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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.

cumberlandlodge.ac.uk

 

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.

readingarts.com/hexagon

 

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.

clivedenhouse.co.uk

 

MR James Ghost Stories, The Hope Windsor, 20 & 21 Dec 

Robert Lloyd Parry read MR James ghost stories by candlelight in the library

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.

fierythings.com

 

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.

ascot.co.uk 

 

 

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.

nationaltrust.org.uk

 

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 events@hindsheadbray.com. Really treat yourself and book in for dinner beforehand – the diet starts in Jan *coughs.

hindsheadbray.com

 

 

Windsor On Ice Alexandra Gardens Windsor, until 7 Jan

Woman wearing black leggings and white leather skates glide across the ice rink

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.

windsoronice.com

 

Winter Magic, Saville Garden Windsor, now – 23 Dec and 26 Dec – 1 Jan

colourful horses head from a traditional edwardian fairground carousel

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.

windsorgreatpark.co.uk

 

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?

millatsonning.com

 

Christmas Decoration, Guildhall Windsor, Tues 19 – ??? 31 Dec

Box full of green. red and white Scandi style traditional handmade Christmas Decorations

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?).

windsor.gov.uk

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.

nationaltrust.org,uk/cliveden

 

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.

royalcollection.org.uk

 

Christmas at Legoland, Windsor, throughout Dec

Lego Father Christmas welcomes a family to 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. 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.

watermill.org.uk

 

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.

gourmetpicturecompany.co.uk

 

Beauty & The Beast, Corn Exchange Newbury, now – Sun 7 Jan

Barry Manilow's Copacabana in pink neon lights – panto dance routine at Corn Exchange Newbury

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.

cornexchangenew.com

 

Miki, Norden Farm Maidenhead, now –  Sat 30 Nov

Christmas show Miki ≠ puppet penguin's close encounter with a dancing crab wearing gold boots

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.

norden.farm

 

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.

southhillpark.org.uk

 

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.

rrm.co.uk

 

FURTHER AFIELD…

North – Fashioning Identity, Somerset House, now – Feb 4 2018

Alice-Hawkins, LOVE magazine, ‘The Liver Birds’, 2012

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.

somersethouse.org.uk

 

Twelfth Night, RST, Stratford, Thurs Nov 2- Feb 24 2018

Dinita Gohil as Viola. Photo: Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

The RSC’s winter production Twelfth Night sees Ade Edmondson, of The Young Ones and Bottom fame, as Olivia – Kara Tointon’s dour steward Malvolio in Shakespeare’s bittersweet comedy. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, who recreated Warwickshire’s Charlecote Park on stage for the RSC’s fabulous Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing, it’s set in Victorian BritainAlso starring Birmingham’s Dinita Gohil as Viola and Michael Cochrane as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

rsc.org.uk.org.uk

 

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.

winterville.co.uk

 

Slava’s Snowshow, Southbank Centre, London, Mon 18 Dec – Thurs 4 Jan 2018

Part of Wintertime at the Southbank, this show’s been all over the world (80 countries, no less) and piled up heaps of awards so they’ve had plenty of time to refine their offering. It’s suitable for kids 8+ and is full of clowning and feel-good fun stuff for all ages.

Southbank Centre, Lambeth, London SE1, southbankcentre.co.uk

 

Cézanne Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, now – 11 Feb 2018This started just last week, Brings together over 50 of Cézanne’s portraits from collections across the world, including works which have never been on public display in the UK . Over a working life of some forty-five years, Cézanne made almost 1,000 paintings of which around 160 are portraits and this exhibition offers a fascinating insight into this central aspect of his work. npg.org.uk

Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens, London, now –  1 Jan 2018

Such a brilliant time to visit Kew as they do the Crimbo thing so well with it one mile sparkling path winding its way through the world-famous Gardens. This year they promise a million twinkling lights, Singing Trees, ribbons of light and a flickering Fire Garden, plus Father C and his elves at the North Pole Village, vintage fairground rides (a fee for that one) and shopping. Worth going with the fam. kew.org

Modigliani, Tate Modern, now – 2 April 2018

The Tate Modern’s comprehensive retrospective of Modigliani’s work is quite a treat. During his brief, turbulent life Modigliani developed a unique and instantly recognisable style. His nudes that are a highlight of the exhibition – with 12 nudes on display, this is the largest group ever reunited in the UK. First shown in 1917, police closed down his only ever solo exhibition on the grounds of indecency. Also expect sculptures, and portraits of his friends, lovers and supporters, including Pablo Picasso and his partner Jeanne Hébuterne. tate.org.uk

Finnish Rooftop Sauna, Queen Elizabeth Roof Terrace, South Bank, now – Sat 30 Dec

woman sauna finnish

Warm up and unwind in a one-of-a-kind Finnish sauna experience in the heart of London – it’s what you’ve always wanted to do in London!  There’s a specially designed Nordic sauna that on the Queen Elizabeth Roof Terrace on the South Bank, combining beautiful Nordic design with a bespoke artistic commission. If 90 degrees celsius is a bit sweaty for you, cool down in the open air (or with cold water buckets – go on, dare you!), while enjoying some stonking views of the Thames below. southbankcentre.co.uk 

Enchanted Christmas Illuminated Trail, Westonbirt Arboretum, Fri 1 – Mon 18 Dec

Trees illuminated with coloured lights at the Westonbirt arboretum

A lovely little pushchair, wheelchair and mobility scooter-friendly 45 minute stroll around the Arboretum’s paths, you can also pop in to visit not just Father but also Mother Christmas at the Christmas Village where’s there’s music, rides on a trad carousel and tasty warming food in the restaurant.Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury, Gloucs, forestry.gov.uk

Santa Sleepovers, Warwick Castle, Dates throughout December

Loving the sound of these sleepovers –  family stay in the Knight’s village or straight-from-a-fairytale Tower Suite and cute Christmassy stuff like stories with Santa and a wake up call from an Elf.  Still some dates left but be quick. warwickcastlebreaks.com

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