The best events on in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire during 2018
PUBLISHED: 15:49 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:49 08 January 2018
© Maureen McLean. All Rights Reserved
Mark those calendars as we take a look at the events coming up, from the royal wedding through the social season and festivals to the county shows
We all have our favourite spots to view the little beauties –and our counties attract visitors to some magnificent displays. Welford Park at Newbury, where the Great British Bake Off has been filmed, opens Wednesday to Sunday each week from 31 January to 4 March. £7 adults, £6 concessions, £3 children, under fours free, see welfordpark.co.uk.
Several National Trust properties have superb displays, including Stowe, Clivedenand Hughenden, where volunteers have planted thousands along the entrance drive, in woodland and The Pleasure Gardens. At Claydon near Buckingham there are sensational displays.
You’ll also find snowdrops at many of the sites cared for by The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust and on Saturday, 3 February from 11am to 3pm they have a plants sale with advice clinic run by experts, featuring snowdrops and other spring bulbs. Snowdrops will also available for sale on Sunday, 4 February at Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham, see bbowt.org.uk.
On 11 February The Child Bereavement Trust’s annual Snowdrop Sunday event at West Wycombe Park includes a children’s Treasure Hunt. Snowdrops can be bought on the day, and volunteers will help plant them at The Temple of Venus in the park, see events at childbereavementuk.org.
The annual Snowdrop Sunday at West Wycombe Park in aid of South Bucks Hospice is on Sunday, 18 February, see events section at sbh.org.uk.
Many of the shows at our major theatres bring a bright start to January, and then the local groups get in on the act. They include The Winslow Players in Buckinghamshire, where The Wonderful Wizard of Oz runs from 1 to 3 February, see winslowplayers.co.uk.
In Berkshire, Twyford & Ruscombe Theatre Group are staging a version of Dick Whittington & His Cat which takes our hero all the way to Morocco on 11, 12 and 13 January, see twyrusdrama.org.uk.
The Milton Keynes Model Railway Exhibition on Saturday, 10 February at Stantonbury Leisure Centre, includes over 40 layouts and a ride-on railway for children, mkmrs.org.uk.
That’s also the date of the Southern Counties Cat Club and Croydon Cat Club show when hundreds of felines arrive at the Rivermead Leisure Complex in Reading. See facebook.com/SouthernCountiesCatClub.
The Royal Wedding
We know where – St George’s Chapel, Windsor – but not (as we went to press) when in May Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry. Perhaps it will be on over the Bank Holiday weekend of 26 to 28 May, so that most people can have a day off to watch the celebrations. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is due to give birth to her third child in April.
Newbury Spring Festival
The festival returns in May where for the last 40 years it has grown to become one of the most popular in the south of England. There will be two weeks of top class music, including classical, folk, jazz and cabaret featuring artists from around the world.
The opening night in St Nicolas Church features exciting young cellist Shekku Kanneh-Mason playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner. The Festival continues a great tradition of choral music with Ex Cathedra returning to perform at Douai Abbey and a special performance of the Bach Mass in B minor by baroque collective Solomon’s Knot at the Holy Cross Church in Ramsbury.
Events will also be held at Newbury’s Corn Exchange featuring artists from classical through to world music. Long established groups such as the Piccadilly Dance Orchestra, Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers and Joe Stilgoe appear alongside the Taschi Lhunpo Monks and the Orchestre National de Jazz. There are also three shows especially for children and families.
Tickets go on sale on 6 March, see newburyspringfestival.org.uk.
From jumps to flat
The Be Wiser Jumps Season Finale over Friday and Saturday 23 and 24 March at Newbury Racecourse helps signal the changing seasons, before the flat racing begins here with the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend on Friday, 20 and Saturday, 21 April.
Starlight Charity Raceday is on 18 May, with the fabulous Al Shaqab Lockinge Day, when some of Europe’s finest thoroughbreds go head to head.
