Events and things to do in Berkshire this summer
PUBLISHED: 16:56 17 June 2014 | UPDATED: 16:56 17 June 2014
Your essential guide to a season of fun outings, celebrations and must-not-miss events
Fifty-five interactive rides, live shows, building workshops, driving schools and attractions, all in 150 acres of parkland. Get soaked on water rides, follow a pirate trail or sign up for high-energy fun at the Fire Academy. Tickets online cost £35 for adults, £31 for children and seniors. www.legoland.co.uk
Sheepdrove Organic Farm
Just outside Lambourn, Sheepdrove is a fascinating farm to visit, focusing on organically raised livestock and produce and promoting a more sustainable way of living. They have delicious home-cooked food at the restaurant and a farm shop bursting with produce. On 20 August they are staging a performance of Treasure Island by the Rain and Shine Theatre Company. £13 for adults and £6 for children. www.sheepdrove.com
Bekonscot Model Village
It’s Bekonscot’s 85th anniversary this year and they will be celebrating over the weekend of 9 and 10 August. The village and railway is the world’s oldest and original model village. £9.50 for adults, £5.50 for children, under twos free. www.bekonscot.co.uk
Odds Farm Park
Some of the animals at Odds Farm, Wooburn Common, are as rare as the Sumatran Tiger or Giant Panda. The Castlemilk Moorit Sheep is on the vulnerable list, with only around 700 breeding ewes left. See them and other animals, plus there are tractor rides, an adventure maze, crazy golf and go karts. £12.50 for adults and £11.50 for children. www.oddsfarm.co.uk
Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life has the largest collection of objects, books and archives relating to farming, food and the countryside in the UK. See wagons and carts, dairy equipment, ploughs, agricultural hand tools and 18th century smocks.
Guided tours every Wednesday and at weekends starting at 3pm. Admission free, but the museum welcomes donations. www.reading.ac.uk/merl
The Hellfire Caves at West Wycombe were once the meeting place of The Hell-Fire Club. Entry costs just £5 for adults, £4 for children and free for under threes. www.hellfirecaves.co.uk
Wellington County Park
Set in 350 acres of parkland between Reading and Basingstoke, this park is well suited to under 10s, with adventure play and toddler areas, indoor soft play, animal and petting barn, a nature trail maze and a 12-hole mini golf course. Follow nature trails and you might see red and fallow deer. Dogs are welcome on leads. £9.50 for adults and £8.50 for children aged three to 15. www.wellington-country-park.co.uk
Windsor Duck Tour
Explore Windsor by road and by water in an amphibious vehicle while being entertained by one of the tour’s humorous guides. The tour begins opposite the Theatre Royal and takes visitors to historical sites and parkland. Then it’s time to splash down into the River Thames. Booking is advisable, do it online at www.windsorducktours.co.uk Tickets cost £18 for adults and £15 for children and concessions.
Go Ape Swinley Forest
Take up the challenges in the tree tops near Bracknell. Anyone over 10 can have a go at the two to three hour course where you tackle everything from Tarzan Swings to hair-raising zip-wires. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, try the Segways and go off-roading. Go Ape tickets cost £24 for children and £32 for adults. An hour-long Segway adventure is £35. goape.co.uk
Just a short drive out of Pangbourne is Beale Park. Perfectly positioned next to the River Thames, take a river cruise after a hard day meeting the animals, riding the miniature railway and enjoying the adventure playground. £9.50 for adults and £7.50 for children under two. www.bealepark.co.uk
At Hampstead Norreys, just outside Newbury, The Living Rainforest is home to over 700 species of plants and animals. See butterflies, lizards and birds in tropical glasshouses. Spot the dwarf crocodile lurking below the waters and get acquainted with a two-toed sloth. There’s also a great shop and café. £9.95 for adults and £8.45 for children aged two to 14. www.livingrainforest.org
UK Wolf Conservation Trust
The Trust at Beenham is open every Wednesday in 2014, without having to pre-book. Expert volunteers are on hand to answer questions and there will be regular guided tours. On Wednesdays entry costs £8 for adults and £5 for children. ukwct.org.uk
Bucklebury Farm Park
Wild boar, llamas, donkeys, goats, pigs and a guinea pig village – the kids will be sold already! There are tractor rides, a soft play area and the fabulous jumping pillow. Take along a picnic if the weather’s good, or try Woody’s Café for lunch. £8.95 for adults, £7.95 for children and seniors and under 2s are free. www.buckleburyfarmpark.co.uk
BACK TO NATURE
Look Out Discovery Centre
There are over 90 exhibits suitable for children of all ages as well as an adventure play area, walks, trails and cycle routes. £7.10 for adults and £4.85 for under-16s. www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/thelookoutdiscoverycentre
The Wildlife Trust
The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust have a lot of family events planned, including Tremendous Trees on 28 June at the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre, a Night Time Safari on 1 August at College Lake Visitor Centre and Pirates and Mermaids at Woolley Firs near Maidenhead on 5 August. See www.bbowt.org.uk
Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre
Lakeside walks, nature trails and science and nature exhibitions, The Nature Discovery Centre just outside Newbury has plenty to keep everyone entertained. Admission is free. www.bbowt.org.uk/nature-discovery-centre
BY THE WATER
Horseshoe Lake Activity Centre
Raft building, canoeing, open water swimming, sailing… you name it the centre at Sandhurst can oblige, even if you want to bring your own boat for a day. See horseshoelakeactivitycentre.co.uk or call 01252 871808.
