What’s on this week
MON 18 – SUN 24 DEC
Where I Come From Exhibition, Cumberland Lodge Windsor, now – 6 Jan
In other news… while we fighting a losing battle with wrapping paper and sticky tape the ghost of Christmas present know as Brexit continues, so there’s no better time to see portrait photographer Bill Knight’s new exhibition Where I Come From – a celebration of freedom of movement and immigration in Britain. Positive stories rather than hysterical headlines.
Peter Pan, Hexagon Reading, now – Sun 7 Jan
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 hapless trainee pirate Mr Smee in his 6th panto for The Hexagon – and it’s a cracker. Tickets are selling fast, so book now.
Cliveden Christmas Carols, Cliveden House Hotel, Sun 17 and Mon 18 Dec
You can’t beat a good carol concert (unless Ma Muddy is belting out Silent Night, she can’t sing a note, bless her), but when you have the The Queen’s Six (half of the Lay Clerks of St George’s Chapel) carolling at Cliveden House., all the Xmas feels are guaranteed. Tickets £125 but include bubbles, canapes, the concert an a 3-course festive supper with wines. Book a cab. Ditch the naff festive knit for Black tie.
MR James Ghost Stories, The Hope Windsor, 20 & 21 Dec
Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol is the CBBC of spooky stories in comparison to MR James’s spine-chilling ghostly encounters. Back by popular demand, Robert Lloyd Parry will hunkering down to serve up are a dark and chilling Christmas treat. Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad – a tale of nocturnal horror on the Suffolk coast – is considered by many to be James’s masterpiece. Settle back in The Hope Library, lit only by candlelight, and prepare to be haunted.
Christmas Racing Weekend, Ascot Racecourse, Fri 22 – Sat 23 Dec
As we gallop down the final furlong to Christmas, head to Ascot Racecourse for its Christmas Racing Weekend. Two days of jump racing, great for a blow out with colleagues or mates. Saturday is a family fun day, Santa will be making an appearance (apparently he likes a flutter), there’s singing, mince pies and more – eyes peeled for members of the royal family.
Joyeaux Noel, Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Fri 1 Dec – Sat 6 Jan
Basildon Park is blinged out for Noël, inspired by Lady Iliffe’s French-Mauritian roots. 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 celebratedt at Basildon Park. Large piles of presents will sit under traditionally French decorated trees, and as you wander around, listen to the French Christmas music playing. You’ll find me slumped in a corner in a wine and cheese coma.
Live Music in the Royal Lounge Bar, Hinds Head Bray, 27 & 28 Dec
Before the turkey curry gets cold and the prosecco hangover kicks in, keep rocking around the Christmas tree at the Hinds Head in Bray. The soulful Sammie Jay will be blowing a tune upstairs in the Royal Lounge Bar – with its hunting lodge, gentleman’s club vibes – on Wed 27 and Thurs 28 Dec. For just £15, you get a an evening of live music, a signature cocktail and Heston’s iconic Scotch egg. To book call 01628 626151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Really treat yourself and book in for dinner beforehand – the diet starts in Jan *coughs.
Windsor On Ice Alexandra Gardens Windsor, until 7 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. There are two rinks here. The main one is under cover and there’s a smaller open-air rink. There’s also food and other attractions including an ice bar and grill. Sessions are for 45 mins. See you in A&E, I mean on the ice.
Winter Magic, Saville Garden Windsor, now – 23 Dec and 26 Dec – 1 Jan
While you’re trying to keep a lid on the bubbling excitement this week, why not trot along to The Savill Garden for bit of fresh air and Winter Magic. Let the kids run riot on the Gingerbread Trail, take a spin on the Edwardian Carousel, throw in some face painting and finish off with sweet treats in the Savill Garden Kitchen. Then hit the bottle by bedtime.
My Fair Lady, Mill at Sonning, now – 27 Jan
Can you Adam and Eve it, it’s not panto, it’s not a Christmas show, but it is a classic. Eliza Dolittle will be breaking into song for the musical My Fair Lady at the Mill at Sonning. If Crimbo theatre doesn’t get your jingle bell ringing, then this just might. Make a date with your mum… Wouldn’t it be Loverly?
Christmas Decoration, Guildhall Windsor, Tues 19 – ??? 31 Dec
If your kids are getting under your feet and driving you nuts as the Crimbo excitement reaches fever pitch, unplug them for a few hours and save your sanity at the Guildhall Windsor. Pop in and make a festive ornament for your tree. Kids get to do something festive (and FREE), you can take a break from shopping, wrapping, panicking (* hyperventilates – online shopping at these places is acceptable right?).
Christmas Trail: Angel Academy, National Trust Cliveden, throughout December
Cliveden’s new Christmas trail offers little ones the opportunity to train at Angel Academy; a fun mission-style trail around the estate where kids will complete tasks in order to graduate. They’ll learn how to ‘fly’, perfect their magic and complete other activities which, if successfully completed, they’ll be presented with their angel wings. The Christmas trail runs weekends in December and from Wednesday 20 December to Saturday 23 December.
