Sue Ryder Awards

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Nominate inspirational women for 2020 Sue Ryder Southern Women of Achievement Awards

Do you know a woman who deserves recognition for their achievements in the community, business, public service or sport?

If so nominate them for the Sue Ryder Southern Women of Achievement Awards – nominations open on Thursday, 7th November.

The charity for palliative, neurological and bereavement support is calling on people across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to put forward the names of those who deserve to be celebrated.

The awards, which have been running since 2006, remain one of Sue Ryder’s biggest fundraisers of the year. They are a fantastic way to celebrate the incredible achievements of local women, while also reflecting on the amazing achievements of Lady Ryder – legendary philanthropist and the charity’s founder.

 

There are seven categories:

Community – sponsored by Invesco

Business – sponsored by Invesco

Sport – sponsored by Russell Partnership Collection

Innovation

Mentor/coach of the year

Public Service

Robyn Jones Courage Award – sponsored by CH&Co

 

Nominations will be open for a month, closing on 7th December. Successful nominees for each award category will then be contacted by a member of the Sue Ryder Fundraising team by 20th December.

Winners will be decided by a judging panel, including representatives from each sponsor, and announced at the Southern Women of Achievement awards ceremony on the 13th March 2020 at Phyllis Court in Henley. The awards will be accompanied by a black-tie drinks’ reception and three course dinner. Attendees on the night will also be treated to live musical entertainment, a raffle and silent auction.

Fern Hayes,  Head of Fundraising at Sue Ryder, said: “Celebrating the incredible achievements of so many amazing women across the region is a cause very close to our hearts and something we look forward to year on year. However, we need help to find our wonderful nominees.

“We were overwhelmed by support for the 2019 awards – especially from our brilliant volunteers and sponsors – and hope to drive just as much of a buzz around the 2020 event too.

“The awards are always such a fun and heart-warming event. We encourage everyone across the three counties of Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire to think about all the fantastic women they have in their networks and consider putting them forward for nomination. We want to make the 2020 awards our biggest and most successful yet.”

To make a nomination

Sir Ranulph Fiennes at Cranford House

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Junior pupils at a South Oxfordshire school have been exploring polar ice caps, arid deserts and yawning caves thanks to an exciting project focused on exploration and the environment.

And now they can look forward to sharing their hard work with none other than the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Cranford House, a small independent school in South Oxfordshire, has been running the inspiring project in parallel with several local primary schools whose Years 5 and 6 pupils will also be there on the day to meet the great man himself. As well as enjoying the chance to discuss their work on exploration and climate change with Sir Ranulph, they will also hear him speak of his experiences of life in some of the world’s most extreme places.

Among his many achievements, Sir Ranulph Fiennes successfully climbed Mount Everest, becoming the first person ever to have climbed Everest and crossed both polar ice-caps. He is also the only man alive to have travelled around the planet’s Circumpolar surface.

His latest challenge will see him attempting to become the first person to have crossed both polar ice caps and climbed the highest mountain on every continent. His expedition will raise funds for the Marie Curie charity and Cranford House is proud to be backing his expedition fundraising.

Cranford House’s pupils’ focus on exploration will culminate in a spectacular community event on the morning of Saturday 9th November with balloon rides, climbing walls, viking longships and desert dunes all on offer, and all free of charge.

The school has a history of attracting luminaries from the world of science and literature and Sir Ranulph joins the likes of recent visitors such as astronaut Helen Sharman OBE, and author Marcus Sedgwick in meeting and inspiring pupils.

Find out more

Half term at National Trust

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Autumn is the perfect time to get outside with the family and create unforgettable moments this October half-term. With all kinds of family-friendly events, woodland adventure days and spooktacular Halloween trails on offer, the kids won’t get bored at the many National Trust properties in the area.