Berkshire Sail Training
Sign up for dinghy sailing lessons, windsurfing, power boating and paddle boarding. Take along a picnic and enjoy the waterfront. www.berkshiresailing.co.uk
Wycombe Rye Lido
The outdoor pools are open until October. Recently refurbished, the pool is a great place for families to cool off. There’s a pool timetable online and prices are £5 for adults and £3 for children. www.fusion-lifestyle.com
If you’re looking for adrenaline action on the water then Lagoona Park near Theale is the place to go. Hire jet skis, as well as jet bikes and a jet rib. A single experience costs £49, if you want to take someone along it’s £59. Call 0118 9885959. www.lagoonapark.com
Salters operate cruises in Reading as well as Marlow, Henley and Windsor.
Trips can last just over an hour depending on which you choose, plus they have special outings such as the picnic cruise, jazz cruise and even an Alice in Wonderland event. 01865 243421, www.salterssteamers.co.uk
Spend a day by or on the river at Boulter’s Lock near Maidenhead. Start with crazy golf before popping by Jenners Riverside café for well-deserved refreshment. Just across the river is Ray Mill Island and Boulters Restaurant serving great food with great views. At the park on the island there are lovely walks as well as an aviary and guinea pig enclosure.
Longridge Activity Centre
If you enjoy being out on the water then Longridge in Marlow is the place to go. Try kayaking, dragon boating, rowing, bell boating, rafting, power boating and sailing before going on land to experience lots more. How about fencing, climbing, high ropes and giant water orbs? www.longridge.org.uk
This July and August the University of Reading’s Department of Archaeology will be carrying out further excavations at the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, or Silchester to you and I. The ampitheatre and town walls are open to see every day except Fridays. Go on either 26 July or 9 August for expert tours and talks – all for free. www.reading.ac.uk/silchester
Founded by King Henry I in 1121, the abbey’s ruins are opening in June for a ‘hard hat’ tour. As part of Waterfest on Saturday, 14 June, there will be tours with the chance to find out about the conservation programme. It’s free, just meet at the gates into the ruins on Chestnut Walk.
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and if you buy a ticket direct from the Royal Collection Trust you have access for a full year. Wander through the State Apartments, view the Semi-State Rooms, see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and visit St George’s Chapel. You could even take the Precincts Tour. www.royalcollection.org.uk
Restored by Lord and Lady Iliffe in the mid 1950s, this Georgian mansion has been brought back to life using 18th century architectural fixtures and fittings. Visit the 1950s kitchen and tea rooms for an afternoon scone and cream. There are free nature walks every Friday and The Great Ball Run continues through to 7 September. Free for NT members or £13.20 for adults and £6.60 for children. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/basildon-park
Also known to many as Downton Abbey, Highclere is just outside Newbury in Old Burghclere. Owned by Lord and Lady Carnarvon, it has seen a huge growth in visitor numbers since the TV series began. Explore the castle, visit the Egyptian Exhibition and stroll through stunning gardens. This summer there’s a charitable event to commemorate the centenary of the First World War on 3 August. ‘Heroes at Highclere’ will raise funds for Armed Forces Charities. www.highclerecastle.co.uk
THE BIG EVENTS
Stoke Park concerts
Two world stars are coming to play in the beautiful hotel’s grounds, beginning with Sir Elton John, in aid of Sportsaid, the charity which helps young sports people achieve their ambitions, on 28 June. Then it’s the turn of Katherine Jenkins OBE, performing on Sunday, 29 June, her birthday. www.stokepark.com
Party in the Paddock
Head for Newbury Racecourse on Saturday, 19 July for a day’s racing completed by The Beach Boys in concert. The day is themed ‘Retro at the Races’ so 1960s-style apparel will be very welcome. www.racecoursenewbury.co.uk
Beaconsfield Country Fayre
In the last seven years, the fayre has raised over £100,000 for local charities and this August Bank Holiday they are hoping to add to this.
The Stretcher Race is the main event, but other attractions include an inflatable slide, climbing wall and balloon race. The fun starts at 11am. www.beaconsfieldcountryfair.org
Tickets are still on sale for this year’s Reading Festival from 22 to 24 August. The line includes Blink 182, You Me At Six, The Kooks and many more.
Camp overnight or battle your way home through the crowds. Weekend tickets £213 and day tickets from £99.50. www.readingfestival.com
Betty Boo, Robin S, Ce Ce Peniston, Dub Pistols and Whigfield. If you remember all those artists, then you can see them again at the Penn Festival at The Big Park between the 13 and 20 July.
