Things to do in Berkshire in 2016
PUBLISHED: 11:33 12 January 2016
Time to get the calendar out and start planning the year ahead - and book your tickets for great events in Berkshire
• Windsor Spring Festival - 12 March
The Royal town’s celebration of the arts begins with this festival, dedicated to youth and community participation and providing an opportunity to enjoy some high quality – and sometimes lively – performances prior to the main festival later in the year. It runs until March 20 and tickets become available mid-February.
• The Prince’s Countryside Fund Raceday - 3 April
This great family day out is being held for a second year at Ascot Racecourse and provides competitive racing alongside countryside inspired activities and pony rides, a petting area and sheep in the Lamb National. Proceeds go the fund overseen by HRH The Prince of Wales which makes grants to projects tackling key issues in rural areas.
• Reading Contemporary Art Fair - 23 April
The first day of a weekend at Rivermead Leisure Complex where the public could well find a gem amongst the very affordable art on sale, including works by local artists. There’s a private view by ticket or invitation on the preceding Friday.
• Newbury Spring Festival - 7 May
The festival provides a feast of music over a fortnight, with some 20 venues providing events guaranteed to provide entertainment. Some of the world’s best young musical stars perform, such as in the Sheepdrove Piano Competition, alongside more established names. Highlights for 2016 include the Highclere Concert and the Moscow State Orchestra at St Nicolas Church.
• Royal Windsor Horse Show - 11 May
The five day show is a marvellous mix of international jumping, driving, dressage and endurance competitions – all alongside displays, family fun and some super shopping offers. It attracts star riders from across the equestrian world, celebrities and, of course, members of the Royal Family.
• HM The Queen’s 90th birthday - 12-15 May
The Queen will actually become 90 on 21 April, and then there’s her Official Birthday with Trooping the Colour in London on 11 June. But this celebration over four evenings in Home Park Private, Windsor Castle, uses the site of the Horse Show for a show with 900 horses and more than 1,500 actors, dancers and musicians in a show taking us through her 90 years. Some 25,000 tickets sold out in a flash, but there is a ballot for a big screen showing on 15 May in The Long Walk.
• Let’s Rock The Moor - 21 May
The open-air retro music festival at Cookham’s Marsh Meadow always produces a great selection of performers and this year the list includes The Human League, Belinda Carlisle, Jason Donovan, Jimmy Somerville, Sinitta, Hue And Cry, Aswad, Black Box, Chesney Hawkes, Katrina Leskanich, Cutting Crew, and Johnny Hates Jazz.
• Championship Dog Show - 3 June
Three days of judging start at Newbury Showground as the Southern Counties Canine Society’s annual show gets underway, culminating in the ‘Best in Show award’ at the end of the third day.
• Cartier Queens Cup Polo, Guards Polo Club - 12 June
This is one the biggest polo tournaments in the world and so attracts the best international players. Beyond all the excitement of the riders and their speedy ponies, it’s a great ‘people watching’ event, particularly the final when HM The Queen traditionally presents the trophy. The Bentley Royal Windsor Cup Final is on Sunday, 19 June and the Archie David Cup Final takes place on Sunday, 26 June.
• Royal Ascot - 14 June
Britain’s most valuable race meeting runs over five days, with horses, trainers and owners flying in from across the world. Royal and celebrity watchers can enjoy a feast, and a day there which includes dining makes the perfect celebration. Fashion, style, glitz and glamour, this one has the lot.
• Windsor Championship Dog Show - 30 June
A four-day treat for dog fans is held 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’.
• Newbury Carnival - 3 July
The town will be full of fun for this traditional Sunday event which attracts thousands every year. With a lavish carnival parade around the town centre where the best floats win prizes, a packed fete in Victoria Park and lots of food and drink goodies, it’s a great day out in the West Berkshire town.
• Swan Upping - 18 July
The Queen’s Swan Marker will be leading his team along the River Thames from Sunbury Lock, Surrey to Abingdon over five days. You’ll be able watch the procession at points along the river, including Windsor, Cookham, Marlow and Henley as the annual census of the Thames swan population and their health takes place.
• Reading Fringe Festival - July 20
Running until 24 July, the festival features talented local dancers, drama and comedy. And for the fourth year running a short film festival for new and upcoming filmmakers will be included, hosted by Workbench Productions and supported by Reading Fringe, with 10 short films selected for screening during the festival.
• The Thames Marathon - 7 August
Endurance swimmers make their way down the Thames from Henley to Marlow, with spectators watching those tackling the eight and half miles between the bridges. Other swims this year include the Henley Classic on 26 June, the Henley Mile on 10 July and the Club to Pub event on 23 July.
• Reading Festival - 26 August
Thousands of people will descend on 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.
• Royal County of Berkshire Show - 17 September
A huge, not-to-be missed event, the Berkshire Show 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.
• Windsor Festival - 18 September
The main autumn festival brings a host of international talent to the royal town, with first class performances in a variety of venues, including Windsor Castle. With exhibitions, talks and plays, intriguing walks, tours and open houses, there is something for everyone with daily events until 2 October.
• Ascot Beer Festival - 30 September
The 10th annual festival at Ascot Racecourse will see hundreds of real ales, ciders and perries, predominantly from local craft brewers, on offer.
• Hungerford Food Festival - 2 October
This superb community event is run by Hungerford Environmental Action Team and sees food and drink producers from the area display and sell their wares, alongside tasting sessions, demonstrations and a Cook Off competition. This year it will run from 10.30am to 4pm.
• QIPCO British Champions Day, Ascot - 15 October
One of the big days on the racing calendar as some of the world’s finest horses and jockeys battle it out at the end of the flat racing season, from sprinters to those marked for longer distances seeking a share of £4 million plus in prize money. Add in great catering and entertainment and you have the perfect day out.
• Hennessy Gold Cup, Newbury - 26 November
From the days of Arkle through to Denman, and more recently Bobs Worth and Many Clouds, the latter trained by Lambourn’s Oliver Sherwood, some of the leading jump horses of their generation have taken this eagerly awaited and treasured prize. In 2015 it was the turn of near-white Smad Place. Book tickets for a great day out at The bet365 Festival.