mini trampolines. The classes give you the same buzz as a spin class, with the feeling of a party. Your reward? A glass or bubbles at the end. That’s my kinda workout. £10 or free to gym members.
Victorian Extravaganza, Hungerford town centre, 10 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.
Babe The Sheep Pig, Progress Theatre Reading, 8 – 11 Dec
Squeals of excitement! Babe The Sheep Pig is arriving at the Progress Theatre Reading this Christmas. Who can forget the Oscar-winning 1995 film, based on Dick King-Smith’s best-selling book? Now the story of a little pig who dreams big is brought to life by a show full of laughter and live music.
Christmas Carol Concert, Reading Minster, 11 Dec
Get yourself in the Christmas spirit without having to wait for King’s College Cambridge on Christmas Eve! There will be familiar carols and some others that may be less so, sung by Reading Pheonix Choir – and anyone who wants to join in.
Guilty Pleasures, Market Yard Printhouse Reading, 10 Dec
Pop kids, throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care and let those anthems course through your veins. Guilty Pleasures is the UK’s best pop night, a club where the spirit of Umbrella-era Rihanna downs shots with Whitney Houston, while Dua Lipa doesn’t stop moving to the funky funky beat with S Club 7 and Lady GaGa loses it over the fact that Backstreet’s back, all right? I’m not sure a night out gets more fun than this.
ROH Live: The Nutcracker, South Hill Park Bracknell and Corn Exchange Newbury, 9 Dec
There’s nothing like a sea of tutus, twinkly lights, sugar plum fairies to lift the spirits… it can only be the Nutcracker – an 18th century prequel to Toy Story. The Royal Ballet’s staging of this classic ballet is jaw-dropping. Peter Wright’s reworked production is available to watch live without leaving the county. Pass the popcorn, it’s a cracker.