Monday, 27 July 2015

Battle Proms at Highclere Castle

A summer’s evening in the grounds of Highclere Castle (‘Downton Abbey’ to many fans); what could be a more perfect setting to wave the patriotic flag and sing a rousing rendition of ‘Rule Britannia’? 

This year’s Battle Proms takes place on Saturday 1 August, and is a chance to picnic in the splendid grounds of Highclere Castle – historic home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and where the ever-popular television series ‘Downton Abbey’ is filmed – whilst enjoying eclectic entertainment, magical music and fantastic fireworks.

You are welcome to take your own picnic and relate equipment, or you can pre-order and let someone else do all the preparation so that you just turn up, relax … and have fun. 

The Battle Proms themselves have been staged since 1997, the first event taking place at Battle Abbey in East Sussex and the purpose being to create a stage for the live firing of dozens of replica Napoleonic cannon to the strains of ‘Beethoven’s Battle Symphony’. This year, of course, the event will be extra special, marking 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo.

The programme of events starts when the gates open at 4pm. Time to lift the lid on those hampers, pop the champagne corks and soak up the atmosphere.

Early evening sees a Napoleonic display of mounted cavalry taking to the battlefield.

Fast forward more than a century and see the vintage-style group The Rockabellas performing songs to mark milestones in the Second World War, reflecting the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the end of the Second World War 70 years ago.

At 7.25pm comes the Battle of Britain Gun Salute, leading in to the main event: the magnificent musical programme.

All eyes will be drawn to the skies as the Grace Spitfire performs in perfectly choreographed style to the opening pieces of this evening of classical favourites, performed by the New English Concert Orchestra, conducted by Douglas Coombes and hosted by the BBC’s Pam Rhodes.

The event draws to a close at around 10pm, with, as you would expect from all the best Proms, a flag-waving sing-along, culminating in a spectacular firework display as a finale.

Pre-booked tickets from now until 31 July are £36 for adults (£40 cash on the gate and subject to availability so pre-booking is strongly advised); children age 5–15 £17 (free to those age 4 and under). Discounts for advance group bookings. 

To book tickets, reserve picnic hampers and furniture, and for all further details visit: Tickets are also available locally from the Visitor Information Centre and Corn Exchange in Newbury.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Dubai International Arabian Races

Dubai International Arabian Races - Newbury Racecourse 26 July

This full day of Arabian racing was run under the Dubai International Arabian Races banner for the first time in 2014, and in 2015 this flagship event comes to town on Sunday 26 July. For anyone who has not been racing before this race day is a great introduction to the ‘sport of kings’. Not only is entry absolutely free to everyone, but there is fun to be had for all the family. 

The Dubai International Arabian Races are part-organised by Shadwell Estate Company Ltd, based at Nunnery Stud in Thetford, Norfolk, whose horses have been running in the famous blue and white colours of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum since 1980. 

From its origins in the Middle East, Arabian racing has become increasingly popular across Europe as it aims to emulate Thoroughbred racing, and Shadwell Arabian stallions have been at the forefront of this sport since the beginning. Shadwell’s Chairman, Mirza Al Sayegh, explains the reason behind developing the Dubai International Arabian Races: ‘The idea is to help countries by supporting racing, in particular Arabian racing, to develop it as a sport, and we are encouraging breeders, owners and trainers to get involved.’

A horse that people might want to follow is last year’s Shadwell Dubai International Stakes winner Al Hibaab, trained by Newmarket handler Gill Duffield. He is likely to contest this race again in 2015 to try and emulate former Shadwell star No Risk Al Maury who won back-to-back Dubai International Stakes in 2007 and 2008 for the same trainer. 

So what will be happening at Newbury Racecourse on 26 July? With no need to pre-book free entry tickets, gates open at 12 noon and there will be eight races to enjoy. There will be plenty of outlets where you can enjoy a variety of food and refreshments, but if you want to dine in real style you are advised to pre-book The Hennessey Restaurant.

Something special this year will be an exhibition by the Society of Equestrian Artists entitled ‘The Arabian Horse in Art’; a children’s art workshop will be running on a ‘first come first served’ basis and there will also be artists painting ‘live’ around the course during the day.

Continuing the art theme, children from 14 local schools will be there hoping to win the Arabian Rainbow competition, a community arts project that challenges pupils to use their imagination to paint life-size horse sculptures. The competition has generated more than £60,000 in prize money for primary schools in the region since its introduction in 2009.