Christmas at Windsor, Windsor Castle, now – Fri 5 Jan
Anyone else binge watching The Crown? Windsor Castle is looking mighty fine. So here’s your chance to to see it set up for Crimbo. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Windsor Castle restoration following the devastating fire of Nov 1992, the State Apartments will be decked with gold decorations inspired by the intricate gilding work that was undertaken to restore the Castle’s interiors to their former glory. And in case you missed it, there’s a whopping 20ft Nordmann Fir at the end of St George’s Hall.
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. Grown ups aren’t forgotten – they’ll receive a free hot drink and cookie and a large double shot of whisky to anaesthesise a day looking after children.
Legoland Windsor Resort, Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berks, legoland.co.uk
The Borrowers, Watermill Newbury, now – 31 Dec
A family of teeny tiny people living under your floorboards taking stuff from you? Don’t panic, this is not an episode of Crimewatch, Mary Norton’s classic tale, The Borrowers,gets The Watermill treatment. Quick, clever and only four inches tall, their lives unravel when they are discovered by a ‘human bean’. Great storytelling, a bit bonkers but utterly brilliant.
Gourmet Picture Company, Bisham Abbey Berkshire, now – Fri 5 Jan
Following the sell out screenings at Cliveden House this Summer, Tom Kerridge is back with his pimped up daddy of pop-up cinemas. The stunning Tudor grandness of Bisham Abbey will be the setting, Atol Kochhar and Rick Stein will be cooking, while you settle in for classics like Romeo & Juliet, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Great Escape, Life of Pi, to name a few.
Beauty & The Beast, Corn Exchange Newbury, now – Sun 7 Jan
Not one but two Beauties in Berkshire. You won’t find big name celebs here, but you will find a talented bunch of actors who bring the feel-good fun, festive cheer, panto clichés and pop songs. Cue much swaying in your seats (a few too many wines, in my case). Proper Crimbo vibes right here.
Miki, Norden Farm Maidenhead, now – Sat 30 Nov
If you haven’t come across Stephen Mackey’s book Miki, take a look. My youngest lovesit. It’s a charming story about Miki, Polar Bear and Penguin who live in a very far away place. One midwinter eve, they make a wish and Miki embarks on a magical adventure in search of a star… It’s a gorge alternative to traditional panto, and will be a stunning stage show.
Beauty & The Beast, South Hill Park Bracknell, now – Sun 7 Jan
There’s nothing like a dame, so brace yourselves for the OTT panto season of fake boobs, heavy slap, innuendo and lots of daft fun knitted into the Disney classic, Beauty & The Beast. Brad Clapson as the Good Fairy and Faye Allen as Belle will be rocking the big frocks, fighting over the blusher backstage to bring Christmas alive at the Wilde Theatre. Adults only, signed and autism friendly performances available.
War Horse, New Theatre Oxford, now – Sat 6 Jan 2018
Soooo excited that the outstanding National Theatre production of War Horse is coming to Oxford New Theatre this month. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and featuring those incredible, life-size puppets of the horses, it’s nearly sold sell-out, so please don’t leave it too late to book.
New Theatre, George Street, Oxford, atgtickets.com
Hogwarts in the Snow, Harry Potter Studios, now – 4 Feb
Hogwarts in the Snow – as regular as Christmas! The festive makeover will see Christmas trees line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow covering the majestic Hogwarts castle model. Visitors will even be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light like ice. Trust me, your kids will love it.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, wbstudiotour.co.uk
The BFG in Pictures, River and Rowing Museum, Henley, now – 21 Jan 2018
Curated by Quentin Blake himself, the exhibition of everyone’s favourite giant includes unpublished illustrations that have never been exhibited in public before. The exhibition includes Blake’s first designs that weren’t included in the book, and provide a glimpse of a BFG that might have been in 40 original artworks. Don’t forget there’s the permanent John Piper exhibition at the museum too – that’s well worth seeing in its own right.
North – Fashioning Identity, Somerset House, now – Feb 4 2018
Forget the north/south divide, London doffs its hat to Manchester, Newcastle et al in this new exhibition. Social documentary film and photography detailing life in the north of England in the mid-20th century sits alongside works by photographers, designers and artists inspired by the parts of our green and pleasant land beyond the Watford Gap. Contributors include Nottingham’s finest Paul Smith and Manchester’s Factory Records designer Peter Saville. If you visit after 15 Nov, you can also take a twirl on Somerset House’s gorgeous outdoor ice rink.
Twelfth Night, RST, Stratford, Thurs Nov 2- Feb 24 2018
Winterville, Clapham Common, now – 1 Jan 2018
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 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. What next, ‘Yoga On Ice’? Oh, I see, they have that too.
Slava’s Snowshow, Southbank Centre, London, Mon 18 Dec – Thurs 4 Jan 2018
Southbank Centre, Lambeth, London SE1, southbankcentre.co.uk
Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens, London, now – 1 Jan 2018
Finnish Rooftop Sauna, Queen Elizabeth Roof Terrace, South Bank, now – Sat 30 Dec