What’s on in August
Feastival, Forbury Gardens Reading, Thurs 3 – Sat 5 Aug
‘Feastival‘ is like catnip to a greedy gal like me. The elasticated trews are definitely going to be feeling the stretch this weekend. Blue Collar Street Food is behind Reading’s street food festival which will be taking over Forbury Gardens for the three days this week.
A Gamble With Death, Forbury Gardens Reading, Sat 5 and Sat 12 Aug
There’s been a murrrrrder! A Gamble With Death is a murder mystery treasure hunt with a difference. Using your smartphone, race around town, crack cryptic clues and converse with dodgy characters to catch the culprit in the nick of time. Imagine the Crystal Maze, a scavenger hunt, live actors and your phone all got together. Tickets £20.
Hamilton Loomis, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Thurs 3 Aug
If Rag n Bone man has reignited your love for Blues, then get your sweet selves down to Norden Farm to see Hamilton Loomis. This award-winning musician is at the forefront of electric blues with some mind-blowing guitar solos. Cue air guitar. Tickets: £15.
The Dinosaur Show, Look Out Discovery Centre Bracknell, until Tues 5 Sept
Looking for a totally roarsome day out with your dino loving nippers? Then this is going to be one Rex-citing (too much? Nah) adventure – and it’s in Bracknell! The Dinosaur Show at the Look Out Discovery Centre is full of fun dinosaur facts, with lots of audience participation. Show runs at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3.15pm.
Battle Proms, Highclere Castle, Sat Aug 5
Who needs the Royal Albert Hall when you have Highclere Castle Battle Proms. Pack up the hampers and champers, drape yourself in a Union Jack and party in the park to the Land Of Hope And Glory, Jerusalem and more. Call the Corn Exchange Box Office on 0845 5218 218 for tickets.
Just So Craft Leopards, New Greenham Arts Newbury, Tues 1 Aug
Polish your parental halo, this one ticks all the educational boxes. Reading arty, creative, imaginative. New Greenham Arts is running a morning themed around Kipling’s Just So Stories. You’ll read How The Leopard Got His Spots and then artist Helen Mortimer will help the kids make finger-painted leopard masks. Tickets £10.
The Power of the Imagination, Firestation Arts Windsor, Fri 4 Aug
This is not your old school rabbit out of the hat magic, or David Blaine in a glass box on London South Bank (although I’m not sure that was ever magic). Last year’s BGT winner Richard Jones brings his jaw dropping tricks to The Firestation Windsor.
Glyndebourne: La Clemenza Di Tito, Corn Exchange Newbury, Wed 6 Aug
Want to see top quality opera but can’t be arsed leaving the county? Can’t afford the eye-watering price of a ticket? No problemo. The infamous Glyndebourne Opera House is broadcasting live a brand new production of one of Mozart’s final works – La Clemenza di Tito. Show starts at 6pm.
Hiddledy Piggledy Pie, Norden Farm, Sun 6 Aug
We haven’t seen the last of the rain yet, so if drowned rat isn;t the look you’re going for, book to see a show that’ll keep little kids entertained and take a break from the digital nanny. Higgledy Piggledy Pie features puppets made from veg, music, silliness and a large pie. Tickets £10.
Thames Punting Championships, Maidenhead Rowing Club Taplow, Sun 6 Aug
What happens when a gentle punt down the River Thames gets competitive? Well, armed with a long pole and narrow boat there is a high probability of someone getting wet. Load up on Cornettos and head to the riverbank to see enthusiastic punters giving it their all. Fun starts at 10am downstream from Brunel’s famous railway bridge.
RSC Live: Titus Andronicus, UK cinema release, ? Aug
If Shakespeare was pitching have Titus Andronicus to HBO they would have said: ‘Nice plot, Will, but we need a catchier title. How about Dexter. Shakespeare’s gory revenge tragedy presents murder as entertainment and, as the body count piles ups up, poses questions about the nature of sexuality, family, class and society
The Final Exhibition, New Greenham Arts, Fri 4 – Sun 13 August
The Studio 8 artists are going out with a bang with The Final Exhibition – their last in this gallery space. Studio 8 artist studios have been housing creatives since New Greenham Arts opened in 1999. It will close at the end of August, so don’t miss the opportunity to see works by Jane Cannon, Shirley Eccles, Sally Haynes, Julie Parker, Helen Peake and Ursula Waechter.
The Oracle Summer Food Fest, Reading, Fri 11 – Sun 13 Aug
Forks at the ready, big pants on and an elasticated waist is essential for The Oracle’s Summer Food Fest. The restaurant’s will be serving up loads of delicious samples and handing discounts out like sweeties. So if you’re in Reading, hungry, little bit greedy, looking for some freebies, this is the place to be.
A Teenage Opera, Fri 11 – Sun 13 Aug
Before Jesus Christ Superstar, before Tommy, before Joseph, there was… A Teenage Opera – a magical mystery of musical theatre set in the Summer of Love. Dive into the bowels of your wardrobe and dig out your psychedelic finery and enjoy classic hits from Wirtz and West. Next stop 1967.