Royal Windsor Racecourse’s seasonal opener is on 16 April, a sign that summer is on the way and lots of Monday night racing is to come. Ascot’s Spring Family Raceday is on Sunday, 25 March (free entry for under 18s) and May Racing Weekend is on Friday, 11 and Saturday, 12 May.
Royal Windsor Horse Show
Keeping everyone busy in Royal Wedding month will be this event in the shadow of Windsor Castle, with displays, showjumping and showing classes alongside a mass of hospitality and shopping treats, see rwhs.co.uk.
The inaugural Ascot Spring Garden Show takes place at the racecourse from 12 to 15 April, supported by The Savill Garden and The Valley Gardens at Windsor Great Park. It will feature six inspiring show gardens alongside trade exhibitors, specialist plant nurseries, and free talks.
The Peter O’Sullevan Lambourn Open Day is on Good Friday, 30 March, when some 25 trainers open their yards to the public. There are also special exhibits and demonstrations. Tickets are £15 and under 12s go free. Book at www.lambournopenday.com.
The fete season gets underway on Saturday, 29 April at Longwick as a prelude to May Day celebrations. Longwick, a pretty rural village close to Princes Risborough, includes The Red Lion with its very decent pub grub. The fete at Longwick Village Hall playing fields starts at noon with all the traditional attractions and a novelty dog show.
Let’s Rock the Moor retro music festival at Cookham is on Saturday,19 May with a line-up see to include Adam Ant, Tony Hadley, Atomic Kitten and Billy Ocean. See letsrockthemoor.com.
The social season
Five days of brilliant racing and fantastic hospitality at Royal Ascot begin on 19 June. See ascot.co.uk.
Henley, the world’s best known regatta runs from 4 to 8 July. As well as over 200 races on the Thames, there’s plenty to see and enjoy on the riverbank. Book at henleyregatta.com. The Henley Festival, five days of top class music performances beside the Thames, with some spectacular fireworks displays, runs from 11 to 15 July, henley-festival.co.uk.
Tickets are already selling for The Boodles at Stoke Park, the superb exhibition tennis tournament with top stars in action. It runs from 26 to 30 June, see theboodles.com.
The polo season from April to September includes The Cartier Queen’s Cup Final at Guards Polo. The full schedule is still to be announced and tickets go on sale from February at guardspoloclub.com.
• Windsor Championship Dog Show at Home Park runs from 28 June to 1 July, see windsordogshow.org.uk.
• Marlow Town Regatta & Festival, a great social and sporting event, is on 16 and 17 June, see marlowtownregatta.org.
• Raising money for good causes, Berkshire Motor Show at Prospect Park in Reading, takes place on Sunday, 1 July, berkshiremotorshow.co.uk.
• You can already get early bird tickets for PennFest, the family-friendly live music festival at The Big Park on 20 and 21 July, pennfest.net.
• Reading Festival runs from 24 to 26 August at Richfield Avenue. No line-up yet, but see ticket details at readingfestival.com.
• The Classic Car Show at Gerrards Cross Memorial Centre on East Common and takes place on Wednesday, 8 August from midday, gxclassiccars.co.uk.
• The Rewind Festival at Henley marks its 10th ‘birthday’ in 2018 with a feast of 80s music at Temple Island Meadows from 17 to 19 August, rewindfestival.com.
The Royal Berkshire County Show
This superb event offers two days of displays, shopping, livestock competition, foodie treats and much more at Newbury Showground. This year it takes place on 15 and 16 September. At the time of going to press prices for tickets had not been announced, but go online to berkshireshow.co.uk for updates.
Bucks County Show
Having marked its 150th anniversary in 2017, this superb day out epitomises ‘town meets country’ and is held on a Thursday as summer turns to autumn. It’s held at Weedon Park, Weedon near Aylesbury, keep an eye on buckscountyshow.co.uk for ‘early bird’ ticket details.
Hungerford Food Festival
A great day out packed with local produce, food to sample and demonstrations, the 2018 event is scheduled for Sunday, 7 October, see hungerfordfoodfestival.com.