20 things to do this summer in Berkshire
PUBLISHED: 16:03 24 July 2015 | UPDATED: 16:03 24 July 2015
Get those diaries out and plan some marvellous local ‘away days’ to enjoy with friends and family
Fly down to the falconry centre
Based at Ladd’s Garden Village, Hare Hatch, between Maidenhead and Reading, Feathers and Fur Falconry Centre offers a variety of amazing opportunities from a half day hands on experience session and hawk walks to more unusual experiences such as an educational owl hour.
They also host photography sessions where you can go along to take photos of the birds as they are flown around you, or as part of a three-hour class. You’ll need to book for all these events, so go online to www.feathersandfur.co.uk or call 07812 171709.
Horse-drawn boating at Hungerford
Discover the traditional way of exploring the canals on a trip by narrow boat from Hungerford. The Kennet Horse Boat Company has trips every day until the end of September. You could even take a one-way trip and stop in Kintbury for a short while at the Dundas Arms. Prices start from £10 for adults, £9 for children and seniors. Go online to www.kennet-horse-boat.co.uk for times and to book.
Discover nature in Thatcham
There’s pond dipping, Animal Experience Days and Birds of Prey Days at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre throughout the summer. Get up close and personal with Harris Hawks, tadpoles, tortoises and an Emperor scorpion, to name a few. Go online for dates, times and prices to www.bbowt.org.uk
Meerkats and much more
You soon meet the meerkats at Beale Park near Pangbourne, but it’s the start of a full day out to enjoy at your leisure, with a huge number of mammals, birdlife and reptiles to see. Plus there’s the attractions of a little diesel railway to take you on a tour of the park, play areas including a lovely paddling pool, model boats and displays. Summer holiday events include archery sessions and pond dipping.
Perfect for little ones
Meet the farmers and get close to the animals at Odds Farm Park, Wooburn Common. Stroke bunnies, hand feed goats and sheep, meet cheeky pigs and more and take part in the daily animal activities If the weather takes a turn, head to the Indoor Playbarn with its massive adventure play area, swinging ropes and lots more. Tickets are £9.95 for adults, children £8.95, seniors £8.95 and under twos free. Odds Farm Park, Wooburn Common Road, Wooburn Common, High Wycombe HP10 0LX. Tel. 01628 520188. www.oddsfarm.co.uk
So much in one place
Dig out the wellies and Barbour jackets, it’s The Royal County of Berkshire Show on 19 and 20 September. See the Bolddog Lings Freestyle FMX Team pull off some heart stopping tricks. Visit the Country Area to see the popular Parade of Hounds, coarse fishing displays and otters and snakes. Plus there will be over 500 stands to peruse over the weekend, selling everything from craft items to country clothing. Don’t forget to visit the Food Fayre to taste some local produce and stock up on more summer treats. Tickets are on sale online in advance at www.newburyshowground.co.uk.
Before then, from Friday, 7 to Saturday 9 August, Newbury Showground is home to Retro Festival, celebrating the musical past alongside classic and vintage cars, caravans, military vehicles and steam engines. So you’ll find the Ricky Tick Mod Stage, an area dedicated to rock ‘n’ roll and a vintage social gathering at the Spitfire Pavilion and garden party. See www.retrofestival.co.uk.
Bucks County Show is on Thursday, 27 August at Weedon Park, Aylesbury. There will be something to entertain everyone: cookery demos, shopping, quad bike stunts, livestock shows, home and garden marquee, vintage transport and lots of rural demonstrations, to name a few. There’s also live music by RAP Halton Pipes & Drums and lots more. The fun starts early, from 8am until 6pm. Tickets and more information can be found at www.buckscountyshow.co.uk.
Big Camping at Basildon Park
Bring your tent, a picnic for dinner and set up camp at Basildon Park on 18 and 19 July. Toast marshmallows on the fire, go on a nighttime walk around the parkland and wake to breakfast in the tearoom.