There’s a camping field, as well as food and drink. Weekend tickets £60 for adults and £19 for children. penn.gigantic.com
From 17 to 21 June Ascot will be full of ladies and gents on their way to the races. Spoil yourself and experience lunch in the fine dining restaurant. Grandstand admission on the day costs £65-£75 (Silver Ring £25-37). www.ascot.co.uk
Henley Royal Regatta
The place to be from 2 to 6 July with its wonderful mix of competition on the river and a feast of entertainment all day in the historic and picturesque town. www.hrr.co.uk
With a line up including Bryan Ferry, Joss Stone, Burt Bacharach, The Jacksons and Rebecca Ferguson, Henley continues its summer of fun from 9 to 13 July. www.henley-festival.co.uk
Antiques Roadshow at Chenies Manor
On 3 July take along your family heirlooms and valuables to Chenies Manor to have them valued by experts from the Antiques Roadshow. Doors open at 9.30am. Or just go along to watch the action unfold. www.cheniesmanorhouse.co.uk
The Royal County of Berkshire Show
With 150 acres packed with 20 arenas, 2,000 animals, 500 stalls, the show attracts thousands over the weekend of 20 and 21 September. If you’ve never been you are in for a treat with a food fayre, craft marquee, livestock parade, flower tent, sheep show and sports zone. Entry for children under five is free, adults cost £14 and children aged five to 16, £5. www.newburyshowground.co.uk
Stanlake Park Vineyard Tour
Something just for the grown ups at Stanlake near Twyford. This tasting tour starts with a glass of sparkling wine in the Cellar Shop. An overview of the estate is first then it’s on through the walled garden to the winery to see where grapes are turned into wine. Tour dates include 22 June, 13 July 17 August, 25 August and 7 September. £15, email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
There’s so much to experience at this Dorchester Collection county house hotel, but we’ve chosen the Champagne Celebration ride. Enjoy an hour on horseback, stopping off at The Barn for a glass of Veuve Clicquot and a photo opportunity upon your horses. It’s suitable for all abilities, with expert instructors matching the pace to the riders’ experience. A one hour ride is £85 per person.
The Pavilion Spa at Cliveden is a perfect place to relax, rain or shine. It has an outdoor heated pool, outdoor Canadian hot tubs and sunbeds in the walled garden. Inside you can try whirlpool spas, steam room and sauna. A day of luxury costs from £99. www.clivedenhouse.co.uk
Windsor Half Marathon
Sign up for this year’s half marathon on 28 September in Windsor Great Park. Even if you’re simply a spectator it’s a wonderful day out. It’s all to raise money for charities, including Scope, CLIC Sargent and Women’s Aid. www.runwindsor.com
The polo season
A day at the polo means you can watch exciting competition while enjoying all the treats, whether it’s one of the big days attracting glamorous stars, or a tournament where rivalries are clear to see on the field. Guards Polo Club at Smiths Lawn hosts the prestigious Cartier Queen’s Cup Final on 15 June. Book grandstand tickets and parking at www.guardspoloclub.com. The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club at Winkfield has the final of The Prince of Wales Trophy on Saturday, 14 June.
At least one visit to the Monday night racing during summer is an absolute must. We recommend taking a train to the town centre and getting a racing package that includes a river boat ride there and back to the course. As well as the Monday night dates, Windsor has racing on 28 and 29 June. www.windsor-racecourse.co.uk.
This warm-up for Wimbledon at Stoke Park takes place from 17 to 21 June, with the final day featuring a top class exhibition match. A chance to enjoy tennis and some food and drink treats in superb surroundings. www.stokepark.com
Cycle the Kennet and Avon Canal
The canal’s cycle route is Britain’s most popular long distance waterside route. Sections of the towpath around Newbury and between Thatcham and Reading have been improved by creating a path with a surface more suitable for cyclists. Download maps at www.westberks.gov.uk
ARTS & CULTURE
Quite possibly the most unique venue in the county, the Watermill is known for being one of the go-to theatres for performances before they end up in the West End. Set in beautiful grounds with a new restaurant, so book dinner and tickets. www.watermill.org.uk
South Hill Park
Bracknell’s cultural hub, South Hill Park Arts Centre offers theatre and cinema as well as beautiful historic grounds. At the Studio Theatre and Wilde Theatre they have regular performances from local and national choirs, bands and orchestras. www.southhillpark.org.uk
Midsomer Murder village tours
If you’re a fan of the TV series take a guided tour of the Midsomer locations. There are different types to try, some involving a four night all inclusive package visiting historic hotels and locations, others are simply a day’s circuit of the villages. www.visitmidsomer.com
Holme Grange Craft Village
Take a stroll around the 20 shops selling crafty products or sign up for a workshop at Holme Grange, near Wokingham. Try making jewellery, painting ceramics or creating fresh pasta shapes. www.holmegrangecraftvillage.co.uk