Christmas 2016 build up in Berkshire: Events to enjoy
PUBLISHED: 11:19 15 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:19 15 November 2016
The big build-up to the festive season in Berkshire is beginning, so Sue Bromley highlights some of the events to enjoy in 2016
While you may be willing to wait for that all important visit to Father Christmas, the lights, tinsel, action alert has already gone out and there’s plenty to see and do as we get in the festive spirit.
The wise early Christmas shoppers – and those seeking seasonal entertainment – can start filling their diaries with events. Take a tour of Berkshire and it’s easy find lots to do.
Here come the reindeer
Let’s start in Windsor where the Christmas lights switch-on and traditional lantern procession at Castle Hill takes place from 3.30pm on Saturday, 19 November in conjunction with Macdonald Hotel Windsor and Windsor and Eton Town Partnership.
That’s also the day LaplandUK returns to the Crown Estate’s Whitmoor Forest, providing great days out for families all the way until 24 December.
Back in Windsor town centre, the popular reindeer parade is on 3 December, with Father Christmas and his sleigh, complete with marching band and street entertainment, setting off from Advance Gate at 2pm. His two hour tour of the town finishes in King Edward Court at the rear entrance of Daniels Department Store beside the Jubilee Monument.
And traditionalists will not want to miss the Carols on the Hill in front of Windsor Castle beside the Queen Victoria Statue from 6pm on 16 December. It’s a heart-warming experience and proceeds go to charities, DASH and Family Friends.
Fancy a bit of fizz to help you get in the spirit? Then Thames Valley Wine School will be coming to the Sir Christopher Wren Hotel & Spa in Thames Street on the evening of 2 December for an event where you will get to taste the very best champagnes – and some canapés. Tickets are £50, thamesvalleywineschool.com.
Windsor on Ice, the ice rink in Alexandra Gardens, returns for a 7th year and runs from 26 November to 2 January.
Shopping in style
Ascot Racecourse’s Christmas Shopping Village takes over concourse level of the course during the racing events of 18 and 19 November, so you can combine a day out with getting the shopping done in between enjoying the action on the course, see ascot.co.uk.
The racecourse is also the venue for the fabulous Ascot Christmas Fair from November 24 to 27. There will be a food hall as well as some 150 expert stallholders offering some unique gifts, so you could complete your shopping in one go! It runs from 9.30am to 5pm for the first three days, and then until 4pm on the Sunday, entry tickets £5.
Charters School in Sunningdale holds its Christmas fair on Wednesday, 9 November from 4.30pm to 7.30pm – catch up with friends and enjoy some shopping. All funds go to the school’s charitable Christmas Wish Tree.
Sunninghill’s very enjoyable Victorian Street Fayre is on Sunday, 20 November, running from noon to 4pm. With children’s rides, stalls, hot food and drink and entertainment it makes a great afternoon out. Proceeds go to local charities and Ascot Day Care Centre.
Here they’re gearing up for the annual Winter Carnival, a huge event with plenty of free entertainment in the town centre which attracts thousands of visitors – and you’ll see why. This year it’s on Sunday, 27 November, and organisers have chosen a theme of ‘Once Upon A Time’.
There’s a real family atmosphere here and the free attractions include a magic show, Punch & Judy, comedy jugglers, clowns and live music. Santa will be in his grotto from 11am to 3pm (you’ll find he’s set it up in the cosy library) after which he must join the carnival procession from 4pm from Shute End through the town centre. With decorated floats, bands and costumed walkers it’s definitely a sight to see and a change collection is taken for local charities. More details, including full parade route, at wintercarnival.org.uk.
Lighting up the skies
Christmas is always welcomed with a bang and lots of sparkle in Maidenhead as the lights switch-on day includes a fireworks display. This year it’s on Saturday, 26 November, with The High Street, Queen Street and St Ives Road closed to traffic as the town centre hosts a feast of entertainment including a Christmas fun fair, and market with craft and food stalls and children’s rides. You’ll find Santa busy in Nicholsons Shopping Centre from 11am to 3pm. As dusk falls the fun continues and a walk down to outside the Town Hall makes sense as from 5pm there will be performances by Next Stage Choir and local band Riser. It’s the big build-up to a spectacular fireworks display from the Town Hall roof at 6pm to declare that Christmas has definitely arrived in Maidenhead.
Santa’s next stops…
He’s a busy chap and must get to Newbury on 27 November for the annual parade which starts at 5.30pm and passes through the town before arriving back at Market Place for the switch-on at 7pm of the Christmas tree and lights there. Before all that there will be live entertainment from noon and lots of festive stalls.
In Thatcham the Christmas Lights Celebration is on Friday, 2 December in The Broadway. Stalls open from 5pm, with entertainment prior to the lights going on at 7pm.
You’ll also find Santa’s been busy at Bucklebury Farm Park – well what do you expect with all those deer – and you can also enjoy home-cooked Christmas lunches from 1 to 23 December at Woody’s licensed restaurant (booking essential) see buckleburyfarmpark.co.uk.
In Hungerford you’ll find Santa on the water as well as wandering the town. A festive trip on the Rose of Hungerford, the passenger trip boat owned by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, from Hungerford Wharf (£7 per person) is highly recommended. Children on board receive a gift from Santa and for the older travellers there’s a fully licensed bar and hot mince pies. Book at roseofhungerford.co.uk.
The town itself is the perfect setting for the annual Victorian Extravaganza, this year on 9 December, when steam engines, fun fair live music and a parade from 7pm followed by fireworks take over Hungerford in a fantastic event organised by the chamber of commerce.
Hungerford Christmas Fair, from 10am to 4pm at the town hall and Corn Exchange on Friday, 28 October, definitely deserves support as this year it is in aid of Motor Neurone Disease Association’s Reading and West Berkshire Branch and Amref Health Africa, entry £2.