25 super summer treats in Berkshire
PUBLISHED: 11:52 28 June 2016 | UPDATED: 11:52 28 June 2016
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Who needs the seaside? Not us! We're getting outside to enjoy a grand mix of countryside and glamour, plus some super food along the way
Our county’s three racecourses have plenty to enjoy – both on the track and beside the paddocks. Monday night racing at Windsor is a ‘must-do’ experience and live music entertainment there includes Cuban Race Night (11 July), Irish Night (25 July) and Seventies Night (8 August). Family Fun Day with children’s entertainment and free entry for under 18s accompanied by an adult takes place on Sunday 7, August, and Ladies Day with The Human League on stage is on Saturday, 27 August. See windsor-racecourse.co.uk.
At Ascot, The First July Weekend opening on Friday, 8 July, includes the Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile on the Saturday. Not to be missed is The King George VI Weekend from Friday, 22 July, with the prestigious King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO), the following day, ascot.co.uk.
As well as summer afternoon racing, Newbury’s calendar includes some big days out, such as Saturday, 16 July, Weatherbys Super Sprint Day, when Simply Red will perform after the racing. Betfred Ladies Day is on Saturday, 13 August, with Will Young performing live, newburyracecourse.co.uk.
Head to Henley
The Royal Regatta runs from 29 June to 3 July, followed by Henley Festival from 6 July where stars include Elton John, Elvis Costello, Bryn Terfel and the WNO Orchestra, Blake with guest Dame Shirley Bassey, and Will Young.
On 24 July the tempo changes with Henley Sheepdog Trial alongside a spinning and weaving display, sheep hurdle demonstration and food and trade stands, from 9am to 5pm at Henley Showground, Greenlands Farm, Hambleden, thehenleyshow.co.uk.
On the water
Be a tourist for the day with a Thames cruise, perhaps even have Sunday lunch on board a steamboat or afternoon tea from Windsor, see frenchbrothers.co.uk. Or head from Reading to Henley with salterssteamers.co.uk. Take a trip with the Kennet & Avon Trust on The Rose of Hungerford – you can glide to Wire Lock on 2 July (afternoon) or Dunmill on 6, 13, and 20 July (mornings), rose.katrust.org.uk.
How about a luxury champagne experience or boat picnic with clivedenhouse.co.uk?
Guards Polo Club host in conjunction with The Hurlingham Polo Association The Royal Salute on Saturday, 23 July when England take on a Commonwealth team. There are great competitions running throughout the season and this year’s Ladies Charity Polo Day is on Saturday, 27 August, guardspoloclub.com.
Dragon Boat Festival
Reading Dragon Boat Festival is on Sunday, 21 August at Thames Valley Park Riverside alongside Wokingham Waterside Centre. Those competing will raise money for their chosen charities at Reading Lions Club. Racing starts from around 10.20am, with the Grand Final planned for 4pm.
There will also be entertainment on land including UK Garrison (a top Star Wars costume group), children’s attractions plus charity and food and drink stalls, readingdragonboatfestival.co.uk.
Walk on the wild side
The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), has events for all ages throughout summer. We like the look of the Summer Evening Stroll from 6.30pm on Friday, 8 July, led by the season wardens who really know about the common’s wildlife wonders. Well-behaved dogs on leads are also welcome. Other events include joining in the hay cutting at Audrey’s Meadow, Greenham, on 16 July, seeking the summer butterflies and wild flowers at Moor Copse on 17 July, and the weekly walks around Greenham and Crookham Common to spot rare heathland flowers.
Windsor Championship Dog Show
A four-day treat for dog fans is held from 30 June in Home Park, with Working & Pastoral breeds on the first day, followed by Gundogs on the Friday and then Hounds & Toys and Terrier & Utility classes completing the weekend. It’s often called ‘The Summer Crufts’.
The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber, and his team will travel through Berkshire and then Buckinghamshire at Marlow and on to Oxon for the census of the swan population and check on their health. Their journey starts on 18 July, finishing at Abingdon on 22 July, see www.royal.gov.uk and www.royalswan.co.uk.
Outdoors at Cliveden
Summertime garden tours here are a treat and from July the parterre is a sight to behold, courtesy of some 30,000 bedding plants. And then there are the 10,000 begonias in the Long Garden. NT admission prices apply and guided tours (no booking needed) run from 2pm on 5, 12, 19 and 26 July, see www.nationaltrust.org.uk.
Red Bull Air Race
The motorsport series in the sky is back at Ascot racecourse on 13 and 14 August. The world championship will see top pilots demonstrate how they harness speed, precision and skill as their planes take to a ‘track’ made up of high air-filled pylons.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
See star-crossed lovers, playful fairies and hilarious travelling players at Ascot Racecourse at 3pm on Saturday and Sunday, 2 and 3 July when Chapterhouse Theatre Company presents Shakespeare’s best-loved romantic comedy there. It’s a superb chance to enjoy the best outdoor theatre, adults £15, child £10, family of four £40, chapterhouse.org.