Here are just a few ideas for you –

Basildon Park, near Reading, RG8 9NR  
01491 672382
Whether it’s brilliant autumn sunshine, or slightly damp autumn drizzle, there are plenty of opportunities for children to get out of the house this October half-term and enjoy Basildon Park. There’s the Wild Play Trail, open all year round, the half-term trail, and a natural play area for little ones. Come along and get stuck into a day out at Basildon Park from Saturday 26th October until Sunday 3rd November.
Half-term trail: Minibeasts 
Pick up a trail leaflet from visitor reception and search the parkland for creepy crawlies to win a prize. £2

The Vyne, near Basingstoke, RG24 9HL (just over the border in Hampshire) 
01256 883858
Young witches, ghosts and all manner of things can wander The Vyne’s gardens enjoying Halloween trails for all ages. Two mysterious trails will keep under 7s and over 8s entertained. Families can embark on their challenge by paying normal admission and £2 for each Halloween trail sheet at Visitor Reception from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 10am-5pm
Halloween spotter trail (up to age 7)
In the gardens, collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for 10 photos of animals mistakenly linked with witchcraft. Return your completed sheet to the tent for a chocolate prize. £2
Halloween rune trail (ages 8+)
On this mystical adventure through The Vyne’s gardens, decipher 16th-century runes to reveal a secret word. Collect your £2 activity sheet from the Halloween tent and look out for ten signs hidden around the gardens. Each sign will translate a symbol into a normal letter. Write each letter in the corresponding box on your activity sheet to work out the mystery word. At the end, return to the Halloween tent to collect your chocolate prize. £2

The Buscot and Coleshill Estates, near Faringdon, SN6 7PT 
01793 762209
As we head into Autumn, we’re making the most of the last summer sunshine and welcoming in the season of golden hues. With half-term fun at Badbury woods on our Autumn Scavenger hunt for children, flower arranging with pumpkins workshop and our November term of Coleshill Critters.
Autumn scavenger hunt at Badbury Woods
Monday 28th October – Friday 1st November, 11am-2pm
Become a nature detective and see what you can find in the woods. £3

Chastleton House and Gardens, near Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0SU 
01608 674981
Join the Halloween spooky ghosts and ghouls themed trail at Chastleton in the Cotswolds, abundant in local tales and legends of spooky happenings and ghoulish goings on. The house at Chastleton, however, is not known for its ghost stories and there are no tales of spooky sightings or strange feelings passed down from generation to generation.
But this Halloween half term, explore some of the local legends and stories from around the area in the ghosts, witches and ghouls trail running from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, 1pm – 4pm. £2.50

Greys Court, near Henley, RG9 4PG
01491 628529
Whether it’s brilliant autumn sunshine, or slightly damp autumn drizzle, there are plenty of opportunities for children to get out of the house this October half-term and enjoy Greys Court. The half term trail will run from Saturday 26th October to Sunday 3rd November, where you can pick up a trail for £2 and find clues to win a prize.
October half-term: Loads of leaves 
Pick up a trail leaflet and wander the estate in search of clues celebrating the autumn colour. £2
Den-building 
Create a shelter for yourself this October half-term in the den-building area down near the play area. You’ll find plenty of sticks, logs and twigs to create your ideal hideout.

Find out more

For more details about these and other events at National Trust properties

Reading gaol hug

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A mass hug is taking place at Reading gaol tomorrow (Sunday 13th) to show some love in a bid to save the historic site and it couldn’t be more timely.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the Ministry of Justice has put the building up for sale with interest expected from housing developers but many in the town want it used as an arts venue.

Campaigners have been working to save the gaol and a petition from Reading East MP Matt Rodda reached more than 6,000 signatures.

The hug is set to take place at 2pm with the idea being participants will hold hands and surround the prison with a “mass hug”.

There is interest from many groups in Reading including the Civic Society which wants to see the prison, where Oscar Wilde was locked up, used as a cultural hub for the town.

Theatre and Arts Reading wants to see the gaol feature performance space, an art gallery, a digital hub, maker space and a museum giving people the opportunity to meet for arts, crafts and cultural activities.

Artist Sally Castle has produced a new logo for the campaign which has been reproduced on T-shirts with many people expected to wear them today.

Register

If you want to join the hug you need to register, it’s free but organisers need an idea of the numbers

Guildford Book Festival

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Guildford Book Festival, 6th-13th October, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Over the years it has hosted some very well-known names but it began in 1989 with a free lunchtime event with an at the time little-known author, Sebastian Faulks. His first novel The Girl at the Lion d’Or had just come out, the first part of the French trilogy which went on to include the emotional First World War best-seller Birdsong and later the Second World War story of heroine Charlotte Gray.