Along with Shadwell Stud, sponsors this year include Jebel Ali Racecourse, Emirates NBD (Bank), Emirates Airline, Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Emirates Equestrian Federation and National Academy of Indian Payroll, all of whom are supporting the organisers to ensure that once again this will be a fun day out for all ages, with henna artists, face painting, magician Marc Oberon and Newbury Racecourse mascot Harry the Horse out and about. As in 2014 there will be a free draw to win an amazing brand new car and the chance to win fabulous holidays to Dubai, courtesy of Emirates Airline and Rotana Hotels & Resorts. Two other exciting competitions to enter will be for the Best Dressed Lady and Best Children’s Hat. 

For further details about the Dubai International Arabian Races visit

For further details about Newbury Racecourse, and to book The Hennessey Restaurant on 26 July, visit

(A longer version of this article appears in the summer edition of In Newbury magazine © Newbury BID. Photographs © Shadwell Estate Company Ltd.)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Parkway Summer Series

There’s lots of summertime fun to be had in Parkway Newbury this July!

Saturday 18th July: Proms at Parkway

This musical extravaganza takes place from 11am to 4pm with three amazing acts performing live on stage in the Debenhams piazza. 
  • If you haven’t already heard local singer/songwriter Emma Lawrence, you’re in for a treat. With an emphasis on folk and R&B fusion, she performs both acoustic originals and fabulous covers in her own unique style. 
  • Marvel at the wonderful Classical Reflection who competed in the BBC television programme The Voice this year as part of ‘team Ricky’. Identical twins Naomi and Hannah Moxon bring a whole new angle to their speciality area of classical music and light opera, which is a true delight.
  • Then there is the magnificent Harmony Choir. With choirs being so popular and of the moment, this is one Newbury’s finest. This mixed-voice choir has a wide repertoire, with many songs performed in the fabulous a capella style. Come along and enjoy!
Remember there is plenty of parking at Parkway and it costs just £1 for the first hour.

Visit for further details.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Summer Events at Shaw House

High summer and high time you high-tailed it to the magnificent Elizabethan Shaw House on the edge of Newbury where some very special events are taking place in July and August.

Shaw House Summer Fair: Sunday 19th July

Come along from 11am to 4pm on Sunday 19th July to enjoy a truly traditional English country fair, with craft stalls, garden games, music, bouncy castle, a magician, barbecue and much, much more besides, all in the lovely setting of the grounds of historic Shaw House. 

(Both of the above events are part of NewburyFest 2015, which runs until 26th July)

Open-Air Cinema at Shaw House: Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August

Watching a film on the Great Lawn at Shaw House as the sun goes down adds a spectacular dimension to going to the movies, and this summer sees two quite different productions:
  • Top Gun, on Saturday 8th August, is the award-winning 1986 classic action drama starring Tom Cruise as Naval aviator Lieutenant Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, and Kelly McGillis as love interest Charlie Blackwood.
  • The Theory of Everything, on Sunday 9th August, is the award-winning 2014 film based on a biographical work about theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, and is a romantic drama about his relationship with Jane Wilde, who became his wife.

Gates open at 7pm, films start at sunset and refreshments are available.
Tickets: available from – £12.50 (deckchairs) or £15 (bean bags).

The Taming of the Shrew Open-Air Theatre: Sunday 30th August

An evening performance of William Shakespeare’s wonderfully comic The Taming of the Shrew. This is a battle-of-the-sexes comedy, brought to Shaw House by Illyria Open-Air Touring Theatre Company, in which fortune-hunting Petruchio seeks to tame the wealthy, acid-tongued Katherina. But is everyone who they appear to be?...

Gates open at 5.30pm for 7.00pm start.
Tickets: Adults £15, children £8.

Family Activity Wednesdays

On Wednesdays during the school summer holidays, Shaw House is hosting special family activity days. Starting from 10am and running until 4pm (last entry 3.30pm), there are all sorts of activities aimed at children aged 4 to 11 (all children must be accompanied by an adult). Just drop in at a time to suit you – there is no need to book. Entry to Shaw House is, as always, free of charge but there is a small charge for each activity.

This is a great way to keep the children occupied during those long summer holidays, so bring them along and prepare to have fun!

Visiting Shaw House

Shaw House and its grounds are open to the public on weekends from 11am to 4pm and on weekdays during school holidays from 10am to 4pm until 28th September, reopening in February. Entry is free and there is a café and gift shop on site.

Further details from the website or enquires by phone to Shaw House on 01635 279279.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Parkway en Provence

There’s lots of summertime fun to be had in Parkway Newbury this July!

Saturday 11 July: Parkway en Provence 

This event sees Parkway turned into a charming and compact French market for the day … or should that be un peu marché Français?