Also on the 18th, for one night only, there’s a unique opportunity to camp overnight at Runnymede. There will be fun filled activities, camp fire and barbecue. You need to book for both of these venues. For Basildon Park call 08442 491895 and for Runnymede phone 01784 432891.
You can Go Ape at Swinley Forest near Bracknell, at Black Park Country Park between Iver Heath and Slough, or head up to the northern crest of the Chilterns where Wendover Woods offers a very unique challenge for those feeling brave enough, with the Go Ape new ‘Extreme’ route. It includes a scrambling net and climbing wall before your tree top adventure even begins. Enjoy the sweeping views across Aylesbury Vale while sailing down a 140m zip wire or treading carefully along a 20m long crossing. Various ticket prices depending on age, what you do and how long you stay, see goape.co.uk.
Take to the water at Longridge
Kayaking, bell boats, canoeing, dragonboats, sailing, rafting, climbing, fencing and gokarts. Set in a unique riverside location near Marlow, Longridge Activity Centre provides a range of exciting water sports and land-based activities. Run by a team of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers and paid staff, they are approved by the BCU (British Canoe Union), RYA (Royal Yacht Association) and British Rowing. Go online for pricing and to see the many activities available at www.longridge.org.uk or call 033 0303 0101.
Longridge, Quarry Wood Road, Marlow SL7 1RE.
Segway at Bray
Take the X2 All Terrain Segway off the beaten track at Bray Lake over the summer. This Segway Rally course is one of the best rally tracks that you can experience, providing a scenic view across the water. In order to build up both your confidence and skills you will take part in a few short Segway games before being taken out with your instructor along the Rally track where you will be shown any obstacles that you will need to avoid. You will then be set free to test both the true speed of your Segway and your new found Segway skills as you are let loose around this thrilling track. For an hour, it cost £29 per person with morning and afternoon sessions. Go online to www.segwayevents.co.uk to book (usually Fridays through to Mondays).
Sustainability at the Solidarity Centre
Even our town centres have some beautiful green areas to explore. Discover the oasis that is the RISC Edible Roof Garden in Reading, designed in 2002 on the flat roof above the conference hall. It’s a brilliant demonstration of how a garden can support more sustainable lifestyles and provide a practical solution to the problems of ‘peak oil’ and global climate change.
Discover 185 species of plants from all over the world and find out about how to harvest water and landscape with renewable and reclaimed materials. Go along on Saturday, 4 July and 8 August for £3.50. Or visit as part of Reading Heritage Trail on Saturday, 12 or Sunday, 13 September when entry is free. RISC, 35-39 London Street, Reading RG1 4PS.
Get on track
Celebrate at Ascot’s King George Weekend from 24 to 25 July. Enjoy a competitive six-race card on the Friday which features the John Guest Jack Brown Stakes that commemorate the racing legend who won seven different Royal Meetings. Saturday sees The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes sponsored by QIPCO, commemorating Her Majesty The Queen’s late parents. Tickets are from £15 on the Friday, £25 on the Saturday. Book online at www.ascot.co.uk.
Windsor’s popular Monday evening racing is a big draw all through July, with Irish Night on the 27th. Enjoy the treats of the town and then complete the day at the racecourse. As well as the evening racing in August, there’s Family Fun Day on the 9th with the Moshi Monsters. One meeting not to miss is on Saturday, 29 August when it’s Ladies Day with Jo Whiley live after racing for the summer season finale. Book now at www.windsor-racecourse.co.uk.
Newbury has a feast of entertainment to enjoy alongside the racing, whether that’s food or music. July meetings include Proms in the Paddock on the 9th, and on Saturday, 18 July the Weatherbys Super Sprint Day will be a big draw with DJ Fresh and Danny Howard taking to the stage after racing. Book at www.newburyracecourse.co.uk.
Raise a glass at Stanlake Park
Join the estate’s expert guide in the Cellar Shop for a Vineyard and Winery Tasting Tour near Twyford, where you will be welcomed with a glass of Stanlake sparkling wine, followed by an introduction to the estate and vineyard and a brief overview of English winemaking. Following this you will be taken through the Walled Garden Vineyard and into the Winery itself, where you will see where grapes are turned into wine, and learn how the wine is made. The tour costs £17.50 per person (including wines), and at time of printing places were still available on 19 July and 31 August. For future dates and to book visit www.stanlakepark.com or call 0118 9340176.
