12 fun things to do this weekend
Après Bar, Station Hill, Reading, until 31 Dec
The Ski Lodge Bar is open for another festive season, this time in its new location of Station Hill right opposite Reading Station. Pop in for a mulled wine, some frosty beer, a winter cocktail or the infamous Ski Shot Sticks. You can book Christmas parties here too, check out the mini chalets which are furnished with wooden benches, festive decorations and warm blankets, and seat up to 10 people, or hire the whole venue. Just give them a call and ask for Günter (seriously, I’m not even kidding, his name’s Günter).
Christmas at Basildon Park, Sat 26 Nov – Thurs 5 Jan
Basildon Park gets its baubles out and decks the halls from this Saturday, with everything from illuminated trees to harmonious choirs. The house will be showcasing its famous lavish decorations and you’ll feel Christmassy the minute you head up that impressive driveway. No need to book, just pop along anytime from 10am to 5pm, general admission applies. You can also explore the wintry gardens with the Family Christmas Trail, suitable for all ages and don’t forget to pick up your prize from the ticket office. £2 per trail.
Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading RG8 9NR www.nationaltrust.org.uk/basildon-park
Windsor on Ice, Alexandra Gardens, opens Sat 26 Nov
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 a licenced bar and food grill, the UK’s largest dodgems and other rides for kids, indoor viewing in case you get chilly and Windsor’s main shopping centre less than 5 minutes away (just saying). Santa is busy in the week but he’s planning to rock up on the ice on weekends so the more proficient child skaters can try to pull his beard off.
Sessions are for 45 mins. Tickets: £12.50 adults, £10.50 children. Skate hire included.
Alexandra Gardens, Barry Avenue, Windsor, SL4 3HY. Tel: 01753 743915 windsoronice.com
Maidenhead Christmas lights switch on and Christmas market, Sat 26 Nov, 5pm
From 5pm outside the Town Hall, St Ives Road. Entertainment from Next Stage Choir and local band Riser. followed by a firework finale from the roof of the Town Hall. The High Street, Queen Street and St Ives Road will be closed to traffic and turned into a Christmas funfair and market with craft and food stalls and children’s rides. Santa and his helpers will be in the Nicholsons Shopping Centre from 11am to 3pm in the main square.
Newbury Choral Society Winter Concert, St Nicholas Church, Newbury, Sat 26 Nov, 7.30pm
This year’s Winter Concert features Karl Jenkins The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, described by Classic FM as the nation’s favourite piece of contemporary music, and Edward Elgar From the Bavarian Highlands. Often a sell-out so do book your tickets now. Tickets: £15 adults; £5 under 16s.
Bracknell Santa Dash, Swinley Forest, Sun 27 Nov, from 10am
Wokingham Winter Carnival, Sun 27 Nov, from 11am
A free event held in Wokingham town centre from 11am. This year it’s entitled ‘Once upon a Time’ and it is massive, with fun fair rides, over 100 food and craft stalls, non-stop free entertainment from magic shows to jugglers and clowns. Santa’s Grotto in the library from 11am to 3pm and the highlight of the day, the Carnival Procession which starts at 4pm and winds its way through the town as dusk falls, ending in carols led by the Town Mayor. Check out the website for full details including where to park.
Cinderella, South Hill Park, Bracknell, Weds 30 Nov – Tues 3 Jan
Will Cinderella make it to the ball? How much polyfilla do the Ugly Sisters use anyway? Can you even buy glass slippers in Bracknell? All will be revealed in South Hill Park’s Christmas production of Cinderella at the Wilde Theatre. Oh yes it will! Tickets from £17.
Christmas at Stonor, Mon 28 Nov – Sun 4 Dec
A flagwave for a first at Stonor House near Henley (above), that opens its front door to guests this Winter for the first time from Mon 28 Nov. This will be the moment to think kind thoughts as your body is gripped by stupendous envy as the family still lives here (excuse me while I weep quietly). Stonor House, let’s be frank, is an absolute stunner that dates back to the 13th Century, and its open house is promising a traditional Victorian Christmas tree in the Gothic Hall, the Blue Dining Room laid for Christmas lunch and even Christmas stockings in the bedroom. It’s the sort of thing that kids will love if you can trust them not to push and shove each other around the tree (timb-errrrrrrr!) and you’ll get massive brownie points with the in-laws too. Tickets: Adults £10 in advance, £12 on the day; Junior (5-15) £6 in advance, £8 on the day; Child (2-4) £4 in advance, £6 on the day.
Jack and the Beanstalk, Theatre Royal Windsor, Wed 30 Nov – Sun 8 Jan
Waving her wand over Windsor this Christmas will be former Blue Peter presenter Anthea Turner (remember? Waaaaay back!) who stars as The Fairy in the Theatre Royal Windsor’s pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk. Timmy Mallett (oh dear lord) plays her trusty sidekick, Pinky Punky, and Jason Gardiner (‘the mean one’ from Dancing on Ice) is the Giant’s Henchman. The Giant’s voice is going to be big booming Brian Blessed. Some dates are already sold out, so whip out your diary and book those seats! Tickets £17-£34.
Christmas Reveillon Feast, The Vaults, Waterloo, daily from now until Sat 17 Dec, 6.30pm
Christmas with a twist. A New Orleans inspired feast with Slap Ya Papa pop-up restaurant. Join a party of 80 for long table dining, Southern soul food dishes and live music. Not 1, 2 or 3, but 12 delectable dishes from deep-fried turkey to candied sweet potato. Debauched. Decadent. Delicious. Tickets £40.
Morning Gloryville, Somerset House, Wed 30 Nov, sessions from 6.15am
London’s most iconic ice rinks are now open – The Tower of London, Natural History Museum and my fave, Somerset House. Morning Gloryville is an immersive morning dance party on the ice. Skaters can expect energising music and personal motivation from costumed performers. Expect music, free hugs, yoga, and surprise DJ guests who will take to the ice from 6.15am. Ice-tastically bonkers. Tickets £17.
Hogwarts in the Snow, Warner Bros Studios, Herts.
The return of Hogwarts in the Snow, back for another Christmas run at Warner Brothers Studio just over the border into Hertfordshire from Saturday. Sets will be decorated as they were for festive scenes with behind-the-scences secrets about how filmmakers created fire, snow and ice to ooh-and-aahhh the Harry Potter fans in your family.
Warner Bros. Studios, Warner Drive, Leavesden, Herts, wbstudiotour.co.uk