Performance exhibition, Bray House Maidenhead, Sat 12 – Wed 16 Aug
Can you believe it was the Rio Olympics this time last year? We were all a bit bleary eyed staying up to watch Team GB going for gold. Beautiful Brazil, carnival spirit, caipirinha cocktails – it’s a blur, but it was a gift for photographers. Here’s your chance to see awesome images in the Performance exhibition at Bray House.
Crossing Lines, Goldwell Park Newbury, Sat 12 Aug
The Corn Exchange’s big, bold outdoor shows just get bigger. Crossing Lines is the latest with PAN.OPTIKUM, one of Europe’s most spectacular outdoor performance companies, joining 30 young people from nine European countries to dance, rap and wow with the help of a huge set and video projection. It’s going to be epic – and it’s FREE!
Wind in the Willows, Shaw House Newbury, Mon 14 Aug
Poop poop! One of my favourite children’s books ever (inspired by the riverbanks of Berkshire) pops out of the page and into grounds of Shaw House in Newbury, thanks to Immersion Theatre’s energetic production of The Wind In The Willows . Pack a picnic, it starts at 5pm so perfect timing for littlies.
Hundred Watt Club, Norden Farm, Fri 18 Aug
Fancy something naughty but nice? The fabulous girls from the Hundred Watt Club return to Norden Farm with a glittering and ridiculous evening of good old fashioned saucy entertainment. Featuring glittering showgirl Lena Mae, absurd musical comedy from the guitar wielding, rubber faced Elliot Mason, astounding circus from hula hooper and human pretzel Storm Hooper and hilarious character parodies from traditional burlesque artist Miss Glory Pearl!
The Royal Berks Charity Soapbox Challenge, Englefield Park, Sat 19 Aug
I feel the need, the need for speed – ow! It’s not Top Gun, but it is a charity soapbox challenge. And you are NEVER too old to build a go kart and hurtle down as fast as you can. Put your engineering and driving skills to the test and let gravity do the rest. Alternatively, watch from the sidelines and enjoy all the race day action.
Cartoons & Caricatures with Simon Jardine, Stockcross Village Shop, Sat 19 Aug
Ever got a caricature of yourself? Mine was done, aged 16, in Java and it didn’t end well. I looked like a Rovers Return barmaid with Cilla Black’s gnashers. Thanks to professional illustrator Simon Jardine there’s a chance to right a wrong during Stockfest. Meet Simon and have a go creating your own cartoon…
NT Live: Yerma, UK cinema release, Thrs 31 Aug
The incredible Billie Piper returns to the stage in her Evening Standard Best Actress award-winning role in Yerma. A young woman is driven to the unthinkable by her desperate desire to have a child in Simon Stone’s radical production of Lorca’s achingly powerful masterpiece. It’s sold out but you can see it without leaving the count, thanks to NT Live.
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, South Hill Park Bracknell, Fri 18 – Sun 27 Aug
Who doesn’t step into their wardrobe form time to time in the hope a snowcapped fantasy world exists on the other side? Just me then. It’s certainly more appealing than engaging with the West Wing dramas in the US or the Brexit negotiation backlash. Shish. Escapism wins hands down, so don’t miss the wonderful theatrical show of CS Lewis’ The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, performed in the Wilde Theatre and the grounds of South Hill Park.
Reading Festival 2017, Richfield Avenue Reading, Fri 25 Aug
Are you ready to rock? Music fans will be swarming into the Richfield Avenue site to see headliners Kasabian, Eminem and Muse at Reading Festival. There will be mosh pits, warm beer, overpriced dirty burgers and the likelihood of being struck by a bottle of wee is pretty high. Music and mayhem guaranteed.
The Big Feastival, Alex James’s Farm, The Cotswolds, Fri 25 – Sun 27 Aug
This three day festival with Jamie Oliver and Alex James is a middle-class foodie fest, awash with live music performances from Olly Murs, Madness and Haçienda Classical, plus top chefs including Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw, DJ BBQ, Gizzie Erskine and Carluccio. It’s immensely family friendly so there’s a Neff Little Kitchen for small cooks, Justin Fletcher (surely the richest children’s entertainer in the UK by now?) has his own spot, there’s tree-climbing, crayons and crafts and a kids’ den.
Churchill Heath Farm, Kingham, Chipping Norton, thebigfeastival.com
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, Thurs 3 – Sun 6 August
Bit posh? Then you’ll love Wilderness, which is a lot more genteel than its name suggests. This year’s bash at the idyllic 400 acre country estate includes an outpost of Petersham Nurseries, a long-table banquet cooked by Ottolenghi and talks hosted by Tate Britain and School Of Life. Rock’n’roll! Music -wise, be sure to catch disco diva ne plus ultra Grace Jones – always an utter mentalist when playing live.
Peter Rabbit: Mischief and Mayhem, River & Rowing Museum Henley, until 24 Sept
Bounce over to Henley for the River and Rowing Museum’s latest kid-friendly attraction – Peter Rabbit: Mischief and Mayhem. This exhibition includes original artworks, first editions and early Peter Rabbit merchandise. You can can even help Mrs Tiggywinkle hang up the laundry or visit Mrs Rabbit’s burrow! Dress up (probably best to save your bunny girl outfit for another day), help in Mr MacGregor’s Garden and listen to stories.