Look out for wonderful French breads, cheeses and wines from boulangerie, pâtisserie and café PAUL, and at Marks & Spencer. Pop in to Café Rouge for tasty taster treats. 

Be indulged with a hand massage and samples from L’Occtaine, the natural beauty skincare specialists, with their Mediterranean-inspired techniques and products.

Whilst you enjoy all this, there will also be entertainment from French mime artists, accordion players … and you can even have your caricature drawn. 

It’s going to be a très bon jour! 

Remember there is plenty of parking at Parkway and it costs just £1 for the first hour.

Look out for another fantastic event at Parkway on Saturday 18 July.

Visit for further details.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Summer At Newbury Racecourse

There is so much happening at Newbury Racecourse during July and August! Take a look at what’s on – there is truly something for everyone this season. And if you have never ventured to the races before, there is no better place to start than Newbury Racecourse. It makes for a great day or evening out, with a whole host of places to choose to eat and drink.

It’s not all about the racing either – there are some fantastic musical extravaganzas and other entertainments this summer too.

Thursday 9 July: Proms in the Paddock. Not only can you enjoy an evening of races, with a selection of live classical music on offer throughout, but after the race meeting there will be wonderful proms-style classical music with Proms in the Paddock. 

Friday 17 July: July Afternoon Racing. This is a relaxed and informal afternoon of top-quality flat racing; gates open at 12 noon and the first race starts at 2pm.

Saturday 18 July: Weatherbys Super Sprint Day. After an exciting day’s racing, stay on for a night of fun at Party in the Paddock with Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard and drum and bass legend DJ Fresh – two of the biggest names in dance music.

Thursday 23 July: NSPCC Charity Race Evening & Comedy Night. A great evening supporting a great cause. Come on your own, with a friend, or as a larger group, and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat while watching the racing. After the racing, head for the Crafty Filly – specialising in local real ales and fresh pasties – for a fabulous live comedy show. Perfect for a night out after work!

Sunday 26 July: Dubai International Arabian Raceday. With FREE entry to this event, it makes a great day out for all the family. Not only can you enjoy watching the magnificent Arabian horses race but there is lots of entertainment for all ages too – and all sorts of prizes on offer as well.

Friday 14 August: August Afternoon Racing: The first day of Newbury Racecourse’s two-day August fixture kicks off with a great afternoon of flat racing. Come along and enjoy this relaxed and informal event, with gates opening at 12 noon and the first race starting at 2.20pm. 

Saturday 15 August: Betfred Ladies Day. The second day of the two-day August fixture is the famous Ladies Day, this year in support of Breast Cancer Care. As there is a wonderful prize for the ‘Most Stylish Racegoer’, Ladies Day is something worth getting dressed up for! There will be all sorts of entertainment and treats taking place throughout the day, and the racing is followed by a brilliant party featuring ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again. 

Tuesday 25 August: August Evening Racing. As we head towards the August Bank Holiday weekend, make the most of the long, light days at the last evening fixture this summer. Gates open at 3.30pm, first race is 4.40pm.

Further details about all these events, facilities at the racecourse and how to get there on the Newbury Racecourse website

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Newbury Carnival & Fete 2015

The Carnival is back! Come along to Newbury town centre on Sunday 5th July and join thousands upon thousands of people who will be lining the streets to enjoy the amazing spectacle that is the Carnival Parade.

This year there are over 60 entries so there will be plenty of floats, walkers and dancers to see. As the Carnival is set to be one of the biggest ever, the competition for best entries in a range of categories will be hotly contested! There will be lots of music to accompany the Parade, from the traditional – such as the Reading Scottish Pipe Band – to the more exotic, such as the Rampage Mas Band with its Caribbean influence.

The Parade starts at 2pm, wending its way via Bartholomew Street, Northbrook Street and the Clock Tower (with certain roads closed 1.45–4pm so that everyone can travel safely), and culminating in Parkway. 

From there, hop over to Victoria Park where the fabulous Carnival Fete takes place from 12noon to 6pm, with stalls, entertainment, small rides, giant inflatable slide and loads of other fun for all the family. 

As always, music and dance at the Carnival Fete will be a highlight. As well as further performances from the Reading Scottish Pipe Band and the Rampage Mas Band, look out for Newbury & Thatcham Rock Choir from 12 noon, and Hungerford Town Band playing in the bandstand 3–5pm. Throughout the afternoon, all sorts of other genres will be performing in the Fete Arena, such as the acclaimed Mini Band, the brilliant Sticky Fingers with their ukuleles, Interakt Community Theatre and Arts, West Berkshire Sway Dance, Steps Ahead Dance School, and not forgetting the wonderful Bruce Hogg on his guitar.

Further details on the website