Events this year include Chris Ryan (Electric Theatre, 6th October) speaking about his experiences in the SAS and how events such as Brexit may impact in intelligence sharing and our security, as well as talking about his latest book Black Ops.

David Suchet, better known as Poirot, will talk about his passion for photography, his life and career, with Michael Buerk (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, 6th October). Behind the Lens: My Life in Photos features images from his life which he’ll be sharing.

Monday 7th includes the start of a week-long creative writing workshop; Deborah Moggach and Nicholas Coleridge at the Literary Lunch; broadcaster Kirsty Wark will be talking about her second novel The House by the Loch and historian Max Hastings will be looking at Operation Chastise – The Dambusters Story 1943.

If you haven’t already got a ticket you’re too late to enjoy a coffee morning with The Countess of Carnarvon when she’ll be sharing secrets of Christmas of Highclere, aka the fictional Downton Abbey, but there are a host of other great events to enjoy on Tuesday 8th.

There are still a few tickets left for William Clegg QC’s Under the Wig – A lawyer’s stories of murder, guilt and innocence, John Craven’ sHeadlines and Hedgerows and Luke Jennings is talking about No Tomorrow, the second in the Killing Eve trilogy, now a hugely successful BBC series.

Among the highlights on Wednesday are a look at life on the glamorous French Riveria with Anne de Courcy’s Chanel’s Riviera – Life, Love and the Struggle for Survival on the Cote d’Azur, 1930-1944. Virginia Nicholson takes us into the 1960s with How Was It For You? Women, Sex, Love and Power in the 1960s and there’s the chance to enjoy Cocktail Night with Signe Johansen’s Spirited – How to create easy, fun drinks at home.

Thursday puts the spotlight on Leonardo da Vinci with Ben Lewis’s book The Last Leonardo, Andrew Lownie shares secrets of The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves while Paul Arnott looks at Windrush – A ship through time and Professor Mike Berners-Lee examines the ‘very hot’ topic of the environmental and economic challenges we face in There is no planet B – A handbook for the make or break years.

Fans of Dirty Dancing – and who isn’t – will be excited by the showing of this eighties classic on Friday evening after Katy Brand’s talk on her book, I Carried a Watermelon – Dirty Dancing and Me which tells of the comedian’s lifelong obsession with the movie in her love letter to the iconic film.

Saturday is Readers’ Day with the mini festival in a day, which is already sold out – book very early for next year! There’s still fun to be had courtesy of Pam Ayres with her collection of verse, Up in the Attic.

Guildford Book Festival winds up on Sunday 13th with an extra session of Peter FiennesA Walk in the Woods, Steve Backshall shares his latest adventures in Expedition – Adventures into Undiscovered Worlds before it winds up with an evening with Louis de BernieresCaptain Correlli and Beyond.

More info

For details about all these events and more visit

Autumn walks

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Photo: National Trust – John Miller

Autumn casts a new light on familiar landscapes. When trees blaze with orange, red and gold, shady woodland is transformed into a dappled golden path. Nature’s last hurrah before the long sleep of winter, it feels rude not to enjoy the show.

I’m lucky enough to work for an organisation that loves and looks after woodlands. The National Trust cares for more than ten million trees across the country and last year we funded 38 different tree and woodland projects across the South East.

Everyone is welcome in the woods we look after. We want them to be loved, explored and enjoyed by as many people as possible. There are also things we can all do to help look after woodlands, such as taking our litter home, picking up after our dogs, not allowing them to chase wildlife or disturb nesting birds and keeping to the paths.

A mature oak tree has about 700,000 leaves, providing food for the tree and enough oxygen for 10 people for a year. As leaves start to die, the tree takes back reusable proteins and green chlorophyll, revealing the yellow and red pigments produced by sugars remaining in the leaf. The best and most long-lasting colours develop with warm, bright days and cold nights, slowing the transport of sugar from the leaf. Try to catch a falling leaf – it’s trickier than you think! A good way to identify wildlife is to look for nibbled nuts; an excellent high-protein food for fattening up before winter.