BBC Countryfile Live, Blenheim Palace, Thurs 3 – Sun 6 Aug
Can’t get enough of Adam Henson and the Countryfile gang? Roll up, roll up, catch the show while you can at Blenheim Palace as the team showcase the best of the British countryside. Expect live arena shows where Matt Baker does a semi-naked trapeze act while John Craven tames the Fresian cows in top hat and fishnets. Apparently (and this bit is true) there’s also a dog arena, waterside activities, off-road experiences, animal displays and 700 exhibitors.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, blenheimpalace.com
Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden, activities throughout August
This month, you can make a Buzzwangling Bird Feeder or a Biffsquilling Bug Jar. You can take a Swishwiffling Storytelling Walk or a Gloriumptious Guided Trail. You can listen to stories and explore the museum and even take a peek at some of the behind-the-scenes archives of Dahl’s letters and manuscripts. And that isn’t even half of it – there’s lots happening all month.
The Secret Garden & Pride & Prejudice, Cliveden Taplow, Thurs 24 – Sat 26 Aug
Surroundings rarely come more rarefied than Cliveden House and its glorious gardens. This month, catch The Secret Garden (24 Aug), based on the children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett or a new take on Pride and Prejudice (25 & 26 Aug). Here’s hoping Mr Darcy emerges, wet of shirt, from the swimming pool.
Cliveden House, Taplow, Berks, nationaltrust.org.uk
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London
It involves trekking up to the smoke, but it’s worth it for an evening at this picturesque fairy-light strewn theatre, which is the big daddy of al fresco productions – and the London Theatre Of The Year in 2016’s The Stage awards, no less. This summer’s programme includes A Tale of Two Cities (7 July – 5 August), a new adaptation of the Dickens tome that’s alarmingly topical once again. Then there’s a family-friendly Oliver Twist (17 July – 5 Aug) suitable for children age 6+. Finally, bring out the big guns: namely, the Olivier and Evening Standard award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar (11 August 2017 – 23 September 2017), by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Dinosaur World, Banbury Museum, now – 9 Sept
This is a summer hols saviour if you have little ones who love dinosaurs. At Banbury Museum they can create their own dinosaur lands, creature, masks and fossil collages and even a hatching dino baby. It’s on Saturdays and every day during the Oxon school holidays, with two daily sessions: 10:30am – 12:30pm or 2pm – 4pm.
Summer Jousting Tournament, Blenheim Palace, Fri 18 – Sun 20 Aug
Charrrrgggggge! It’s the epic Jousting Tournament on the South Lawn with the ‘Knights of Arkley’ and their mighty steeds. It’s all about the traditional tilt, battle on foot with the mace and quarter staff and hamming it up to the max.
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon, blenheimpalace.com
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Tractor Ted Little Farm Live, Stonor Park Henley, Sun 3 Sept
If your nippers’ two fave things in the world are Tractor Ted and bouncy castles then 3 Sep sure is their lucky day. A giant Tractor Ted bouncy castle will be popping up at Stonor Park, Henley, ideal for letting off some end-of-the-summer-hols steam. Suitable for under 7s, the activities also include getting up close with animals at the mobile farm, a Tractor Ted driving test and a bout of welly wanging. Which always sounds a bit rude to us but we’re sure it’s good wholesome family fun.
Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, stonor.com
Refresh Festival, Wellington Country Park, Sat 2 – Sun 3 Sept
After a summer of booze, bands and bonkers kids, you’re going to need a sanity-saver. I’ve got just the thing. The spinky spanky new Refresh Festival, hosted by Olympic legend Dame Kelly Holmes, is coming to Wellington Country Park. Fun, family friendly and focused on health, fitness and wellbeing, this is a chance to get inspired and press the reset button. After a summer with the kids, I’m in.
The Muddy Literary Salon at Thame Arts & Literature Festival, Thurs 12 Oct
Muddy Bucks/Oxon is opening a Literary Salon during the Thame Literary Festival. It’s worth a little jaunt into Bucks. Booking opens on Tues 1 August and there are only 120 tickets available to see 5 awesome authors at the inaugural literary event. Blogger/food author Sasha Wilkins (aka LibertyLondonGirl), Clover Stroud, Elizabeth Heathcote, Tamsina Perry and Alexandra Heminsley make up the line up, plus there’ll be more Prosecco than you can shake a stick at. Read all about it, or go straight for the jugular and book here now at a bargainous £10.
Giacometti, Tate Modern, 10 May – 10 Sept
Last few weeks to catch the UK’s first major retrospective of Alberto Giacometti for 20 years, at the Tate Modern. Celebrated as a sculptor, painter and draughtsman, Giacometti’s distinctive elongated figures are some of the most instantly recognisable works of modern art in Tate Modern’s ambitious and wide-ranging exhibition of over 250 works. It includes rarely seen plasters and drawings and showcases the full evolution of Giacometti’s career across five decades, from early works such as Head of a Woman [Flora Mayo] 1926 to iconic bronze sculptures such as Walking Man I 1960.