Festive events across Berkshire for Christmas 2016
PUBLISHED: 16:59 29 November 2016 | UPDATED: 17:05 29 November 2016
Get the seasonal spirit in Berkshire with a host of sights to marvel at and events to enjoy across the county
Christmas is a time for traditions; little rituals and routines passed down through families and new plans with friends that become part of your festive celebrations. It’s sending cards and decorating trees, tucking into advent calendar treats and mince pies… and then working it all off with a hearty walk on Boxing Day.
Over the festive season, National Trust places in Berkshire will be decked out with Christmas sparkle. There are exciting new themes to explore and gorgeously decorated houses, Christmas crafts and gifts and atmospheric estates full of festive fun to bring Christmas to life through the ages. NT places are open throughout the holiday season, but closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The exception is Waddesdon in Buckinghamshire, which is also closed on Boxing Day and from 2 January.
Anthea leads panto cast
An all-star celebrity line-up will tread the boards of Windsor’s Theatre Royal for this year’s pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, which opens 30 November and runs until 8 January.
Waving her wand over Windsor will be former Blue Peter presenter and Perfect Housewife Anthea Turner, who will star as The Fairy alongside the energetic Wide Awake presenter and ‘Utterly Brilliant!’ Timmy Mallett as The King, with his trusty side-kick, the itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny Pinky Punky. Making everyone’s ‘Flesh creep’, the Bear Grylls’ Mission Survive finalist and controversial Dancing on Ice judge, Jason Gardiner, will trade in his score cards to take to the stage as the Giant’s Henchman.
Jack will be attempting to escape from the clutches of the Giant, voiced by the booming legend Brian Blessed. There’s bound to be plenty of fun courtesy of that the dodgy duo, calamitous comic Kevin Cruise as Simple Simon, and regular panto Dame Steven Blakeley as Dame Trott.
For the first time in Cliveden’s history, Widow Twankey and the gang are coming to Cliveden for a very special pantomime-themed trail harking back to Cliveden’s theatrical roots. Dress up as your favourite panto character in an interactive activity trail where children will explore Cinderella’s kitchen, find Aladdin’s magic carpet in the cave of wonders’ and try to spot the top of the beanstalk.
Along the way there’ll be three stocking-filler presents. Trails costs £5 per child and are free for accompanying adults (usual admission applies). The pantomime trail runs weekends during December (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and from Wednesday, 21 December to Tuesday, 3 January.
For the first time Cliveden is open 363 days of the year, only closing for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Head to Caversham Court Gardens in Reading between 9.30am and 1pm on Saturday, 10 December when Econet will have Scots pine Christmas trees for sale as part of heathland management plans. Holly, mistletoe and pine needles can also be bought for festive decoration, plus stars and wreaths made with willow from local willow beds at Kings Meadow, either decorated by an expert or for you to complete at home. Charities and local beekeepers will be selling Christmas cards and small gifts. Next door St Peter’s Church has its Christmas Fair then, so pop in for hot refreshments and more gifts.
The Caversham Court Gardens carols concert is on Monday 19 December, with the gardens open from 6.15pm and carol singing starting at 7.30pm.
Basildon Park will showcase its famous lavishly decorated house inspired by the style and decorative flair of Lady Iliffe. The Iliffes rescued the country mansion from disrepair in the 1950s, restoring its 18th century interiors and filling its rooms with impressive art and furniture collections.
At Christmas, Basildon Park comes alive with magnificent floral displays, lights and Christmas trees inside and out. There’s a festive outdoor trail for families and gorgeous treats in the tea room. 26 November 2016 to 4 January 2017.
Stunning tree on display
There will be absolutely nothing dainty about the stunning Charbonnel Christmas Tree which will form the centrepiece of the festive celebrations at Cliveden House from 2 December. The magnificent Nordmann Fir tops over 15 feet, bedecked with sparkling lights, satin ribbons and exquisite Charbonnel et Walker gift boxes containing chocolate selections. The tree will be completed with luxurious satin ribbons.
With the lights ablaze, guests visiting this 5-red star luxury country house hotel can then start the celebrations with an afternoon tea created by Executive Head Chef André Garrett, who has taken for his inspiration a selection of the flavours of Charbonnel et Walker’s chocolates.
To keep winter chills at bay, Cliveden House will also be serving Charbonnel et Walker Hot Chocolate, and a slightly ‘boozy’ version for the adults. The chocolate theme will also be followed into ‘Cocktail Hour’ with a delicious Chocolate Martini.
Markets and fairs
• Until 4 January Reading Indoor Christmas Market, Broad Street Mall
• 3 December, Christmas Fair, Holy Trinity Primary School, Church Road, Sunningdale, 07795 103851
• 3 December, Christmas Market, Reddam House, Bearwood Road, Sindlesham, 07515 637471
• 3 December, Christmas Bazaar, Pangbourne College, Drake Hall, Pangbourne, 01635 860039
• 4 December, Christmas Fair, Shaw House, Church Road, Newbury, 01635 279279
• 2 December, Miniland Lights up for Christmas Bricktacular, Legoland Windsor Resort, Winkfield Road, Windsor
• 3 December, Festival of Light Lantern Making Workshop, The Waterside Centre, Northbrook Street, Newbury, 01635 41269
• 4 December, Winter Extravaganza, Woodley Town Centre, 07506 741591
• 7-8 December, ‘Snow and Sparkles’ Toddler Days, The Look Out Discovery Centre, Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, 01344 354400
• 8-24 December, Father Christmas’s Grotto, South Hill Park, Bracknell, 01344 484123
• 11 December, Festival of Light: Lantern Procession, Northbrook Street, Newbury, (4pm), 08455 218218
• 17-23 December, Santa Cruises, The Wharf, Newbury, 01380 721279
• 17-24 December, Cruise with Santa, Canal Walk, Hungerford, 01635 255367
• 18 December, The Great Thatcham Santa Fun Run, Start in The Broadway, Thatcham, tel: 07919 442544
Other seasonal events
• Until 5 January 2017, Christmas at Basildon Park, Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading, 01491 672920
• 4 December, Christmas Wreaths, Corn Exchange Newbury & New Greenham Arts, Market Place, 0845 5218218
• 6 December, Christmas Wreath Making, Shaw House, Church Road, Newbury, 01635 279279
• 7 December, Christmas Wreath Workshop, The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, 01635 46044
• 7 December, Wreath Making Workshop, Runnymede, Runnymede Estate Office, North Lodge, Windsor Road, Old Windsor, 01784 432891
• 9 December, Christmas Tree Event, St James the Less, Pangbourne Hill, Pangbourne, 01189 842698
• 9-10 December, Wreath Making, Maidenhead and Cookham Commons, Rangers Shed, Pinkeys Green, 03442 491895