Wonders of Wokingham
The town’s festival from 28 to 30 August offers fun and live music alongside a feast of food and drink. The treats include some 60 specialist craft beers in a bar run by Wokingham Lions. Local selections include ales from Binghams at Ruscombe, Butts of Hungerford, Rebellion from Marlow, Siren Craft Brew of Finchampstead, Wild Weather Ales of Silchester, Bradfield’s Tutts Clump Cider Company, and Windsor & Eton Brewery.
With food exhibitors, a restaurant marquee and demonstrations, there’s plenty for all to enjoy. See www.wokinghamfestival.co.uk.
Produce at the Palace
The BBC Good Food Festival is at Hampton Court Palace on August Bank Holiday weekend. Peruse a great selection of delicious artisan producers; watch a stellar line up of cooks and chefs, fabulous entertainment, family fun and great live music. All set within the backdrop and grounds of the stunning Hampton Court Palace. The festival is included in your palace admission ticket, which costs £26.50 for adults, £8.25 children, £13.50 for concessions and £40.80 for a family.See more at www.hrp.org.uk
Music at Marvellous
On the 25 and 26 July, Marvellous festivals bring their special brand of music and family fun to Wellington Country Park. There will be camping/glamping facilities available for those wishing to make a weekend of it. You wouldn’t want to miss 14 great bands, as well as the Big Kid’s village, fairground rides, face painting, dance workshops, bouncy castles, full bar facilities, fabulous food stalls and much more. Book your tickets now at www.marvellousfestivals.com
Wellington Country Park, Odiham Road, Riseley, RG7 1SP. Tel. 0118 9774358.
Cinema at Caversham Court Gardens
Try the cinema experience outdoors at Caversham Court Gardens. Choose from Birdman on 5th August, The Breakfast Club in the 6th, Trainspotting on the 7th, Boyhood on the 19th, Clueless on the 20th, Fight Club on the 21st, Dead Poets Society on 2nd September, Interstellar on the 3rd and Pulp Fiction on the 4th. Tickets are £15.95 (including booking fee). See www.cultscreens.co.uk
There are also open air cinema screening in Wokingham at Elms Field from 21 to 23 August, as well as at Shaw House in Newbury on 8 and 9 August and 5 and 6 September. Also at Ascot on 30 July and 1 August.
Battle Proms at Highclere
Classical music, Spitfire and cavalry displays, cannon fire and fireworks – it must be Battle Proms at Highclere, back for its 15th year on 1 August. TV and radio presenter, author and celebrated compère Pam Rhodes will be hosting the event and the Rockabellas, today’s answer to The Andrews Sisters, will warm up the audience with an upbeat performance of unrivalled vintage vocals. Accompanying the orchestra will be superb soprano Denise Leigh, who will perform enchanting arias before bringing the finale to life. Get planning your picnic menu and stock up on champagne and strawberries. For more information, or to book tickets visit www.battleproms.com or call 01432 355 416. You can also purchase tickets locally from selected Tourist Information Centres.
Step back in time at Bekonscot
Take a trip back to rural England in the l930s at Bekonscot Model Village in Beaconsfield. Discover the ultimate train set, as well as a sit-on railway (not a model one), remote controlled boats, kiddie rides and a pirate water feature. There’s also a tearoom, gift shop, playground and lots of picnic areas, disabled facilities. For adults, entry costs £9.80, children £5.80, a family ticket is £28 and children under two free.
Beckonscot Model Village, Warwick Road, Beaconsfield HP9 2PL. Tel. 01494 672919. www.bekonscot.co.uk
Red Bull Air Race
This thrilling event showcasing the skills of elite pilots from around the world takes place at Ascot Racecourse on 15 and 16 August, with qualifying on the Saturday followed by the exciting showdown the next day as planes take off and land in front of the grandstand.