Ascot Destination Guide
From the snow-powdered turrets of Windsor Castle and the wintry wonderland of Whitmoor Forest to a white-knuckle festive racing day at Ascot’s famous racecourse and exhibitions fit for royalty, winter is a prime time to visit this picturesque part of England. Wrap up warm and enjoy the season with a sparkling line-up of events in and around Berkshire.
A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Spring 2018 was marked by the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, with Windsor Castle their chosen venue for the extravagant nuptials. Visit A Royal Wedding at the castle to get up close to the outfits worn by the couple on their big day. Exhibits include Meghan’s exquisite gown and her diamond and platinum bandeau tiara, loaned to the bride by the Queen.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, SL4 1NJ
Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill
The Gothic sprawl of Strawberry Hill House & Garden is a treasure in itself, and Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill draws together masterpieces from the collection of 18th-century art historian Horace Walpole, who founded the estate. Including works by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Rubens, as well as oddities such as a lock of Mary Tudor’s hair, this is a very popular exhibition.
Strawberry Hill House and Garden, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4ST
Stanley Spencer: Friends and Family
While English painter Stanley Spencer may have arisen to fame on the back of his local landscapes infused with biblical references, his portfolio of portraiture is astonishingly broad and skilled. The Friends and Family exhibition at Stanley Spencer Gallery is an intimate snapshot of the artist’s private life, with beautifully wrought pieces demonstrating his immense talent at capturing the mood and character of those closest to him.
8th November 2018 – 24th March 2019
Stanley Spencer Gallery, High Street, Cookham, SL6 9SJ
Journey through snow-blanketed enchanted forests—meeting Rudolph, Dasher and Blixen along the way—to Santa’s cosy wooden chalet, where he and his elves need a little assistance in preparing for the 25th December. LaplandUK is a four-hour immersive experience that’s packed full of fun activities such as ice-skating, crunching on candy canes and, of course, meeting Father Christmas himself.
Whitmoor Forest, Swinley Road, Ascot, SL5 8BD
Stories and Songs with Santa
Wrap up warm and join Santa Claus and Mrs Claus in the holly-festooned gardens of RHS Wisley for a merry session of story-telling and festive singing. There are plenty of elves on hand to help little ones ice and decorate their gingerbread biscuits, and a mini tutorial on how to create a very unique decoration to hang on the tree at home. Don’t leave without a wintry wander through Wisley’s quintessentially English country garden.
RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB
Christmas at Windsor Castle
Visitors to the Queen’s official weekend residence are invited to admire its spectacular glittering 20ft-tall Christmas tree, festooned in twinkling fairy lights, gleaming gold baubles and reams of tinsel. Elsewhere, the State Apartments are decked out in gilded festive finery, with dining tables set for traditional royal feasts and opulent displays of Christmassy foliage transforming the interiors.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, SL4 1NJ
Courtyard Carol Singing
What better place to usher in the festive season than the stately Tudor surrounds of King Henry VIII’s historic country pile, Hampton Court Palace. Join the trombones and trumpets of local Epsom & Ewell Silver Band for an evening singalong session of cheery Christmas classics in the palace’s beautifully lit courtyard. It’s open to all, and if you miss the session at 6pm, you can join the second round at 8pm.
Hampton Court Palace, Molesley, KT8 9AU
Christmas Racing Weekend
A real festive tradition, Ascot’s thrilling Christmas Racing Weekend serves mince pies, mulled wine and winter cocktails alongside a pulse-raising day of jumps racing. Weekend highlights include the highly competitive Long Walk Hurdle—one of the most prestigious long-distance jump races in Britain, with a prize worth £150,000—and the appearance of Father Christmas and Mrs Christmas on Saturday.
Ascot Racecourse, High St, Ascot, SL5 7JX
Tom Stoppard’s comedy, Rough Crossing is one of his wittiest, and with BAFTA award-winner Anthony Andrews playing the lead, this production promises to be highly entertaining. The plot follows a pair of playwrights on a transatlantic liner headed for New York, where they’re due to open their latest show. They find themselves embroiled in an absurd romantic drama while aboard the ship, with hilarious consequences.
Theatre Royal Windsor, Thames Street, Windsor, SL4 1PS
European Union Chamber Orchestra
Internationally acclaimed British trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins is widely thought to be among the most skilled in his field. In the European Union Chamber Orchestra, he takes centre stage with Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto, magnified by the soaring acoustics of Reading’s Concert Hall. Directed by esteemed violinist Hans-Peter Hoffman, the performance includes evocative Serenades for Strings by Elgar and Tchaikovsky.
The Concert Hall, Town Hall, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH
Duke Street Experience at the Windsor & Eton Brewery
A brewery, beer shop and bar, the Windsor & Eton Brewery is a triple threat for beer lovers. For those looking to glean a little more about the brewery, there’s now a weekly tour of the space, with a few accompanying half pints, explaining and showing how the beer is made, as well as illuminating the brewery’s ambitions to make Windsor & Eton beers more famous than any other attraction in the area.
Windsor & Eton Brewery, 1 Vansittart Estate, Windsor, SL4 1SE