Here are some favourites in your local areas…

Berks & Bucks

Hughenden, near High Wycombe, is a National Trust beech woodland with a German Forest of yew trees planted by Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Normal admission and there’s a café and facilities at Hughenden Manor.

Wendover Woods – Forestry England woods with cycling routes, fitness trail and new café. Free to visit (charge for parking).

Bradenham Woods, near High Wycombe, is a typical Chiltern woodland with valley view, cared for by National Trust. No charge. Café in Red Lion pub in the village.

Burnham Beeches, near Farnham Common, is a National Nature Reserve with walking and cycling trails, a visitor centre and café. Free to visit (charge for parking).

Cliveden, near Maidenhead – a National Trust beech woods with glorious green avenue, far-reaching views and routes down to the river. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Cliveden.

Basildon Park near Goring – National Trust woods with different walks and children’s play trail. Normal entry. Facilities and café at Basildon Park.

Swinley Forest, near Bracknell – Look-out Discovery Centre, walking cycling and Go Ape. An Iron Age hillfort surrounded by a mile-long ditch.

Sulham Woods, near Tilehurst – Mix of deciduous and coniferous woodland with lots of footpaths and far-reaching views of the Thames Valley. No charge, no facilities, walks online.

Bowdown woods near Thatcham – Woodland Trust dense ancient woodland. Waymarked wildlife walks. No charge, no facilities.

Greys Court near Henley – Chiltern beech woods on the estate. Short and long walks online. Normal admission. Café and facilities.

More information

Visit the National Trust website for more information about any of these walks and those further afield

Reading Thames Festival

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Photo: Cirque Bijou – Nic Kane

Reading Thames Festival returns for the third year with a new programme set to change the town’s cultural scene. The world-class festival is made locally, celebrating the incredible creativity of Reading and driven by it.

The four-day festival, which runs from today (26th September) until Sunday 29th, will present music, film, theatre, dance, circus, spoken word, and offer a variety of food and drink.

Taking inspiration from the Thames’ grand heritage as a rich source of creativity, this year, the festival programme addresses themes of change and transformation, exploring how music, performance and the arts can bring people together in times of social unrest.

The festival will bring together more than 20 Reading and Berkshire artists and organisations, including a new co-commission partnership with Reading University. A brand-new festival strand – Art After Dark – will be introduced by performer Janine Harrington this year, due to transform Reading for one unforgettable night. The free one-night event will present art and performances in public spaces you may encounter every day as well as secret, off-the-beaten-track sites and venues.

Among the highlights this year are:

never closer to midnight

Reading on Thames Festival and University of Reading Co Commission
Thursday 26 September
Time: Various from 12pm – 5pm
Venue: White Knights Campus, Reading University, Shinfield Road, Whiteknights Road, Reading RG6 6UA
Free, un-ticketed

A meditative, rhythmic outdoor live art installation, exploring the sense of urgency in the face of climate change by artist Janine Harrington. never closer to midnight will also feature as part of Art After Dark. Harrington’s practice involves choreography, installation, writing and performance. She is interested in game structures, play, access, neurodiversity and the poetics of movement practices.

Art After Dark

Thursday 26 September
Time: 5pm – 10.30pm
Venue: Various venues Reading town centre
Free, un-ticketed

Art After Dark is a new contemporary arts strand that will transform Reading for one night. The free one-night event will present art and performances in public spaces and venues around the town centre. The event invites you to explore Reading’s identity, culture and architecture, offering arts organisations, independent artists and curators the opportunity to present works responding to Reading and the 2019 festival themes.  The Art After Dark trail will bring Reading’s waterways, town centre, heritage quarter and University alive with artworks and pop-up performances in an array of locations. Art After Dark aims to be accessible for a broad audience, giving local people and visitors the chance to discover different places across the town and explore its hidden histories and architecture. The event aims to meet the ever-growing demand for night-time cultural events.

In A Wonderland They Lie – A Riverboat Salon

Friday 27 September
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: Thames River Cruise
Meet Point: Thames River Cruise boarding pier
Ticketed: £10 full price, £6 concessions

In A Wonderland They Lie is a floating literary and musical salon. A riverboat tour showcasing writers and musicians whose work is haunted by a certain spirit of place. Partnering with Thames Cruisers, this event will take place on board one of their beautiful boats, set to sail along the quiet middle reaches of the Thames allowing audiences to see Berkshire from the water. This intimate event is curated by the writer, broadcaster and film-maker Michael Smith.

