Your 2022 local culture planner
Listen up culture vultures! The 2022 calendar is looking hot, with music, theatre, art, dance and more coming to Herts & Beds. So grab your diaries and read on to find out what you need to have on your radar this year!
JUST FOR LAUGHS
We’ve got comedy coming out of our ears with some of the hottest names in the biz heading to this neck of the woods in the coming months. Are you ready…? Playing at the Alban Arena are: Jimmy Carr with a very non-politically correct show,Terribly Funny (25 Jan).
Reginald D Hunter‘s scathingly unapologetic Bombe Shuffleur is at the Eric Morecambe Centre in Harpenden on 14 Feb, and Jason Manford‘s observational show, Like Me (23 Feb and 2 Nov) are at the same venue. As are Dylan Moran, who tackles everyday frustrations in We Got This (16 March) and Nish Kumar‘s brazen political commentary in Control (3 April). Dom Joly shares his Holiday Snaps on 21 April and Paul Merton and his Impro Chums (3 May) also join the Alban Arena line-up.
And the ladies are bringing the laughs, too, including Sandi Toksvig with Next Slide Please on 20 April, Sarah Millican with her Bobby Dazzler of a show (22 Sept), and Sara Pascoe‘s Success Story on 12 Nov – all at the Alban Arena, too.
Phew, and if that wasn’t enough, at Watford Palace Theatre you can catch Ed Gamble‘s show Electric on 9 Feb, while Stewart Lee‘s comedy double bill, Snowflake / Tornado storms in to the same venue on 10-11 May.
And finally… over at the Radlett Centre, comedy goes old school with Clive Anderson‘s first ever solo show, Me, MacBeth and I, on 19 Feb, while Simon Brodkin, prankster extraordinaire is in the house on 13 April.
Theatre-wise, the year kicks off with a National Theatre Live Screening of Phillip Pullman’s prequel to His Dark Materials. I’ve just been reading The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage and it’s packed with all of Pullman’s typical twists and turns. It’ll be broadcast live from London’s Bridge Theatre to The Quarry Theatre in Bedford on 17 Feb, then South Mill Arts in Bishop’s Stortford on 3 March.
Next up is the sell-out show, Saving Britney, at South Mill Arts on 24 Feb, hot from its award nominated run in London, which takes a hard look at THE princess of pop, and the pitfalls of celebrity obsession.
Then in March, a fresh production of Mike Leigh’s classic dark comedy, Abigail’s Party, comes to Watford Palace Theatre (10 Mar – 2 April), followed by an immersive offstage event, Abi’s House Party, created by Palace Young Company on 6-7 April.
And if it’s laughs you’re after, you’ll want to check out Bumper Blyton, an improv show which rolls lots of the author’s children’s books into one innuendo-fuelled show for grown-ups. It comes to Watford Palace Theatre on 24 Feb and The Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead on 26 March.
And while we’re on the theme of parodies, try Friends, The Musical Parody for size, which will take audiences on a satirical romp through some of the sitcom’s classic moments. It’s at the Alban Arena on 11 March
Finally, if you fancy swooning over Kit Harrington in a power play, book your tickets to the NT Live screening of Henry V, as the Game of Thrones heart throb takes on this Shakespearean great. Captured live from the Donmar Warehouse in London, it will be screened to the Quarry Theatre in Bedford on 21 April.
Last year’s festival offering ended up a bit of a damp squib with Covid putting paid to many of our awesome local offerings. But it’s time to shake off 2021, so how about fab feelgood festival, Youphoria to get you in the mood? It’s billed as a wellness weekender, including morning raves, chilled out DJ sets, craft workshops, sound baths, massages and more. It’s coming to Knebworth Park from 20-22 May.
Another relative newbie, Sign of the Times festival, returns to Church End, near Little Hadham for the second time, with its lineup of rock, indie, blues, new wave and folk-punk artists. Echo and the Bunnymen and Shed Seven are two of this year’s confirmed acts for 1-2 July.
The UK’s largest celebration of tribute acts, Legends Festival is back in the Herts County Showground in St Albans from 29-30 July, as is Standon Calling, with Madness and Gabrielle confirmed, from 21-24 July. Well-loved laid-back fest, Folk by the Oak is also confirmed again this year, in the leafy grounds of Hatfield House on 17 July, with The Proclaimers headlining, and family friendly local fave Todd in the Hole, returns to Stevenage this year from 15-17 July.
And Tom Kerridge’s fab Pub in the Park will be back in Verulamium Park in St Albans from 9-11 September, but don’t worry, the music doesn’t play second fiddle to the food, as Kaiser Chiefs, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Melanie C are all playing – watch this space for more deets on the chef line-up and foodie treats.
MUSIC TO YOUR EARS
You’re in for a treat this year if booking some gigs is top of your to-do list. Hatfield Park is hosting some big name acts this summer, kicking off with The Libertines on 22 July with their 20th anniverary tour of their Up the Bracket album. Michael Bublé will croon his way through the evening of the 23 July, making way for Tears for Fears on 24 July, supported by Alison Moyet, the fabulous Paloma Faith on 5 August and Simply Red, with special guest Lisa Stansfield, on 7 August.
And… hold the phone! Elton John in calling at Watford’s Vicarage Road Stadium on 4 July on his farewell tour, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Get your tickets asap!
If opera floats your boat, the ROH season of live screenings is coming to South Mill Arts, with Tosca on 19 Jan, Romeo and Juliet on 20 Feb, Rigoletto on 30 March and La Traviata on 13 April. While the Russian State Opera will bring ancient Egypt to the stage with their performances of Carmen on 13 April at the Alban Arena and Aida on 4 April at Grove Theatre, Dunstable
Meanwhile, the hauntingly beautiful tones of Ladysmith Black Mambazo‘s male a capella choir will be celebrating the life and music of their founder in a concert at Saffron Hall on 22 October.
For those who prefer classical music with a healthy dollop of pomp and circumstance, the Battle Proms at Hatfield Park (16 July) and Bedford Park Proms (31 July) will deliver on rousing tunes, flag waving and even some airborne action in the form of fly pasts and fireworks.
As for dance, catch Ballet Theatre UK’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Snow Queen at the Radlett Centre on 6 Feb, then The Nutcracker performed by the Russian National Ballet kicks of the festive season at Grove Theatre on 16 Nov.
This year’s major exhibition at the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Henry Moore: The Sixties, offers an insight into the artist’s work at the height of his career. From 1 April – 30 October.
And finally, take the opportunity to explore some incredible local talent at Herts Open Studios, from 10 Sept – 2 Oct. This annual event sees artists from all over the county open their doors and studios to the public to demo and sell their works, from paintings and sculpture to jewellery and craft.
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