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Things to do in Berkshire this May

PUBLISHED: 14:30 29 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:29 01 May 2019

The coaching marathon © RWHS / Peter Nixon

The coaching marathon © RWHS / Peter Nixon

© RWHS / Peter Nixon

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Berkshire this month

Discover weekly events and photography in the links above

The show must go on

This month, Windsor Castle will be opening its gates to the private grounds once again, as it hosts Royal Windsor Horse Show from 8-12 May, the only time of year the private grounds of the castle are opened up to the public. The Show, which has seen Her Majesty The Queen attend every year since its creation, will welcome the world's best riders as they compete in one of many top international competitions taking place over the week. The Show not only hosts equestrian competitions and displays, but is a great day out for all – featuring endless streams of shops, food vendors, bars and more.

Show Director Simon Brooks-Ward says: “My event management company, HPower Group, has run Royal Windsor Horse Show for more than 25 years. I have always felt that we are so privileged to run an event in such an amazing location. We are very much the guardians of this 76-year-old event and part of that caretaking role is to demonstrate to the Berkshire public that this is an event for all, whether 'horsey' or not.

“To this end we have created events that have wide appeal, including The Queen's Golden Jubilee (2002) Pageant, The Windsor Castle Royal Tattoo, which ran for five years, The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012, and The Queen's 90th Birthday Celebration in 2016, for which we were awarded a BAFTA for The Best Live Event.

“Royal Windsor Horse Show is unique in the UK in that it is born of the tradition of classic horse shows of which there used to be many. Windsor is the soul survivor of this worthy heritage. It offers competition from the grass roots to the very elite in four different disciplines – show jumping, carriage driving, dressage and endurance. Plus it has more than 140 'showing' classes, where horses and ponies are competing to become the best of their breed,” adds Simon. Over the five days you will see more than 3,000 entries, in five rings.

This show has lasted whilst others have failed. Why? “For very simple reasons,” says Simon. “Firstly, its beautiful location in the private grounds of Windsor Castle, secondly, the patronage of The Royal Family, and thirdly, that it attracts the very best international equestrian competitors. This year the show has the highest prize money of any equestrian event in the UK, with over €840,000 on offer, the pinnacle being the international showjumping class, The Rolex Grand Prix on 12 May.

“I'd recommend watching our regular entertainment such as The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry, including their Mounted Band, The Shetland Pony Grand National and the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games. There's also international equestrian displays with a highlight being the Hungarian Czikos, whose whip cracking will keep you awake.”

The show jumping Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday 12 May is not to be missed. “With €500,000 on offer, the best in the world will be striving to take the prize pot home,” says Simon. “Outside of the Olympic Games, you won't see better show jumping.”

The Royal Windsor Horse Show is also hosting The Pageant 2019, celebrating 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria. “The Music Hall, Gilbert & Sullivan and music from Oliver will be mixed with over 400 horses and 500 performers from the UK, Oman, Hungary, Dubai and Azerbaijan in a 90-minute spectacular,” says Simon. “With Simon Callow and Alan Titchmarsh at the helm and Olivia Colman providing the voiceover as Queen Victoria, we have some stardust as well. We have a plan for an evening Pageant that covers the next four years, which takes in the Queen's 95th Birthday and Platinum Jubilee.”

It all sounds very impressive; make sure you see this “kaleidoscope of colour, activity, shopping, socialising and beautiful horses and ponies”.


Thames Valley Flower Club celebrate 65th anniversary

The Thames Valley Flower Club will be celebrating their 65th Blue Sapphire Anniversary on Monday, 20 May 2019 and they will celebrate with as much blue as possible! Jenny Clarke will present her demonstration, Rhapsody in Blue, and members will celebrate with a lunch, cake and a glass of bubbly − and they'll all dress in blue!

The Thames Valley Flower Club started in 1954 with a group of ladies, all gardeners, who arranged flowers for their church in the Reading area and decided to start a flower arranging group. The group built up over a period of time, acquiring many new members. They met once a month in Reading for displays and lectures and five years later, NAFAS (National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies) was formed.

Jenny Clarke became a member as a National Demonstrator and in 1991 became Chairman of Thames Valley Flower Club. She has represented the club for 28 years, entering competitions at Blenheim Palace, Hampton Court, Malvern and many more festivals, even winning a gold medal at Chelsea. There are now 65 members.

Since then, the TVFC have donated and planted trees in various local parks and presented a beautiful wooden bench to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in 2017. The Club is heavily involved in local charities too.

TVFC meet at the Calcot Centre, High View, Calcot, Reading, on the last Monday of every month, excluding Bank Holidays, from 10.30-12.45, with refreshments and a flower demonstration, which are raffled at the end.

For further details, contact Brenda on 0118 943 1079

May Racing Weekend - 11-12 May

Ascot Racecourse

A competitive six-race card on the Friday with the Victoria Cup Raceday on the Saturday.