As you like it
Circus meets Shakespeare at The Savill Garden, Englefield Green, until 24 July as Watch Your Head theatre group produce an entrancing and immersive performance in the beautiful setting. You can order a delicious ‘wedding breakfast’ hamper prepared by Leiths in advance, with drinks available at a bar including food and drink from the finest local suppliers, including favourites from Sipsmiths, Pol Roger, Fever Tree and Windsor and Eton Brewery, watch-your-head.co.uk.
The festival with a line-up of the best tribute acts comes to Dinton Pastures Country Park in Hurst near Wokingham on Saturday, 23 and Sunday, 24 July. They’ll be recreating the stage performances of the likes of T Rex, Queen, Bob Marley, Rod Stewart, Adele and Coldplay. Glamping and camping available for the weekend, there’s entertainment for all ages and the Spitfire aerobatic display will perform to stirring patriotic music, marvellousfestivals.com.
It all starts on 26 August when thousands of people arrive at Little John’s Farm in Richfield Avenue for the August Bank Holiday weekend event which is now the world’s oldest popular music festival still in existence, readingfestival.com.
This runs from Friday, 26 to Sunday, 28 August at Elms Field and is as much a feast of food and drink as it is live music. Sunday’s line up includes that great live band, Never The Bride. The Beer Festival Bar, run by Wokingham Lions, will include ales from Binghams Brewery, Ruscombe, Elusive Brewery from Finchampstead, Wild Weather Ales of Silchester and Windsor & Eton Brewery, wokinghamfestival.co.uk.
Head to South Hill Park on Saturday, 30 July for a great line-up including The Shires and The Hoosiers. The day includes children’s activities, food stalls and drinks tents, southhillpark.org.uk.
Blues on the Meadow
This is the 10th anniversary of the one-day festival at Aldermaston and the line-up on Saturday, 2 July is a great one of The Robin Bibi Band, Laurence Jones, Will Wilde, The Connie Lush Band, Cadillac Kings and Redhouse, plus there will be acoustic sets in the bar, bluesonthemeadow.com.
Blues in the Park
Part of the highly successful Hungerford & District Community Arts Festival, thia evening at John O’Gaunt School on Sunday, 3 July sees actress Maureen Lipman, poet Jeremy Robson, jazz’s Jacqui Dankworth and pianist-vocalist Charlie Wood excel together in a superb programme. The festival itself has a feast of music over 17 days, including Hank Wangford Trio, Kennet Opera, Hungerford Town Band, Reading Community Gospel Choir and Phoenix Brass Band, hungerfordartsfestival.com.
Highclere Castle Battle Proms
A Crown & Empire Parade, re-enactors including a cavalry parade, live music and a volley of shots from The English Field Artillery Company all precede the concert featuring The New English Concert Orchestra. Add in the arrival of the Grace Spitfire overhead, cannon fire, The 1812 Overture and a grand fireworks display and your day is complete on Saturday, 6 August, www.battleproms.com.
Royal County of Berkshire Show
An end of summer spectacular not-to-be missed event, the Berkshire Show on 17 and 18 September at the Newbury Showground is held over two consecutive days and is one of Britain’s Top Ten agricultural shows. Spread over some 150 acres, it attracts competition from across the country and thousands of visitors for a ‘town meets country’ experience, courtesy of organisers The Newbury and District Agricultural Society.
This free event in Reading’s Forbury Gardens on Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 July, celebrates our neighbours across The Channel with sporting activities, arts and crafts sessions, entertainment and, of course, some delicious food! You might even get a free piece of cake, bastilledayreading.co.uk.
A free-entry event over two days, 23 and 24 July, in Kidwells Park, this year the theme is The Circus with music, a ‘beach’ of real sand, fairground, stalls and sideshows. Some 8,000 people attended last year to enjoy entertainment including live music and fireworks, maidenheadfestival.org.uk.
A week-long list of events between 2-10 July kicks off with the carnival procession, through the town to Morgan Recreation Ground. This year the theme is Myths & Legends. Crowthorne’s Flower Festival from 9 to 11 July at St John’s Church is well worth a visit and this year is held in aid of Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service.
Berkshire Motor Show
This free entry and family-friendly event at Prospect Park, Reading, on Sunday, 3 July, includes hovercraft rides, a fun fair, displays and dog show. It raises funds for Launch Pad, Reading’s homeless support charity. Classic and custom cars, from Jaguars to a Corvette Stingray will be on display alongside bikes and other vehicles, berkshiremotorshow.co.uk.
Newbury Classic Vehicle Show
Organised by West Berks Classic Vehicle Club, this annual show supports Bloodwise, the new name for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. This year’s event is at Newbury College on Sunday, 14 August, with entertainment for both enthusiasts and their families, classicvehicles.org.uk.