Acid Brass Fairey Brass Band

Sunday 29 September
Time: 7.30pm – 9pm
Venue: Reading Concert Hall
Ticketed: £12 full price, £7 concessions

Acid Brass is the brainchild of the Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller. It is the unlikely fusion of Acid House anthems with the sound of a traditional British Brass Band, the result of which has received much appreciation from varied audiences across Europe and beyond. Since its conception in 1998, Acid Brass has been performed in locations such as the Tate Modern (London), The Louvre (Paris), and at many large popular music festivals across Europe. The Fairey Band is one of the most successful contesting brass bands in the world. Founded in 1937 by a group of employees at the Fairey Aviation Works in Stockport, the band has won every elite band event on the contest calendar, including the National Championships of Great Britain on nine occasions and the British Open an incredible 16 times.

Cirque Bijou

Saturday 28 September
Time: 6.30pm – 9.30pm
Venue: Reading Abbey
Ticketed: £14 full price, £7 concessions

Following the sold out 2018 Reading on Thames finale event, Cirque Bijou return to perform against the beautiful and historic backdrop of Reading Abbey. They bring the party to Reading with an immersive evening of the most contemporary of circus. Combining traditional skills and daredevilry with modern technology, live music and sophisticated styling, with beautiful, graceful and inspiring performances supported by performances from the communities of Reading against this backdrop.

More info

For full details of all the events at Reading Thames Festival visit their website

Headlines & Hedgerows

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Our countryside & its wildlife is at risk. We encourage you to join the campaign to save our endangered hedgerows and share an exclusive extract from John Craven’s new book.

The hedgerows that criss-cross our countryside are not only an iconic sight, but a vital habitat and corridor for many of our native species. However, they are becoming increasingly fragmented which is threatening the wildlife that depends on them.

We’ve lost about half our hedgerows since WWII. Although the rate of direct hedge removal has been reduced, hedgerows are being lost simply through how they are managed.

“With 70% of UK land being agricultural, hedgerows offer the safest route for wildlife to travel across farmland,” says Megan Gimber, key habitats project officer at PTES. “Sadly, many hedgerows are becoming ‘gappy’, which fragments this amazing network. And, without more sensitive management, many hedgerows are at risk of being lost altogether. This is problematic, especially when we’re seeing a fall in numbers of the animals that depend on them, such as hedgehogs, bats, hazel dormice and song thrush.”

In Britain, habitat fragmentation is thought to be a limiting factor for the distribution of some species and a threat to others’ survival. Corridors play a vital role preserving a number of species deemed ‘at risk’. Some 16 out of the 19 birds included in the Farmland Bird Index, used by government to assess the state of farmland wildlife, are associated with hedgerows.

Healthy hedgerows reduce soil erosion, flooding damage and air and water pollution. They provide forage for pollinating insects, predators to keep crop pests in check and shelter for livestock, reducing deaths from exposure and improving milk yields. Hedges help us fight climate change by storing carbon and reduce the damage from flooding.
To take part in the Great British Hedgerow Survey or find out more, visit hedgerowsurvey.ptes.org

Hedgerow. Credit Allen Paul Photography & Shutterstock.com
annie-spratt-cZFe4oIIPg8-unsplash
An extract from John Craven’s new book

Headlines and Hedgerows is published by Michael Joseph

We have all heard that well-known piece of advice first coined by W.C. Fields: “Never work with animals or children.” Well, I’ve done both throughout my career (in fact, I couldn’t have succeeded without them!) so in my case at least that old adage is totally wrong.

I suppose one reason for my longevity is that I have never been very ambitious. I have not sought the headlines, never seriously courted celebrity nor been tempted to take chances on high-profile but potentially risky and short-lived programmes – apart from one, and that was Newsround, which was a six-week experiment in 1972. Thankfully it is still going strong so, as it turned out, it was not much of a gamble and a recent poll in Radio Times placed Newsround at number three in a list of the top 20 children’s programmes of all time.

