Icons To Light Up Nocturne Festival

Round & About

Spice girls

With 2023 coming to a close, it’s about time we started looking to next year and the fun we can have once the sun returns.

A surefire hit for music fans is Nocturne Festival with runs from 12th – 16th June at Blenheim Palace. The festival began in 2015 and has played host to music royalty over the years with the likes of Elton John, Kylie, Van Morrison, and Nile Rodgers gracing the stage over the years. With some of the headliners only recently announced we have to say we’re really excited about these shows..

Music legend and pop culture icon Chaka Khan will be performing on June 13th. The 10-time Grammy winner, who is touring in celebration of both her 70th birthday and 50th year in music, will be joined by disco legends Sister Sledge and party-starting funk group The Fatback Band.

Three era-defining British pop acts – Sugababes, Melanie C and Shaznay Lewis hit the stage on June 15th.

Sugababes are one of the most successful British girl bands of all time with six number one singles, multiple platinum selling albums, and numerous awards to their name. Since reforming in 2022 with their original 1998 line up of Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan, and Siobhan Donaghy, Sugababes have played at Glastonbury and performed live to over half a million fans.

Melanie C needs no introduction, surely. But just in case…she was in the Spice Girls and was known as the slightly less formal Sporty Spice, or Mel C. Melanie, is far fitting for the auspices of Blenheim Palace, isn’t it? As a solo artist she has over 3 million album sales, two number 1 singles, and six top 10 singles to her name.

Shaznay Lewis was in All Saints.

Sugababes are apparently jazzed to be taking part in this year’s festival, saying, “We are excited to be performing next year at the stunning setting of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. To get to play alongside our friends Mel and Shaznay is going to make the evening even more special.”

The third date to be announced features Crowded House, Sheryl Crow and Turin Brakes. This show, on 16th June, has all but sold out, with just a few VIP tickets remaining. So, if you have a quid knocking about and fancy a unique dining experience in the State Rooms of Blenheim Palace, followed by Crowded House, head to the Nocturne Live website. You may be required to rattle your jewellery during Weather With You.

Tickets for all events are available here.

On your yolks for pancake race

Karen Neville

Spice girls

Launchpad’s annual Pancake Race, Reading’s most egg-citing event is back, on Shrove Tuesday

Launchpad is inviting local businesses and organisations to compete for the coveted frying-pan trophy – and entertain Reading shoppers and workers as they do so in this year’s Pancake Race.

Teams of four are asked to do their best fancy dress and flip pancakes as they race the route on Broad Street on Tuesday, 21st February at 12.30pm. Registration is now open for the event.

Launchpad’s Pancake Race is now in its 26th year. All the money raised from this event funds the charity’s essential services for people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home in Reading.

These include supported housing; a free drop-in service for anyone in housing crisis; and a work and life skills centre so clients can build confidence, learn new skills and get back into work.

As well as the coveted frying pan trophy and the adoration of the people of Reading for the winners, there are also prizes for second and third place, best team spirit, best fancy dress and best fundraising team.

Last year’s cracking winners, local accountancy firm, Crowe UK, took their bird-themed fancy dress to the top spot. But what will this year’s winners be wearing? Whether you rock up as dinosaurs, chickens, fast food or astronauts – (almost) anything goes at Launchpad’s Pancake Race when it comes to fancy dress. There have been clowns, bananas, the Spice Girls, crows, barristers and Morph suits scrambling for first place.

Vicki Lewis, Launchpad’s fundraising manager, said: “The annual Pancake Race is a really popular event and is thoroughly enjoyed by all, whether you are taking part or spectating, it is a sight to behold! The costumes and Olympic-standard competition make it quite eggs-traordinary!

“Launchpad is very much a local charity working in close partnership with the Reading community. The ongoing support we receive from local businesses is greatly appreciated. The event is a really fun way for people to get involved and join in with this incredible sense of community spirit. And in such uncertain times, the money raised by our wonderful teams is more important than ever.”

To take part email [email protected] by Monday, 13th February with your name and contact details.

Race registration is £99. There are 34 places up for grabs for teams of four. Places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Launchpad are also asking for volunteers to help with team registration, bucket collections and monitoring participating team’s pancake flips! To get involved, please email [email protected] for details.