The Contemporary Art Fair at Newbury Racecourse - 11-12 May

Art lovers and artists meet face to face to browse, to talk, to admire and to buy. Bringing together over 160 artists, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists and selected galleries from the UK and Europe, The Contemporary Art Fair offers the very best in contemporary art.


Family Fun Day - 18 May

Paices Wood Country Park

A whole host of fabulous free activities, including a visit from the animals at Farms2ewe, face painting, woodland nature trail and pond dipping. There will be a wide range of stalls and food trucks selling everything from healthy meals to sweet treats, or you can bring a picnic to enjoy in our fabulous parkland. Seven Lakes Fishery and the Angling Trust are hosting free Family Fishing Sessions with a free Goody Bag for everyone that registers.


Al Shaqab Lockinge with Ladies Day - 18 May

Newbury Racecourse

Always a day which kicks off the summer season, top quality action on the course will be rivalled by fantastic entertainment and a thrilling atmosphere as the Flat season moves into top gear. The introduction of the new Rhododendron Garden and stage in association with Parkway Shopping will be a hive of activity, with pop-up bars, ample seating and live music throughout the afternoon, as well as this year's Style Awards.


Queen Victoria: A Talk by A N Wilson at Englefield House - 21 May

To mark the 200th birthday of Queen Victoria, who was born on 23 May 1819, her biographer the distinguished author A N Wilson will talk about her reign, focussing on her partnership with Prince Albert and their legacy.



South Hill Park

1 May, He Writes the Songs - The Manilow Songbook; 2-3 May, Forbidden Nights; 4 May, Twirlywoos Live; 7-11 May, Avenue Q; 14 May, Jack Dee; 16 May, Jason Donovan and his Amazing Midlife Crisis; 20-21 May, An Elephant in the Garden; 21 May, Much Ado About Nothing; 23 May, Swinging at the Cotton Club; 25 May, Welcome to Thebes; 25 May, Supersonic 70s Show; 28 May, Mother's Ruin


Norden Farm Centre for the Arts

1 May, Milton Jones: Work in Progress; 2 May, The Government Inspector; 3 May, John-Luke Roberts: All I want to do Is; 3 May, Alan McGee, 4 May, Oye Santana, 4 May, Kyshona Armstrong and Michael Logen; 9 May, Alistair McGowan - Introductions to Classical Piano; 9 May, Belshazzar's Feast; 10 May, Pop Up Bowie; 11 May, Jo Harman; 12 May, The Guido Spannocchi Trio; 15 May, Lou Sanders: Shame Pig; 16 May, Ashley Blaker and Imran Yusuf: Prophet Sharing; 17 May, Horns of Plenty; 18 May, The Bob Dylan Story; 22 May, Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock & Roll; 23 May, Steve Bugeja and Ray Badran; 24 May, Bilal Zafar - Lovebots; 25 May, Tunde Jegede: New Worlds Tour; 26 May, Peter Coyle, 27 May, Morgan & West's Magic Show; 29 May, Duckie, 30 May, Gareth Richards & Katie Mulgrew; 31 May, Charlie Baker presents The Greatest Goat of All Time; 31 May, Lucy Porter; 31 May, Matthew Read Trio


Corn Exchange

1 May, The Man Without A Past; 4 May, The Magic of The Bee Gees; 9 May, Jess Robinson: No Filter; 10 May, Someone Like You: The Adele Songbook; 11 May, BBC Big Band The Sound of Cinema, 11 May, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, 12 May, Sound Beginnings Babar The Elephant, 12 May, Beloved Clara, 13 May, The Highclere Concert: Sacconi Quartet, 14 May, Ballet Central, 14 May, Gabrielli Consort: Silence & Music; 15 May, Ensemble Masques - The Grand Tour; 16 May, Imogen Cooper, Henning Kraggerud and Adrian Brendel, 17 May, The Sheepdrove Recital, 18 May, Russian Philharmonic Orchestra of Novosibirsk, 19 May, Peter & the Wolf and the Carnival of the Animals; 21 May, Adam Walker Trio, 22 May, Harry the Piano; 23 May, Lucky Stiff; 24 May, Tribute to Benny Goodman; 25 May, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; 25 May, The Mystery of Memory Lane; 30 May, After This One I'm Going Home



Until 4 May, American Idiot Tour; 7 May, Big Comedy Bash; 8 May, Francis Rossi: I talk too much; 9 May, The Drifters, 10 May, Stewart Francis, 11 May, Milkshake Monkey Musical; 15-18 May, Guys & Dolls; 19 May, Menopause the Musical; 20 May, Burn the Floor; 21 May, Rumours of Fleetwood Mac; 22 May, Russell Kane; 23 May, Shalamar; 24 May, Daniel Sloss: X; 28-29 May, Adam Kay


The Mill at Sonning

2 May-15 June, A Belly Full; 12 May, Celebrating 60 Years of the Shadows; 13 May, Comedy Night at the Mill, 19 May, The Pasadena Rood Orchestra; 31 May, Afternoon Tea and Tim Valentine at the Piano


Theatre Royal Windsor

Until 4 May, Rain Man; 6-11, Napoli Brooklyn

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