And Countryfile is often in the top 20 of most-watched shows. During my 30 years there I’ve seen rural issues ranging from social isolation and deprivation to the way our food is produced climb higher and higher up the national agenda. That our audience is split pretty evenly between country dwellers and townies proves to me that, united as a nation in this at least, we want to preserve, protect and enjoy our glorious countryside…

For my Countryfile interview with Prime Minister David Cameron, we met for an hour at Cogges Manor Farm, a rural heritage centre in his Oxfordshire constituency. The cameras were set up around the kitchen table and before he arrived a lady who seemed to be in charge of his “image” wanted to know where he’d sit. She checked the angles and saw a large Welsh dresser in the background. “Could we move some of those plates and ornaments,” she said. “It’s too fussy.” It proved that politicians have learned to be careful what’s behind them on screen. An exit sign, for instance, would be the last thing they wanted.

When Mr Cameron came in, dressed casually in a jumper – this, after all, was Countryfile – he said “I was brought up on you, John!” I don’t feel particularly old but it’s alarming when the man leading the country says you were part of his childhood! We had a wide-ranging conversation and he had no idea of the questions beforehand. I challenged him on his plan to make his administration the greenest government ever (which didn’t really happen) and overdevelopment threats to the landscape. “I care deeply about our countryside and environment,” he told me earnestly. “I’d no more put them at risk than I would my own family.”

Today, I wonder what he’d make of the report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England revealing 15,500 new houses have been approved in areas of outstanding natural beauty in the years since. We also talked of his plans for a free vote in Parliament on bringing back hunting with hounds (which never happened) and persuading all other EU countries to enforce farm animal welfare laws as diligently as the UK (still waiting for that). I was impressed by his detailed knowledge of rural issues, even when pressed for details. A few months later at a Downing Street lunch for people involved in all aspects of the countryside, he smiled and said he hadn’t expected to be grilled by “a rural Jeremy Paxman.”

The Great British Hedgerow Survey

To take part in the Great British Hedgerow Survey or find out more

Think pink!

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It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month – support the cause by buying these items & wearing pink on Friday, 18th October

1. Tickled Pink Ben & Jerry’s Love Is Topped, £2.50.

2. Dove Pomegranate, £2.85.

3. PG Tips, £2.

4. ghd gold ink on pink styler, £139.

5. Simple wipes, £3.

6. Pot noodle.

7. Vaseline Rosy Lip Tin, £1.50.

8. Lulu Guinness Breast Cancer Now Natasha in chalk blush, £145 .

9. ELEMIS Breast Cancer Care limited-edition Pro-collagen Marine Cream, 100ml.

Find out more

Please visit website to join the campaign!

Windsor Fringe 2019

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Theatre, comedy, music, dance, family shows, a pop up record stall and music around a fire pit are among some of the many amazing attractions at this year’s Windsor Fringe. 

There are more than 130 performers and artists, showcasing local and national talent at the event from 20th September to 6th October, the second oldest fringe in the UK after Edinburgh. 

The launch party kicks off the festival with music from DJ Steve Nash and guests playing everything from reggae and jazz to funk and disco with drinks and food from street vendors to make it a great way to start. 

Among the many musical highlights of the festival are jazz singers Claire Martin and Ian Shaw with A Century of Song (21st); traditional music from Spain with The Maiden & The Thief (25th); The Magic of Motown (27th) and An Afternoon of Music & Colour brings R&B and funk on the 29th. 

There’s theatre in the form of The Red Balloon (21st) and a trip through Shakespeare in The battle of Love and Power (29th) before you go on Journey’s End on 1st and 2nd October. 

Join a Victorian Windsor walking tour, discover Queen Anne’s Windsor and enjoy some of the work put on display by more than 30 artists at open house events around the town.  

The family is well catered for entertainment to suit all ages from dance to an arts festival day and join The Last Puppet with an adventure aboard ship. 

The festival also features the 16th international Kenneth Branagh Award for new drama writing. The three finalists’ plays will be performed nightly on 3rd, 4th, and 5th October before a panel of judges chooses the overall winner – why not watch one a night at The Old Court and decide for yourself? 

Windsor Fringe

To find out more about all the events at Windsor Fringe and to book tickets